Overhand Knot – How To Tie An Overhand Knot


The overhand knot is the simplest and easiest single-strand stopper knot to make. It is one of the most fundamental knots used in a variety of situations like tying fishing knots for braided lines, preventing a rope from passing through a hole like a belay device, and many more. Learning how to tie an overhand safety knot is pretty straightforward, and below we’ll show you how easy it is as well as two variations of the knot which can be pretty helpful for climbers.

3 Steps on How to Tie an Overhand Knot

Tying this knot is pretty simple and does not require any special or technical maneuver to complete. Just follow the steps below and you should be done tying the knot in a minute.

  1. Take the tail of the working end of the rope and lay it over the standing end to form a loop.
  2. Take the tail from under the standing end of the rope and pass it or insert it through the loop.
  3. Grab the standing end and the working end of the rope and pull them away from each other to tighten the knot.

Undoing the Knot

Undoing this knot can be very challenging especially on thin ropes. However, it is still possible to undo the knot, though some amount of patience will be required in most cases.

  1. Hold the ends of the knot and push them back towards each other. You may need to push and pull repeatedly to loosen the knot. 
  2. Once loose and you can wiggle the end of the rope, push the tail of the working end of the rope back towards the loop and pull it out to untangle the knot.  

Tying a Knot with a Climbing Sling

This knot is one of the 20 climbing knots climbers must know because of its many applications like joining ropes for rappelling for instance. Another popular use of the overhand safety knot is when creating a master point in a climbing sling. To do this, follow the steps below.

  1. Clip the climbing sling on two separate quickdraws or carabiner.
  2. Pull the strands of the climbing sling down until they are of equal length.
  3. Form a loop by taking the bottom of the climbing sling and laying it over the strands.
  4. Insert the bottom of the climbing sling through the loop and pull it out.
  5. Dress the rope by pulling the strands away from each other to tighten the knot. When it’s tight enough, you can now clip a screwgate carabiner to the master point.

Mule Overhand Knot

One of the most important lessons you’ll learn with regards to how to belay is that you should never take your hand off the ropes – ever. However, there are certain situations where you may need to like when executing certain belaying techniques like the “cup method” and others. In such situations, removing your hand from the brake rope is pretty much forgivable.

There are also times when you may need both your hands to be free like when you’re switching gear on a multi-pitch, sorting out a tangled climbing rope, and others. You can usually get away with this by using a simple overhand safety knot backed up to your belay loop if the rope isn’t loaded or weighted.

In other instances though, you’re better off using the mule overhand knot since it allows you to tie-off (and eventually release the tie-off) your belay device with the climber weighing down the rope.

To make this knot, follow the steps below.

  1. Take a loop of the slack rope and pass it through the carabiner with your guide hand. You will need to pinch the climbing rope tight while doing this especially when it’s heavily weighted.
  2. Take the brake rope, form a loop with it and pass it through the first loop to form a mule knot around the spine of the carabiner tied to your climbing harness. You need to make sure that the knot is formed at the spine of the carabiner and not at the gate since it can push through the gate and unravel.
  3. Adjust the now tensioned rope to at least 60 cm.
  4. Take the tensioned rope and tie an overhand knot using it over the guide rope.
  5. Lock the loop by clipping it to the guide rope with a carabiner. 

Releasing the Knot

  1. Remove the carabiner holding the tensioned rope and the guide rope together.
  2. Untie the overhand safety knot. It may pose some challenge at first, but it shouldn’t be overly difficult since the knot is pretty thick compared to a single strand overhand knot.
  3. Pull the brake rope to release the very first loop and mule knot.

Note that the rope may slip back a few centimeters. Don’t panic though because this usually happens. Just remember to keep a firm grip so that you don’t lose control of the belay device.

Once the knot is removed, you can now start lowering the climber back to the ground.

Globo Surf Overview

Most of the time, climbers can get away with knowing only a handful of knots but you can be sure that the overhand knot will be one of those. This simple stopper knot can be very useful in a lot of situations, and it is worth knowing how to tie it properly for it to be an effective knot. Although the knot is pretty simple, it’s variations that make it an overhand safety knot can take more time and practice to learn. As such, you’ll want to practice them in a safe environment first and gain confidence before you try them in outdoor climbing routes.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!