Make a bight in the rope about three feet from the end. You can measure by holding the end out in one outstretched hand and grabbing around where your nose is.
Take the tail and cross over the other strand of rope on top, then wrap it underneath as well. This is the standard figure eight; leave it somewhat loose. Pay close attention to whether the tail should go under or over another strand, as well as on the inside or outside of the existing knot. Once you finish, the tail should be running up out the top of the knot with at least six inches of excess.
Properly dress the knot by making sure each strand is tightly nested against each other and there are no crossed strands. Best used for: Tying into harness, tying around an anchor of any kind. This is an ancient and simple knot used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope. It has the virtues of being both easy to tie and untie; most notably, it is easy to untie after being subjected to a load.
Although considered a reliable knot, its main deficiencies are a tendency to work loose when not under load, to slip when pulled sideways and the bight portion of the knot to roll over in certain circumstances. To address these shortcomings, a number of more secure variations have been developed, such as — bowline on the bight; French bowline; double bowline; and bowline with a single fisherman stopper. Pros: Easy to undo, even after a heavy load. Easy to adjust without undoing it. The easiest knot to use if you want to tie off a rope around a tree or boulder. Cons: How to tie the knot is often forgotten by people.
Easier to tie than a figure of 8. Prone to loosen so requires the use of a stopper knot when tying in. Best used for: Securing the rope to a carabineer on the bight without using the end of the rope. Very useful for arranging and tensioning belays.
This is a super simple and strong knot that is fast to tie and can be adjusted easily when not loaded. Indeed the knot can be tied in a single second with a little practice; it can even be tied one-handed. Pros: Elegantly simple, very easy to loosen after a load, quick and easy to adjust. If you remove the carabineer, the clove hitch will immediately fall apart.
So for certain applications it is not considered as an adequate substitute for a bowline or figure-eight on a bight. Best Used for: As a friction device for controlling the rate of descent in belay systems. This simple hitch is invaluable for lowering people without the need of additional hardware other than a carabiner. The Italian hitch creates friction by having the rope rub on itself and on the object it has been wrapped around. There is no static friction localised abrasion on any part of the rope as it is a continuously moving knot. One very useful aspect of the Italian is its reversibility; it can be pulled from either side of the rope and it still works just as effectively.
As with most belay devices and some hitches, the Italian hitch can be tied off to maintain tension in a manner which is easily released under tension, usually by using half hitches. The Italian hitch is sometimes a preferable method for direct belays than using a normal belay plate.
This can be useful when the anchor, carabiner and hitch are above or behind the belayer whilst attention is paid to the loaded end of the rope. Pros: Elegant, simple and very easy to control. It dissipates heat very efficiently because no two surfaces of the rope are in contact with each other for more than an instant. Cons: Can introduce significant twists to the rope. The friction of the rope against the screw on the carabiner can cause the screw to undo and the carabiner to open, potentially weakening the strength of the carabiner, or allowing the rope to escape the carabiner completely.
Best used for: Used to make any permanent loop of rope or cord. Use this knot to create a cordellette a piece of cord tied into a loop or to create a prusik. It has been shown to be enormously strong under very high loads. Please note that this is a permanent knot and once heavily loaded, cannot be undone.
This can be either an advantage or disadvantage depending on the situation. Cons: This knot will weld itself shut over time, effectively making it impossible to untie.
This knot is only to be used for joining two pieces of rope or cord. Tips: Dyneema and Spectra cords have higher lubricity than regular nylon cord which leads to lesser knot-holding ability. Under very heavy loads, particularly in 6mm cord, the sheath can fail at the knot and as a result the core slips through. Best used for: Climbing up ropes, and self rescue situations.
Used as a back up when abseiling. Put simply a prussic knot is a cord knot that clamps onto a thicker rope under load. The traditional Prusik although widely used and effective, is prone to jamming under load. Pros: A unique and versatile knot, invaluable for self-rescue.
The humble prussic knot has saved many lives. Cons: Can melt if allowed to slip significantly. Needs care when using wet or icy ropes. Needs practice and experience to be used well.