knot question: line to biner on towbelt

I got a stainless steel carabiner to replace the aluminum one on my North Water towbelt. The biner has an eye at the attachment point. The only knot I know for attaching a line to it is a bowline. Is there something better? The old biner, that didn’t have an eye, had a different knot (might be called lark’s head, where you double the end, make a loop, and take the doubled end through the loop and pull tight). Thanks!

p.s. I have 2 more carabiners so I can rig up a contact tow. I’ll put the knot info to good use.


I use a either a bowline or a clove hitch, or just a bunch of half hitches, for just about everything. Check on the site netknots.something, either com, org

they have a good visual on knots, videos on how they are tied, and when to use them.

I like the bowline, probably as you do, for the easy untying.

good luck


Buntline Hitch

– Last Updated: Sep-14-09 11:38 AM EST –

There are a number of knots that would work well for this application. I have a Northwater tow and I use Buntline hitches to attach both the snap link/biner to one end of the line and the storage bag to the other. This knot is 'self-tightening'. Once it is snugged it is hard to get undone without using a marlinspike (just what I want).

On the biner end I also wrap the knot with some yellow plastic tape that I purchased in a sailing store. I feel it cuts down on the possibility of having the knot hanging up on a deck line or other object when retrieving it.

Yosemite bowline

A regular bowline can work loose under a cyclic load.

Bowline is a bad knot for this?
The bowline will untie easily when not under tension. You could use a figure-8 on a bight or even an overhand on a bight. If you need to thread the rope first, use the follow-through method to tie the figure-8 knot.

Find a rock climbers knot book or a nautical knot book and look for a knot that stays tied when slack. Try a few different knots to see what makes the most sense but I suggest avoiding anything that needs tension to stay tied since you won’t need to untie this anyhow.

Using a bunch of half-hitches is excessive and unreliable. Especially when used with safety equipment.


Easy “lock” for bowline
The bowline is a great knot, but with some kinds of ropes it “can” loosen if not under tension. A simple way to fix that is to fasten the “tail” of the knot to the adjacent side of the loop with a few wraps of electrical tape. I’ve been using bowlines for all “loop-style” connections for 40 years and have NEVER had a bowline get loose even in conditions that people say they “can” (a lot depends on the kind of rope you use), but a little electrical tape is cheap-and-easy insurance.

Here’s an interesting note on cyclic loading causing a bowline to come undone. My dad and I have been using the bowline to attach ropes to fishing-boat anchors for a combined total of almost 100 years between the two of us (and with no taping of the knot’s tail). Fishing anchors get the most severe cyclic loading of any situation I know, yet neither of us has ever had a bowline come undone or even get loose. Now here’s the weird part. Most other people I know use a carabiner for the final connection to the anchor (and some kind of “granny knot” to attach the anchor line to the carabiner), and anyone who does much fishing has either lost their anchor and pulled up an empty carabiner at some point or knows a couple of people who have! Apparently if you get enough jerk-slack-jerk conditions, eventually the carabiner will find a way to pull open the gate with a bite of the rope in “just the right way” and free itself. I’ll just keep using a bowline for fishing anchors.

Thanks for all the good suggestions
The easiest may be wrapping the tail of the bowline to the line with electrical tape, but I’ll look at the other suggested knots on the Internet. And I’ll try them. Thanks again.


Knots Link
This is a good site.

figure eight. That is the knot that is almost universally used by climbers to tie a rope to their harness. Sure, there are many others that will work but this one has a great combination of features that are nice in a tow belt application: very unlikely to untie when you’re not looking, relatively easy to untie after holding a high load, easy to check with a quick glance, low profile, etc. My 2 cents.

Anchor knot n/m

whip it good
don’t use a knot at all, whip it and tape it. many advantages.

rethreaded figure 8
I don’t know what this one looks like but I’ll find it on a knot site. Simple but effective sounds good.


also called follow-through figure eight

my preference is to always …

– Last Updated: Sep-15-09 11:20 AM EST –

..... incorperate the use of a loop when ever possible .

For a biner (or any other object) that is intended to stay attached to a line most of the time , the loop can simply be used in a girth hitch .

Advantages , double line through biner eye , quick connect/disconnect to biner (or object) , minimal stress at connection , cannot come undone at connection .

Although a girth hitch is considered a knot , I don't consider it so ... to me it's a 100% secure connection that does not involve a knot .

Another similar method to the girth hitch (which has a tied loop on the line end) , is to just make an untied loop in the end of line . Pass this "untied" loop through the object of connection , then complete the girth hitch as normal . This leaves you with a free tag end . Do what you want with the free tag end , many possibilities .

The simple answer is the
figure 8 follow through.

Easy to tie, dress, and inspect. Very secure. Can be untied after heavy loading.

There are many knots out there that will work fine and in general, you are just looking for a hitch knot. If you never, ever want to untie this knot and want it to cinch up tight, you might go with a Buntline Hitch or something like that.

An eye splice is also a good idea as it will be low profile, strong, and permanent. But the reality is that most folks don’t have the patience for that and isn’t effective (or even possible) with some types of rope.

The Bowline is an essential knot to know and has many applications and many variations. It doesn’t cinch up, it’s compact, and it’s an easy knot to learn. The downside is that there is a wrong way to tie it and it can come undone with some types of rope in some conditions. If the rope is slick and the loading isn’t constant, it can and does come apart – give it a try. I wouldn’t recommend it here because I think you have better options.

So ultimately you have to decide what your priorities are for the knot you want and pick what makes the most sense. Test what you come up with using heavier loads that you expect to have on the line and make sure the knot (hitch) holds. Then see if you can untie it after loading.

You really don’t need to know 100 knots to get by in life, but knowing 5 or 10 and what they are really suited for can make a difference.


rethreaded figure 8 – slick!
jbernard and Nate,

I did Google this knot before I had to run out on an errand. Came back and learned to tie it. That’s a good-looking, confidence-inspiring knot!

Because the tow rope in the North Water bag is quite slippery, I may still tape or whip the end to the rope.


Consider splicing?
It takes a while and is a real PIA, but the finished product is so clean and much less bulky than any knot.

5 knots for life
Jim, rope is slick, so that rethreaded figure 8 looks more secure than the bowline.

I’m with you on learning just a few good knots and knowing when to apply them. The rethreaded figure 8 is one of mine now. (Others are bowline, trucker’s hitch, half hitches, and slippery sheetbend, which I am going to incorporate in a contact tow setup.)

Any other knots that are just essential for life? Seriously!


small biner eye – one thickness of rope
pilot, can’t loop my tow rope to pass through biner eye twice – too thick, just fits once. but for fun i’ll look up that girth hitch. thanks!

A few more
A rolling hitch is a good one for tying into a rope with a second rope. I use it and the taut line hitch for adjustable lines for tying down tarps and tents. It is also one of the few knots you can use to tie around yourself while the rope is under a load (sorry bowline).

Double fisherman is great for making a loop for a prussik or similar application.

The Alpine butterfly (goes by other names) is a good knot for putting a loop in the middle of a rope that can be pulled any direction.

The Uni-knot is a nice looking knot that cinches up and releases easily. It also comes apart by pulling it through like a slip knot.

And of course the standards like the square knot and sheet bend. Variants of the figure 8 and bowline can also be very useful in a broad range of applications.

Knots also affect the strength of a rope and generally large knots retain more strength, even if they aren’t pretty. And there is an art to dressing a knot to look good and perform as it should.