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How To Tie The Running Bowline Knot

The Running Bowline knot is popular among boaters, climbers, campers, and arborists. It’s a strong knot and forms a slip-knot with a loop that can be secured around anything and then easily undone when finished, saving the length of rope.

While several other types of slip-knots exist, this knot has many advantages, including that it won’t bend or seize up around the standing end. It helps attach one piece of rope to another or link one piece of cord around itself to strap a lid down or for general line-tightening purposes. 

The Running Bowline is a variation of the Basic Bowline that allows the knot to slide (or run) along the line. The Running Bowline is not only strong and secure, but it does not reduce the strength of a line. It slides easily and, as with the Basic Bowline, unties easily even after heavy use.

How To Tie the Running Bowline Knot

Use a rope or cord with smaller thickness to practice tying this knot. 

Step 1

Running Bowline 1

Layout the rope in the shape of a bight. The loop the bight forms will be the noose that goes around an object. Feel free to thread the working end of the rope around the object first if your situation allows. 

Step 2

Running Bowline 2

Focusing on the right-hand side of the bight, form one overhand loop. It must be an overhand loop, or the knot will be tied incorrectly. Ensure this is done by checking the crossing point that the loop forms. The working end should go over the rest of the standing line on the right side of the bight. 

Step 3

Running Bowline 3

Run the working end of the line over the other side of the bight so that the bight lines touch each other.  

Step 4

Running Bowline 4

Wrap the working end of the line under both sides of the bight lines and up through the center of the overhand loop from underneath. 

Step 5

Running Bowline 5

Wrap the working end of the line over the top of the overhand loop to the right of the standing part of the bight and then under the standing line of the right side of the bight.

Step 6

Running Bowline 6

Bring the line’s working end through the center of the newly formed noose and down through the center of the overhand loop from the top, never from underneath.

Step 7

Running Bowline 7

At the same time, pull the standing end of the right side of the bight and the working end of the line in the opposite direction. Pulling in both directions tightens and sets the loop. The knot is ready to use.

For a more in-depth tutorial on how to tie this knot, make sure to check out our video!

You can get all kinds of lengths of 550 lb paracord at Amazon to practice this knot or for use tying the trucker”™s hitch.

Tips on Tying the Running Bowline Knot

  • Beginners might find it easier to tie this knot while the line is wrapped around an object, placing slight tension on the standing end of the line. 
  • If the knot remains high overhead, it will be helpful to tie a longer lead line to the outside of the working end of the rope before tightening and setting the knot. Pulling on that will release the knot and allow the ability to retrieve the rope. 
  • Although this knot can be used with any cordage, it works best with rope rather than a fishing line.

Variations on Tying the Running Bowline Knot

Depending on the situation, it could be more helpful to tie the Running Bowline knot on the working end and then pass the standing end through the knot after. The Double Bowline knot is a variation of the Running Bowline knot, which has two overhand loops to pass the working end through rather than just one. Some feel this makes the knot even more durable.

Advantages of the Running Bowline Knot

The primary benefits of the Running Bowline knot include: 

  • ease of learning
  • used to secure lids or tie-down objects
  • ease of tightening a line to an object
  • the ability to release the knot and retrieve the cord at any time

Disadvantages of the Running Bowline Knot

Whereas this knot is strong and has various uses, this knot can only be undone if it can be reached. If the knot is tied incorrectly, it can form a noose that won’t loosen up. If the knot seizes up, it can cause severe injury or even be fatal. If two ropes are connected, but a continual load is placed on one of those ropes, each rope can suffer wear and tear at the touchpoint, causing the rope to weaken. 

History of the Running Bowline Knot

An age-old knot, the Running Bowline has been used for centuries, finding its origins in sailing, dating as far back as 1571. Sailors used the knot to hold the sails tightly to the bowline of the ship, to the point where the wind would not rip the sail from the boat.

Uses for the Running Bowline Knot 

The Running Bowline knot has multiple uses and is a highly versatile knot. 

Survival Situations

The ability to tighten this knot with a noose around it is beneficial for joining two pieces of rope together to form a much longer rope. Two ropes might need to be joined together when attempting to retrieve a fallen object, rescue someone from a fall, or keep a person from falling further. 


Running Bowline knots are popular among boaters, as it allows the ability to secure a boat to the tie-down point on a dock. The boat stays if the boat is pulling on the rope. While out on the water, the noose this knot forms helps retrieve items that may have fallen overboard. 


Hunters can make snares for small animals with the Running Bowline knot. Because the noose part tightens with tension, small animals getting caught will keep pulling the rope or cord to escape, keeping the animal trapped.


The Running Bowline knot is most helpful in staking out tents, hammocks, and rainfly shelters for each. With this knot, a person doesn’t have to adjust the length of the rope manually with a new loop each time. Instead, a person can tie the knot once and move the stakes to the appropriate size to keep the lines taught. Throwing a rope over a higher tree branch allows the ability to secure a bear bag with food high off the ground, safely away from camp. 

Around the House

Running Bowline knots are helpful to use when pruning tree branches. The knot tightens a noose around the branch and allows the person pulling on the rope to guide the section safely to the ground after cutting. For smaller applications, people might find tying the knot around parcels or even gift packages to be helpful. This knot is also advantageous for stringing up and tightening a clothesline. 

Related Knots

For more exciting and helpful knots, including the Double Bowline knot, click here

How To Tie a Running Bowline:

Form a bight and loop in the working end of the rope, and pass the working end under the standing part.Running Bowline 1
Take the working end around the standing part and down through the loop.Running Bowline 2
Take the working end behind the bight and back through the loop a second time.Running Bowline 3
Adjust the size of the loop in the line around the standing part and tighten the bowline.Running Bowline 4