The bowline makes a secure loop.
Photo by Paul Bodnar

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Why Knot? The Bowline

One of the most important knots a hiker can learn is called the "bowline." This knot is great if you need a secure loop.

Paul Bodnar       Tech on the Trail       05/13/2019

Paul Bodnar

Tech on the Trail

05/09/2019

The bowline is used to make a secure loop at one end of a line. The loop may pass through or around an object, making this a good way to secure the line to something, such as tying one end of a line to a tree.  The knot  can be easily undone after the load is removed.

Making a secure loop

This mnemonic makes tying a bowline easy: imagine the end of the line as a rabbit and the first loop as the rabbit’s hole.  When the rabbit comes up out of the hole it goes around the tree (i.e. the long end of the line), right to left, and back down the hole.

A good use for the bowline is to secure a valuable item to your pack. For example secure a phone case, gps, or solar charger to your pack with a bowline tied to the device on one end of the line, and to your pack on the other end of the line. This way you can use the device while hiking (or whenever your pack is nearby), and it greatly reduces the chances of accidentally leaving the device behind.


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Showers Lake Vista, Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association

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Showers Lake Vista, Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association

Trail guides that get you to places you’ve dreamed of.

As the makers of Guthook Guides, Bikepacking Guides, and Cyclewayz, we help you navigate the most popular trails around the world on your smartphone. Our hiking guides and biking guides work completely offline. Let Guthook guide your next adventure!

Download our popular hiking and biking guides!

About the Author

A man wearing an Arizona Trail baseball cap stands in a field in front of a mountain.

Paul Bodnar

Paul has always liked hiking and thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1997 after college. After years of working in chemistry, he wanted to create a career involving the outdoors, so he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail again in 2010 to do research for his guide book Pocket PCT. He realized that creating a smartphone app for navigating the outdoors would make it easier to keep the data current and provide a better way to navigate. While hiking with Ryan (aka Guthook) in 2010, they decided to work together to create the first comprehensive smartphone guide for the Pacific Crest Trail. Now with the help of a team of great people they have created over 50 guides for trails around the world.