As an outdoorsman, you should have a range of useful outdoor knots to call on at any time. The double figure eight knot — also known as the figure eight loop knot — is perhaps the most secure knot you can tie. This knot is renowned among rock climbers as a replacement for the bowline when tying into a rope.
The double figure eight knot has thousands of uses for the everyday outdoorsman, from tying down guy lines on a tent, hanging a bear bag with a carabiner, or tying your kayak to the roof of your car. When properly tied, these knots simply won’t come untied, especially under load. There are two ways to tie a figure 8 knot. You can either tie it on a bight — leaving you with a closed loop ready for a carabiner — or you can rethread your figure eight for tying directly around an object. We’re going to cover both.
The double figure eight knot on a bight is a quick and easy way to create a secure loop. The figure eight loop knot on a bight is useful for creating a loop to attach a carabiner to — for example for hanging a bear bag — or at the end of a guy line to attach your tent peg to.
Step 1: Lay out a bight of rope on the grass. You will need each end of the loop to be several inches long to ensure you have enough rope to tie your double figure eight.
Step 2: Make a loop using the bight. Take the working end of your bight over the top of the standing end.
Step 3: Take the working end of your rope around the back of the loop.
Step 4: Now feed the working end of your bight through the loop. At this point, your knot should look like a figure eight. If it looks more like a pretzel, you haven’t wrapped around the loop far enough.
Step 5: Tidy up your knot and seat the rope properly. You should aim to have a tail of rope that is two-to-three inches long to keep this knot secure. Feed rope through the knot to adjust the tail and the size of the loop if necessary.
The rethreaded figure eight loop knot is used by climbers to tie into their harness. This eliminates the need for a carabiner and reduces the links in the chain — fewer links mean less likelihood that something fails. You can also use the rethreaded figure eight to tie around trees or poles, for securing tarps, hammocks, or anything else you want to keep secure.
Step 1: Tie a single figure eight knot by following the steps above, but using a single end rather than a bight of rope. Ensure that your working end has a long enough tail to reach around the tree or pole and to retrace the knot.
Step 2: Feed the working end around the tree or pole and begin to retrace the pathway of your figure eight knot. This should be done in reverse, starting your rethreading at the point your working end left the single figure eight.
Step 3: Continue to rethread your figure eight. Take care to follow the original knot closely – this can take some practice and you may get lost on the first few attempts.
Step 4: Once you finish retracting your knot, ensure the ropes are all seated neatly and pull it tight. Feed rope through from either end to ensure you have a two-to-three-inch tail at the end of your knot and that your loop is an appropriate size.
Spend time mastering these, and other outdoor knots, so that you can pull out the right knot at the right time. The double figure eight knot has countless uses and when you want a knot that you can rely on, there is no better choice. Be aware though that an overloaded figure eight knot is incredibly hard to untie. If you are looking for a knot that can always be easily untied, try the bowline knot instead.