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Overhand Bend

How to tie the Overhand Bend aka the Euro Death Knot.

The Overhand Bend has historically been considered to be a very weak knot. Indeed Clifford Ashley said its use should be limited to hanging hams and bananas! It is also often used by weavers to join the ends of yarn and thread. However, the Overhand Bend has found a place among modern day climbers as a knot to join two ropes that is less likely than other knots to catch on obstructions such as rock edges and cracks. It is thus used for rope retrieval and by some climbers to join two ropes for rappelling. It is one of the easiest knots to tie.

The knot is also referred to (principally by American climbers) as the Euro Death Knot (EDK). That name likely came from either unfamiliarity and distrust of a new knot, confusion with the somewhat similar but different flat figure eight knot, or the fact that the knot is counter-intuitive in that it appears to be less safe than other bends.

If the Overhand Bend or EDK is used in any climbing scenario it is important that it be tied with very long tails of at least 1 1/2 feet/50cm and that it be carefully dressed and pre-tensioned. A backup knot such as a second overhand knot can be tied above the initial knot. That will increase the size and profile of the knot but it will still retain its desired asymmetry and makes the knot harder to capsize.

Scroll down to see the Animated Overhand Bend.

How to tie the Overhand Bend, aka Euro Death Knot

Overhand Bend Knot Tying Instructions

  • Use enough rope to allow for very long tail ends of approximately a foot and a half (tails appear shorter in illustration and animation to save space).
  • Form a loop with both ends even with each other.
  • Pass the two ends through the loop as with a simple Overhand Knot.
  • Carefully dress the knot and pull very tight, first with both ends together, then pre-tension the knot by pulling the two ropes firmly in opposite directions.

Disclaimer: Any activity involving rope can be dangerous and may even be life threatening! Knot illustrations contained in this web site are not intended for rock climbing instruction. Many knots are not suitable for the risks involved in climbing. Where failure could cause property damage, injury, or death, seek professional instruction prior to use. Many factors affect knots including: the appropriateness of knots and rope materials used in particular applications, the age, size, and condition of ropes; and the accuracy with which these descriptions have been followed. No responsibility is accepted for incidents arising from the use of this content.