As far as I know(not much) the bowline has a tendency to loosen when not loaded and the fig 8 does not, I think there is a variation of the bowline called a yosemite bowline which is better, but I prefer to know the knot I tie is going to stay tied so i always use a re threaded fig 8.
i'm sure someone else will be along in a minute with to explain better
In reply to Marcos31: double/ rethreaded bowlines are great for being easy to undo after a fall/ series of falls. however i only use a figure 8 trad climbing due to using the ropeloop to belay from most of the time. im not sure, but i don't think a bowline/ rethread would cope as well with being loaded against with a karabiner and belay device. someone will be along in a minute to set us right though!
In reply to Marcos31:
For trad I use a fig 8 but I use a bowline for sport.
I don't use a bowline for trad as the bowline has a stopper knot tied round the loop so isn't as easy to clip into and equalise a belay. Plus I don't tend to be loading it so its ease of untying isn't needed.
For sport routes where I'm routinely lowering off and taking falls I use a bowline as you can untie it easily after it has been loaded.
Traditionally, when ropes were a lot less elastic and thus a lot weaker, a bowline was regarded as less safe because has less shock absorbing ability than a figure of 8. When I started climbing in 1966 the bowline was often described as a 'cutter knot' - that was part of the folklore.
I use a Yosemite with stopper for sport and trad. Because it'sa Yosemite the stopper knot is on the upward rope not part of the loop.
pros & cons
a yosemitie is easy to undo after a fall a fig 8 is not.
if you get a bowline wrong it may fail, a fig 8 is more likely to still work (you shouldn't get either wrong, and ideally check each other etc...)
> (In reply to Alan James - UKC) I think the Edwards' bowline (as taught by the Edwards) has evolved since those diagrams were done...
I'd be interested to know what it has evolved into. There isn't much room for manoeuvre with that knot.
Other reasons that an Edwards bowline is safer, especially for sport climbing:
1) The figure of 8 is a two-part knot - you tie, then thread, then tie again. Without the second tie it is useless and there have been many accidents where people got distracted while half way through the process and then forget to tie part 2 since they subliminally thought that they had tied a knot already. The bowline is either tied or not.
2) Another reason, which is why I also use bowline for trad, is that the tail from the Edwards knot is easy to tuck away. You are left with only one (or two - trad) live ropes leading away from your harness. Having clipped a long tail into a bolt before do to confusion when in extremis, this is a good enough reason for me to favour the much cleaner knot create by the Edwards bowline without a stopper.
3) I also hate stopper knots from the time one got stuck on the lip of a roof when I went for a dynamic move.
4) Another more technical reason for an Edwards bowline is that it creates a key rope loop with a larger circumference than a figure of 8 with a stopper. The key rope loop is the loop leading directly to the live rope. If this is small then it puts greater stress on the rope. The key rope loop on a figure of 8 with stopper is only threaded by two other ropes, whereas it is threaded by three on a bowline. I actually think this reason is a bit knit-picking , and it is easy to tie a figure of 8 without a stopper, but with a thread back, that negates points 2, 3 and 4 above.
I can't really see the benefit of using a figure of eight for trad. People say about belaying on the rope loop but this doesn't seem to be an issue at all as far as I can see. The knot is still perfectly strong.
I say learn the Edwards knot and use it at all times, for all climbing - it's neater, safer, and easier to undo after loading.
What I meant to add was I consider the FOE safer because it is so obvious when its tied correctly and its easy to check your partners knot because of it. Its also very simple - my daughter picked it up in no time and she isn't that good at tying her shoes. You don't need a stopper with a FOE - just tuck the end back through the knot so you only end up with one rope in the 'live direction' (a la bowline).
What was different? I did a course with the Edward's last summer (fantastic, would recomend to any climber, regardless of experiance, even if just to hear some of Rowlands stories!)and I'm pretty sure the knot I was taught was the same as in the article.
The Edwards knot is far superior to figure 8. I don't think you'll find anyone who knows how to tie it that will diasagree.
