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How To Tie The Clove Hitch

The Clove Hitch is another widely used knot. It is quick and easy to tie using the end, or the middle of the rope. This knot is often used to start and finish lashings, and to fasten a rope to a timber, post, etc. The Clove Hitch is an easy knot to untie even after a lead has been applied.

Tying The Clove Hitch
Clove Hitch Knot.

The Clove Hitch (also sometimes termed the Double Hitch) is among the most widely used knots out there, but also one that comes with some significant limitations and caveats.

It’s super-convenient, given the multiple ways it can be tied and the option of forming it one-handed. Made with a successive pair of half hitches, the Clove Hitch is best used as a temporary cinch or one employed in combination with other knots, given its tendency to slip under inconsistent or directionally shifting loads. .

No question, though, that its ease of tying and its adjustability when formed give it wide utility for securing rope or slings to posts, pilings, rods, trees, carabiners, and other vertical and horizontal cylinders.

How to Tie the Clove Hitch

As we’ll get to, there are a few ways to make a Clove Hitch, but this step-by-step breakdown will present the “endline” method—aka, forming the knot with a rope end. (Be sure to read the section on “Variations” for insight into the “midline” version of the Clove Hitch.) 

Clove Hitch 1

(1) Make a turn around the post with the running end. 

Clove Hitch 2

(2) Make another turn that begins by crossing the running end over the standing end.

Clove Hitch 3

(3) Tuck the tail of the running end under the second turn.

Clove Hitch 4

(4) Cinch tightly by pulling both ends.

Clove Hitch 5

Tips on Tying the Knot

Many folks finish the Clove Hitch with one or two stopper-style half hitches around the standing end, which makes the knot more secure.

Variations on Tying the Knot

You can also create a Clove Hitch in the middle of a rope by forming two successive loops and slipping them over the end of a post- or stake-like object, then pulling the ends tight.

This midline version of the Clove Hitch is, for many applications, the more secure form compared to its endline counterpart, as the knot is less likely to spill when there’s pull from both ends of the rope. For many purposes securing lighter loads or making temporary holds, though, the endline Clove Hitch works just fine in a pinch.

A one-handed method of tying the Clove Hitch also uses loops in the middle of a rope. 

Making a couple of extra turns in both the first and second turn of the standard Clove Hitch produces the Double Clove Hitch, a stronger and more secure variation.

Meanwhile, forming a bight in the rope tail and tucking this under the second turn in the final step of the Clove Hitch creates a slipped version readily spilled with a sharp tug.

Advantages of This Knot

The Clove Hitch is quick to tie, whether you’re using the rope-end or midline loop method. One clear advantage of the hitch is that it can be fashioned when the other end of the rope is under load, as when docking a boat in wind or swells. 

Another major advantage of the Clove Hitch is the fact that it can be adjusted when formed, so one can quickly lengthen or shorten the running and standing ends of the rope. That’s helpful when tying additional knots in the rope, for example, or for lowering or raising curtains or tarps.

Being able to tie into an anchor or temporarily secure a rope to the end of a post using only one hand is another reason the Clove Hitch is a go-to knot.

Disadvantages of the Knot

Handy as the Clove Hitch is for securing an item to a post or anchor, it isn’t one to rely on by itself for important attachments. The hitch is prone to slipping, especially when the direction of the load shifts about (as, for example, a boat attached to a piling might) and when the rope alternates between loaded and unloaded.

Especially in thinner ropes, furthermore, the Clove Hitch may become very difficult to untie after being subjected to heavy strain. 

It’s also important to note that the Clove Hitch offers a more secure hold around a rounded cylindrical object; it’s less effective and more insecure tied around a square-edged post.

History of the Knot

According to the venerable Ashley Book of Knots, the Clove Hitch is clearly shown in artwork dating back at least to the early 16th century, though that reference suggests the name was first used in Falconer’s Universal Dictionary of the Marine from 1769.

Speaking of, how about this hitch’s etymology? The backside of the knot appearing as two parallel strands explains the Clove Hitch’s name, in the sense of “cleave” or “divide.”

Uses for the Clove Hitch

When its potential for slipping and binding is taken into account, the Clove Hitch can be used in many, many ways for multiple activities and projects.

Survival Situations

Use the Clove Hitch to secure lines to erect a tarp shelter, lash scaffolding (in combination with other knots), hang items, secure arm slings, or accomplish any number of other tasks in a survival context.

Fishing

Temporarily secure your boat to a dock or tree with the Clove Hitch, or string up fish with it.

Hunting

The Clove Hitch’s usefulness in stringing up items or in square lashing certainly have application in hunting. You can use the midline Clove Hitch to pull gear up into your tree stand, too.  

Camping

Clove Hitches are a camper’s best friend when it comes to adjusting guylines under tension, setting up a campsite hammock, hanging a bear bag, and the like.

Climbing

Quick to tie and allowing for adjusting the length of anchored rope, the Clove Hitch is widely used by climbers for specific purposes: tying into anchored locking carabiners when belaying, securing slings around natural anchors such as rock pillars, and more. 

Around the House/Other

Clove Hitches are widely used in theater work to hang curtains or draperies. You can also use them to construct rope ladders, or to connect ropes to stanchions for cordoning off spaces.

Related Knots

Many knots share similarities with the Clove Hitch. The Strangle Knot and Constrictor Hitch, for example, have much in common with the tying of the Clove Hitch. Alternatives to the Clove Hitch for similar applications include the Round Turn & Two Half Hitches, the Rolling Hitch, and the Bowline; for attaching to carabiners in certain situations, climbers may use the Figure Eight Knot, the Slipknot, or the Girth Hitch, for example, rather than the Clove Hitch.

How To Tie a Clove Hitch Illustration:

Begin with a round turn around the object and cross overClove Hitch 1
Make another turnClove Hitch 2
Pass the end under the second turn and pull through and tightenClove Hitch 3