Clove hitch

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Clove hitch
RelatedSlippery hitch, Two half-hitches, Buntline hitch, Cow hitch, Constrictor knot, Ground-line hitch, Lashings, Snuggle hitch
Typical useSecuring lines running along a series of posts, belaying, starting lashings, weak binding
CaveatCan spill if the standing part is pulled forcibly in the wrong direction
ABoK#11, #53, #69, #70, #204, #400, #421, #437, #1176, #1177, #1178, #1179, #1180, #1245, #1773, #1774, #1775, #1776, #1778, #1779, #1814, #2079, #2541, #2542, #2543, #2544, #2546, #2547, #2548

The clove hitch is a type of knot. Along with the bowline and the sheet bend, it is often considered one of the most important knots. A clove hitch is two successive half-hitches around an object. It is most effectively used as a crossing knot.[1] It can be used as a binding knot, but is not particularly secure in that role.[2] A clove hitch made around the rope's own standing part is known as either two half-hitches or buntline hitch, depending on whether the turns of the clove hitch progress away from or towards the hitched object.

Although the name clove hitch is given by Falconer in his Dictionary of 1769, the knot is much older, having been tied in ratlines at least as early as the first quarter of the sixteenth century. This is shown in early sculpture and paintings. A round turn is taken with the ratline and then a hitch is added below. The forward end is always the first to be made fast.

The difference between two half hitches and the clove hitch is that the former, after a single turn around a spar, is made fast around its own standing part, while the latter is tied directly around the spar.

— The Ashley Book of Knots[4]


This knot is particularly useful where the length of the running end needs to be adjustable, since feeding in rope from either direction will loosen the knot to be tightened at a new position. With certain types of cord, the clove hitch can slip when loaded. In modern climbing rope, the clove hitch will slip to a point, and then stop slipping.[5] When tied around a carabiner, the load should pull on the end closest to its spine.[6] With smaller diameter cords, after being heavily weighted it may become difficult to untie. It is also unreliable when used on a square or rectangular post, rather than round.

The clove hitch is also commonly used in pioneering to start and finish a lashing such as the traditional square lashing, tripod lashing, round lashing and shear lashing.[7]


The clove hitch is tied by first passing the running end of the rope around the spar and back over itself to form an X. The running end then passes around the spar again, under the intersection of the last two turns, and both ends are pulled tight. There are several methods of tying it using both hands[8][9][10][11] or one hand.[12][13][14][15]

Related knots[edit]

Clove Family of Constrictor, Bag, Groundline, Strangle. Knot vs. Hitch. Purchase as rope taken from system and then can you hold it fast (old sailor terms)
Clove Family of Constrictor – ABOK#176, Miller's/Bag – ABOK#1242, Groundline – ABOK#1243, Strangle – ABOK#1239

When a rope is passed around an object and then tied around itself with a clove hitch, this is called a buntline hitch, commonly used as a necktie knot called the four-in-hand knot.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ashley, Clifford W. (1993) [1944], The Ashley Book of Knots, New York: Doubleday, p. 17, ISBN 0-385-04025-3. See, p. 17, at Google Books and
  2. ^ Ashley, Clifford W. (1993) [1944], The Ashley Book of Knots, New York: Doubleday, p. 224, ISBN 0-385-04025-3. See, p. 224, at Google Books and
  3. ^ Ashley (1993) [1944], p.214.
  4. ^ Ashley (1993) [1944], p.295.
  5. ^ Hundal, Geir. "The Climbing Mythbusters".
  6. ^ "Use and Abuse of the Clove Hitch". Guide Tricks For Climbers. 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  7. ^ "Lashing Information". 23 February 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  8. ^ on the working end method on YouTube
  9. ^ with half hitches over object end on YouTube
  10. ^ on the bight arms crossed in one move on YouTube
  11. ^ on the bight with two loops, front one moved back on YouTube
  12. ^ one handed clove hitch on the bight, pinky and thumb on YouTube
  13. ^ one handed clove hitch on the bight both ends hanging on YouTube
  14. ^ one handed clove hitch on the bight to vertical rope on YouTube
  15. ^ one handed clove hitch on the bight into carabiner on YouTube

External links[edit]