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I've been using a trucker's hitch knot for a very long time (camping, strapping stuff down, line length adjustment, pulley system) I've always switched my mid-line loop when I've come to not trust them for numerous reasons (not secure, impossible to untie after loaded, rope damage, take too long, etc...).

I've used the following knots for periods of time, switching between them as I feel uncertain:

  • slip knot (quick, not reliable)
  • alpine butterfly (quick, reliable, seizes up)
  • directional figure 8 (quick, reliable, seizes up)
  • sliding prusik (doesn't seize, not quick if not already on rope, sometimes not reliable)
  • bowline on a bight (reliable, doesn't seize, not quick)
  • span loop (reliable, quick, seizes up)
  • "half" sheep shank with a half hitch to secure also called a bell ringer's knot (quick, doesn't seize, reliable?)

They all have their uses and advantages but I'm looking for that 'bomb proof' setup where I can load it to the max that the rope can handle and still be able to hold while not making this mid-line knot impossible to remove and doesn't permanently damage the rope. Speed is important as well because I will often pull out my cordage and tie down a trailer full of stuff while my Father/Father In Law will be fiddling with straps that have a tendency to become a nightmare of a mess.

My go to was a directional figure 8 for the longest time but it started to get very difficult to untie when using heavy loads (I'm heavy and like to use hammocks while camping :) some of my cordage has these in there permanently). I then switched to using the span loop for a long time but that also locks up. I've now settled on a bell ringer's with a half hitch lock.

This has worked well for me when tied properly but it 'feels' like it is not secure. I've never had it fail (even on 6 hours trips being used to tied down kitchen appliances on a trailer) but it just doesn't seem like a very stable setup.

What knot is best suited as the 'fixed' knot in a trucker's hitch?

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What size and type of rope or cordage are you using? By the way, I haven't heard of the span loop before; the first search result I found for it claims "it usually unties extremely easily." I guess you have found this not to be the case? –  Mr.Wizard May 15 at 13:21
    
I mainly use 3 types of cordage. 550 Para, 1/4" or 3/8" braided nylon from lowes, and cheap braided polypro from lowes. I of course use other ropes (Arbormaster 1/2" for some minor tree work and all types of assortments) but those are my usual goto's in a pinch. I've had span loops tie up in all 3 types of rope. I'm a large guy and can really yank on these lines to tighten them up with a 3:1 purchase, nevermind if I add another 2:1 or 2 to it to go to 6:1 or 12:1... –  g19fanatic May 15 at 15:12
    
In my experience one way to make knots easier to untie is to use a smaller fraction of the cord's strength, meaning using a larger cord or rope for the same load. But that of course means more weight. Are you open to using webbing instead of cord? I think some of the methods used by slackliners, scaled down accordingly, might be useful. –  Mr.Wizard May 15 at 15:16
    
I've had 1/2 arbor-plex (wesspur.com/rope/arbor-plex-half-inch-rope.html) rope get a span loop be hard to untie (needed a marlin spike) after using it with a 6:1 purchase to pull a lawn cutting tractor out of some mud. The tractor couldn't have weighed more that 800 lbs ( deere.com/wps/dcom/en_US/products/equipment/riding_mowers/…? )... I was quite surprised with a rope breaking limit of 6000lbs. –  g19fanatic May 15 at 15:29
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Everyone has rope laying around somewhere. I've found that being able to do this with rope has 'saved my bacon' more than a few times and in the past I've been okay with putting more of a fixed knot (dir fig 8) in the rope to just get through the current problem. I'm more looking for what others are using and their experiences with mid-line knots that don't jam, are reliable and are quick to tie. Webbing might solve the problem but it more restricts the uses to where webbing is available. –  g19fanatic May 15 at 15:34

3 Answers 3

The way I've always done it is with a 'slippery half-hitch.' It's quick, I don't believe it can spill and it is always reasonable to untie once the load is removed.

It took me a while to find an illustration, but this is a fine one.

Edit: In response to your issue with removing the slipknot, I was playing with some paracord and I believe something like this will resist cinching and be easy to remove, even after being loaded. I made it by taking several turns round the standing part before creating the slipknot's loop. Then use that loop (left uncinched) to take the load after going around your tie-down point.

enter image description here

In the picture, my middle finger represents the tie-down point and the bitter end is being held between my thumb and forefinger.

