Learning how to tie a Figure 8 Knot is an essential part of sailing. This practical knot is a strong, versatile, and reliable knot that can be used for a wide variety of applications. It’s quick to deploy, easy to master, with plenty of uses on deck and on land.

The Figure 8 Knot is also known as the Figure-of-Eight Knot or Flemish Bend. It’s famous for being a strong stopper knot. This knot is very secure, with a non-slip nature that can jam tightly, but never bind. Even under pressure, the Figure 8 Knot can easily be untied. However, it can fall undone under certain circumstances.

Because of its reliable nature and strong, non-binding characteristics, the Figure 8 Knot has plenty of practical uses. For boaters, it’s an ideal knot to prevent a rope from sliding out of sight or running out of a retaining device. For climbers, the Figure Eight can be used as a tie-in knot that can be relied on. It’s easy to inspect, and very easy to untie and re-tie if necessary.

All good sailors should know how to tie a strong stopper knot, and the Figure 8 is one of the best you can tie. Here’s how to tie a Figure 8 Knot!

How To Tie A Figure 8 Knot

Grab a decent length of rope and prepare to tie your first Figure 8 Knot!

Step One: Take the working end of your rope and make a single loop.

Step Two: Pass the working end over the top of the standing end. Make a second loop, now with the working end passing over the top of the standing end.

Step Three: Pass the working end of the rope through the first loop that you just made.

Step Four: Pull on the rope at both ends to tighten the knot as desired.

Other Things To Consider

Now that you know how to tie a basic Figure 8 Knot, you should learn how to tie a few variations and learn when to deploy it, and when not to. Here are a few additional things to keep in mind.

Alternative Methods

There’s an alternative Figure Eight Knot that is a doubled-up version of the one shown above. This variation is primarily used for rock climbing since it forms a non-slip loop.

Another popular variation is the Stein Knot. This can be used to secure a rope that’s already tied to something else. It’s not a true knot though—technically it’s defined as device rigging. Even so, this knot is popular with rappelers.

Finally, there’s the Offset Figure 8 Bend. This is a knot that we don’t recommend using at all. It’s a poor knot used to join two ropes together, and it has been responsible for far too many accidents and fatalities. Avoid this knot at all costs!

For Rock Climbing

While the Offset Figure 8 is a no-no, the Figure 8 Knot is still very important for rock climbers. It might not be the most popular stopper knot, especially when compared to the Double Overhand Knot, but it’s a very important knot to learn. It’s used to form the Figure 8 Follow Through knot, and the Double Figure 8 Loop.

Other Uses

The Figure 8 Knot also has other uses outside of traditional rope-tying. For example, it’s an important symbol in heraldry. If it’s used for heraldic purposes, it’s more commonly known as a Savoy Knot.

The knot is also used as a badge of honor for members of the United States Navy. The Figure of Eight is a badge worn for those who have completed the apprentice rating.

Lastly, the Scout Association of the United Kingdom awards a figure-of-eight emblem to members of the corps in recognition of long service and gallantry.

Other Stopper Knots

The Figure 8 is a great stopper knot but there are better alternatives. Seasoned sailors and climbers generally prefer the Double Overhand Knot or Stevedore Stopper Knot if given the choice. Some even prefer the Ashley Stopper Knot too. These alternatives are generally larger and stronger, with added stability. However, if you’re dealing with a slippery rope made from modern materials, an EStar Stopper Knot may be a better alternative.