Take the 2-minute tour ×
The Great Outdoors Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who love outdoor activities, excursions, and outdoorsmanship. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This is a topic often discussed online, but all I could find so far was people sharing their opinions (including numbers) on what tie-in knot is the best. Here's what I've found out from different sources:

  • Figure eight: Fool proof to check, very hard to open after a fall
  • Yosemite bowline: Not as easily checked as figure eight, strongest knot for dynamic rope tension, easy to untie even after taking a punch.
  • Bowline on a bight: Easy to check, almost as strong as yosemite bowline, very easy to untie (in my experience it never tightens at all in the first place, being loose unless actively pulled on).

While I'm not at all against personal opinions as answers, these are usually not very good advice just on their own when it comes to matters critical to security; it's your life hanging on that knot after all. I would especially appreciate data on the knot strength; all the values I've got so far come from this German Wikipedia article, where somebody who doesn't know how to quote wrote down some numbers.

Long story short: Which one to use? Figure eight is starting to annoy me when my hands are tired and I've fallen. :-)

share|improve this question
    
Are you interested in the strength of each knot, or the usefulness? There are very, very few situations aside from massive shock loads that would be an issue for any of the three, strength-wise. –  Greg.Ley Feb 19 '12 at 6:36
1  
@Greg.Ley The problem is more that I want to get rid of the 8. I like the yosemite bowline because it feels tight and is said to be safe, but I've learned it from the internet and am a bit scared using it because of that. As for what I'm interested in: anything you can tell me about these. Possible ways of doing them wrong, what's the worst case that can happen and so on. And, as said, hard data on strength would also be nice. –  David Feb 19 '12 at 6:50
    
Relevant information. The bowline is apparently more prone to being tied or used incorrectly. –  Mr.Wizard May 17 '12 at 8:31
1  
Is there anything we can add so that you might accept an answer here? –  bmike Jul 31 '12 at 17:23
2  
Your climbing partner needs to be able to check your knot. They're expecting a rewoven figure-eight, and they can reliably identify whether a knot is or is not a figure-eight. For those reasons, it's not a good idea to use some other knot for your tie-in, even if you understand it and think it has some slight advantage. –  Ben Crowell Apr 4 at 16:58
show 1 more comment

2 Answers

Most climbers use a re-threaded figure 8. The knot is not that important, though. In reading many accident reports, I have never seen one where the knot came untied or where there was a rope failure due to the knot on the harness. Pick a knot you're very familiar with, check it, and you're done. Spend more time checking belay devices, locking caribiners, communication with your partner, and especially your protection.

One way to untie a tight double figure 8 is to bend the entire knot back and forth, then push both parts (parallel strands) of one end into the knot. This should loosen it enough to come undone easily.

share|improve this answer
2  
Double figure eight every time - it never fails, and is always easy to untie, even after a good drop. –  Rory Alsop Feb 19 '12 at 12:47
    
Yeah, +1. Figure eights, especially doubles, are easy to untie and very easy to check. Just look for an 8! –  studiohack Feb 20 '12 at 0:25
1  
@Rory please, is this a single or double 8? If that is a single, how do you tie a double? –  Mr.Wizard Feb 20 '12 at 9:37
1  
To tie in you tie a single figure of 8 in the rope leaving a long tail. Put the end through your harness and then create a loop and put the end back through the figure of 8 following the same path as the first. This video probably explains it better than me youtube.com/watch?v=G1GzrRYcrM8. –  Phil Feb 20 '12 at 11:12
1  
Aren't figure 9 knots essentially the same as figure eight but much easier to untie while loaded? –  yarian Aug 11 '12 at 5:35
show 7 more comments

I would say, dismiss the bowline on a bight since it needs a backup stopper knot to prevent loosening over time so it's not a "complete" knot like the other candidates.

The bends on the yosemite bowline are generally less tight than the figure eight. This bowline is less likely to jam, wears the the rope involved in the knot less, so from a rope longevity, fall damage to the rope, and general stress sense, the yosemite bowline would have to be the superior knot from an "engineering" standpoint.

I would not choose a knot on that basis and instead choose the one my party is most comfortable tying over and over and checking over and over. I don't see how the technical superiority of the yosemite bowline would make it measurably better "in the field" than the figure eight. If I didn't have a fid to assist in knot untying or my finger strength / rope choice made "untieability" after falls an issue, that would be a fair reason to choose a bowline over a more simple and jam-prone knot.

share|improve this answer
1  
The only arguments I have ever heard for the yosemite Bowline are from an "engineering" stance. But the ease of (tying and checking) the 8 make it the choice of most climbers. I agree with you. –  MaskedPlant May 23 '12 at 22:40
2  
The reason I switched to the (Yosemite) Bowline, years ago, was the figure eight's "untieability" after falls. It's easy to tie and to check as well. –  Nikos Alexandris Aug 22 '12 at 7:30
    
Does a bowline on a bight really require a stopper? It's a stretch but imagine the working end slipped out of bight that holds it then kept slipping until the nipping turn was gone too. You would be left with a normal bowline with a really long tail - still very safe. –  Jake Mar 28 '13 at 3:36
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.