Small and lightweight, it has all the key knots that…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $4 from Amazon (Prime shipping)
Small and lightweight, it has all the key knots that an average backpacker, Boy Scout, or outdoors person may need.
- Lightweight and unobtrusive
- Clear pictures
- Great summaries or mnemonic devices
- Potentially brittle
- Must be able to follow drawings
- Only short descriptions available
- Free Smartphone options available
What is it and when to use it?
Just recently bought this from an online marketplace. Was just over $4 and while that seems a bit expensive for info on only 20 knots, I personally think it was a great investment. I thought that I would like to learn some knots that could be used not only while hiking or backpacking, but also used around the the house or in any situation if needed. There are several good 50+ page books with several pictures and lengthy descriptions. These were the options.
Would I really need to know over 100 knots? Would I bring (or remember) a large book while on the trail? The answer to both was "no." I didn't trust myself to remember several knots and leaving a reference book at home. These cards are waterproof plastic, the same size as a credit card and maybe the thickness of 2-3 credit cards. I've included pictures below.
Most of the knots have a brief one sentence description on the strengths or weaknesses of the knot, when to use it, or other item to note about it. I find the pictures to be clear, though there obviously isn't enough room to have detailed description on each step. Most knots have 3 to 4 steps. There are arrows distinguishing necessary movement of the rope. I can definitely see memorizing 4-5 ropes that I'll use everyday. Others are great to have in my back pocket...which it's small and light enough to keep in you pack and will not take up an excessive amount of space or weight. I have been tying my knots with a 3mm rope that I use to hang a pack.
Here are the knots included on the cards (6 cards, 12 total sides, some with multiple knot diagrams):
Bowline, Bowline on a Bight, Buntline Hitch, Butterfly Knot, Cleat Hitch, Clove Hitch, Constrictor Knot, Double Fisherman's, Figure Eight, Half Hitch, Mooring Knot, Prusik Knot, Rolling Hitch, Sheep Shank, Sheet Bend, Square Knot, Tautline Hitch, Timber Hitch, Trucker's Knot, Water Knot.
Cons (in detail)
The cards fan around a hinge in the corner of the cards. While the cards are sturdy, it seems it could be easy to snap if you happen to put too much pressure against that point of rotation. Just keep twisting it on the same plane (it will loosen the longer you have the cards and use them).
See the picture below for a close up on the metal hinge.
How to counter the con mentioned above
If one of the cards happens to snap at the corner, no big deal. The rope instructions are still there it's just not attached together. One solution includes using a hole punch to make another hole; a single hole punch or industrial type at work should be fine; holding the card against a block of wood and drilling through may also be an option if you don't have access to a hole punch. I would then add a key ring and that'll give you more freedom of movement.
On that same note, you may be able to remove the metal acting as the hinge and put it on a key ring right from the start. On the other hand, with a little care, there shouldn't be a problem with the durability of the cards or hinge.
Overall, I'd highly recommend this 6 fan card pack. While, yes, you can just print off or memorize these knots, for $4 you can't go wrong with the selection of knots noted and no need for memorization.
UPDATE: Just going through Pro-Knot's website and noticed that they have other options instead of these cards. There are the above mentioned knots available in format compatible if you wanted to print them on paper or download to your smartphone. There were also short animations on the entire process of each knot.
My review is specifically regarding the cards, but the substance of the cards is the same for the cards, print, or smartphone apps.