Barrel hitch

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Barrel hitch
NamesBarrel hitch, Barrel Sling
Category Hitch
Related Overhand knot, bowline
ABoK #459, #2176 and #2177

The "barrel hitch" and "barrel sling", named for their use in hoisting cargo aboard ships, are two simple yet effective ways to suspend an object. The barrel sling lays the barrel on its side, while the barrel hitch keeps it vertical. They work by forming a "sling" around the object, which supports it from either side and underneath.


The barrel sling (not pictured) is made with a strop. The barrel is laid on its side, both sides of the strop are spread out and passed underneath, the ends of the strop are raised together, one end is tucked through the other and hooked to an eyehook. The tightened knot looks like a cow hitch. A cow hitch and bowline can achieve the same effect and are called a "cow hitch hoist". The barrel hitch for lifting bales of hay is called a "bale sling hitch".


How to tie a barrel hitch Barrel hitch instructions.png
How to tie a barrel hitch


Though the barrel hitch will keep an object upright even if the rope is made to swing, it is important to note that strong jerking movements while raising or lowering can easily dislodge the sling.

See also

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Knot Method of fastening or securing linear material

A knot is an intentional complication in cordage which may be useful or decorative. Practical knots may be classified as hitches, bends, or splices: a hitch fastens a rope to another object; a bend unites two rope ends; and a splice is a multi-strand bend or loop. A knot may also refer, in the strictest sense, to a stopper or knob at the end of a rope to keep that end from slipping through a grommet or eye. Knots have excited interest since ancient times for their practical uses, as well as their topological intricacy, studied in the area of mathematics known as knot theory.

Bowline Simple knot used to form a fixed "eye" at the end of a rope

The bowline is an ancient and simple knot used to form a fixed "eye" at the end of a rope. It has the virtues of being both easy to tie and untie; most notably, it is easy to untie after being subjected to a load. The bowline is sometimes referred to as King of the knots because of its importance. Along with the sheet bend and the clove hitch, the bowline is often considered one of the most essential knots.

Clove hitch type of knot

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 and is commonly referred to as a Double Hitch. A clove hitch is two successive half-hitches around an object. It is most effectively used as a crossing knot. It can be used as a binding knot, but is not particularly secure in that role. 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.

Marlinespike hitch

The marlinespike hitch is a temporary knot used to attach a rod to a rope in order to form a handle. This allows more tension than could be produced comfortably by gripping the rope with the hands alone. It is useful when tightening knots and for other purposes in ropework.

Water bowline

The water bowline is a type of knot designed for use in wet conditions where other knots may slip or jam.

Monkeys fist Type of knot

A monkey's fist or monkey paw is a type of knot, so named because it looks somewhat like a small bunched fist/paw. It is tied at the end of a rope to serve as a weight, making it easier to throw, and also as an ornamental knot. This type of weighted rope can be used as a hand-to-hand weapon, called a slungshot by sailors. It was also used in the past as an anchor in rock climbing, by stuffing it into a crack. Nowadays it is still sometimes used in sandstone, e.g., the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Germany.

Cats paw (knot) hitch knot

The Cat's paw is a knot used for connecting a rope to an object. It is very similar to the cow hitch except there is an additional twist on each side of the bight, making it less prone to slipping.

The cat's-paw is the common hook hitch for slings. It is the same basic form as the bale sling hitch but has additional twists. Brady says "two or three altogether," and Steel, who mentioned the name in 1794, says "three twists." It is the best of all sling hitches and is often recommended for a slippery rope. But no hitch can slip when tied in a slings since it has no ends. All that is needed is a hitch that cannot jam, and this requirement the cat's-paw fills admirably. The knot spills instantly when removed from the hook. It is the hitch always used for heavy lifts.

Sheet bend bend knot

The sheet bend is a bend. It is practical for joining lines of different diameter or rigidity.

Munter hitch

The Munter hitch, also known as the Italian hitch or the Crossing Hitch, is a simple adjustable knot, commonly used by climbers, cavers, and rescuers to control friction in a life-lining or belay system. To climbers, this knot is also known as HMS, the abbreviation for the German term Halbmastwurfsicherung, meaning half clove hitch belay. This technique can be used with a special "pear-shaped" HMS locking carabiner, or any locking carabiner wide enough to take two turns of the rope. The Munter hitch is named after Werner Munter, a Swiss mountain guide who popularised its use in mountaineering.

Half hitch overhand knot

The half hitch is a simple overhand knot, where the working end of a line is brought over and under the standing part. Insecure on its own, it is a valuable component of a wide variety of useful and reliable hitches, bends, and knots.

Cow hitch type of knot

The cow hitch, also called the lark's head, is a hitch knot used to attach a rope to an object. The cow hitch comprises a pair of half-hitches tied in opposing directions, as compared to the clove hitch in which the half-hitches are tied in the same direction. It has several variations and is known under a variety of names. It can be tied either with the end of the rope or with a bight.

Triple bowline

The triple bowline knot is a variation of the bowline knot. The knot can be applied to emergency situations, such as mountain rescue.

Bale sling hitch

The bale sling hitch is a knot which traditionally uses a continuous loop of strap to form a cow hitch around an object in order to hoist or lower it. In practice, a similar arrangement can also be formed using a fixed loop at the end of a rope. This loop could be formed at the end of a line with a knot, such as the bowline, or a large eye splice.

Bowline on a bight Knot that makes a pair of fixed-size loops in the middle of a rope

The Bowline on a bight is a knot which makes a pair of fixed-size loops in the middle of a rope. Its advantage is that it is reasonably easy to untie after being exposed to load. This knot can replace the figure-eight loop knot when tying into a climbing harness. It is one of the two tie-in knots that are being taught by the German Alpine Club (DAV), generally being considered secure.


A Prusik is a friction hitch or knot used to attach a loop of cord around a rope, applied in climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, caving, rope rescue, ziplining, and by arborists. The term Prusik is a name for both the loops of cord and the hitch, and the verb is "to prusik". More casually, the term is used for any friction hitch or device that can grab a rope. Due to the pronunciation, the word is often misspelled Prussik, Prussick, or Prussic.

Bight (knot) curved section or slack part between the two ends of a rope

In knot tying, a bight is a curved section or slack part between the two ends of a rope, string, or yarn. A knot that can be tied using only the bight of a rope, without access to the ends, is described as in the bight. The term "bight" is also used in a more specific way when describing Turk's head knots, indicating how many repetitions of braiding are made in the circuit of a given knot.

Diamond hitch

The diamond hitch is a lashing technique used mainly in the field of equine packing, to secure a set of objects, for instance a pair of pack-bags, pack-boxes or other gear onto a base, for instance a pack saddle frame, in which case it requires the use of a lash cinch. In the general sense it requires the base to be equipped with at least two points of anchorage, and a rope which is used to lash the object down onto the base. There are two types of Diamond Hitches, a single, shown here, and a double diamond hitch which is not shown.

Pipe hitch

A pipe hitch is a hitch-type knot used to secure smooth cylindrical objects, such as pipes, poles, beams, or spars. According to The Ashley Book of Knots, a pipe hitch is "used to lower a pipe or hoist one" and as "another method of tying to a rectangular timber."