How to Tie an Adjustable Guy-line Knot

by Paul Kirtley

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How to tie an Adjustable Guyline Knot with Quick Release

Adjustable Guyline Knot with Quick Release. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Sometimes called a slippery adjustable loop, an adjustable guy-line knot is very useful to know, particularly for those interested in bushcraft. Whether you are setting up a small or large tarp, or even a tent, this knot allows you to adjust the tension in a guy-line without the need for fancy clips or toggles.

The absence of of tensioning clips or toggles also means you can pack your guy-lines away more tidily. A slick and easy knot to tie, once you have mastered it you will be able to pitch camp even more quickly.

For the weight-conscious back-packer, using this knot instead of the tensioners fitted to tents and some tarps will allow you to shave a few more grams off your pack-weight.

What follows applies equally to tent guy-lines as well as tarps but for simplicity I will just refer to tarps. Typically we use a peg to fix guy-lines but we can also use conveniently placed tree-stumps, exposed roots, saplings and trees. For simplicity I will just refer to pegs.

Getting started with the adjustable guy-line knot

Bring the guy-line down from your tarp, around the peg and return back up towards the tarp. Take the live end around the standing part (the section of line between tarp and peg) then up through the middle of the loop created. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

How to tie adjustable guyline knot

Make another turn - go around the standing part and up through the middle again, working back down towards the peg, so that what you have looks like this. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

How to tie an adjustable guy-line knot

Make a third turn but this time, instead of coming up through the middle, go around both sections of line that run down to the peg. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

How to tie a slippery adjustible loop

Pull a bight through the loop you have created. (We pull a bight through rather than the whole live end so that the knot will be quick-release). Photo: Amanda Quaine.

How to tie an Adjustable Guyline Knot with Quick Release

Pull the knot up tight and you have your completed adjustable guy-line knot with quick-release, which should look like this. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

How to tie a adjustable slippery guyline knot.

Slide the knot up or down the guyline to adjust tension. It will stay in position. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

How to hank up the rest of the guyline

Keep things tidy. Hank the remaining live end of the guyline like this. Photo: Amanda Quaine.

Stowing the guyline

Stow the hanked guy-line between the two sections of line that run down from the knot to the peg. This helps prevent unnecessary tangles and trip-hazards, it also looks neat! Photo: Amanda Quaine.

That’s all there is to tying this very useful knot. I like its elegance and the way it helps you simplify your equipment. It reduces clutter attached to your tarp/tent. It also speeds up pitching and breaking camp. To release the knot, all you need to do is pull the live end, pulling the bight out of the knot.

I hope you found this article useful. Let me know in the comments – too many pictures? not enough pictures? would more descriptive text help? Also, if you have found uses of this knot for things other than guylines, let us know in the comments.

Finally, if you think this article would be useful to someone else, send it, share it or tweet it to your friends. Thanks!

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Paul Kirtley is an award-winning professional bushcraft instructor. He is passionate about nature and wilderness travel. In addition to writing this blog Paul owns and runs Frontier Bushcraft, a wilderness bushcraft school, offering bushcraft courses and wilderness expeditions.

 

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

David Southey

Really cool knot Paul! I have the tarp end of the guy in the same knot too, though it is quick release, just to be able to retention should it need it in the rain, and im feeling soft about getting wet :-D

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David Southey

Sorry I ment it isn’t quick release at the tarp end! :-o

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Paul Kirtley

Ah-ha, that makes a bit more sense. Although I’m assuming you mean re-tension rather than retention? If it’s the latter, then I’m not sure I want to know…. ;)

All the best

Paul

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Matt Batham

Hi Paul, I think type of post is really useful. The photos do a good job of showing how to. I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to teach knots to some people. I think the description you provide says all it needs to without making things too complicated. Good job!

Although not a different use, I have used this knot quite a few times as a makeshift repair to scouts’ tents and others on expedition. I have also created washing lines with it.

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Matt

Good to hear you thought the article was useful. I can see how you would use this knot or similar (e.g. tautline hitch) for tensioning washing lines too.

