Bowline Knot – Steps, Uses, Tips

The bowline knot is a knot to turn the end of your line into a fixed size loop, or tie around a fixed object.

It is a very useful nautical knot and has been termed “the most useful knot in the world”, with sailor references dating back over 500 years. You can use it not just during boating, but also camping, hiking, and even rescue situations.

It does not slip under load and is actually impossible to untie when under pressure.

However, it comes undone easily without load. In fact, shaking the knot without load can make it undone.

The bowline is very easy to tie. In fact, it can even be tied with one hand.

How To Tie a Bowline Knot

Learn the steps to tying a bowline with these step-by-step instructions.

Bowline Knot - Steps, Uses, Tips 1

Things Needed?

– rope

Bowline Knot Steps:

Boating Guides

Step 1

Form an overhand loop at least 6 inches from the end of the line. The size of the final knot depends on how much of the line you leave in the loop.

Boating Guides

Step 2

Run the line back through the loop, which creates a second bigger loop. his new loop will be your final loop, so set the size of it as big (or small) as you need.

Boating Guides

Step 3

Run the line behind the standing part.

Boating Guides

Step 4

Bring the line down through the original small loop.

Boating Guides

Step 5

Grasp the working end and the side of the loop, and pull to tighten the loop.

An easy way to remember how to tie a bowline knot is using the classic rabbit and the tree “story”:

  1. This is a rabbit hole.
  2. The rabbit comes out of his hole,
  3. Goes around the tree,
  4. Goes back down through the hole.

Pull tight, and your bowline knot is ready.

Bowline Knot Video

If you would rather see the bowline being tied, here is a useful instructional video.

What are bowline knots used for?

The bowline knot has a multitude of uses, from personal rescue, to simply fixing a hammock around a tree.

Here are a few practical situations where you can use a bowline knot.

  • Tie it around a piling, pole, tree, or anything really, and use it as a mooring line.
  • It can be used in rescue situations very well. You can even tie it around yourself with one hand, and the knot won’t slip or come loose after being put under pressure.
  • Attach a bowline knot to a car hitch to tow or pull objects.
  • To join two ropes, interlock the loops of two bowlines.

How to make the Bowline knot more secure?

Even though it is the king of knots, the bowline has its limitations, meaning it should not be used in certain situations. These all arise out of the fact that the bowline comes undone when not under load.

Adding a safety knot will make the bowline knot secure; use a strangle knot or a double overhand stopper knot tied to the standing line.

Can You Use the Bowline as a Slip Knot

It is very easy to make a sliding slip knot out of the bowline knot. All you need to do is form a bight with the standing part of the line and pass it through the bowline knot.

How do you pronounce Bowline Knot?

Bohline is actually pronounced “boh-lin”, not “boʊ-laɪn”. Sorry for not mentioning this sooner 🙂

Are you new to the world of inflatable boats? Then my Getting Started Guide is for you. You’ll find tips, tricks, and how-to articles to start off right.

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