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This article was originally published in Issue 1 of our magazine.
Using the right tool for the right job makes all the difference. Sure, you can get away with using a flathead screwdriver on a Phillips screw, but every time you do so, you run the risk of stripping the screw. It's much better to use the correct driver for the proper fit to avoid damage to the screw and the driver. Similarly, using the right knot can be a huge factor in the success of accomplishing a job, easily and safely.
Unless knots factor into your daily grind like bungee jump operator or first mate of the S.S. Minnow, the majority of people may only use one or two knots on a daily basis — or if you have Velcro on your shoes, maybe even none at all. Whether or not you have ever been taught what sort of knot is used for what, or if you have, it's probably been a long time since you earned your merit badge in that endeavor. Let's take a look at a few useful knots that can get you out of a pinch or simply help you get things done quicker.
There are countless knots out there as well as multiple variations for many of them. Each knot was created for a specific application. Realistically, unless it's part of your everyday life, it's difficult to remember how many of these knots are tied. We've picked out three knots that are strong and versatile that can be used in just about any situation.
The Bowline forms a secure, non-sliding loop. When a load is placed on the Bowline, it will not slip or jam, but when the line is relaxed, the knot can be easily untied. The loop may pass around or through an object such as a railing, pole, tree, or a fence, during the making of the knot. When no longer being used, the knot comes undone relatively easily, even after being used under great load. For this reason, this knot is not recommended for uses such as climbing or rappelling.
Commonly used by truckers, the Trucker's Hitch is used to tie down loads securely and with great tension. The loop formed while tying this knot acts as a pulley that tightens up slack to keep even heavy loads in place. The Trucker's Hitch is actually a system of several knots used together to great effect.
This knot is used to tie two ropes of similar width and strength together. If you don't have a single rope long enough to get the job done, use this technique to tie two ropes together. What you're essentially doing with this knot is tying two knots, one on each rope. When pulled toward each other, the two knots come together, tighten, and form a secure method of combining two ropes.
It's always important to check your ropes for kinks, debris, and frays. Keep your rope away from water if possible, unless it is designed for it. Damaged and weakened rope that is under a lot of tension can break and cause serious injury or death.
The origin of knots has been lost to time, but what we do know is that they have been in use for thousands of years by many ancient civilizations. This human knowhow now lives on the surface of the planet Mars. NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity features cables that are bundled together with hand-tied knots. The knots keep the cables bundled without wearing them out like cable ties would.
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