Here is a video showing a similar knot construction.

HTH

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This example netknots.com/rope_knots/truckers-hitch shows you how to do a trucker's hitch with what they call a slippery half hitch. This is ,from what I gather, identical to what I call a slip knot. I like the slip knot because its quick, everyone can learn how to use it and it unties really easily. Unfortunately for me, the knot itself always constricts right around the two parts of the loop AND the loop always seems (at least for me) to fall down and constrict around the working end of my rope sometimes making it very difficult to remove. –  g19fanatic May 15 at 12:05
    
Again as above with Ben Crowell, I might not be loading it right before I start using the purchase and tightening the load. I will have to give it another go tonight. –  g19fanatic May 15 at 12:05
    
@g19fanatic - The results will likely vary based on the thickness and slipperiness of your Might I suggest trying a second (or third or even fourth) twist in the first phase of the knot? I was just playing with some paracord and it seems that it may be easier to remove as it doesn't seem to self-cinch. I'll edit my answer to provide a photo... –  MrWonderful May 15 at 14:10
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I often browse tree climbing/working forums and found this little one arboristsite.com/community/threads/… It is essentially what you have shown there, a slipknot formed with many twists. The link shows added chain sinnets (just pulling a loop through the already created loop) to add some 'security'. I'll have to give this a try! I will report back later on! –  g19fanatic May 15 at 15:15
    
@g19fanatic - Yes, that's basically how I started, but I believe that you should lay it up more like I did in the photo. That will give you the longer straight bit going over the turns to aid in undoing it. If you just twist it, it may snarl or cinch itself. –  MrWonderful May 15 at 15:25

My standard habit is a figure of 8 on the bight.

Why?

  • You can't screw it up. (You can tie a slip knot backward and have it not work)
  • This means it is easier to explain to someone how to do.
  • it is fairly easy to untie. (A marlin spike or a Fid may help), bend it over and break it's back.

However what ever no you chose to use, you should not be over worrying about being able to untie it: Your rope is no-longer very valuable after it has been use this way.
The has been at least one sharp bight (fold) put in the rope while under heavy load.
It is no longer particularly safe.
Especially if it got tight enough to be hard to undo.

Tying notes in ropes always damages them. A truckers hitch is (to my mind, I haven't seen any quantitative study) a particularly damaging one.

Tie your truckers hitch in a older bit of rope, or cheap rope you don't care about. Go ahead and undo it if you can, and reuse the rope. But if you can't, then cut it.

Ropes not precious treasure. As bad as it feels to cut rope, it is not a big deal. You'll always find use for smaller ropes.

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Thanks for your suggestion. I'm not very worried about the value of the rope after its been used (and probably shock loaded). I'm more interested in being able to neatly coil up the rope so that it can be quickly re-deployed later with minimal chances of it snagging and becoming tangled in something. I use these ropes (the same ones) constantly instead of ratcheting straps and find that having fixed loops on the cordage not that useful as it makes the ropes shorter than I often need and never put the loops that the best place for this specific tie down. –  g19fanatic May 13 at 18:14
    
Also, with the above wants, being able to untie the knots with just my hands and without too much trouble has always eliminated a full figure 8 for me. –  g19fanatic May 13 at 18:15
    
However what ever no you chose to use, you should not be over worrying about being able to untie it: Your rope is no-longer very valuable after it has been use this way. The has been at least one sharp bight (fold) put in the rope while under heavy load. Maybe you have in mind some different context or assumptions than what I'm imagining. It's not true in general that a rope is useless after being shock loaded with a knot in it. If that were true, a lot of sport climbers would have to buy a new rope after every trip to the gym. –  Ben Crowell May 13 at 23:25

What do you mean by a directional figure 8? Is that a figure 8 on a bight?

An overhand on a bight is quite secure if carefully dressed and pre-tensioned on every strand in opposition to every strand on the other side. People rappel off of an offset overhand, which is basically the same knot. It's quick to tie and easier to untie than a figure 8.

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I do mean a directional fig-8. animatedknots.com/fig8directional/index.php?LogoImage=LogoGrog The simple slip knot for me has always jammed when loaded heavy and shock loaded. I might not be pre-tensioning each line enough. –  g19fanatic May 13 at 18:18

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