By Matthew C. Keegan / Originally Published December 26, 2016 / National Automotive Parts Association /

Your pickup truck, SUV, trailer and boat each come with tie downs, composed of rope, straps, chains or cords to secure your items. When properly fastened, your equipment or cargo is kept firmly in place, protecting your investment. Beyond loop and ratchet tie-down straps, you can also use a rope to anchor your items. Here are the five best knots to prepare you for any situation you may encounter.

1. Trucker’s Hitch — Payload

If you’re hauling a load and you don’t have ratchet tie-down straps, the next best thing is polypropylene rope for securing your belongings. With truck bed tie-downs in place, you’ll employ a trucker’s hitch to cinch your load. Create a series of knots to tighten the line. Begin by tying one end of the rope to the item being held in place. Then, approximately halfway down the line create a slippery half-hitch to form a loop in the middle of the line. Next, loop the free end of the rope through the tie down opening, passing through the loop. Secure the knot with a pair of half hitches below the loop.

Trucker's Hitch Knot

Photo Credit: Truckers Hitch knot using the Alpine Butterfly for the loop by Mindbuilder (CC BY-SA 3.0).

2. Cleat Hitch — Mooring

After a full day of sailing and fishing, you’re ready to return to shore and reclaim your land legs. As you pull up to the marina, look for a dock cleat to secure your boat. A cleat hitch or a dock line knot is the best way anchor a watercraft. Take the anchor rope and loop it around the far horn, then around the near horn, before looping back across the middle of the cleat. Observe the now apparent figure-eight pattern, then repeat the process three or four times. As for the remaining rope, it should be “flemished” or coiled neatly next to the cleat to avoid being stepped on.

3. Pile Knot — Hitching

While out horseback riding you stop, dismount and look for a post to attach the lead rope for securing your stallion. Here, you’ll want a knot that will untie quickly for the safety of the animal. This is where a pile knot or hitch is essential. Take a double end of the line, form a loop and wrap it around the post from the back. Next, cross over the standing line and slide the open end of the loop over the top of the post. Lastly, pull tight to secure the rope.

4. Zeppelin Bend — Connecting

What if the rope you’re using isn’t long enough? The easy solution is to use two ropes, connecting these with a Zeppelin bend. Start off by making loops with the two ropes and overlapping the same. Next, pass the rope ends around and across themselves, going over the top and bottom loops. Thread both ends through the middle, then tighten.

Zeppelin Bend

Photo Credit: Zeppelin Bend Howto by Chris 73 (CC BY-SA 3.0).

5. Fireman’s Coil — Storing

How do you store rope? After all, you’ll want to use it again and the last thing you need is a tangled mess. Create a fireman’s coil and you’ll avoid that problem. First make a coil with your rope by looping it in circles. Pull the end of the uncoiled rope around the center of the coil creating a smaller loop within a loop. Pull the end of the rope to tighten down the first loop onto the second loop. The smaller loop now serves as a hanging hook.

Try these knots for securing items in your truck bed, hitching a horse, mooring a boat or connecting two ropes and storing.

For more information on the best knots, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

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