All the best

Paul

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Mark H

Hi Paul,

I have to again admit another one of my weaknesses…knots ! This particular one will really help me, I currently use my own ‘adapted ‘ version of a Prussik to ‘fix’ my parachute/tarp lines, this one looks far better.

I think knots require a logical – mathematician’s brain, to conquer and retain them all successfully. Keep them coming it would be great to add to my modest collection.

Thanks

Mark

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Mark

Interesting you pick up on the link with logical thought and mathematics. I’ve always found approaching knots from a logical point of view is the best way. There is a whole area of mathematics known as Knot theory but we probably don’t need to get into that here :o

I’ll keep popping them out in a logical fashion and I hope this will help…

Best

PAul

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TinkyPete

It is a great little knot I learned it a while ago now I find it the best knot to use. I was a cub and scout and venture and most the knots I learned then I find I still use but it is the simple knots which last forever in your skill set :)

I have also used the knot as a type of halyard for raising and lower antennas for work as it is easily to adjust and stays in place till you move it. Under tension it works best and the more weight the stronger it stays.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi TinkyPete

Good to hear from you again. Yep I agree, it’s the simple stuff that you use repeatedly that really sticks over time. Interesting to hear your other uses of this knot. Thanks.

All the best

Paul

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Phil

Hi Paul, good article as ever – a simple knot to tie and therefore to teach.

(K)not sure what you plan as future ones to show, but may I be as bold as to suggest that for some knots, pictures using wider diameter cord/ropes might be useful? Sometimes its difficult to see what wraps round what when thin cords are used. Naturally you wouldn’t want to tie your hooch up with climbing rope, I just mean as a demo of the knot!

Off at a tangent, I now use red ropes for all my tarps, especially with groups, to minimize people tripping over them.

And another tangent(!) I use bungees and clips on my tarp – you can adjust the tension quickly and easily particularly in the wet and cold. (They are a bit more bulky though)

And finally are you aware of http://www.animatedknots.com ?

No, this is finally(!) – clove hitch best “knot” in the world? Discuss….

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Phil

Clove hitch? Super useful! And how many ways do you know how to tie it? Always fun around the campfire :o

I think that demonstrating with clear (colourful and larger diameter) ropes is definitely worthwhile but I also want to show these knots being shown in situ in the correct context. Maybe both ways in one article is the way forward. Theory and application?

Personally I avoid bungees for tarps. I understand they have their advocates but personally I’ve found I’ve never needed them. As with anything – find what works for you. I’m definitely a pragmatist in that sense :o

And yes I have seen Grog’s animated knots – it’s one of the links on my resources page….. ;)

All the best

Paul

Reply

Rody Klop

Although I use a slightly different version, nice knot and nice article

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Rody

Good to see you over here. Which version do you use?

Best

Paul

Reply

Rody Klop

I use the tentline hitch with first 3 wraps then just a tie off at the other side of the knot with a loop.

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Dave Smith

Great Tutorial Paul.

Great step by step photo’s, ive wabted to learn this knot for some time.
Ive seen it down my many Bushcraft experts, but they do it fast, hard to see what there doing.

Great post.

Cheers,

Dave.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Dave

I tie it slow when I’m teaching but fast when I’m using it. I hope this article will help you nail this knot. :)

Cheers,

Paul

Reply

Steve

This and the evenk knot are the only ones I use. Is this basically a taut-line hitch?

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Steve

It’s very similar to the taut-line hitch. The first two turns are the same but after that it diverges. Have a look at the following link and this should be clear:

http://www.netknots.com/html/tautline_hitch.html

All the best

Paul

Reply

Stew

I saw this as a variation of my favorite knot, the taut-line hitch, right off the bat. I like the addition of the quick-release here, especially for if you have a long length of good line you don’t want to cut.

Thanks for the great pictures, always essential. I’d add my vote for taking the photos with line that’s easier to see, rather than the aesthetic purity of thin, green line. I understand your point about showing it “in situ”, so maybe you could show the final knot that way, while the step-by-step photos use a bigger, even multi-colored line?

Thanks for this.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Stew

Thanks for your comment. Yep, the quick release works well. I use this method of creating a quick release – by passing a bight through – with quite a few ‘standard’ knots.

