The prusik knot (hitch) can be easily slid up or down a rope, but when tension is put on the knot, it will bite into the rope and hold. As the tension and position can easily be adjusted with the prusik knot, it is ideal for bushcraft uses. Like attaching a tarp shelter to a ridgeline.
The prusik knot is a friction knot. Technically it is a hitch, but I will use the term knot as it is commonly referred as. It is sometimes misspelled as a prussic knot.
How to tie the prusik knot.
The loop can be wrapped around from two to five wraps around the main line. Generally three wraps is common to tie the prusik.
1. For a ridgeline setup, cut around 2 foot (About 61 cm.) of cordage.
2. Tie a knot to form a loop. Use a double fisherman knot, or similar.
3. Place the loop under the main line. Ensuring the knot end (Double Fisherman’s knot.) of the loop is off to the side.
4. Wrap the loop around the main line and pass the top knot end through the lower loop (A girth hitch.)
5. Repeat the wraps two more times. Ensuring the top knot end of the loop goes around the main line and through the lower loop.
6. Pull up and tighten the hitch. Dress the knot, by making sure the turns are neat and parallel beside each other.
Prusik hitch tips.
If you are having trouble with three turns, try two wraps for a start. Once you dress up the knot, spread the turns apart and insert a third turn in it.
Remember to insert knot end (Double Fisherman’s knot.) into the loop at bottom, inside the turns.
Place the fisherman’s knot off to the side, so the knot doesn’t get in the way of a toggle, carabiner, tent peg toggle, etc.
Try cutting a longer loop to have more cordage to work with.
Any cordage like paracord, bank line, micro or hootchie cord will do. Ideally have the prusik knot cordage, a bit smaller in diameter then the main line it is attaching too. Roughly about two thirds the size of the standing line.
With more wraps you will have more friction. To hang off lanterns and other light weight equipment, two turns might be sufficient.
If you use cordage that frays easy when cutting it, burn the cut ends with a lighter.
Ridgeline set up.
For my ridgeline set up, I will pre-attach three prusik knot loops. The two main prusik loops will have a small carabiner on them, to attach to the tarp. The carabiner just makes it so much quicker to clip and unclip to the tarp.
(The carabiners don’t weigh much and take up little space. If they do get lost or broken, I can easily replace with a toggle stick, or tent stake.)
With the third prusik knot loop, I sometimes hang a thermometer of it. To see how hot and cold conditions get when testing out sleeping systems and various shelters.
Note the middle prusik loop only has two wraps in the knot, as it only holds a light load or thermometer.
Other uses for the prusik knot for bushcraft.
A light or lantern can be hung off the ridgeline and positioned easily with the prusik knot loop.
The prusik hitch can also be used for holding a backpack or gear vertically from a tree or branch. While you can certainly make a marlinspike hitch or similar knot to hang the pack, however the prusik knot is handy for adjusting the height to suit quickly.
With two or three prusik loops attached to the main vertical line, you can hang multiple items at once. Like a pack, dry bag and water bottle.
A prusik loop could also be used to hang a water filter like a Browns water filter bag, or Army Millbank filter from a tree branch. (Or make a tripod and adjust the tripod legs in and out for height adjustment.)
The prusik knot is also used in climbing or a rappelling back up system.
Summary – How to tie the prusik knot.
The prusik hitch is easy to tie and can be adjusted quickly to tension a tarp shelter. It can slide up or down the main rope to create an adjustable anchor point. It is also handy for hanging multiple items from.
The prusik hitch is an ideal knot to learn for bushcraft, survival and camping use.
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