Bowline knot properly tied

From the archives, Tamia Nelson’s article, Knots to Know - The Bowline, shows how the bowline knot is tied.

I agree her instructions and the diagram shows the proper way to tie the knot - the rabbit comes out of the hole, starts its run around the tree on the right side, runs around the tree and then down the hole; the working end is on the inside of the loop formed.

If the rabbit starts its run around the tree on the left side, runs around the tree and then down the hole, is the knot tied incorrectly? The working end is now on the outside of the loop formed. What are the weaknesses with the knot if that is the way the rabbit runs? No one seems to talk about that.

I say the working end is not properly locked within the knot, thereby subject slipping, and making the knot easier to come undone.

Those are my thoughts. Any others?


Has the alternative version as well

Looks the same as other bowlines

– Last Updated: Nov-17-08 2:02 PM EST –

Forget what I said here before, because I think I misunderstood your question. The short version is I don't think finishing with the free end toward the outside of the loop is even a recognized knot, or at least not a bowline, so why worry about whether it's weaker. Just tie it the way all the picture guides show and don't worry about the quality of an incorrect method.

Rabbit around left side of tree
Remember the 2 benefits of a bowline:

  1. A properly tied one won’t slip or come untied on its own


  2. A properly tied one won’t bind, so it will be easy to untie when you want to.

    Running the rabbit around the left side of the tree will make it more likely to both slip and to bind, depending on the forces placed on the line.

interesting … will give ya all the left-right stuff yer talking about so you can decide what will work for you .


not quite
"A properly tied one won’t slip or come untied on its own"

The standard bowline can slip under cyclic loading, or when unloaded.

Chirality, Group Theory, and Knot Theory
If you perform the operations as if everything is reflected in a mirror you will have a left-handed bowline — but what you are suggesting I think is what is commonly called a mess.

I have been taught
that finishing a bowline with the running end on teh outside was incorrect as it produced a knot that was more prone to cyclic loading failure.

I finish my bowlines thusly: With the knot tied as in the diagram, pull the running end toward you, over the right-hand portion of the loop, around the back of the loop, and back up through the “hole”. When snugged, it is very stable yet can be untied after loading. And it looks neater than securing the loop with two half hitches.


I “second” this animated site, VG

That is why climbers often tie
a double bowlin which utilizes two loops. I learned as an alpine guide entire rescue systems based on both the bowlin and figure eight. All knots should be backed up with a half barrel knot/double fisherman.

I like the bowline for it’s speed, and a double was my tie in knot. The figure eight is preferred for guiding as you can look from some distance at the knot and kno.w of it’s correct or not.

Yep jsaults only finish with safety knot

locking bowline finishes with the end on the outside

up thru the hole around the loop and up thru the hole again …then around the tree and back down the hole

used mostly with the plastic type ropes found in Canada

Best Wishes


The bowline shouldn’t really be used
for mooring or other cyclical loading situations. Pick the right knot for the job at hand.


to get to your question
"The working end is now on the outside of the loop formed. What are the weaknesses with the knot if that is the way the rabbit runs? No one seems to talk about that.


in my experience, the bitter end in or outside the loop has made no difference in hold strength or untie-ability. i use it often when tarping and have never had one slip, but can’t speak to climbing applications.

Other bow loop knot?
My bell canoe has a neat looking knot on the factory short line loops that go through the hull.It definatly is not a bowline.I know we have been talking about painter knots,but anybody know what this knot is and how to tie it?


Depends on who tied it.
I have seen fisherman’s knots and souble fisherman’s knots. Climbers used to call double fisherman’s knots “grapevine knots”. A very stable and sometimes permanent knot (after loading).


makes no difference
a properly tied “left hand” bowline is exactly as good as a properly tied “right hand” bowline. Makes no difference which way your drunken rabbit staggers around the tree. Its all about the bend and the bight.

Agreed about LH and RH
but I believe that teh issue is whether the rabbit finishes inside or outside the hole.


painter attachment
i prefer the figure 8 follow through. does take up a lot of line though. won’t come undone being knocked around and dunked in the water on trip.

Just make sure that you NEVER…
…tie up your boat with a “not”. I think it was CWD who did that one time, and they say the result was pretty funny.