Taut-Line Hitch

A step-by-step guide for tying a taut-line hitch.

How to Tie a Taut-Line Hitch

Step 1: The taut-line has to go around a standing object, with one standing line under tension, and the working end which ties the knot.

Step 2: Circle the working end around the standing line twice. 

Step 3: Thread the working end back above the two loops and beneath the working line.  

Step 4: Pass the tag through the loop created in step three and pull it tight. 

Step 5: Adjust the taut-line hitch along the standing line to maintain tension. 

About the Taut-Line

Use this adjustable knot on rope lines that need adjustment to maintain tension. You can slide the hitch to change the size of the loop, changing the length of the standing rope without having to retie the entire knot. It’s used in a wide range of applications, including by astronauts while repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. 

There are many variations of the taut-line hitch, all with properties that suit them towards specific applications. When a knot has to be secure, make sure you’re using the optimum variation for the application.

Related Knots

Blake’s hitch: a popular climbing knot that adds an extra loop to the taut-line, and a figure-eight stopper knot for greater security. 

Friction hitches: these hitches are adjustable knots that ratchet, or capture progress on a rope. 

Magnus hitch: some prefer this variation of the taut-line because it’s less likely to twist on the standing line, but it’s also more prone to slippage. 

Rolling hitch: similar to a magnus hitch, the rolling hitch allows movement in a single direction along a standing rope. 

Trucker’s hitch: this knot is like the taut-line, but allows you to pull greater tension on a load, creating a ratchet-strap effect. 

When to Use a Taut-Line Hitch

For light-duty jobs that require flexibility, the taut-line hitch is easy to tie and adjust. 

For Survival

Anytime you’re building a shelter against the elements, the taut-line hitch is vital. It allows you to turn a simple tarp into a shelter with tension. Unlike the trucker hitch, it doesn’t create the tension, but it allows you to maintain tension without retying the knot. It’s ideal for easy-duty jobs, like securing a tarp or rain fly. 

While Camping

Some of the most common applications of the taut-line are while camping. You can use it to tighten the guy lines of your tent, or secure the rain fly. Anytime you have a line under tension, the taut-line is ideal for maintaining that tension without stress or hassle.

With Other Knots

Depending on the material of the rope or line, it may be difficult to get the taut line to hold. In those situations, you can add a finishing half-hitch to the line for greater security.

Around the House

The taut-line is easy enough to tie that everyone in the family can create the hitch. If you need an emergency clothesline, the taut-line hitch provides reliable tension. Kids can learn to create their own outdoor forts and tents by using taut-line hitches to secure the edges of tarps or blankets.