A grass knot is comprised of two overhand knots. It’s a beginner-friendly knot that is commonly used in climbing to join two ends of webbing.
Other uses include making a sling, building hammocks, and rescue operations. Given it’s usefulness and versatility, it’s a knot everyone should have in their skill set. It’s also known as the water knot, ring bend, tape knot, European death knot, and overhand follow through.
How to Tie a Grass Knot
Tying a grass knot is relatively simple. The method creates an overhand knot and then traces the knot with the second piece.
1. Make a loop with the first piece and pass the end of the piece through the loop.
2. Pull the knot semi-tight, leaving enough space for the other piece to pass through.
3. Pass the second piece through the first knot.
4. Bring the second piece around the knot and pass it through the frontal wrap of the first knot.
5. Hold both pieces on each end and pull tight.
Tips on Tying The Knot
Leave the tails at least 3 inches long to prevent the knot from pulling loose. Pull evenly when tightening the knot. When threading the second piece, follow the path of the first knot starting at the end and working your way to the beginning. When using flat pieces of material like leather or straps, keep them flat when tying the knot. Leave the first overhand knot loose until you finish threading the second piece through.
To increase the security of the knot, you can use each end to tie a double overhand knot around the standing part. This will prevent the tails from slipping loose. Before using the knot, you’ll need to secure it. You can do this by pulling it tight. If you’ve created a loop or sling, place your foot in the loop and pull with your hands.
Variations On Tying the Knot
A variation on the grass knot is the flemish bend, or figure 8 bend. It begins with a loose figure 8 knot instead of an overhand knot. To create a figure 8 knot, pass the tail end over itself to form a loop. Then bring it over and around the starting end. Lastly, bring the tail down through the loop. Thread the second rope through the figure 8, beginning with the tail end and working parallel to the first rope.
Advantages of this Knot
The grass knot is easy to tie, making it accessible for beginners. It can be used to join two lines, and it’s ideal for broad materials like leather straps as well as rope. When tied properly with plenty of tail length, it’s a strong knot that can handle a lot of weight.
The flatness of the knot makes it perfect for tying tubular webbing. It also makes it less likely to snag on rocks, which is important in rock climbing. While it’s commonly used for webbing, it can also be used to connect two pieces of rope. The knot works well with ropes of same and differing sizes.
Disadvantages of the knot
The knot can fail. In most cases, this is due to not enough tail being left. The knot has failed and caused death. However, this occurs under very specific conditions. First, the knot must move significantly under load to pull the tail out. The exterior strand is loaded from the top. A downwards pull by the interior strand combined with a snag on the exterior strand will cause them to pull away. This can be prevented by orienting the knot in the opposite way, and tying it high.
History of the Knot
The original history of the knot isn’t known. What we do know is that it’s often called the European Death knot. It’s believed this name came about when American climbers were taught the knot by Europeans. This name has likely contributed to controversy over the knot. Thomas Moyer performed tests on the grass knot, and the related figure 8 bend, in 1999.
His research found that the figure 8 knot failed at a load of 750 lbs, while the grass knot, aka European death knot, failed at 1,400 lbs. Despite concerns of snagging and the tail pulling loose, the grass knot, it’s asymmetrical and low profile, which reduces the chances of snagging. There are also accidents attributed to the grass knot that actually occurred with a figure 8 bend.
Uses For The Grass Knot
The grass knot is very useful in survival situations. It can be used to create a sling if you are injured. It can create webbing to move supplies or a person. It can also be used to create a carrying handle for supplies. It’s also used in rescue situations to create webbing, secure an anchor point, or attach a rescue net.
The grass knot has many uses in climbing. It can be used to join two pieces of webbing, or creating a webbing loop. It can also be used to tie a repelling anchor.
Around the House
You can use the grass knot to create and secure a hammock made from webbing. You can also use the water knot and webbing to make a slackline.
Sheet Bend: used for joining lines of different diameters
Square knot: doesn’t work as well for webbing
Beer knot: more complex to tie and difficult to perform safety checks, sometimes preferred over grass knot