Thursday, May 16, 2013

Survival Knots: The Cow Hitch

Hitches are basically a means of attaching rope or cordage to an object. The simple cow hitch is better known as the lanyard hitch. It is generally used to secure cordage or a rope to a post, an item of gear or some other object. This knot is similar to the clove hitch but instead of tying the two half-hitches in the same direction, they are tied in opposite directions. It is a very simple and basic knot.

There is a variant of the cow hitch that is easily tied and can create a more secure knot. This variant is known as the bull hitch. It is simple and easy to learn to tie and will give you a more secure knot.

By simply twisting the top loop of your cow hitch and feeding the end of your lanyard back through the loop you create a bull hitch. When tightened properly, it gives you a very secure lanyard connection to your gear. It's important to remember that keeping your gear properly secured in any situation is critical.

My personal preference is to use a bull hitch for attachment of the leg tie-down on the scabbard of my Mora. This insures a good snug fit for the scabbard of my knife when tied off.

A great resource for learning how to tie a variety of knots properly can be found at They offer different sets of knot cards at a very reasonable price. The knot cards can be easily carried and used for reference purposes to insure your knots are being tied properly.

Got survival knots?

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

WHEN IN THE WILD, KEEP CRITICAL GEAR SECURED IS CRITICAL - you said a mouthful there sir. Nothing like reaching in your pocket or ruck sack and finding something you NEED gone. Insert face palm here. And some expended boot leather going back and (hopefully) finding it.

I just purchased a vintage knife this morning (couldn't resist, 60's era Puma)and noticed like many old sheath knife sheaths, they supplied a leather loop at handle AND a strap for securing blade in sheath. Sure didn't want to lose their knife on the trail.

Thank you for the knot series.

Dustin Tarditi said...

The knot series is great - is it possible to link to an online resource that teaches the proper tying, setting, and dressing of the knot being presented?

Matthew Walker said...

I've been a cow hitch fan forever, but the bull hitch is a new one for me. What a great, useful variation! Thanks.

riverwalker said...

To: anon 7:50

Keeping your gear secured should always be a priority. If you lose it, you could wind up in a very bad position.

Thanks anon.


riverwalker said...

To: Dustin

I edited this post and the previous one on the clove hitch to include a link to a good resource for knot information. Hope this helps.

Thanks Dustin.


riverwalker said...

To: M. Walker

The cow hitch is simple and versatile but isn't always the most secure type of hitch knot. The bull hitch is a simple variant that's easy to learn and remember if you need a more secure hitch.

Thanks Matthew.


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