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Triple Bowline Knot: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering This Essential Knot

The triple bowline knot is a versatile and practical variation of the classic bowline knot. With its three loops, it offers greater stability and strength when compared to a single loop bowline. This knot can be particularly useful in emergency situations, such as mountain rescues, where a secure and reliable connection is crucial.

To tie a triple bowline knot, a doubled rope (using a bight) is required. The process is similar to tying the original bowline, but with additional loops for enhanced stability. Climbers, outdoors enthusiasts, and rescue personnel can benefit from mastering this knot, as it can provide a dependable, non-slip attachment when the need arises.

Whether you’re an experienced rope user or just beginning your journey into the art of knot tying, learning how to tie the triple bowline knot is a valuable skill. It’s easy to practice and remember, making it an essential addition to your knot-tying repertoire.

Triple Bowline Knot Fundamentals


The Triple Bowline Knot is a variation of the well-known Bowline Knot, which is often referred to as the “King of Knots” due to its simplicity and versatility. Combining the terms “triple” and “bowline,” this knot gets its name from having three loops instead of the single loop found in the Bowline Knot.


The Triple Bowline Knot offers increased strength and stability compared to its single-loop counterpart. This is due to the three loops that evenly distribute the load, providing greater holding capacity while maintaining the knot’s non-slip properties. However, it is essential to ensure that the loops are adequately tightened and balanced for optimal performance and safety.

Triple vs. Double Bowline

In comparison to the Double Bowline Knot, the Triple Bowline Knot has an additional loop, which offers further security and stability, particularly in situations where a high load is expected. While both variants share the same knot tying technique, the Triple Bowline is generally preferred in applications requiring larger load-bearing capacity and a higher level of stability.

Tying the Triple Bowline Knot

Use the doubled-up rope to start tying a Figure Eight Loop.Triple Figure 8
Pull through a bight of the doubled line.Triple Figure 8 - 2
Take the loop end and warap it around the top, and then tuck it back down with the other loops.Triple Figure 8 - 3

Step by Step Instructions

To tie a Triple Bowline Knot, follow these steps:

  1. Begin with a bight in the rope – this will serve as the starting point of your knot.
  2. Create a small loop within the bight by twisting the standing part.
  3. Pass the working end of the rope through the loop.
  4. Wrap the working end around the standing part, then bring it back through the loop.
  5. Tighten the knot by pulling on the working end and standing part simultaneously.

The Triple Bowline Knot is relatively easy to tie, and these instructions provide a basic outline to follow.

Video Tutorials

One-Hand Tying

While the Triple Bowline is typically tied with two hands, it is possible to tie the knot with one hand in specific situations. It requires additional practice and dexterity, but this capability can prove beneficial when only one hand is free. Key steps in one-hand tying involve holding the working end and standing part of the rope, then wrapping and manipulating the rope using a range of finger motions. By refining this skill, individuals can enhance their knot-tying competence in various circumstances.

Applications and Uses

Climbing and Anchor Points

The triple bowline knot has essential applications in climbing activities, as it forms three loops that can be fastened to multiple anchor points. These loops provide additional stability and security for climbers, distributing the load more evenly and reducing the chances of slippage. Additionally, the knot’s ease of tying and untying makes it a popular choice for temporary climbing situations where quick adjustments are necessary.

Mountain Rescue and Emergency Situations

In mountain rescue and emergency situations, the triple bowline knot is highly valuable due to its strength and adaptability. The knot’s multiple loops allow for a prompt establishment of multiple anchor points, enabling rescuers to secure themselves, as well as the individuals they are assisting. The triple bowline loop’s density also makes it suitable for use as a heaving line, permitting quick and efficient deployment when time is of the essence.

Age of Sail and Square-Rigged Ships

Historically, the triple bowline knot played a significant role during the Age of Sail, particularly aboard square-rigged ships. The knot’s ability to create multiple secure loops made it ideal for handling square sails by offering versatile attachment points and load distribution. Sailors could easily tie and untie the knot for sail adjustments, contributing to efficient ship operations and effective use of resources. The triple bowline knot’s legacy in square-rigged ships and sailing vessels highlights its versatility and practicality across various applications and environments.

Related Knots and Techniques

There are several variations of the bowline knot that provide different uses and advantages. In this section, we will discuss the Double Bowline, Water Bowline, and Bowline on a Bight.

Double Bowline

The Double Bowline is an extension of the classic bowline knot, formed by creating a figure-eight loop instead of the simple overhand loop. This modification provides extra security and is particularly helpful when working with slippery or stiff ropes. The Double Bowline retains a higher percentage of the rope’s strength and is less prone to loosening under tension than the standard bowline.

