Hiking - Knowledge

The Best Camping Knot: Learn the Taut Line Hitch Knot (Infographic and Video)

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If you have ever been camping and have tried to set up a tent all by yourself or have tied a load to your pack, you definitely know that it isn’t an easy job. Some may say that it’s harder than repairing a tent. Why? Well, because all ends need to be secured properly. There are way too many knots that you could learn but the handiest all-purpose knot definitely has to be the taut line hitch knot for campers and backpackers.

But, why is the taut line hitch knot considered so incredible?

That’s because this one is unlike any other and has been named so for its adjustability. It might slip when is loose but has the capability to hold things really tightly when under load.

What is the Taut Line Hitch Knot

The Taut Line Hitch Knot has the trait that can be used to define any good knot: it holds really securely but is rather easy to untie.

This knot is also referred to as tent-line hitch, adjustable hitch, rigger’s hitch and midshipman's hitch.

The taut line hitch is a kind of an adjustable loop which can be used for the lines under load or tension. This kind of knot turns out to be especially useful when you need to periodically adjust the length of the line so as to maintain the tension.

This is why you would see most campers using this method to tie their tent in place.

taut line hitch knot
The Taut Line Hitch Knot (Source)

What are the advantages then?

Being a versatile knot, this knot can be used for several purposes including securing the tent, tying down an aircraft, climbing trees by the arborists, securing the loads on a vehicle and creating adjustable moorings in the tidal areas. The rope actually gives you a mechanical advantage when it comes to tightening the rope.

Well, it has a slight disadvantage too!

The fact that it is relatively easy to learn as well as tie or untie things, even when it is heavily loaded.

Taut Line Hitch Uses

This knot comes in very handy for camping activities, climbing trees or tying nets for a volleyball game. The knowledge of how to tie a two half hitch comes in handy because this knot essentially has an extra turn. The length of a rope/line can be adjusted using a sliding hitch, which adjusts the size of the loop, thereby allowing to increase or decrease the tightness.

Midshipman's (Taut Line) Hitch Details


This kind of knot basically creates an adjustable loop towards the end of the rope. This means the knot’s tension can be adjusted according to how you would want it to be.

You can effortlessly slide the knot up and down the standing end. Once you tighten it, it would hold securely and once made loose, you can easily untie it too.

Better Version

The Midshipman's (Taut Line) Hitch is considered better than all other versions.

This is because it creates the intermediary Awning Hitch. It can, therefore, take the strain as you are attempting to tie the half hitch and the end result is a hitch that is very secure.

Confusing Nomenclature

As is quite obvious, people do often get confused between the types of the knots because most of them look almost similar.

Also, it is a fact that the names of the knots keep on changing depending on the place where they are being tied.

Choice of Rope

The kind of rope that you choose can also play a huge role as to how effective the knot would be.

The three strand twisted nylon or the modern ropes might just be slippery and wouldn’t actually be able to hold the knot. This means that the taut line hitch knot would be more slippery and would slide. However, the tarred hemp has been used for tying knots since ages and is considered as one of the most reliable ropes.

Taut Line Hitch Knot Tying Instructions

Lines that are under continuous tension can become saggy over a period of time. In such cases, a taut-line hitch knot, which is essentially two half hitches with an extra turn, is very effective.

The below step-by-step picture and the video will elaborate on how to tie the taut line hitch knot.

Taut Line Hitch Knot steps
Taut Line Hitch Knot - Step by step

To be able to master this knot, all you need to do is follow the below listed Tautline Hitch Knot Tying Instructions and you would soon be a pro at this. It is relatively easy to learn and doesn’t take much time.

So, let’s get started.

taut line hitch
Try the Taut Line Hitch Knot (Source)

Step 1: Anchor and Twist

To begin making the taut line hitch knot, twist the rope around the anchor or from another object that is a few feet away from the loose end.

Now twisting or coiling, whatever you would like to call it, towards the secured object, pass this working end into the loop and then around the standing end two times. Make sure that each time you are looping towards the anchor and not away from it.

Step 2: Coiling on the Far Side

Now, make one additional loop around the standing line, however, this time do so on the far side of the two loops you just created in the previous step.

Make sure that you are coiling it towards the anchor and then threading this free end between the coils created earlier and the third one that you created just now. This extra knot is there to lock the entire knot and make sure that it remains in place.

Step 3: Tighten and Secure It

Hold the working end and pull it. This would tighten the knot and ensure that it is really secure and can hold heavy loads.

Step 4: Adjust the Tension

You would notice that you can slide the knot up and down easily on the anchor or the standing end.

To tighten the knot, the loop can be enlarged by sliding the hitch away from the standing point. Slide the hitch towards the anchor point so as to create a slack in the anchor point and thereby loosen it.

Voila! You have successfully created the taut line hitch knot and now can use it practically once you go hiking, camping or bag packing.

For better understanding check the video on How to tie the Tautline Hitch Knot

Related Knots to Taut Line Hitch Knot

There are many knots that are closely related to the Midshipman's (Taut Line) knot. Listed below are a few of them.

Adjustable Hitch

The half hitch is quite similar to the Midshipman's knot and generally continues in the same direction. But, you can reverse this and as an end result would be an adjustable hitch.

The adjustable hitch has been claimed by a lot of people to be less prone to twists but can be a bit complex to tighten and adjust.

Adjustable Hitch knot
The Adjustable Hitch

Awning Hitch

When you pull the tail end firmly and lock it securely, you would create an awning hitch.  This is a temporary hitch but can turn out to be rather beneficial when you are setting up a tent.

This is because, with this hitch, you get the chance to adjust the lines and then secure it later on with the half hitch.

Awning Hitch knot
Awning Hitch

Rolling Hitch

In order to make a rolling hitch, pass one end of the rope around the rope to make a half hitch. Continue going around over the first turn. Wrap the rope between the standing end and the first turn.

Tighten as much as required to make it secure. Continue around to add a final half hitch.

rolling hitch knot
Rolling Hitch

Adjustable Jam Hitch/Adjustable Grip Hitch

When you tie with two turns outside the loop with a half hitch inside the loop, you will get an adjustable jam hitch, as shown in the picture below:

Adjustable Jam Hitch
Adjustable Jam Hitch knot

Less Secure Taut Line Hitch Version

Just as the name suggests, this is the less secure version. This kind of knot can be used when you are securing a rope to the pole. However, it’s best to avoid it when it comes to tying a rope to a rope because it won’t hold it in place.

Taut Line Hitch Knot less secure
Less Secure Taut Line Hitch Version

But, why is it so less secure?

This is because, on the second turn, the rope just spirals round the anchor or the starting end. This implies that it cannot take any strain and would slide off easily.

All of the knots discussed above, might not hold securely under all conditions but you can, of course, make them more secure by making use of additional wraps and finishing off the half-hitches.

But, once you really use the taut line hitch knot, you would actually be quite stunned to realize how secure it is and how well it can hold when under strain.

Have you ever tried tying any kind of knot?

Which one do you think works best for camping or hiking?

Know Your Knots - Infographic 

know your knots

Do you have any other hiking tricks up your sleeves that can make camping easier for others? Feel free to share them with us.

Cover Source and Infographic Source