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Survival Skills: Knots

Survival Skills: Knots

At True North, our instructors teach our clients that when dealing with an emergency, a response that is simple and quick is usually best.  That’s because in an emergency, a survivor is almost always handicapped in some way by limited resources, in particular gear, energy, and time.

This requires that a survivor make the most of these limited resources by making good decisions as quickly as possible, and taking action as automatically, almost robotically, as possible.  One survival skill, then, that should reflect these elements is tying knots.

Why is knowing such a skill so well so important?  Because this ability can help you to hit all seven of your survival priorities.  So with the right knot, or set of knots, the survivor can more effectively and efficiently build a shelter for the night; create a bow to make a fire by friction; or make a litter to haul an injured hiker out of the woods, just to name a few examples.

This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to know 101 types of knots.  Instead, in our courses, we typically teach just five simple ones.  This may not sound like much, but since they are fundamentally useful in multiple ways, if the survivor knows how to tie just these five knots quickly and effectively, then, with even these few, she can accomplish 101 objectives.

Here are three of our recommended knots as illustrated by Animated Knots.  This is a really nice resource, with loads of knots available to learn, so I encourage you to check out the site.

However, if you want to learn the practical application of such knots, I strongly encourage you to take a survival course.  After all, videos and apps, while helpful learning tools, are never a substitute for what’s really involved.

1. Timber Hitch

2. Butterfly Knot

3. Clove Hitch

Erik Kulick leaning aginst wall with True North badge on blue shirt

About the Author

Erik is the founder of True North Wilderness Survival School. He is a police officer, EMS provider, a Wilderness EMT, and a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has been featured in national and international media, including CNN, the Associated Press, and Backpacker. To learn more about Erik, visit him on LinkedIn and be sure to follow him on Facebook.

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