Water Bowline

The Water Bowline is another variation that is specifically designed for use in wet conditions. It is tied by starting with a round-turn around the standing part of the rope before forming the classic bowline loop. This additional turn provides increased friction, making the knot more reliable when subjected to water, mud, or other slippery substances. While this knot is not as strong as the Double Bowline, it is valued for its ability to maintain its integrity in wet environments where other knot types may fail.

Bowline on a Bight

The Bowline on a Bight is a versatile and valuable knot that creates a fixed loop in the middle of a rope without requiring access to either end. It is particularly useful for rescue operations, as it can be tied around a person’s waist or as a seat for lifting them to safety. To tie this knot, first form a bight in the rope, then proceed to tie a regular bowline, using the bight itself as the working end. Once the knot is complete, it results in two fixed loops that share the same secure structure as the classic bowline.

Variations and Comparisons

Yosemite Bowline

The Yosemite Bowline is a variation of the standard bowline knot, known for its strength and security. It has an additional wrap around the standing part of the rope, making it less prone to slipping and more resistant to failure. The Yosemite Bowline is often used in climbing applications due to its reliability, especially as an alternative to the traditional bowline. This knot can be further secured by using a backup knot or a slip knot for additional safety measures.

Portuguese and Spanish Bowlines

The Portuguese Bowline creates two fixed loops that are adjustable in size. This knot is useful in rescue operations, as it can be used to secure both legs or arms of a person being lifted. The Spanish Bowline is similar, creating two fixed loops, but is tied in a slightly different manner. Both Portuguese and Spanish Bowlines can be highly versatile for various uses.

Some other related bowline variations are the French Bowline which also creates two loops, and the Running Bowline, forming a noose-like loop.

Eskimo and Dutch Bowlines

The Eskimo Bowline, also known as the Eskimo Bowline on a bight, is another variation of the bowline knot. Instead of making the initial loop around the standing part, it is made around the working end of the rope, resulting in a more stable knot. This knot is commonly used for applications where the load is side pulling. The use of a clove hitch can be helpful in securing the knot.

The Dutch Bowline, often called the Flying Bowline, is another bowline variation making a loop in the bight of the rope. It requires a different tying technique but offers a similarly secure loop. Comparatively, the Dutch Bowline is easier to untie after being loaded, making it a popular choice in sailing applications.

Safety and Considerations

Stability and Tension

The Triple Bowline Loop Knot is considered stable when properly tied and used in appropriate situations. This loop knot maintains its stability and tension due to its unique design, which creates three loops that won’t slip under normal conditions. The knot’s stability makes it suitable for use in various applications, such as anchoring points and securing loads.

Easy to Untie

One of the benefits of the Triple Bowline Loop Knot is that it is relatively easy to untie, even after being loaded with weight for extended periods. This ease of untying makes it an attractive option for climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts who need to quickly adjust anchor points or rigging systems.

Reliability and Strength

The reliability of the Triple Bowline Loop Knot is attributed to its strength and secure nature. When tied correctly, the knot forms a strong and dependable connection with minimal risk of slipping or coming undone. However, it is essential to regularly inspect the knot to ensure it maintains its strength and integrity, especially when used in situations where safety is paramount, such as climbing and rescue work.

In summary, the Triple Bowline Loop Knot is a versatile and strong knot that offers stability, tension, and reliability to those who use it. Its ease of untying makes it particularly popular among climbers and outdoor enthusiasts who need to quickly adjust rigging systems and anchor points. Proper technique and regular inspection are essential to ensuring the knot remains secure and maintains its strength in various applications.

Tying Components and Terminology

Rope and Bight

In the context of tying a triple bowline knot, a rope is the material that is being used to form the knot. Ropes can be made from various materials, such as nylon, cotton, polyester, or other synthetic fibers. The bight is a section of the rope that is bent or folded, creating a loop. This loop is an important component of forming the triple bowline knot, as well as other knots like the sheet bend.

Standing End and Working End

When tying knots, it’s important to identify the different ends of the rope. The standing end is the longer part of the rope that is not being actively used to form the knot, while the working end is the shorter part of the rope used to create the knot. These terms are useful for understanding knot-tying instructions and to ensure proper knot formation.

Knots and Loops

A knot is a way of joining or securing ropes by interweaving their strands or by creating tight fastenings. The triple bowline knot, for example, is a variation of the bowline knot with three loops that has versatile uses. The triple bowline starts with a bight and is tied using the doubled-up rope just as you would the Bowline. Another knot similar in function is the overhand knot, which is formed by making a loop and passing the working end through it.

