The ability to tie knots is a useful skill. Understanding the purpose of a particular type of knot and when it should be used is equally important. Using the wrong knot in an activity or situation can be dangerous.

Types of rope

Laid ropes normally consist of three strands that run over each other from left to right. Traditionally they are made from natural fibres, but today are commonly made from synthetic materials.

Braided ropes consist of a strong core of synthetic fibres, covered by a plaited or braided sheath. They are always made from synthetic materials.

Natural ropes are made from materials such as hemp, sisal, manila and cotton. They are relatively cheap but have a low breaking strain. They may also have other unpredictable characteristics due to variations in the natural fibres.

Synthetic ropes are relatively expensive but hard wearing. They are generally lighter, stronger, more water resistant and less prone to rot than natural rope, and are often used in extreme conditions.

Wire ropes are also available, but these are rarely used in Scouting.

Common knots

Working knots, as opposed to decorative knots, are usually one of the following types: 

Stopper knots, which are tied in the end of a line. 
Loops and nooses, such as a bowline or figure of eight. 
Bends, used to tie one rope to another. 
Hitches, used to fasten a rope to another object. Hitches rely on the rope being pulled under tension to hold fast.

Study the diagrams below to correctly tie the essential scouting knots!

How to tie a reef knot

How to tie a half hitch

How to tie a sheet bend

How to tie a figure of eight knot

How to tie a round turn two and half hitches

How to tie a clove hitch

How to tie a timber hitch

How to tie a highwayman's hitch

How to tie a highwayman's hitch

How to tie a bowline knot