The Figure Eight Knot is an extremely versatile and useful stopper knot with many applications. These range from boating to angling, climbing, and even jewelry making. However, some of its most common uses are in climbing.
The Figure Eight is similar to the Overhand Knot, but is often preferred because it does not share the Overhand’s tendency to jam. This ensures that it can be untied easily and without placing extra strain on cords.
Though the knot isn’t perfect, its simplicity and versatility make it a foundation for many other stopper knots. It should be in every enthusiast’s mental arsenal.
How To Tie The Figure Eight Knot
The Figure Eight knot is incredibly simple and straightforward. You can learn it in mere minutes and complete it even more quickly, should you ever have the need.
1. Arrange Your Cord In An S Shape
Lay out a single cord horizontally, then arrange it so that it forms the letter S, with the upper part slightly larger than the lower part.
2. Drop The Upper Part Of The S
Reverse the direction of the top part of the S so that it hangs below the bottom part, forming a small loop on the right. Both tails should now be facing your left as you look at the cord.
3. Pull The Tail Up
Guide the bottom tail behind the main loop and position it so that it hangs upward.
4. Guide The Tail Through The Loop
Pull the tail through the loop to form a second loop on the left. At this point, the cord should resemble an upside-down pretzel shape (the figure eight for which the knot is named).
5. Pull Tight To Complete The Knot
Pull both tails until the knot tightens.
Tips on Tying The Figure Eight Knot
Make sure that there is plenty of space on the rope where you are constructing your knot. There should be at least two feet between the knot and the end of the tail. To add extra security, add a Backup knot against the main Figure Eight knot.
For a more in-depth tutorial and additional information on the Figure Eight knot, check out our video!
Variations On The Figure Eight Knot
There are many variations on the Figure Eight Knot, which can serve as the foundation for other knots. These variations often have different strengths or are better suited for specific uses. The basic Figure Eight is used as a base for many knots used in climbing. These include but are not limited to the Figure Eight Bend, Figure Eight on a Bight, Figure Eight Follow Through, Double Figure Eight Knot
Advantages Of The Figure Eight Knot
There are a few distinct advantages of the Figure Eight Knot. Most significant is its high success rate, which means that it is a secure knot that is not likely to slip. This is extremely important considering its widespread use in climbing and rescue situations.
Another advantage is that the Figure Eight Knot is simple and easy to learn. Even more importantly, it can be constructed and deconstructed very quickly, which makes it reliable in an emergency.
Disadvantages Of The Figure Eight Knot
The main disadvantage of the Figure Eight Knot is that it is not as strong as some comparable knots used in similar situations. For this reason, you might want to use it for lighter loads. Alternatively, you can use variations of the Figure Eight Knot that are stronger or reinforce it with a Backup Knot.
History Of The Figure Eight Knot
The Figure Eight Knot has been used for hundreds of years and is recorded in the book “Sheet Anchor”, published in 1808. At the time, it was most widely used in shipping as a basic stopper knot. Sailors used it to secure tackle and rigging, among other things. It is still used in various capacities in sailing to this day.
The Figure Eight, also called the Figure-of-Eight or Flemish Knot, gained popularity because it was easy to tie and untie — much more so than other similar knots used on ships. What is more, the Figure Eight is not prone to jamming, which can cause stress to rope fibers.
Uses For The Figure Eight Knot
The Figure Eight Knot is simple, reliable, and versatile. For these reasons, it has many uses. It is commonly combined with other knots to make stronger versions with even more versatility.
Most commonly, the Figure Eight Knot is used in climbing situations, such as forming attachments to climbing harnesses. It is also used to construct paracord bracelets. These are often combined with other knots (such as a Backup) or used as the base for variations on the classic Figure Eight Knot to add more security.
Although these situations are not explicitly survival situations, they may be applied in the same way in performing rescues or lifting someone who is injured.
The Figure Eight had its start on boats, and still has uses in angling and sailing today. Anglers often use it to connect their hooklength and mainline.
Some hunters use Figure Eight Knots to secure themselves to trees or game platforms. This is a simple reimagination of using the knot for climbing or hanging objects.
Since the Figure Eight is so versatile, there are many potential uses for it in camping — even if just as a stopper for other knot types. It is often used for hanging objects, such as tire swings or hammocks.
Around The House/Other
The Figure Eight has many other uses, both practical and decorative. It is often used in making jewelry, maintaining horse tails, hanging objects like swings, or designing aesthetic objects like napkin rings.