A taut-line hitch is used to tying tent ropes to a stake. It can be manually slid up/down the standing part of the rope, so as to adjust the tightness in the line, but it holds well under tension.

However, the ideal choice of rope for this hitch is hemp rope, as modern ropes are known to slide under this hitch. I have tried doing this myself, with a 6mm rope sling around a table leg, and that too slides under load.

So what kind of hitch is a good substitute for achieving the same goal with modern ropes?

3 Answers 3


First, try with more 'coils', when you tie the taut-line hitch; every coil adds some friction.

An alternative, that I, myself, like a lot, since I find it easier to tie, is the Farrimond Friction Hitch. And again here, if your rope is slippery, wet or stiff, add some more loops/coils, and make sure you 'dress' the hitch so it's good and tight.

A major advantage of the Farrimond Friction Hitch (over the midshipman's/taut-line hitch) is that it can be done on a bight, whereas the midshipman's/taut-line can only be done when the rope end is available.


A Farrimond Friction Hitch, by default, is also a slipknot, so it's easier to untie than the taut-line hitch.

An addition to my answer: Also note, that both of the above hitches 'only' work when there is no or little friction between the rope and the pole you are tying around. The loop around the pole must be able to slide, since the hitch really only bites down on the standing end, when there is a pull on the part of the loop that is opposite to the standing end.

Hard to explain with words, so here's a picture

Hard to explain with words, so here's a picture

  • 1
    When tying up hammocks for some of my friends, I decided to go overboard and did something like 15+ additional coils to the taut-line hitches I used to support their hammocks. Partly it was to make sure they were stable, and part was to motivate them to learn to do it themselves (because why bring a hammock if you don't know how to set it up). I didn't have any experience (and still don't, really) with tying hammocks, so I didn't know how many extra loops were necessary. If you have the rope, just add extra half hitches above the knot and it should hold, even with a lower friction rope. Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 21:44
  • That's the whole point of having to add additional coils, you never really know how many are going to suffice for a variable load (lightweight vs heavy person in your hammock example) and you don't want the whole thing starting to come down in the middle of a storm (in case of a tent)..
    – ahron
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 5:03

For tent stakes I prefer the Adjustable Grip Hitch. I find it easier to tie than the Tautline Hitch and it can also be done with a quick release.


There is also a Guyline Hitch to mention, but I don't have experience with that: https://notableknotindex.webs.com/guyline.html

  • Adjustable grip hitch is nice in backpacking kinda applications. In bad (stormy) type of weather, it is not recommended, due to its lack of reliability.
    – ahron
    Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 13:36

Try a sheep shank to create a loop, then run round the peg and tie off. This gives you an easily tensioned and tied off pulley system.

You could also use a truckers hitch in much the same way, but my scout leader was a fan of the sheep shank and it's rubbed off on me.

It's slightly slower to adjust than a midshipman's hitch but it also holds better under load.

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