Handy Knots: Taut Line Hitch

June 7, 2012

Knots, Video

Using a taut line hitch

One of the challenges of using cordage to tie a line between two trees or posts is to make sure that it’s tight enough. Using a timber hitch on one end works well, but you must secure the other end so that the line doesn’t sag more than you’d like. This can be tricky at times.

That’s where the taut line hitch comes in handy. It’s an adjustable knot that allows you to slide the knot up and down the line as needed to adjust the length of rope between to the two trees.

I frequently use a taut line hitch to stake down the rainfly on my tent. I tie the guy wires to the stake using two half hitches and then the other end of the line to the rain fly using a taut line. This allows me to easily tighten or loosen the tension on the rain fly. A taut line hitch also comes in handy when stringing a campsite clothes line.

Tying a Taut Line Hitch

To tie a taut line hitch, follow the following steps. As with the other knot-tying posts, I’ve included a video.

Step 1: Wrap the tag end (the end of the rope that you are working with) around the tree or object to which you want  to secure the rope.

Step 2: Tie a simple overhand knot by placing the tag end over the standing end of the rope and bring the tag end back through the loop that you just created. The tag end of the rope should be facing upward if you are tying the rope to a vertical object like a tree. This is a single half hitch.

Step 3: To this point, it’s been identical to the two half hitches knot. Here’s where it differs. Wrap the tag end around the standing end again, just as you did before so that there are two wraps and the rope.

Step 4: Now, continue the knot just as you would the two half hitches by bringing the tag end away from the tree and lay it back on top of the standing end again.

Step 5: Bring the tag end around the standing end again and back through the loop just as in step 2.

Step 6: Slide the knot toward or away for the tree to secure to adjust the line as needed.


The taut line hitch works best with cordage that is rather rough to the touch. Although it will work with slick nylon rope or paracord, I wouldn’t count on it to hold fast with lots of vertical weight placed on the line, such as with a clothes line or with a hammock.

And there you have another handy knot – the taut line hitch.

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