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How To Tie a Figure Eight Knot

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. 

Key Takeaways

  • The Figure Eight Knot is a versatile and essential stopper knot used in various activities such as sailing and rock climbing.
  • Tying the knot requires forming a single eight and retracing it with the free end while maintaining a loop of the desired size.
  • Different applications and adaptations make the Figure Eight Knot a valuable skill to have in one’s knot-tying arsenal.

How To Tie The Figure Eight Knot

Video Instructions:

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. 

Illustrated Instructions:

Double over the rope and form a loop.Figure eight loop 1
Now bring the doubled working end over the doubled standing part and back up through the original loop.Figure eight loop 2
Pull the doubled working end through the original loop and slowly draw the knot together by pulling the loop and the main standing part.Figure eight loop 3
Tighten the final knot, making sure that the figure eight pattern and the loop have been correctly formed.Figure eight loop 4

Step By Step Photos of the Figure Eight Knot

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. 

Survival Situations

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. 

ses and Applications

The Figure Eight Knot, also known as the Flemish Knot or Savoy Knot, is a versatile and widely used knot in various activities. It is one of the most popular knots due to its simplicity, strength, and ease of untying even after being subjected to a load.

In climbing, the knot is highly regarded for its safety and functionality. Climbers often use the Figure Eight Loop, created by tying a figure 8 knot with a bight of rope, for attaching their climbing harness to the climbing rope using a carabiner. This knot can be easily inspected to ensure it is tied correctly, providing a vital safety check before any climb. Additionally, climbers use a variation of the knot called the Figure 8 Bend, also known as the Flemish Bend, for joining two ropes of different diameters.

In sailing, the Figure Eight Knot is commonly used as a stopper knot, preventing ropes from slipping through retaining devices. It is particularly useful when compared to the more basic Overhand Knot, because it is less likely to jam, making it easier to untie and adjust. The knot can be tied to the standing end of a rope to secure it to a vessel’s mast or other points.

Some other applications of the Figure Eight Knot and its variations include:

  • Rescue operations: The Figure 8 on a Bight is used for creating a secure loop that can be attached to a carabiner for lowering or hauling purposes.
  • Arborists: The knot is used to secure ropes during tree work, effectively handling the load while still being easy to untie.
  • General safety uses: The knot can be employed as a simple stopper knot in various situations where preventing the end of the rope from slipping through a hole or a device is essential.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The figure-eight knot, also known as the figure-of-eight knot, is extensively used in rock climbing as a tie-in knot and has numerous applications in various fields. This knot offers reliability and security when properly tied, making it a vital component of climbers’ and rescue teams’ toolkits.


One significant advantage of the figure-eight knot is its ability to withstand pressure and maintain its stability. The knot is designed to hold the user’s weight during a fall, providing a secure connection to their climbing harness. Additionally, the figure-eight knot is usually easy to untie compared to other knots, even after being exposed to a heavy load or shock. This makes it much more practical for climbers, as they can efficiently undo the knot when necessary.

The figure-eight follow-through knot, a variation of the original knot, is a trusted choice for climbers as a tie-in knot because it’s easy to visually inspect. The figure-eight directional knot, on the other hand, is suitable for load-bearing in one direction, making it a useful option for certain rescue and rigging operations.


Despite its benefits, the figure-eight knot has a few drawbacks. One major downside is that it can be more challenging to untie after being subjected to a shock load. For example, the directional figure-eight knot can become difficult to undo after bearing significant weight. This may cause delays in rescue operations or other scenarios where time is critical.

Another disadvantage is that the knot can be prone to capsizing and constriction if the load pulls from the wrong direction. This can cause the knot to become unstable and potentially unsafe. It’s crucial to ensure the knot is correctly tied and appropriately loaded for the intended application.

Moreover, the knot may not be suitable for all types of ropes or situations. It’s necessary to assess the specific requirements and conditions before deciding whether the figure-eight knot or one of its variations is the most suitable choice.

Related Knots

The Figure Eight Knot is related to the Overhand Knot and the Ashley Stopper Knot.