# Does inside vs outside make a difference in a bowline on a bight?

This question asks whether the bowline knot is better with the tail inside or outside the loop.

When climbing and tying in with a bowline on a bight, does it make a difference whether one starts with an inside or outside bowline?

• From a climbing point of view you mostly shouldn't use a bowline at all. It's mostly recommended to use a double figure of eight these days as they are easier to check and have less chance of catastrophic failure. – user2766 Sep 21 '16 at 12:25
• Please explain the difference on bight. There is no tailing end on bight as there is in a regular. – paparazzo Sep 21 '16 at 14:31
• For a double bowline mentioned in the linked question there is a technical difference between inside and outside (though I do not know whether it is relevant), but for a bowline on a bight this distinction is not there at all, as both ends are threaded along the whole knot. So this question does only make sense for a double bowline. – imsodin Sep 21 '16 at 20:26
• @imsodin Actually that would be a valid answer. The differrence is that the loaded end would be on the inner or outer loop in the linked image. An alternative wording would be to ask whether the upper or lower strand on the left should be the load-bearing one. I was just slightly confused by the linked question because I never noticed such a difference in the bowline on a bight until I read about the different versions of the simple bowline. – anderas Sep 22 '16 at 5:57
• @liam, bowline on a bight is exactly what you use when tying into the middle of a rope during glacier travel if you don't have a harness. – ShemSeger Sep 22 '16 at 19:01

The most common use of a bowline on the bight in climbing these days is to make a loop in the middle of the rope in a party of 3 or 4, as one of the comments above mentioned. In this case there's no inside or outside, and the knot is symmetrical with respect to the two ends.

As a tie-in knot, while I can see the difference between an inside and outside single bowline - especially the chance of the end getting caught - the bowline on a bight has the two ends coming out parallel to each other and taking the same turn round the bight. So I do not see any meaningful difference between the two.

We here at the Rigstar Training and Testing Center do a lot of break tests. Having the tail of the bowline to the inside or outside does not matter for strength or efficiency of the knot. The reaction is the same.

Here is the scientific reason why it's the same strength or have the same average breaking strength. The bights on the bowline cause compression to the inner part of the bowline rope, also there is the d/D ration of the line going around itself, then the rope when pulled is in tension which causes more compression with the two bights.

When the rope is in tension it causes the molecules to rub against each other which causes heat within the bites. All of these reactions are the same whether the tail is to the inside or outside of the bowline knot.

Tying the tail to the inside or outside does not matter and is a personal preference.

Short answer = 'Yes' - it does make a difference.

Long answer: If you are going to select and use a particular ti-in knot for life critical applications, you should select a fixed eye knot that is inherently secure.

'Bowlines' have 2 distinct advantage over the F8 eye knot (#1047):

1. They are totally jam resistant; and
2. They are Post Eye Tiable (PET).

The F8 eye knot fails on these 2 salient features. As climbing ropes get thinner and thinner - tie-in knots become increasingly vulnerable to jamming. Enter stage right - 'Bowlines'.

Inherently secure 'Bowlines' include:

1. The EBSB Bowline; and
2. Harry Butlers Yosemite Bowline; and
3. Scott's locked Bowline; and