When tying into a harness with a figure eight follow through knot, does it matter if the running end comes up through the tie in points or goes down through them?

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From the figure it is hard to see which way the running end passes through the harness. I have often heard "it doesn't really matter" or "either way is fine". Can anyone elaborate on scenario's where there are pro's and con's? At the climbing gym the majority of people I watch go bottom to top, however I go top to bottom; should I be conforming to the masses?


1 Answer 1


Figure eight-knots are not directional. Once the knot is properly tied and dressed, it doesn't matter if you passed the rope through from the top or the bottom, it is purely a matter of preference.

Things to watch out for when tying your figure-eight:

  • Does the rope go through both tie-in points, and not through the belay loop? (like you mentioned in your comment)
  • Is there enough tail, but not too much? (Your local gym might also require you to tie a backup knot)
  • Is the knot properly dressed? (are there 10 parallel strands with no strands crossing each other)
  • Is the knot properly tightened? (pull on opposite strands to tighten a figure-eight knot)
  • Has the sheath of the rope-end you are tying in with not separated from the core, or has sheath-slippage occurred? (At the end of the rope you should be able to see both the inner core and the sheath, fused together by heat.)
  • If your harness requires you to double-back at your buckles, are you double-backed?
  • Some obvious ones: are you tying into the correct rope, is the rope and your harness in good condition, does your belayer know what he/she is doing, are you not crowding another climber, are you not in the fall zone of another climber...

Bonus fact:

There are climbing knots where directionality does matter. The clove hitch is the most common one; When tying a clove hitch, make sure the loaded strand is the one closest to the spine of the carabiner.


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