Useful Knots for Hikers: The Bowline

The bowline (pronounced bow·luhn) is used to make a secure loop at one end of a line. The loop may pass through or around an object, making this a good way to secure the line to something, such as tying one end of a line to a tree or post.  The knot can be easily undone after the load is removed.

Making a secure loop

This mnemonic makes tying a bowline easy: imagine the end of the line as a rabbit and the first loop as the rabbit’s hole.  When the rabbit comes up out of the hole it goes around the tree (i.e. the long end of the line), right to left, and back down the hole.

A good use for the bowline is to secure a valuable item to your pack. For example to secure a phone case, gps, or solar charger to your pack with a bowline tied to the device on one end of the line, and to your pack on the other end of the line. This way you can use the device while hiking (or whenever your pack is nearby), and it greatly reduces the chances of accidentally leaving the device behind.