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Gear Guy

Do Twists in a Figure-8 Knot Reduce Its Safety?

How important is dressing your knot? Gear Guy weighs in.

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I thought that keeping twists out of your Trace-8 tie-in knot was to ensure the security of the knot. Some of my friends say it doesn’t matter. Do twists in the knot reduce its safety?

—Allison Granos

Twists in your Trace-8 knot won’t weaken it to the point that it will ever break. Knot strength isn’t the issue. Ask your friends if they have ever heard of the “buddy system,” where your partner inspects your knot and harness buckle to see that they are properly secured. This visual check is our version of a drill sergeant checking your foot locker to see if everything is properly stowed. When it is a mess, you can’t tell if everything is in there and proper.

“Drop and give me 20, maggot!”

A sloppy knot might be mis-tied, but, if the strands are looped over one another like Medusa’s hairdo, you and your partner might not notice. A neat knot with no twists will clearly show whether it has been properly tied. That is a big deal. So, yes, a sloppy knot is less safe.


This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 243 (July 2017).