As an adventurer, overlander or someone who simply moves goods around on a trailer or roof rack, this may be of interest to you, especially as a back up option.
In this day and age we all tend to secure our goods, equipment and tools with some kind of tension strap, but how would you cope if they broke or became lost.
Looking back when those old boys of the truck and transport world had only ropes and sheets, one of their best friends in the game was the truckers hitch. A very useful bit of rope work that can tension down on a load, but is easily slipped off with a simple tug when no longer required.
The truckers hitch has varying styles, but all are a compound knot commonly used for securing loads on trucks and trailers. Knot author Geoffrey Budworth claims the use of the knot can be traced back as far as the horse drawn transport era of centuries past.
This general arrangement, using loops and turns in the rope itself to form a crude block and tackle.
The portion of the trucker’s hitch which differs in the following variations is the method used to form the loop which the working end slides through to produce the mechanical advantage. The different methods of forming the loop affect the ease and speed of tying and releasing and the stability of the final product.
The variations are listed in order of increased stability.
1, Sheepshank loop
2, Slipped overhand loop
3, Fixed loop
All common variations of the trucker’s hitch use a loop in the standing part of the rope and the anchor point as makeshift pulleys in order to theoretically obtain a 3 to 1 mechanical advantage while pulling on the working end.
That is, in a frictionless system, every unit of force exerted on the working end would produce 3 units in the standing part of the rope over the load. In the typical use of the trucker’s hitch, where it is used to tighten a rope over a load, when the end is secured to the loop of the Truckers hitch and let go, the tension in the two segments of rope around the ring will rise 50%, unless the rope slackens when it is being tied off, in which case the tension may drop to any value or even zero if enough slack is allowed.
Theoretical considerations aside, in real world use the mechanical advantage of the trucker’s hitch is significantly less than the ideal case due to the effects of friction. Friction has been reported to reduce the mechanical advantage from 3 to 1, to well less than 2 to 1 in many cases. One advantage of the friction within the trucker’s hitch is that it allows the hitch to be held taut with less force while the working end is secured.
In tightening the trucker’s hitch, tension can be effectively increased by repeatedly pulling sideways while preventing the tail end from slipping through the loop, and then cinching the knot tighter as the sideways force is released.
Once tight, the trucker’s hitch is often secured with a half hitch, usually slipped for easy releasing and to avoid the necessity of access to the end of the rope, though a more secure finish, such as 2 x half hitches may be called for. Under large loads, the finishing half hitch can jam, especially if it is not slipped, the difficulty of releasing it can be compounded by the fact that the knot is typically still under tension when it is untied.
Here is a basic instructional guide to the most common variation of the truckers hitch …
Secure your rope at one end. Now make two loops in the rope. Double the rope over just beneath these two loops
Feed the doubled section up through your two loops
Hold the newly formed top loop in one hand and pull the bottom loop to tighten the slippery hitch
Run the tag end of the rope around an anchor point and thread it back through the bottom loop of your slippery hitch
Pull the tag end as tight as you can (put your entire body weight into it if possible) and hold the tightened rope in place at the loop
Run a couple of half hitches over the rope to hold the knot in place.
The beauty of this type of slippery hitch is that it will hold secure with any sort of rope (including hemp and nylon) without coming loose and will easily come undone without binding with a simple tug on either end when you’re ready to pull the space case off your roof.
Instructional images & text credits ;