How to Tie a Double Running Bowline Knot

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The Double Running Bowline Knot is used in the Rope Tree Swing project to hang the tree swing from a high branch that can’t be reached by a ladder. The Double Running Bowline is durable, strong and won’t strangle the branch as the tree grows.

The rope used in this example is 5/8 inch diameter braided polypropylene.

How to Tie a Double Running Bowline Knot

Step 1 – Begin by making a double loop.

Double Bowline Knot - Step 1

Double Bowline Knot – Step 1

Step 2 – Tuck the working end of the rope under (red square) and through the two loops.

Double Bowline Knot - Step 2

Double Bowline Knot – Step 2

Step 3 – Wrap the working around the standing part of the rope and down into the double loops.

Double Bowline Knot - Step 3

Double Bowline Knot – Step 3

Step 4 – Working end tucked into the hole formed by the double loops.

Double Bowline Knot - Step 4

Double Bowline Knot – Step 4

Step 5 – Pull on both ends to draw the knot tight leaving a small (~6 inch) loop at the bottom.

Double Bowline Knot - Step 5

Double Bowline Knot – Step 5

This is how the knot should look when draw tight and properly dressed. “Dressed” means the rope lays correctly in the knot without extra crossings or kinks.

Double Bowline Knot - Front

Double Bowline Knot – Front

View of the opposite side of the knot:

Double Bowline Knot - Back Side

Double Bowline Knot – Back Side

Running Bowline Knot over a Tree Limb

The next photo illustrates how the Running Bowline Knot loops around a tree limb for a rope tree swing. After throwing the rope over the tree limb, the standing part of the rope is tucked through the loop of the Bowline knot. The knot slides up snug (purple arrow) around the tree limb as the rope is pulled from the ground (red arrow). This makes it easy if tying the rope over a high tree branch that can’t be reached for the ground.

Tip: I used a fishing pole with a weight to toss a “lead line” over the high tree limb and tied the rope to the fishing line. The fishing line & rope are then pulled up-and-over the limb. The fishing line is cut off, the free end of the rope inserted through the bowline knot and the free end of the rope pulled to run the knot up to the tree limb – all from the safety of standing on the ground. No need for a ladder! This technique requires a length of rope that’s twice the height of the tree limb.

Leave a generous pigtail (loose end of rope on right) as shown for security and to visually inspect the knot is OK from the ground.

Double Running Bowline Knot - Tree Limb

Double Running Bowline Knot – Tree Limb

Take care,

Bob Jackson

Copyright © 2019   Reproduction strictly prohibited.


  1. Paul Stokstad June 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    Finding this was a sort of web miracle, since we have been waiting around to buy or borrow a tall ladder, and then I thought there MUST be sone way to do this by just throwing up the rope, and here you have it. Johan, age 7 thanks you and so do my wife and I

  2. M Stocksdale June 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    The directions for the swing were excellent, especially the knots. I had all my kids work on the knots with me. We practiced making them by referring to your article on the computer and then went outside and worked them from (short term) memory.

    They all worked great!

  3. Jeff C June 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    So I am right handed and was making the two loops with my right hand. Did not look like your picture. Figured out you must have done the first two loops with your left hand. So you are either left handed or left dominant. Or maybe it’s me that is that way.

    • Bob Jackson June 10, 2012 at 7:44 am - Reply

      Some knots can be tied as mirror images. I tied it the way I learned it.

  4. Ed P May 31, 2014 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    It brought back memories when I was in the boy scouts. I think we use to say the following phrase to help us remember tying this knot. “The rabbit comes out of the hole around the tree and back down the hole”. That was 50 years ago!!!

    • Michael D June 3, 2014 at 1:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the tip. Very easy to remember.

  5. Frank Smith June 27, 2014 at 12:01 am - Reply

    Looks good, but you don’t need to double expensive rope just to get it up there. Take the rope you used to fish the line up there in the first place and tie/tape it together and use that to go through the double bowline. It might snag a little bit as you put the joint knot through the bowline, but if you tape the joint so there are no sharp edges or angles (like you might a fish/pull string inside a wall pulling wire through), you should be able to jiggle it through without a lot of trouble.

  6. Carolyn Brown May 23, 2017 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much those knots are wonderful and no up around my branch 22 feet high! Looking forward to the seat next!

  7. Ashley July 8, 2017 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the great instructions! My son loves his tree swing!

  8. Kelly Davis August 30, 2017 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    How do you untie / remove the rope in the future?

    • Bob Jackson August 30, 2017 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      If the bowline knot is tied to an out of reach high tree limb, cut the rope over the limb with a telescoping pole saw if it’ll reach. Otherwise tie a PVC cable saw (a.k.a. “friction saw”) to two lengths of rope, toss it over the limb such that the cable crosses the swing rope and work it back and forth to cut it, thereby releasing the bowline knot.

  9. Kelly Davis August 31, 2017 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Ok, thanks for your help!

  10. Jay Alt September 10, 2017 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Nice. The loop knot is called a water bowline. It is preferred if you need a loop that must be towed behind a boat. Regular bowline can come undone by the buffeting. An ordinary bowline with only 1 coil on the standing end may jam tight under heavy load & prevent you from untying it. The 2 coil version can be loosened & untied.

    • Bob Jackson September 11, 2017 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Because there’s no standards organization for knots, a knot often has different names depending on the era, trade and author writing about a knot.

      According to the The Complete Book of Knots by Geoffrey Budworth:

      “…it was mentioned as a seafarer’s knot by Sir Henry Mainwaring in the The Sea-man’s Dictionary (1644) and first illustrated in David Steel’s Elements and Practice of Rigging and Seamanship in 1794. … Some useful variants on the common bowline (e.g. a double bowline, a bowline the bight and a couple of triple bowlines) also appear this book.”

      Thanks for the water bowline tip!

  11. megan May 9, 2018 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    so excited to use this technique to hang a bird feeder from a high ilmb!

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