Figure-eight loop

Last updated
Figure-eight loop
NamesFigure-eight loop, Flemish loop
Category Loop
Related figure-eight knot, flemish bend, Figure-of-nine loop, spider hitch
Releasing Jamming
Typical use climbing, caving
ABoK #1047, #531

Figure-eight loop (also figure-eight on a bight, figure-eight follow-through, Flemish loop, or Flemish eight) is a type of knot created by a loop on the bight. It is used in climbing and caving where rope strains are light to moderate and for decorative purposes.


The Flemish loop or figure-eight loop is perhaps stronger than the loop knot. Neither of these knots is used at sea, as they are hard to untie. In hooking a tackle to any of the loops, if the loop is long enough it is better to arrange the rope as a cat's paw.

The double figure eight is used to put a loop in the end of a rope, or around an object. It is relatively easy to tie and is secure, but can become difficult to untie after heavy loading, and can jam badly in any rope type.

Tying methods

On a bight

A figure-of-eight loop tied using the follow-through method. Fig8Follow.jpg
A figure-of-eight loop tied using the follow-through method.

A figure-eight loop is created by doubling the rope into a bight, then tying the standard figure-eight knot.

In climbing, this knot is used to save time when repeatedly attaching the rope to climbing harnesses, using locking carabiners, such as when a group of people are climbing on the same top-rope. [2]


A well-dressed figure-eight follow-through after tightening Dvojity osmickovy uzel.jpg
A well-dressed figure-eight follow-through after tightening

Alternatively, to tie the knot directly around an object, the follow-through method must be used.


This is the standard method for attaching a rope to a climbing harness. [3] [4]

Often an additional Strangle knot (what is half of a grapevine knot) "backup knot" is tied in the tail the figure 8. [5] [6] [7] [8] This is not required for the knot's integrity during climbing, [3] [2] [9] [10] [11] [12] but could prevent ring-loading failure if belaying from the rope loop (instead of a dedicated belay loop). [13] [14] It also ensures that adequate tail length has been included, and gets excess tail out of the way. [15] If the finish knot is not included, the tail should be 4 to 8 inches long. [3] [16] [17] [18] [10] The tail can also be tucked back into the knot, called a "Yosemite finish" or "Yosemite tuck". [19] This holds the bottom loop open, making the knot easier to untie after falling, but also making it weaker in a ring-loading configuration. [20] [21]

The diameter of the loop should be kept small, to avoid being caught on protrusions while falling, or clipped into accidentally while lead climbing. [3] A well-dressed knot has a symmetrical appearance, with the strands parallel through each curve. [3] [22]

See also

Related Research Articles

Knot Method of fastening or securing linear material

A knot is an intentional complication in cordage which may be practical or decorative, or both. Practical knots are classified by function, including hitches, bends, loop knots, and splices: a hitch fastens a rope to another object; a bend fastens two ends of a rope to each another; a loop knot is any knot creating a loop, and splice denotes any multi-strand knot, including bends and loops. 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.


A shank is a type of knot that is used to shorten a rope or take up slack, such as the sheepshank. The sheepshank knot is not stable. It will fall apart under too much load or too little load.

Figure-eight knot Type of stopper knot used in sailing and climbing

The figure-eight knot or figure-of-eight knot is a type of stopper knot. It is very important in both sailing and rock climbing as a method of stopping ropes from running out of retaining devices. Like the overhand knot, which will jam under strain, often requiring the rope to be cut, the figure-of-eight will also jam, but is usually more easily undone than the overhand knot.

The figure-eight or figure-of-eight knot is also called the Flemish knot. The name figure-of-eight knot appears in Lever's Sheet Anchor; or, a Key to Rigging. The word "of" is nowadays usually omitted. The knot is the sailor's common single-strand stopper knot and is tied in the ends of tackle falls and running rigging, unless the latter is fitted with monkey's tails. It is used about ship wherever a temporary stopper knot is required. The figure-eight is much easier to untie than the overhand, it does not have the same tendency to jam and so injure the fiber, and is larger, stronger, and equally secure.

