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Icicle Hitch: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering the Knot

The icicle hitch is a highly versatile and practical knot known for its ability to secure a rope to a post or pole under substantial loads. This unique hitch excels when force is applied in a single direction, parallel to the post or pole. Thanks to its firm grip and resistance to slipping, it has been recommended by experts as a superior slide-and-grip knot compared to other alternatives, such as the rolling hitch.

Icicle Hitch

Designed to maintain its hold on smooth and even tapered surfaces, the icicle hitch serves a variety of purposes in different situations. Its strength lies in its ability to hoist or drag a post vertically or in a direction parallel to the post. This characteristic makes the icicle hitch an invaluable knot for anyone seeking a reliable and secure connection in challenging circumstances.

In addition to its utility in the world of sailing and boating, the icicle hitch finds applications in camping, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities requiring robust rope connections. Mastery of this knot is a valuable skill to add to one’s arsenal, and learning how to tie an icicle hitch can significantly enhance one’s confidence and competence in various demanding scenarios.

Fundamentals of Icicle Hitch

The Icicle Hitch is a useful knot commonly used to connect a length of rope to a post or pole when force is applied parallel to the post in one direction. It provides a secure grip and can hold a significant load even on smooth or tapered surfaces. Its name is derived from its ability to grip a tapered post, like an icicle. This section will discuss the components of the hitch and how to tie it using a rope and a post.

Components of the Hitch

The main parts of the Icicle Hitch include the rope, the post or pole, and the loops that form the hitch. The rope is essential, as it is used to tie the hitch around the post. It is crucial to choose a rope with adequate strength and flexibility for the task at hand. The post, or pole, is the object around which the hitch is tied. It is typically cylindrical and may have a smooth or tapered surface. The loops created during the process of tying the hitch are what provide the secure grip and hold the load in place.

To tie an Icicle Hitch, follow these steps:

  1. Make a loop around the post or pole with the rope, starting from the bottom and working upwards.
  2. Wrap the rope around the post several times, ensuring that each wrap lies above the previous one.
  3. Create a bight with the rope (a U-shaped bend) and thread it under all the wraps around the post.
  4. Tighten the hitch by pulling the rope’s free end tight, ensuring that the bight is snug under the wraps.

The Icicle Hitch’s gripping strength comes from the multiple wraps around the post, which allow for even distribution of the load. The loop and bight formed in the process help secure the load by providing additional support and stability. Overall, the Icicle Hitch is a practical and versatile knot that is beneficial in various applications where a strong and secure grip is needed on a post or pole.

Tying the Icicle Hitch

To Tie an Icicle Hitch:

Take at least four turns around the rail or spar. Take more if an exceptionally secure hitch is required.Icicle Hitch 1
With the working end, create a generous loop hanging down behind the standing part.Icicle Hitch 1
Pass this loop in front of all other parts and drop it, without twisting, over the end of the spar.Icicle Hitch 3
Draw everything up tight by pulling first the standing part and then the working end at right-angles to the spar. Now tighten it all again. Only then can the load be carefully applied, and the knot pulled out to the shape shown.Icicle Hitch 4

The Icicle Hitch is a versatile and reliable knot used for attaching a rope to a pole or object with a smooth surface, often employed when lifting or dragging the object. This hitch provides excellent grip and can even hold on tapered objects, such as an icicle or a tapered pole.

Step-by-Step Process

  1. Identify the working end: Start by identifying the working end of the rope, which is the part you will use to tie the knot.
  2. Wrap the rope around the pole: Wrap the working end of the rope around the pole or object, moving from right to left. Make sure that the rope wraps around the pole at least four times, laying the wraps neatly next to each other without crossing.
  3. Create a loop: After the fourth wrap, form a loop with the working end by bringing it under the standing part of the rope (the section leading back to the rest of the rope). The loop should be large enough to encompass the previous wraps.
  4. Introduce the working end to the loop: Feed the working end through the loop from the top, moving towards the end of the pole.
  5. Tighten the knot: Gently pull the working end to tighten the knot, making sure that the wraps remain neat and well-organized around the pole. The tighter the knot becomes, the stronger its grip on the pole will be.
  6. Tie a stopper knot: To secure the Icicle Hitch further, you can optionally tie a stopper knot on the working end of the rope close to the hitch.

The Icicle Hitch is similar to the prusik knot, with the main difference being that the latter is typically tied using a loop of rope. The Icicle Hitch’s ability to maintain its grip even on smooth and tapered surfaces makes it a valuable addition to any knot-tying repertoire.

