Barrel hitch

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Barrel hitch
Names Barrel hitch, Barrel Sling
Category hitch
Related Overhand knot, Bowline
ABoK #459, #2176 and #2177

The Barrel Hitch or "Barrel Sling", named for its use in hoisting cargo aboard ships, is a simple yet effective way to suspend an object while keeping it vertical. It works by forming a "sling" around the object, which supports it from either side and underneath.

To tie a barrel hitch:

  • Tie an Overhand knot as shown in stage 1 of the diagram, leaving plenty of free rope at the working end.
  • Where the rope crosses itself in the middle of the knot (near the turquoise patch in stage 1), grab the strand of rope on top and bring it towards you, then lay it back down. The result should resemble stage 2: note where the turquoise patch is.
  • Place your object (a drinking glass, barrel or Easter egg is perfect for the job) on top of the diagonal strand of rope in the centre of the knot.
  • Carefully draw the rope up at the working and fixed ends, forming the "sling" around the object.
  • Tie the working end off using a bowline, making sure the sling is tight around the object.

diagram on how to tie this knot


Though the barrel hitch will keep an object upright even if the rope is made to swing, it is important to note that strong jerking movements while raising or lowering can easily dislodge the sling.