Double bowline

A double bowline is a type of loop knot. Instead of the single turn of the regular bowline, the double bowline uses a round turn. This forms a more secure loop than a standard bowline.

Climbing harness

A climbing harness is an item of climbing equipment for rock-climbing, abseiling, or other activities requiring the use of ropes to provide access or safety such as industrial rope access, working at heights, etc. A harness secures a person to a rope or an anchor point.

Glossary of climbing terms List of definitions of terms and concepts related to rock climbing and mountaineering

This glossary of climbing terms is a list of definitions of terms and jargon related to rock climbing and mountaineering. The specific terms used can vary considerably between different English-speaking countries; many of the phrases described here are particular to the United States and the United Kingdom.

Rock-climbing equipment

A wide range of equipment is used during rock or any other type of climbing that includes equipment commonly used to protect a climber against the consequences of a fall.

Slip knot Type of knot

The slip knot is a stopper knot which is easily undone by pulling the tail. The slip knot is related to the running knot, which will release when the standing end is pulled. Both knots are identical and are composed of a slipped overhand knot, where a bight allows the knot to be released by pulling on an end; the working end for a slip knot, and the standing end for a running knot. The slip knot is used as a starting point for crochet and knitting.

The slip knot is a stopper knot that may be spilled or slipped instantly by pulling on the end to withdraw a loop. There is but one knot entitled to the name; any others having a similar feature are merely " slipped" knots.

Stopper knot knot that creates a fixed thicker point on an otherwise uniform thickness rope for the purpose of preventing unreeving

A stopper knot is a knot that creates a fixed thicker point on an otherwise-uniform thickness rope for the purpose of preventing the rope, at that point, from slipping through a narrow passage, such as a hole in a block. To pass a rope through a block, or hole, is to reeve it. To pull it out is to unreeve it. Stopper knots prevent the rope from unreeving on its own.

Munter hitch Adjustable knot used control friction in a belay system

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.

Offset overhand bend

The offset overhand bend is a knot used to join two ropes together. The offset overhand bend is formed by holding two rope ends next to each other and tying an overhand knot in them as if they were a single line. Due to its common use in several fields, this bend has become known by many names, such as thumb knot, openhand knot, one-sided overhand knot or flat overhand bend (FOB), though the terms "one-sided" and "flat" are considered incorrect.

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.

Figure-of-nine loop

The figure-of-nine loop is a type of knot to form a fixed loop in a rope. Tied in the bight, it is made similarly to a figure-of-eight loop but with an extra half-turn before finishing the knot.

Yosemite bowline Loop knot often perceived as having better security than a bowline

A Yosemite bowline is a loop knot often perceived as having better security than a bowline. It has been pointed out that if the knot is not dressed correctly, it can potentially collapse into a noose, however testing reveals this alternative configuration to be strong and safe as a climbing tie-in.

Bight (knot)

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.

Belay device Mechanical piece of climbing equipment

A belay device is a mechanical piece of climbing equipment used to control a rope during belaying. It is designed to improve belay safety for the climber by allowing the belayer to manage their duties with minimal physical effort. With the right belay device, a small, weak climber can easily arrest the fall of a much heavier partner. Belay devices act as a friction brake, so that when a climber falls with any slack in the rope, the fall is brought to a stop.


