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Highwayman's hitch

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Highwayman's hitch
Highwayman's Hitch.jpg
Names Highwayman's hitch, Fireman's hitch
Category hitch
Releasing Non-jamming
Typical use Quick-release, draw loop hitch

The highwayman's hitch also known at the fireman's hitch is a type of knot. It is an insecure, quick-release, draw loop hitch for trivial use. The main feature of the hitch is that it can be untied with a very light tug of the free end, allowing for a quick release. This might not work while the working end is under tension, or if the hitch capsizes, as often occurs when it is loaded.


The knot was allegedly used by highwaymen for a quick getaway when they tied up their horses to the carriage they were holding up, however this whimsical notion is highly unlikely considering the instability of the hitch. The allusion to 'fireman' relates to the fact that when made fast at the centre of a length of rope the hitch allows the rope to be rescued after the hitched end becomes inaccessible eg when descending from a building. It is dangerous in this respect because when strain is put on the fall, the hitch unties itself.


The knot is three bights linked through one another. To tie, begin by forming a bight behind the pole. Next, pass a bight formed from the working end (the end that will receive tension) over the pole and through the first bight. Then, pass a bight formed from the free end over the pole and through the second bight. Pull the working end tight to ensure that it holds. Until the knot is tightened the highwayman's hitch has little holding power.