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rope tied around tree with arborist knot

10 Basic Tree Climbing Knots Every Arborist Needs to Know

Between wearing the proper safety apparel and using the right arborist ropes and climbing ropes to battling variable weather conditions and knowing what tree climbing knots to use while you get to work, there is plenty to account for when safely learning to become an arborist. That’s why today, we’ll walk you through ten basic arborist climbing knots any arborist should know before making your first ascent.

Before we get started with basic arborist knots, let’s first talk about basic arborist knot terminology to help more clearly distinguish what different rope parts and arborist knot styles mean:

Hitch: Used to connect a rope to another rope, carabiner, or another object.

Bight: The section of rope between the rope ends.

Bend: A knot that joins two ropes together.

10 Basic Tree Climbing Knots

1. Bowline Knot

As the king of knots, the bowline knot is one of the most utilized tree climbing knots known for its ability to hold strong under load yet easily untie when you need it to. The bowline knot, while excellent for securing a loop around an object, is not life-support-rated, and should not be used as such.

Learn: How to Tie a Bowline Knot


2. Bowline on a Bight

When you require a midline loop or knot with a strong connection point, you need a bowline on a bight. As one of several variations of the bowline knot, the bowline on a bight is also famous for being easily untied after a heavy load is placed on it without slipping or binding.

Learn: How to Tie a Bowline on a Bight


3. Sheet Bend

Need to add more rigging rope to your setup? The sheet bend is the perfect knot for safely joining two ropes of similar or different sizes together. When tying a sheet bend, remember to use the thicker of the two ropes for the bight.


4. Alpine Butterfly Knot

The alpine butterfly knot is a midline knot that can be loaded in any direction. It can be used to create an attachment point or as a retrievable system to drop a tree trunk. While the alpine butterfly knot is generally easy to untie, it may need to be untied with a knife after being under a heavy load.

Learn: How to Tie an Alpine Butterfly Knot


5. Slip Knot (AKA Marlin Spike)

The slipknot is another midline knot used to create a loop on a rope that can be used as a temporary stop. The slip knot does not tighten when tension is applied and is famous for its quick-release capabilities.

Learn: How to Tie a Slip Knot


6. Blake’s Hitch

The blake’s hitch is a friction hitch knot used for its ability to travel up or down the rope by moving the knot in either direction. Whether tied with a split tail or as a closed system, strain should only be applied on the line below the hitch.


7. Figure 8 Knot

One of the most well-known stopper knots for several outdoor uses is the figure 8 knot. The figure 8 knot is a great stopper knot to have at the end of the climb line to keep climbers from sliding off the end of the rope. The figure 8 knot will not jam under strain and is generally easy to untie.

Learn: How to Tie a Figure 8 Knot


8. Double Fisherman’s Knot

Need to attach one rope to another? The double fisherman’s knot is a reliable knot to get the job done. The double fisherman’s knot forms a prusik loop and can be difficult to untie once in place.


9. Anchor Hitch

The anchor hitch, or anchor bend, is an arborist knot used to connect a rope to a ring in a hurry. This line is easy to tie and just as strong, if not stronger, than a bowline knot. The bend holds well, even when switching back and forth from load to slack.


10. Clove Hitch

Last (but certainly not least) on the list of essential tree climbing knots is the clove hitch. Whether you need to cinch down onto a round object, fix a rope to a carabiner, secure yourself to an anchor, or apply a temporary hold, the clove hitch may be the arborist rope for the job. This hitch knot will quickly unravel once removed from the carabiner and easily unties after removed from the load it’s bearing.

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