The Distel Hitch and Prussik both appear to be slide and grip knots, used for ascending a climbing rope.

I have heard of people using Prussik many times more often than Distel Hitch. Which is a better knot in terms of safety while ascending a rope, Which one to be used under what conditions?

  • 2
    I've never heard about the Distel Hitch before. Compared to the Prusik, Klemheist etc I see one major disadvantage: You need an open cord. For almost all of the other situations, you can already carry the cord pre-tied into a loop, or use a sewn sling.
    – anderas
    Nov 17, 2015 at 11:35

2 Answers 2


They are essentially the same knot on the rope, they're both friction hitches. The difference is how they connect to your harness.

Distel hitches are used mostly by arborists, one advantage a distel hitch has over a prussik is how well it works in combination with a pulley system:

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You are right that they both ultimately do the same job, so do the klemheist, bachmann and autoblock hitches, there are just some situations where using one is more convenient or more efficient than using the other.

  • Can you expand on which situations one would be preferred over another for those other hitches you listed?
    – micker
    Apr 1, 2022 at 14:55

I would suggest that the Klemheist knot is the best option for ascending a rope or providing a safe attachment when moving horizontally along a fixed rope near the top of a crag or crevasse.

  • It will tighten if loaded in either direction.
  • It is less likely to become 'undressed' than a prussik when being moved.
  • It requires 'thumbing open' to progress it along the rope so reduces chances of accidental release.
  • It works well with slings/tape unlike a prussik.

(source: imga.org.il)

Note it is not suitable for backing up an abseil as it is difficult to release under load. Use a french prussik for this.

french prussik

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