  1. Ashley, Clifford W. (1944). The Ashley Book of Knots, p.190. Doubleday. ISBN   0-385-04025-3.
  2. 1 2 Fitch, Nate; Funderburke, Ron (2015-10-15). Climbing: Knots. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 32. ISBN   9781493015061. Tying a double overhand or barrel knot in front of the figure 8 follow through does not alter the failure mechanism of the knot. It simply adds another step to an already secure knot.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Gaines, Bob; Martin, Jason D. (2014-05-20). Rock Climbing: The AMGA Single Pitch Manual. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN   9781493009626. When tied correctly, the knot is tight, with a 5- to 8-inch tail ... Tie the figure eight so that its loop is about the same diameter as your belay loop. The figure eight knot does not require a backup knot.
  4. Ritter, Max (2016-07-20). "Learn to Climb: Tie in With a Figure Eight Follow-Through Knot". Climbing Magazine. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  5. Mountaineering : the freedom of the hills. Eng, Ronald C., Van Pelt, Julie. Mountaineers Books. 2010. p. 141. ISBN   9781594851384. OCLC   607322876. For instance, the overhand knot can be used to secure rope ends after ... a rewoven figure eight (fig. 9-4c). ... The rewoven figure eight is finished off by tying an overhand knot in the loose end of the rope.CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. Timothy W. Kidd, Jennifer Hazelrigs, ISBN   978-0-7360-6802-4 Rock climbing. Wilderness Education Association (U.S.) "There is great debate about whether the [Figure Eight] knot is finished at this point. Some people think stopping at this point is sufficient; others believe that since your life depends on this knot, you should back it up. ...The most common backup knot is a [strangle knkot]."
  7. Raleigh, Duane (1998). Knots & Ropes for Climbers. Stackpole Books. p. 28. ISBN   978-0-8117-2871-3. make certain you leave a long tail, and finish this with a Double Fisherman's
  8. Owen, Peter (1993). Knots. Courage Books. ISBN   978-1-56138-225-5. A stopper knot must be added when the threaded figure eight loop is used to tie on a line.
  9. Martin, Jason D. "The Figure-Eight Follow-Through". American Alpine Institute. Retrieved 2018-07-13. The reality of the so-called "back-up knot" is that it is not necessary.
  10. 1 2 Delaney, Richard (November 7, 2018). "Members: Fig8 tail length". RopeLab Online. Retrieved 2020-05-28. If correctly tied, dressed, and set then it does not need an additional stopper knot to secure the tail. ... I would recommend allowing a tail of 100mm.
  11. Luebben, Craig (2011-04-01). Knots for Climbers. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN   978-0-7627-6858-5. The figure eight follow-through does not require a backup ... but it can't hurt to use one
  12. Vogel, Todd (2017-10-26). "Knot and cord strength: answers to common questions" (PDF). Earth First! Climbers Guild. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-10-26. Retrieved 2020-06-10. You do not need a backup knot behind a figure eight tie-in knot nor should students be taught that “messy” knots are weaker than “correct” knots.
  13. Geldard, Jack (1 July 2008). "Belaying - 'Rope Loop' or 'Belay Loop'?". UKClimbing. Retrieved 2020-06-13. Make sure your knot is well tied, tight and has a stopper knot. Adding a stopper knot adds another link to the safety chain.
  14. rgold (16 Feb 2017). "Is a stopper knot necessary with a figure-of-8?". UKClimbing Forums. Retrieved 2020-06-13. a situation to be aware of is when the climber belays off the rope loop rather than the harness belay loop
  15. "Is a safety knot on your figure-eight a necessity?". Mountain Project. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  16. "Dynamic climbing ropes manual: Precautions for use" (PDF). min. 10cm
  17. "Dynamic Rope Manual: Fig. 2: Terminal connections" (PDF). Edelrid. min. 10 cm
  18. "Dynamic: Fig. 4". Beal ropes. 10 cm
  19. Fitch, Nate; Funderburke, Ron (2015-10-15). Climbing: Knots. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 33. ISBN   978-1-4930-1506-1.
  20. "The Figure-Eight Follow-Through". American Alpine Institute. Retrieved 2020-06-13. may seriously weaken the knot if you use the inside of the knot as a belay loop
  21. Dahlberg, Robin. "Cross load test of common climbing knots". Vimeo. 0:36-1:45. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  22. JB (2018-07-17). "The Well-Dressed Figure Eight Knot: Start Hard, Finish Easy". Fox Mountain Guides & Climbing School. Retrieved 2020-05-28.