How tidy is your Figure of Eight?

I remember being out in Chamonix several years ago towards the beginning of my instructing and a guide commented on the rethreaded figure of eight knot on my harness. He said, that British climbers always put too much emphasis on creating a good stopper knot, yet our rethreaded figure of eights are terrible. I thought about this and yes, my rethreaded figure of eight was messy, correct and safe, but messy. 

Ever since I have been a big advocate for teaching tidy, well dressed figure of eights. The rethreaded figure of eight is a self tightening knot when loaded. It is important however to leave at least a 20cm tail after completing the knot to prevent a short tail working it’s way back into the knot, loosening it, before it has been loaded. 

It is with this tail that we usually tie a stopper knot. 

Below are the pictures first comparing an untidy and well dressed rethreaded figure of eight, followed by my steps to tie the well dressed knot. 

  1. Thread the tail upwards, towards the sky from the harness

2. This is the key step. Tuck the tail underneath as you go around the back (underneath where my thumb is).

3. Now continue to rethread the rest of the knot.

4. Once the rethreaded figure of eight has been completed, pull all four strands of rope that make up the knot tight.

5. Now add a stopper knot to tidy up the spare tail.