The Well-Dressed Figure Eight Knot: Start Hard, Finish Easy

The Well-Dressed Figure Eight Knot: Start Hard, Finish Easy

July 17, 2018 fmg-adminAlpine & Ice Climbing Guides' Tech Tips Rock Climbing

Why is a well-dressed figure eight knot even important? A messy eight will hold just as well as a neat one, so what’s the big deal?  In climbing, the main reason most people tie in with a figure eight (and why the vast majority of climbing gyms require it) is because it is easy to recognize and therefore verify that it is tied correctly and will perform as expected. So dressing the figure eight is an important step in tying it as it will make it even easier to identify.

To properly dress the knot we can use a technique called start hard, finish easy. We start by pushing the standing part of the rope over while poking the working end through the hole this forms.

well-dressed figure eight knot starting hard
well-dressed figure eight knot pushing standing end aside
well-dressed figure eight knot pushing working end through

Once this step is complete, the working end only passes through the knot two more times. Both of these passes should be “easy.” The video below illustrates this simple process: 

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  • JB

    Other advantages of this Figure-8 sequence when tying around an existing object (while tying the knot) is that the end is free to reeve thru, you don’t have to re-arrange the knot to dress it, and without the re-dressing, you don’t put twist into the bite, which then tends to rest open wider for easier handling.
    When you intend to clip in (using the finished knot), this sequence can be simplified (& quicker) by just tucking the terminal bite thru (rather than putting the end thru and then back thru again) the initial twisted bite, and complete the knot as shown.
    JB — “Dress to impress & express”

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