The Boy Scouts have three standards for a good knot: That it is easy to tie, that it stays tied and that is easy to untie, says Chad Schnitzler, director for the Wyoming Boy Scouts River Bend District.
Scouts are required to master these five knots before achieving first class rank, usually between the ages of 12 and 14, but they're good for any outdoor enthusiast to know, Schnitzler said. Use them to tie down a rainfly, hang a bear bag or secure supplies to the top of your car.
The square knot is used to tie two ends of separate rope together. It can be used to lengthen a rope or to tie something down, Schnitzler said.
To tie the square knot, hold both ends of the ropes so the ends are facing each other and wrap them around each other once. Take the two ends sticking out of the twist and cross them over each other to form another knot before pulling tight.
Two half-hitches can be used to secure rope around a tree, dock or a ring. It can be helpful in tying rope to tent stakes or for putting up a clothesline.
Wrap the rope around the tree or other obstacle with the end of the loop passing beneath the main section. Pass the end down through the loop you created before wrapping it around the main body of the rope again and pulling tight.
The taut-line hitch creates a loop with a slideable knot that allows you to adjust the rope's slack after the knot has been tied. It's useful for tying a rain fly to a stake in the ground and adjusting to keep it tight. This knot or the two half-hitch can also be used to hang food in a tree away from bears and other critters.
Pass the end of the rope around the stake or other object and the back through the recently formed loop. Pass the end of the rope around the main body of the rope inside the loop, moving toward the stake. Then take the end and loop it around the main line, but outside of the loop. Pull the knot tight and slide it along the main rope to adjust its position.
The timber hitch is a knot often used by foresters. The Boy Scouts use it to tie a rope around a log to drag it through the woods.
Loop the rope around the log or other object. Pass the end of the rope beneath the main body of the rope and pass it through the loop, between the rope and the log. Pull this tight. Wrap the end of the rope through the loop between the rope and the log twice again. Pull the entire knot tight.
The bowline knot creates a non-slip loop at the end of a line that can be used to tie around a person's waist in a rescue situation. Unless the rope breaks, the loop will stay the same size regardless of the weight it is supporting.
Form a loop in your rope toward the end. Pull the end of the rope through the loop and then behind the main body of the rope. Bring the end through the main loop again.