Cordage: The Sledge Knot

(As featured in the January / February 2012 issue of Practically Seeking)

Sledge Knot

This is one of the coolest new knots we've seen in a long time, and we just had to pass it along. It's easy to tie, stays absolutely secure, and is an excellent choice for binding things together, building, or almost any other time when you need something to be secured, since the ratcheting action allows you make it far tighter than pretty much any other knot. The only down side is that it can be made so tight that you can't untie it, so you won't be able to re-use your cordage.

Our good friend and colleague, Adam, showed us this one. He learned it from a colleague of his back in England, who learned it from the Sami reindeer herders up in the Arctic.

This is the knot they use to tie together their dog sleds (it binds the sled elements securely, but allows the necessary give for traveling swiftly over bumpy terrain), but we have found it to be extremely useful in all sorts of non-dog-sled-related capacities. (Including improvised snow shoes during the Winter Survival workshop!)

A stellar knot to add to your knowledge base, we hope you'll give this one a try!

Step-by-step Instructions on How to Tie a Sledge Knot:

  1. Take the free end of your cordage (we'll call this the "working" end) and wrap it around the back of the piece you are lashing (the "anchor" point), keeping the long (or "static") end of your cordage on the opposite side of your anchor point.
  2. Pass cordage behind anchor point

  3. Bring your "working" end over top of the "static" end, creating an open loop around your anchor point, with about 10-12 inches of cordage on the "working" side of the loop.
  4. Cross working end in front 10-12 inches

  5. Pinch the cross point of the loop with the thumb and finger of your non-dominant hand. (The hand that is NOT on the side of the "working" end of your cordage.
  6. Pinch cross section Pinch point where cordage crosses

  7. Take the "working" end of your cordage and, working from the pinched cross point back up toward the anchor point, loosely wrap the "working" end around the loop three times. Continue to pinch the cross point as you make your wraps, and finish with your working end on the same side as it began.
  8. Croos behind loop Loop 1 Loop 2 Loop 3

  9. Bring the working end up through the center of the loop from the bottom up, so that it is coming up toward you.
  10. Bring up through loop

  11. Snake the working end back through the loops made by the third and second wraps, so that it is coming back toward you.
  12. Turn down to loops Through 3rd loop Through 2nd loop

  13. Now bring the working end up over TOP of the first wrap, then down through the small loop right by where you have been pinching it together. Your working end and your static end should now be side-by-side.
  14. Go over loop 1 Down through initial loop

  15. Tighten the knot by pulling first on the "working" end, then on top and bottom of the knot to finish tightening it. Now pull on the static end of your cordage to move the knot up to your anchor point, just like you would any slip knot.
  16. Tighten working end Final tighten Slide up to anchor point

  17. Holding the static end tightly (Adam always advises that you wrap the cordage around a piece of stick, both to get better leverage and to avoid nasty rope-burns on your hands) push it as hard as you can back across the back side of your anchor point to initiate the ratcheting action, then, still holding the static end, pull the knot back around to the front of the anchor point. Continue this "push-pull" ratcheting action until the knot is as tight as you want/need to make it.
  18. Pull across behind anchor point Pull forward across front Ratchet back across behind Pull forward

  19. Remember, this type of knot is NOT designed to be untied, and depending on the thickness and type of cordage you are using, will have to be cut loose. When learning to tie this knot we recommend using a thicker nylon cordage (as Julie is using in the photos) so that you can tie, untie, and re-tie the knot while you practice.
  20. Use nylon cordage to practice Finished Sledge Knot

Until next time, enjoy learning this cool new knot,
and Have Fun!

Want to learn more about Knots & Lashings?
Come on out to our
Campcraft Basics workshop June 23-24!