Thanks also for your feedback on the pictures. I’ll include some pictures with larger, more colourful line in future.

All the best

Paul

Reply

Jeroen Berkenbosch

If I’m correct, this is a (slightly modified version of the) Taut-line hitch. A very useful knot indeed. One of my favourites.

For people struggling with tying this knot, they might find this Wikipedia entry useful.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taut-line_hitch

By the way, in my experience you should really dress the knot well. Else it doesn’t have enough friction and may start slipping (depending on the rope).

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Jeroen

Nice to see you back again. It is very similar to the taut-line hitch but differs in how it is finished. The first two turns back down the line are the same but then rather than going around both static parts of the line which run down to the peg, the taut-line passes around a third time above the knot on the line that leads up to the tarp (I hope that makes some sense?) as in the diagram in the following link:

http://www.netknots.com/html/tautline_hitch.html

With all of these knots, tying them well definitely makes a difference, particularly with ‘slippery’ line. If in doubt, a good tip is that you can always make a further turn before finishing the knot so that there are three turns then the finishing turn around both lines.

All the best

Paul

Reply

Jeroen

By the way, would this knot also work for tying a hammock to a tree, or isn’t it secure enough?

Jeroen

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Jeroen

It’s not secure enough for suspending a hammock. I will include some other useful knots for this.

Best

Paul

Reply

Jeroen

Ah yes, I see. Well, another useful knot to add to my repertoire ;)

Have a good weekend!

All the best,
Jeroen

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Jeroen

That’s one of the things I like about knots – there are lots of variations and subtleties within families of knots.

Have a great weekend too! :)

All the best

Paul

Reply

Eric Yaffey

Hi Paul,

Knots are notoriously difficult to describe in words. It’s supposed to be the toughest thing for a writer. I already know how to tie this knot (I learned it from Bob on the Fundamental Bushcraft course) and as soon as I saw your first photo I was wondering … which side of the knot do I have to be on to tie this? When I watched Bob demonstrate I had to orientate my whole body so that it was at the same orientation to the knot as his was. Then his left was my left, his up was my up, etc.. I even had to move all my limbs and fingers just as he was doing while he was doing it only I didn’t have any cord! (Imagine someone doing Tai Chi behind someone who’s doing something really useful!). This was the only way I could learn. I think it’s muscle memory? I must have looked pretty stupid but it worked! PS my favourite knot is the constrictor knot tied in the bight (do I really have a favourite knot? I should get out more!!)

Eric

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Eric

I think the difficulty of writing about knots explains why I very quickly decided to let the pictures do the talking in this article :)

It’s interesting watching how people learn. I used to also teach Ju Jitsu and my experience in this area has certainly helped my understanding of how to teach the physical skills of bushcraft. Different people learn in different ways. Your description of having to mimic Bob’s movements to reproduce the process of tying the knot is not so uncommon in learning to undertake a set of movements.

I agree the constrictor knot is a great one. Having a favourite knot? I think that’s fine. There’s an aesthetic to knots and ropework that can be appreciated like any other aesthetic. If you like knots, how can you not have a favourite? :)

All the best

Paul

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Duane Yates

Thanks Paul another interesting article, very clearly shown, I do know that knott and it is very usefull simple and effective, though I don’t usually use it as a quick release I must try that.
Have you tried the Dolly or Truckers knott? maybe not particularly usefull out in the feild, but with a little modification to the way you tie it and secure it can be great for for really taught ridge lines, but it is exceptional for secureing kit to a roofrack or roofbars, you can get ropes as tight as ratchet straps and it is unbelievably easy to undo afterwards.
Cheers
Duane

Reply

Steve Bayley

Great stuff, I love knots! I guess that makes me another man who needs to get out more – or should that be get in more? I think that there are really very few knots one needs to learn in order to manage most of the tasks encountered in ‘bushcraft’ and camping. Actually it was many years ago when I was looking for a book from which to learn an adjustable friction knot like this one that I first encountered Ray Mears in print. Coincidentally there has recently been a related thread over on the BushcraftUK forum called Tarpology Knots, see: http://www.bushcraftuk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=78600 (it’s a ‘sticky’ so this ought to be a permalink). There’s a further link in one of the posts there to the Wikipedia page for the ‘Farrimond friction hitch’ which can be used in the same way as this knot, but has the advantage of being ‘slippery’ so it falls away without a tangle when the working end is pulled. I tried the ‘Farrimond’ out at the weekend and it does seem pretty secure. More useful knots please Paul.