Comparing Icicle Hitch with Other Hitches

Icicle Hitch vs. Rolling Hitch

The Icicle Hitch is a strong slide-and-grip knot used to connect a rope to the end of a pole and is known for its ability to hold substantial weight even on smooth or tapered surfaces source. On the other hand, the Rolling Hitch is primarily used to attach a rope to another rope, rod, or spar when the direction of pull is mainly along the object.

The main advantage of the Icicle Hitch over the Rolling Hitch is its superior gripping ability on smooth or tapered objects. While the Rolling Hitch provides a reasonable grip, it may be prone to slipping under extreme loads or on very smooth surfaces.

Icicle Hitch vs. Klemheist Knot

The Klemheist Knot is another friction hitch that can be used for ascending or descending a rope or as a safety backup on a rappel. It is relatively easy to tie, adjust, and untie. The Icicle Hitch, though not commonly used for these purposes, is better suited for connecting to a smooth or tapered object like a pole and hoisting or dragging it vertically or parallel to the post source.

When it comes to gripping power, the Icicle Hitch usually outperforms the Klemheist Knot on smooth or tapered objects. However, if the application involves rope-on-rope situations, the Klemheist Knot may be the better option due to its simplicity and ease of adjustment.

Icicle Hitch vs. Prusik Knot

The Prusik Knot is a well-known friction hitch often used by climbers for ascending or backing up a rappel and can be easily adjusted and moved along the rope. While the Icicle Hitch provides strong grip and holding power on smooth, tapered surfaces, it is not typically used for the same scenarios as the Prusik Knot.

In a direct comparison, the Icicle Hitch has a stronger grip on smooth or tapered objects, but the Prusik Knot is generally more versatile due to its ease of adjustment and use in various climbing and safety applications. When choosing between these knots, consider the specific purpose and environment in which they will be used to determine the most suitable option.

Applications of the Icicle Hitch

Hoisting a Spar

The Icicle Hitch is an excellent knot for hoisting a spar or other similar objects, as it provides a secure connection capable of bearing a substantial load. This hitch holds its place even on a smooth surface, ensuring that the item being hoisted remains stable throughout the process 1. When the force is applied parallel to a post or pole in only one direction, the Icicle Hitch is superior to other slide and grip knots, including the Rolling Hitch 2.

Gripping Tapered Posts

Another notable application of the Icicle Hitch is its ability to grip tapered posts. Thanks to its unique slide-and-grip properties, the knot remains secure even on tapered surfaces 3. This feature makes the Icicle Hitch an ideal choice for tying cylindrical objects that require a lengthwise pull, as it offers a reliable and strong hold without slipping during use 4.

In conclusion, the Icicle Hitch is a versatile and practical knot for various applications, including hoisting objects like spars and gripping tapered surfaces. As a confident, knowledgeable, and clear resource on the Icicle Hitch, this section has focused on its most relevant and useful aspects without exaggeration or false claims.


  1. Icicle hitch – Wikipedia
  2. Icicle Hitch (End Method) – Animated Knots by Grog
  3. Icicle Hitch | How to tie the Icicle Hitch animated, illustrated and …
  4. How To Tie An Icicle Hitch Knot – Boat Safe

Advantages of Icicle Hitch

The icicle hitch is a versatile and effective knot that offers several benefits, making it a useful addition to any sailor, climber, or outdoors enthusiast’s skillset. One of the primary advantages of the icicle hitch is its ability to hold a substantial load on a smooth surface. This knot’s design allows it to maintain its grip even on slick or polished surfaces, such as a metal mast or pole1.

Another benefit of the icicle hitch is its superior gripping capability on tapered objects. Unlike many other knots, the icicle hitch can maintain its hold on tapered or conical objects, such as an icicle or the end of a mast2. This feature improves its performance in various situations, providing increased functionality and versatility.

While many knots tend to experience twisting under load, the icicle hitch remains stable and maintains its directionality when pulled parallel to the secured object3. This quality ensures a consistent hold and reduces the risk of slipping or loosening, enhancing safety and reliability.

In summary:

  • Effective on smooth surfaces
  • Superior gripping on tapered objects
  • Minimal twisting under load
  • Consistent and reliable hold

The icicle hitch is an essential knot to master for anyone working with ropes and encountering diverse scenarios. By understanding its advantages and incorporating it into your repertoire, you can ensure a more confident, knowledgeable, and well-rounded approach to knot tying.


