Attaching Rope to an Object

Hitches allow you to secure a rope to rings, rails, posts, hooks, other ropes, and other objects. Sometimes they are tied by forming the knot directly around the object, and sometimes by bringing the rope around the object and tying the running end to the standing part. If the shape of the object allows it, you can tie the hitch (or a loop) first, and then place it around the object. Some hitches, like the Rolling Hitch or Icicle Hitch, provide a friction grip to prevent them from sliding when strain is along the direction of the pole, rail, or rope.

You may want tension to remain in the rope after the hitch is tied. If you are frustrated by a little slack going into the rope as the hitch is tightened, you will find that making an extra wrap around the object, called “making a round turn,” will help hold tension as the knot is tied. An example of this is the Round Turn and Two Half Hitches. Another option is to tie a hitch that allows you to take out slack repeatedly without untying the hitch itself, as with the Guy Line Hitch. Tying ropes without slack in them is useful for many applications, like when you need to secure cargo.

Most hitches are tied by using Half Hitches (see page 132) in various combinations. When using more than one, Half Hitches can have a left or right orientation, and many hitches are tied by combining just two Half Hitches. Some hitches that seem different from each other are in fact made with the same exact combination of Half Hitches — the only difference may be that in one case, the hitch is tied directly onto an object, and in the other, it is tied around the standing part. An example is the difference between the Clove Hitch and the Round Turn and Two Half Hitches.


Rope bound tightly will protect cargo from shifting, but it can also damage it. Pulling a rope too tight, especially with a leveraged hitch like the Trucker's Hitch, will result in a crushing force that can crack a canoe or collapse a container. Rope can leave indentations in hardwood furniture. Use padding where the rope comes in contact with wood.

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