Notable Bowline Knots

Cowboy Bowline

The Cowboy Bowline is a variation of the standard bowline knot. Commonly used for securing a mooring line to a post or anchor, the Cowboy Bowline creates a fixed loop at the end of a rope while remaining easy to untie even under tension. This knot can be more secure than the traditional bowline, especially when subjected to intermittent load changes, making it an ideal choice for boating and sailing applications.

Birmingham Bowline

The Birmingham Bowline is another variation of the basic bowline knot. It is sometimes referred to as the Dutch Bowline because of its origin in the Netherlands. This knot is unique because it incorporates a stopper knot within the structure of the bowline, increasing its overall security. The added stopper knot ensures that the load is distributed evenly across the knot, preventing slippage even when the rope is wet or slippery. A common use for the Birmingham Bowline is attaching a jib sheet on a sailboat, as it provides a reliable and sturdy connection.

Left Handed Bowline

The Left Handed Bowline, as the name suggests, is a mirror image of the traditional bowline knot. Sometimes called the left-hand bowline, this fixed loop knot is formed in a completely opposite direction compared to the standard bowline. While it may appear quite similar, the Left Handed Bowline is actually less secure than the traditional bowline. However, it can still be useful in specific circumstances where a left-handed fixed loop is preferred.

In conclusion, the Cowboy Bowline, Birmingham Bowline, and Left Handed Bowline represent three notable variations of the classic bowline knot. Each of these knots has unique characteristics, with advantages and disadvantages depending on the specific use and application.

Historical Context and Resources

Origins of the Bowline Knot

The bowline knot has a rich history, with its origins tracing back to ancient times. It is known for its simplicity, ease of tying and untying, especially after being subjected to a load. The etymology of the term “bowline” is believed to be derived from the combination of “bow” (the forward part of a ship) and “line” (a rope) (source). It has been used for various purposes such as mooring line and jib sheet. The bowline has several variations, one of which is the triple bowline knot, which creates three loops simultaneously (source).

List of Knots and Sea Grammar

Over the years, a myriad of knots with different purposes have been developed. Some of the related knots and variations include:

  • Common Bowline: The most widely used version, creating a single fixed loop (source).
  • Double Overhand: A stopper knot used to secure a rope’s free end (source).
  • Bowline on the Bight: A variation that can be tied in the middle of a rope without access to the ends (source).
  • Dutch Bowline: A secure version of the bowline with two loops, also known as the Cowboy Bowline.
  • Round Turn Bowline: A rescue knot used in emergency situations and mountain rescue, allowing a person to be securely seated in the loop.
  • Birmingham Bowline: Also known as the Kalmyk Loop, this knot has a similar structure to the common bowline but with increased tension resistance.

External Links

For those interested in learning more about the triple bowline knot and other related knots, here are some helpful resources:

  1. Bowline – Wikipedia: Provides detailed information about the history and usage of the bowline knot and its variations.
  2. Triple Bowline – ScoutWiki: Offers information about the triple bowline knot and its applications.
  3. Royal Museums Greenwich: Contains a step-by-step guide on how to tie a bowline knot and its history.
  4. List of Knots – Wikipedia: An extensive list of knots with descriptions and usage.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you tie a triple bowline?

A triple bowline knot is tied by starting with a bight, followed by tying the doubled-up rope in the same manner as a bowline. Finish by tightening the knot. You can find more in-depth instructions and videos on tying this knot in this tutorial.

What are the main uses for a triple bowline knot?

The triple bowline knot is versatile and can be used in various situations. Its primary applications include rescue operations, securing multiple loads, and creating secure anchor points with multiple loops.

How does a triple bowline differ from a regular bowline?

A triple bowline has three loops, while a regular bowline has just one loop. This additional capability allows the triple bowline to perform more complex tasks and provide increased stability in certain situations.

What is the strength of a triple bowline knot?

The strength of a triple bowline knot, similar to a regular bowline, is determined by the rope’s material and diameter. The knot retains about 60% of the line’s strength and has a knot efficiency of approximately 77%. More information on the bowline knot strength can be found here.

How do you untie a triple bowline knot quickly?

To untie a triple bowline knot, you should first loosen the knot by working some slack into the rope. Then, follow the path of the rope in reverse order, carefully working it loose until the entire knot is untied.

Are there any variations of the triple bowline knot?

Yes, there are variations of the triple bowline knot, like the Spanish bowline and French bowline. Both of these knots create two loops instead of three. The Spanish bowline knot is popular for rescue missions, while the French bowline knot can be used in similar applications as the triple bowline. More information on different types of bowline knots can be found here.