Barrel Hitch Knot: Step by Step How to Tie It

The Barrel Hitch is a knot for lifting a bucket, barrel or similar container straight up, as for moving equipment in. You are unlikely to need it often, but will be very glad of it when you do.

barrel hitch step 9 (final)
barrel hitch step 9 (final)

This knot was often used by sailors for hoisting barrels or buckets of liquid aboard. It’s virtue is that even an open, filled bucket or barrel can be lifted without disturbing the contents.

Step 1. Lay the line side-to-side underneath the barrel or similar object you want to lift:

barrel hitch step 1

Step 2. Bring both ends up and across the top of the barrel:

barrel hitch step 1

Step 3. Cross one end (which we will call the working end) over the other:

barrel hitch step 3

Step 4. Tuck the working end back under the other (standing) end it just went over:

barrel hitch step 4

Step 5. Pull lightly on both ends. You should have a ‘half knot’:

barrel hitch step 5

Step 6. By expanding the gap in the middle of the half knot, you should get something like this:

barrel hitch step 6

Step 7. Keep expanding this, until each line will fit over the side of the barrel:

barrel hitch step 7

Step 8. Let the lines slide down the sides of the barrel a little, then pull on the ends of the lines to tension the hitch. The crossing points if the line on the sides should be well above the gravity center of the object:

barrel hitch step 8

Step 9. Bring the ends of the lines up above the barrel, to suspend it. You could tie them together, or tie a further line to both of them, as appropriate for the situation:

barrel hitch step 9 (final)
barrel hitch step 9 (final)
  • The Bowline is not exactly related to the Barrel Hitch, but the is often tue method used to join the tails together once a Barrel Hitch has been made (tying a shorter tail to a much longer one, which is then used to hoist the load).
  • It might not look like it, but if the barrel were taken away, the structure of this knot is exactly the same as a standard Overhand knot.
  • Or you can check out our knots database for a lot more!

Will You Try It?

A bit of a niche thing to know, this knot will be very useful, very occasionally. But it’s better to know a knot and not need it than to need a knot and not know it!

barrel hitch knot Pinterest image

2 thoughts on “Barrel Hitch Knot: Step by Step How to Tie It”

  1. Hi Nick, you made it look easy, explained it well and told what it was used for. I have only one wish for the readers: a photo from the side to see it in action would have made the article perfect. Compliments, GP

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