What Knots does Ray Mears use to Pitch his Tarp?

We’re often asked by customers about the Tarp Taut Hitch and other quick-release knots that Ray Mears and the Woodlore team use when pitching our tarps/hootchies; hopefully this post will help.

The knots which Ray uses to pitch his tarp are demonstrated in the following video clip:

The pitching of tarps using these knots is taught on a number of our Bushcraft Courses, including:

14 thoughts on “What Knots does Ray Mears use to Pitch his Tarp?

  1. Tom

    Great knots. Best to purchase his book Bushcraft Handbook to learn the detail behind these knots, but when you know them, tarp setup is fairly straightforward. Ray truly is a master at what he does.


  2. Bill

    For a tight ridgeline for a tarp, or a clothesline, anchor one end Two Half Hitches or the Siberian (Evenk) Hitch Mears uses. How to tie both can be found on YouTube. The Boy Scouts teach Two Half Hitches (I think now under the name Round Turn with Two Half Hitches).

    For a cinching knot on the opposite end of the ridgeline or clothesline, nothing beats a Trucker’s Hitch. Instructions can be found on YouTube or some knot websites. This is an essential knot for carrying a boat on your car top.

    For guy lines, anchor the line to the tarp by Two Half Hitches, Then use Taut Line Hitch at the end to be staked. Boy Scouts teach this knot, so instructions are easy to find. It allows the guy line to be tightened if necessary.


  3. Eric

    The tarp taut hitch (Ray’s knot opposite the evenk hitch on the ridge line) looks just like a backhanded hitch (#1852 in Ashley Book of Knots) except the tarp taut hitch is tied off with a slipped half hitch rather than the backhanded hitch’s 2 half-hitches.


  4. Eric

    I don’t understand how the 2nd knot on the ridge line, opposite the evenk hitch, provides tension. It’s not an adjustable knot, eg, a taut-line hitch. It looks like a slipped half hitch that Ray locks with a bight. When I try Ray’s 2nd knot, my ridge line slackens when the turn around the 2nd post post shifts as weight is added to the ridge line.


  5. Jeff Alward

    Thanks Martin, I suspected it may be something like that.. I’ll have to practice it.

    And yes, Tim, it’s tough to learn those knots through the video. I learned them from one of Ray’s books and only after carefully looking at the illustrations.


  6. Tim

    Virtually usless – of the three knots, only one is mentioned by name and none are clearly described by the video.

    Overall, utterly useless if you need to learn how to tie these knots.


  7. Martin Dryden

    In response to Jeff’s comment. The knot at the end is a prussic knot on the main line and tied to the tarp. As you say to hold the ridge line of the tarp taught.


    1. Howard

      Thank you Martin – it’s useful to know how the tarp is tied to the main line and this is missing from the post – I found the Klemheist is also a good slip and grip knot. Found here: http://www.animatedknots.com/klemheist/index.php?Categ=typeslidegrip&LogoImage=LogoGrog.jpg&Website=www.animatedknots.com

      I wasn’t sure how this is connected to the tarp, or how the guy ropes are connected to the tarp – I used a Surgeon’s knot, a stronger version of the Reef (which can come undone over time), but I don’t know if this is optimal, being a beginner myself.



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