Highwayman's hitch

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Highwayman's Hitch.jpg


The Highwayman’s hitch is a quick-release hitch used to temporarily tie a load that will need to be released easily.

The hitch is untied by pulling the working end, even when under tension.


The knot is three bights that each successively lock the previous one:

  1. the first one, in the middle of the rope, wraps around the pole,
  2. the second one (called the toggle bight) is a bight of the standing part locking the first one so the pole is held tight, and
  3. the third one (called the slip-tuck) is a bight of the working part (slack end) locking the second bight.

The locking actions are achieved by reaching through each bight to pull the next one through.

The knot has to be finished by pulling the standing part tight to ensure that it holds.


  • Quick and easy to release,
  • Can be tied in the middle of the rope (a bight),
  • It is non-jamming.


  • Until the knot is tightened and properly dressed, the highwayman's hitch has little holding power.
  • The knot can capsize when the pole is substantially larger than the rope diameter. The failure occurs because the second bight sees the force of the standing part, but is held in place by the working part, which has no tension. When capsizing, tension on the standing part pulls the second bight through the first bight. This drags the slip-tuck through, and will release the hitch if the third bight isn't long enough.


  • repeat the second and third bights i.e. one more bight of the standing part and then one more bight of the working part, each successively locking the previous bight; this has the disadvantage of requiring longer rope from both parts.
  • twist each bight before reaching through it for the next locking byte; (but this is difficult to tighten).

Similar knots

  • Tumble hitch is supposedly a more stable hitch.
  • "Slip-free hitch".