Its faster to tie, easy to untie after loading, uses less rope, is tider with no tails of rope to get jammed, clusterf*cked, or to confuse belays.
Additionally it's just as easy to learn as the figure 8 and you can still tell with a quick glance if it is tied correctly.
I think if your taught by someone in person its just as easy... I seem to remember taking ages to learn how to tie a figure 8!...I agree that learning to tie it from a diagram would be very hard
, but then again so would a figure 8.
Yeah its probably harder to inspect, but only because so few people know how to tie it in the first place! If everyone used the bowline then the figure 8 would be harder to inspect.
Double bowline with Yosemite finish. No stopper knot required (that's the point of the Yosemite finish). You can tie back to / belay from the rope loop as with fig. 8 (I once read actually safer than fig-8 which has potential to roll in this configuration). I can tie it faster than a rethreaded fig-8 and it is still easy to undo after a good lob. Use it for both sport and trad now.
> What I meant to add was I consider the FOE safer because it is so obvious when its tied correctly and its easy to check your partners knot because of it.
It is probably true that an FoE is easier to inspect and maybe marginally easier to tie. This is probably why the climbing walls tend to use it for beginners, however this doesn't mean it is safer overall.
I am certain that if you look at the stats of all those people who have plummeted from a lower-off due to untied knots, you will find that 99% of them were using figure of 8s that weren't rethreaded. That is what the poster campaign that accompanied this doctored photo was all about - http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.php?id=5506
I know about three people who have done this, I have also seen more people do it and discover in time. When enquiring afterwards it was obvious that they had been disturbed mid knot tie and just forgotten to complete it afterwards. With a bowline, if you get disturbed, there isn't any knot. Admittedly, you could still set off climbing after threading the rope, but you are far more likely to notice that there is no knot at all there, and also you would have no memory of having tied any knot.
I think that this is such a serious flaw that it outweighs any other drawbacks. You can learn to tie a complex knot well, you can learn to check a knot properly through experience. You can't learn to overcome complacency, in fact that just tends to get worse as you get more experienced. The flaw in a FoE increases with complacency.
Do you know if such stats are available ? the difficulty with all these discussions of low probability events is that there generally aren't any significant stats available - and even if they were it doesn't prove one knot is safer than another - it might just show that people who take the time to master the more complicated knot are liable to be safer people generally.
Anyway I think I'll experiment a bit with the Edwards - see what the fuss is about.
> enquiring afterwards it was obvious that they had been disturbed mid knot tie and just forgotten to complete it afterwards
I agree, most likely source of pilot error. When I was teaching Mrs Nic to tie in, I made it clear to her not to be disturbed in this way...and would test her by trying to engage in conversation midway through the knot. She very soon learned to ignore me...and has since extended the skill to all sorts of situations!
In reply to Marcos31:
I endorse everything that's been said about the Edwards bowline. I think it's the nearest thing to the Holy Grail of tie-on knots.
The figure of eight has gained it's spurious status because once upon a time a teaching system was devised whereby a beginner only had to learn this one knot. However, that was in the days when you tied the FOE on a bight of rope and clipped it into a krab. I would argue that the thread-back FOE that we have to use with a harness is more complicated and riddled with pitfalls than any kind of bowline.
If you analyse the Edwards closely you'll see that it's superior in every way.
I will admit to a personal animus with respect to the FOE. Over the years I spent as a full-time instructor I seemed to spend half my time getting jammed FOE's out of wet, gritty ropes. It's given me a hatred of this great rope-hungry turd of a knot.
Don't forget the problem of untying your hemp waistloop when wet. many a time I have arrived home wet and cold after a day on the hill and got in the bath to warm up before managing to untie the sodding double fishermans, specially if we had been aid climbing and taken a fall or two as a peg came out.
> (In reply to Andy Long)
> Don't forget the problem of untying your hemp waistloop when wet. many a time I have arrived home wet and cold after a day on the hill and got in the bath to warm up before managing to untie the sodding double fishermans, specially if we had been aid climbing and taken a fall or two as a peg came out.