Basic Knots for Canyoneering

When you embark on any canyon with a technical rating of 3 or higher it is recommended that you know without assistance the following knots as a minimum:

Overhand Knot:

The overhand knot is one of the most fundamental knots and basis of many others knots. It should be used if the knot is intended to be permanent. For canyoneering this knot is most commonly used to tie other knots - never by itself. This is not a knot you want to trust your weight on.


Double Overhand Knot:

The double overhand knot is simply an extension of the regular overhand knot. It is made with one additional pass. It is used as a permanent fix and hard to un-tie. Stronger than a regular overhand knot this knot is most commonly used to tie other more complex knots like the fisherman's knot.


Triple Overhand Knot

The tipple overhand knot is an extension of the double overhand knot. It is made with one additional pass making a total of three passes. Like the overhand and double overhand this knot is more commonly used to create other stronger knots. By its self I wouldn’t trust to it to hold your weight.


Double Fisherman's Knot:

This knot is used to join two lengths of rope. The Fisherman’s knot is created by tying a double hand knot at the end of two rope ends each end around the opposite line's standing part. A triple overhand may be used as an extra precaution.


Figure 8:

The figure 8 is the most basic climbing knot you will use over and over again. This knot is the most common method of stopping ropes from running out of retaining devices. The figure 8 will bind like an overhand knot but is more easily undone after use. Below is the basic figure 8. To bind anything to the rope simply double the end of the rope and follow the steps below. This is known as a Figure 8 on a bight.

Figure 8 on a bight:


Figure 8 Follow Through:

The figure 8 follow through is a figure 8 on a bight but is tied in this fashion to get around loopable objects. This knot can be used to secure a climber on a decent or ascent. It can also be used to fix the rope around a tree, stump, boulder or any other natural anchor. The second use for this knot is tying two ropes together. Simply tie the figure 8 and follow through in reverse direction with the other line.



The bowline is used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope. It has the virtues of being both easy to tie and untie. I prefer this knot when fixing a rope for an ascent.


Clove Hitch:

The clove hitch is a type of knot that is used to bind, but is not particularly secure. For canyoneering a clove hitch is an easy knot that can be used to tie a bineer block in the middle of a rope. The images below show a clove hitch tied around a carabineer or known as a bineer block. A stopper knot or figure 8 may be used as a block but I find a clove hitch much nicer to tie.

Note** A block is simply a knot that that will not slip through an anchor. When canyoneering one side of the rope is used to descend while the other side of the rope is used as a pull your ropes down when done with a descent. Larger descents may require two ropes to be tied together. The knot used to tie the ropes may be used as a block.

Warning: When using the clove hitch, ensure that the knot is secure and tight before use. This knot can slip easy if not secured first. Using webbing with this knot is not recommended because of the slipping factor. If using a bineer block it is recommended to anchor the block until the last ascender. The last ascender then can be belayed by an individual below.

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