How To Tie A Quick Release Knot

Jessica McDaniel
Written by
Last update:

Why You Would Use a Quick Release Knot

While there are some knots that are used in speed climbing, quick release knots are the real life savers for climbers. Everyday climbers use these knots to prevent long slide if their rope breaks or their harness malfunctions.

If you’re just starting out, you should practice tying these knots and get a basic understanding of them. But what happens if you’re climbing and realize that your rope is frayed or your harness is either broken, gloved or stuck and unfortunately you have a quick release knot made. What would you do in such a situation?

Here is your solution. While traditional knots need you to untie them, a quick release knot needs you to pull! If our knots are tied correctly, you can untie the knot in your regular climbing circumstances and have it reconnect while you are on the wall.

In case of emergencies, though, this is not the best thing for you. In emergency situations, like a fall or troublesome harness, all you need to do is pull the rope and the knot will quickly disintegrate.

When to Use a Quick Release Knot

A Quick Release Knot is one of the most important knots you’ll learn in rope knotting. This knot is great to use with ropes like i-cord because they don’t degrade or stretch like other ropes. You will also need this knot to quickly release any cordage, such as in a situation where you need to escape quickly.

Due to the safety factor of the Quick Release Knot explained above, this is an extra useful knot to have in your rope tying repertoire.

How to Tie a Quick Release Knot

When I was first learning to tie knots, I almost lost my mind. I would search endlessly for video tutorials to teach me. Eventually I realized there isn’t a one-size-fits-all video for these things. I had to put in the time and practice. I became obsessed. I would tie knots in my bathrobe in front of the computer, literally. No matter where I was, I was tying knots. Here is what helped me:

Don’t be afraid to try different ways.

It’s okay to experiment. Each knot has various ways to be tied, just find the one that works best for you.

Take your time.

When I was first learning to tie knots, I was so focused on tying them super fast that I would quickly tie myself up in knots. Too quickly and you will make mistakes. The beauty of the quick release knot is that you can easily adjust it as you go.

Practice a lot.

As I mentioned, I didn’t stop practicing until I had this thing down packed. I would tie the same knot over and over until I felt like I had it. I still do this today.


For quick release knots, the backing and the working strands of your rope need to be at least four times larger than the diameter of the working strand. For example, if your line is 1/4" thick, the backing and working strands should be at least 1".

More room is better. This will allow for a clean cut through the hole in the clasp and a good, thick knot, which is less likely to come undone.

Here are a few quick release knots you can use to attach your gear to your line:

  • Double overhand loop
  • Overhand loop
  • Surgeons loop
  • Butterfly knot
  • Alpine butterfly loop
  • Surgeons loop with a fisherman's knot

The most common quick release knots are the overhand loop, the double overhand loop and a surgeons loop.

For added security, use two or more knots to create another reliable and strong attachment.

The overhand loop, which is also known as the monkey fist can be formed by forming a circle with your rope and crossing the end through the circle in an overhand manner. The double overhand loop is a large and adjustable knot.