Bowline on a Bight

A step-by-step guide for tying a bowline on a bight.

How to Tie a Bowline on a Bight

Step 1: Double up the line, forming a bight to use as the working end. 

Step 2: Form a loop with the working line over the standing line. 

Step 3: Pass the working end up through the loop from the back.   

Step 4: Separate the lines of the working end and pass the working end over the top of the loop created. 

Step 5: Pull the tag to tighten. 

About the Bowline on a Bight

The bowline on a bight ties in the middle of the rope and creates a pair of fixed size loops. Because of the flexibility in creating different size loops in the middle of the rope, there are wide applications for the knot in both camping and survival. It’s sometimes used by climbers, with adaptations, to tie into their harness. Some prefer it because it’s easy to untie after a fall, but it’s been known to slip when tied without a backup knot or variation. 

While it’s a simple knot to tie, it is also easy to get wrong by creating a knot that will fail but may not fail right away. The most common mistake that leads to knot failure is feeding the bight down from the top through the loop, instead of up through the back. You can test if you’ve done the knot wrong by placing it under tension and releasing it several times. An incorrectly tied knot will slip. 

Related Knots

Figure-eight loop: one of the strongest knots, tied at the end of a rope and used in climbing and caving. 

Y-hang: anytime two anchor points share a load, created with a variety of knot types, including bowline on a bight. 

Double bowline: a bowline knot with two turns instead of one, making it more secure.

When to Use a Bowline on a Bight

Anytime you need a secure loop in the middle of a rope that’s fast to untie after carrying a load, consider the bowline on a bight.

For Survival

Because it functions in the middle of the rope, the bowline on a bight can create a toehold in the middle of a rope, perfect for climbing up verticals with ease. You can leave a large loop to create a fast bosun’s chair to transport people or supplies. It also unties fast, even after carrying a load when you’re using a single rope for multiple purposes. Use caution and a backup knot, as the bowline on a bight can sometimes slip. 

While Camping

It’s a common knot for both rock climbing and caving since it reduces strain by distributing it through two anchor points. For rock climbing, the bowline on a bight is faster to untie than other harness knots, leading some to prefer it in case of a fall or emergency. The knot can untie on its own, so use caution along with a backup knot.

With Other Knots

Since the bowline on a bight can sometimes slip and is popular for transporting people in emergency and survival situations, a simple backup knot can improve the stability and success of the knot. Adding a stopper knot on the tag will help stop the bowline from slipping. Either the overhand or half hitch works well in a backup knot capacity.

Around the House

The bowline on a bight is great for hauling, especially when you only have access to the middle of a rope. Think about this knot when you’re hauling materials or tools onto the roof, or into an attic. It’s stable, and fast to tie and untie. You can make a series of the knot into a rope for kids to use as an impromptu rope ladder, or even for hanging potted plants or lights around the garden.