Five Knots Every Canoeist and Kayaker Should Know

Kayaks 700x500 1

Author: Dale Harris

Know the Ropes:

Use quality ropes, if a rope has a relatively low cost it usually means low quality - avoid it. Check and make sure the working load meets your intended usage. It's best to have a higher working load than required.

Some of the uses of ropes for canoeing and kayaking are:

  1. To rescue a fellow paddler by tossing a rope to them. In fact, you can purchase a rope designed just for rescue purposes. It comes in a throw bag and to use it properly hang on to the loop end of the rope and toss the bag, with the rope in, to person in need. The rope will deploy out of the bag and use the weight of the bag to get a longer distance.
  2. Docking / anchoring your canoe or kayak. This normally does not take a very large working load.
  3. Lining your canoe or kayak around hazards in the water / river. Basically you would get out of your boat and walk along the shore line while your boat floats through, or around, the hazard. You would maintain control of the canoe or kayak with the "lining" rope.
  4. Securing your canoe or kayak while camping for the night. Secure the boat to a tree, anchor or large tent peg to prevent it from being swept away if the water rises or you boat gets blown into the water by high winds.
  5. Securing your equipment in your canoe or kayak. Many experienced paddlers have installed "tie-downs" in their canoe or kayaks and will secure their gear using rope to go over their gear to the tie-downs.

Always make sure the ends of the rope, often referred to and the "bitter end", are dressed, or wrapped and taped. A ragged end on a rope is hard to work with. There several ways to secure the bitter ends. Melt the ends with a match or lighter, you can also use heat shrink tubing to cover the ends, tape rolled tightly around the ends works very well and whipping is a time honored way of securing the bitter ends but this take some time to do it right.

The next five pages actually cover the 5 basic knots. There hundreds of knots, books on knots and recommendations on which knots are the most important or most used. So the 5 knots I use mostly are the Bowline, figure 8 loop, 2 half hitches, the taunt line hitch and the simple truckers hitch.

The credit for these knot instructions go to


Knot Bowline

Figure 8 Loop

Knot Figure 8 Loop

Two Half Hitches

Knot Two Half Hitches

Taunt Line Hitch

Know Taunt Line Hitch

Simple Truckers Hitch

Knot Simple Truckers Hitch