  1. Icicle Hitch – Wikipedia
  2. How To Tie An Icicle Hitch Knot – Boat Safe
  3. Icicle Hitch | How to tie the Icicle Hitch animated, illustrated and described

Icicle Hitch Knot Resources and References

The International Guild of Knot Tyers is an organization that gathers knot enthusiasts from around the world to share knowledge, techniques, and skills. They often publish articles on various knot techniques, including the Icicle Hitch Knot. Their periodical, Knotting Matters, is an excellent source of practical knot-tying advice.

In the world of sailing, the Practical Sailor is a respected publication that provides in-depth articles and reviews on various sailing and boating equipment. They occasionally feature articles on knot tying techniques, which could include the Icicle Hitch Knot. Referencing these articles can enhance your understanding of the Icicle Hitch Knot and its practical applications in the marine world.

Many informative resources are available online for learning how to tie the Icicle Hitch Knot. Animated Knots by Grog offers a clear, step-by-step video tutorial on tying the knot using the rope end method. The tutorial is confident and knowledgeable, making it easy for learners to understand and follow.

Another useful resource is a guide to tying an Icicle Hitch Knot on MasterClass. This article explains the best circumstances for using this knot and offers helpful tips for tying it effectively. The tone of the article is clear and neutral, fostering trust in the information provided.

Lastly, NetKnots features a well-illustrated guide on tying the Icicle Hitch. This resource clearly demonstrates how the knot is used for connecting to a post or pole, even when dragging it in a direction parallel to the post.

These resources provide a solid foundation for learning and understanding the Icicle Hitch Knot. Leveraging these references and the shared knowledge of expert organizations like the International Guild of Knot Tyers, you can confidently master the Icicle Hitch Knot and its various applications.


The Icicle hitch is an effective knot for connecting a rope to a post or a bar when a specific direction of pull is maintained. Its ability to hold weight under tension makes it suitable for various applications, both in survival situations and everyday usage.

When tying an Icicle hitch, it is essential to ensure that the bight is appropriately formed and wraps securely around the object. The standing part and standing end should be tight and firm to maintain a strong connection. As the knot involves gripping the object under tension, the user should ensure that the turns are wrapped tightly around the bar, maximizing the friction and preventing slippage.

The Icicle hitch proves valuable in various settings as it can handle both small and large loads. Its adaptability makes it one of the most trusted hitches by adventurers, climbers, and sailors alike. This knot is highly advantageous for securing ropes to poles and bars, transferring weight from one line to another, and connecting lines under load.

In summary, the Icicle hitch is a versatile, reliable, and robust knot that can be beneficial in many situations. Its characteristics make it an ideal choice for connecting lines to objects, holding substantial weight, and maintaining tension along the direction of pull. By understanding how to tie this hitch correctly and implementing it in the appropriate scenarios, one can achieve a dependable and secure connection that is unmatched by other hitches.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you tie an icicle hitch?

To tie an icicle hitch, follow these step-by-step instructions. Begin by looping the rope around the pole or object multiple times, ensuring that each loop is parallel to the pole. Next, pass the working end over the standing part and through the loops. Finally, pull the working end tight to secure the hitch.

What is the purpose of an icicle hitch?

The primary purpose of an icicle hitch is to connect a length of rope to the end of a pole or other similar object, especially when you need to hoist or drag it. The icicle hitch is a slide-and-grip knot that is designed to provide strong grip and resistance in one direction, making it suitable for holding substantial loads on smooth or tapered surfaces.

What are the primary uses for an icicle hitch?

The icicle hitch is commonly used for hoisting or dragging objects like poles or beams in a direction parallel to the object. It can also be used to secure loads on smooth or tapered surfaces, such as an icicle or a tree branch, where other knots might not hold as effectively. In situations where you need to lift heavy or awkward objects, such as during rescue operations or construction work, the icicle hitch can be a reliable choice.

Is the icicle hitch a secure knot for heavy loads?

Yes, the icicle hitch is a secure knot for heavy loads. It is known for its strong grip and ability to hold significant weight, even on smooth or tapered surfaces. Its slide-and-grip design ensures that the hitch remains in place under tension, making it an excellent option for lifting or dragging heavy objects.

Can an icicle hitch be tied with both rope and cord?

The icicle hitch can be tied with both rope and cord, as long as the material being used is flexible and strong enough to bear the load. When using cord, it is essential to ensure that the cord is of high quality and has sufficient strength for the intended purpose.

What are some other alternatives to the icicle hitch?

Some alternatives to the icicle hitch include the Klemheist hitch and the Prusik hitch. Both of these hitches are also slide-and-grip knots that can serve similar purposes, such as securing loads or attaching a rope to a pole or object. However, they may have slight differences in grip, security, and ease of tying compared to the icicle hitch, so it is essential to choose the most suitable knot based on the specific situation and requirements.