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Mick (JesterBushcraft)

Paul, Loving your blog, hopefully one day I will have a blog as good.

Have you ever come across or used the Farrimond Hitch before, which works the same as the adjustable hitch. I just find that the Farrimond comes away cleaner when you pull on the release end of the hitch.

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Paul Kirtley

Hi Mick,

Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you like my blog. Yours is looking pretty good too :)

I am familiar with the Farrimond hitch. I do believe its inventor wrote to Ray Mears with an explanation of it when I was Course Director at Woodlore.

It’s a clever hitch.

All the best,

Paul

Reply

Ruud

Just picked this knot up a week or two ago, great to see it explained here too!

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Good stuff. I hope it’s proving useful!

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Stuart Swanson

Hi Paul, Great Blog, I like the way that by finishing the way you do ,you don’t need to cut the rope, I
Have learned through mucking about that if you reverse either of these knots, that you can create an
adjustable loop which you can slip over in item like a bedroll or a carrymat and tighten by pushing
the knot toward the object, and it will not allow the noose to slacken while under tension,but is easily
slackened when you want to remove it, just by sliding the knot away from the object, rather than trying to pull the standing part to loosen the loop. I hope this makes sense to you. I use this for a variety of
uses and it works for me. As has been said before, it is easier to demonstrate, than to explain in words,
I have not seen these knots used in reverse in any of the knot books. GREAT SITE, KEEP IT UP.

Reply

thewannabewoodsman

Paul, good post and good pics. Have been meaning to try this one for a while and can see its use in securing guy lines. For securing a tarp ridgeline I’m a big fan of lightweight luggage straps. I tie the rope off on 1st tree then make a loop eight inches short of second tree. Run the strap through this and round the tree and you can easily tension/ loosen with one hand. They have a ton of uses including lashing up wood while you gather it, securing items to pack frame and securing rolled up tarps.

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Paul Kirtley

Hi there,

Yes, I can see that would work quite well as long as the buckle held. Does the strap come undone easily enough?

Also, did you see the videos on all of the tarp knots I use as part of the 20 free videos here on my blog? I think you might find some of that knot content useful too.

Warm regards,

Paul

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John Brady

Hi Paul,

I’ve been stuck on this knot for too long and saturday just gone I did it! Out of the many videos and guides I’ve seen, it was yours (long ago printed off) that cracked it. As typical, it was the day my bungees had arrived to avoid having to use this knot – ah well!

This really is such a good blog man, the same day I worked out my hammock was anchored to a sycamore – my Collins pocket guide was too shady on a few bits, got on the smartphone and within the minute your tree guide got it bang on.

Cheers

Brady

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hey Brady,

That’s great feedback thank you. It’s good to know that I’ve helped you nail more than one thing by the info I’ve posted on this blog.

You might also find this article over on the Frontier Bushcraft blog useful for your tarpology too:

http://frontierbushcraft.com/2014/04/05/tips-tricks-tarp-guyline-attachment-options/

All the best,

Paul

Reply

Rick

I use the non-slipped version of that knot aka the adjustable grip hitch to tie up brush and finish it off with two half hitches after drawing the pile tight. It works great. I also use that and the taut line
hitch to make a rope belt. It works perfectly. And, there is no need to untie it. I prefer it over a standard
belt.

Reply

Rich

Hi Paul,
Plain and simple, this is a great hitch. I have really been enjoying learning and using knots and particularly hitches in the last couple years now. Thank you for sharing.
-Rich

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Rich,

Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you agree this is a great hitch.

Keep in touch!

Warm regards,

Paul

Reply

Jon

This has to be one of the easiest knot tutorial s ive ever tried.
Thanks for this, will remember this knot for a long time.

Reply

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