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How to Make a Zeppelin Bend Knot

Friends of Survival Topics:
Of all the knots used to tie two ropes together the Zeppelin Bend is the best bar none. And chances are you have never heard of it! In this Survival Topic we will discuss one of the best knots of all time and explore its interesting history and usage in the days before you were born.

The Zeppelin Bend knot, also known as the Rosendahl Bend knot, is interesting for a number of reasons. First and foremost is it an easy knot to tie, very secure, and jam proof; which cannot be said of the other bend knots people typically tie and risk their lives on.

Another interesting facet of the Zeppelin knot story is that it has, inexplicably, become virtually lost to the world. Even if you regularly use knots, and for wilderness survival enthusiasts knots are very important, you are likely to have never tied a Zeppelin knot.

zeppelin bend knot
Start with a “69″ - Take two ends of rope and make a “69″ with one tail going over itself and the other tail going under as shown.

This oversight has important ramifications; it is likely you are not using Zeppelin knots to tie two ropes together and therefore your very survival could be at stake.

The “Bend” in Zeppelin

What exactly is the meaning of the word “Bend” in the phrase “Zeppelin Bend”?

A bend refers to any knot that is used to tie two pieces of rope together or make a loop from one piece of rope.

Many of you are no doubt familiar with the common sheetbend knot, one of the most common knots used to tie two ropes together. Perhaps you even stake your survival on sheetbend knots or similar variants while participating in adventure sports such as rock climbing, or building rope bridges, mooring water craft, and off-road travel by vehicle.

Other common bend knots include the water knot, fisherman’s knot, double fisherman’s knot, carrick bend, and the rigger’s or hunter’s bend. There are many more knots in this category and everybody has a favorite knot they use for anything from towing vehicles, to mooring boats and setting up clotheslines.

zeppelin bend knot 69
Stack The Rope Ends - Stack the “6″ on top of the “9″ so that the tails are opposite one another.

Sometimes these knots hold, sometimes they fail. Use the Zeppelin Bend and you can rest assured the two ropes you tied together will not separate. What’s more, the knot does not jam and you can easily undo the knot even after tremendous force has been applied to it.

After reading this article and trying the Zeppelin Bend for yourself, you are likely to replace your old bend knot with this lost knot from yesteryear.

History of the Zeppelin Bend Knot

As I mentioned earlier, the Zeppelin Bend is a forgotten knot with an interesting history. A knot that needs resurrection as one of the best knots of all time and a knot that is important for you to learn and use as a student of wilderness survival.

As you may have guessed from the name of the knot, the Zeppelin Bend gets its moniker from its association with the great lighter than air ships, or dirigibles, of the 1920’s. These were commonly called “Zeppelins” in honor of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin who was an early pioneer and advocate of these behemoths.

zeppelin bend knot 69
Thread the Tails - Thread the upper tail underneath both ropes and out through the circle. Then thread the lower tail over both ropes and through the circle.

Of immense size and filled with hydrogen or helium, Zeppelins had a huge lifting capacity; which also meant the knots used to tie them to the earth had to be completely secure, take massive strain, yet remain easy to untie when – and only when – wanted. A tall order when mooring what is essentially a 160 meters long balloon bobbing in the wind and carrying a load of 10 tons (20,000 pounds)!

The qualifying knot used to fasten Zeppelins to the earth? You guessed it, the Zeppelin Knot.

Charles Rosendahl, commander of the dirigible Los Angeles during the 1920′s would only allow one knot to be used for mooring his zeppelin, which is how the Zeppelin Bend know also came to be known as the “Rosendahl Bend”.

How to Make a Zeppelin Knot

Making a Zeppelin knot is quite easy and as with many things worth learning the telling is far more difficult than the actual doing.

My method for making a Zeppelin Bend knot is to first take a short bight from two ends of rope and place them adjacent to each other. Form them into a “”69”, which many Survival Topics readers are no doubt familiar with, so that the circle part of the “6” goes under itself and the circle part of the “9” goes over.

Next place the “6” on top of the “9” as shown so that the tails are opposite one another, forming a central ring of rope. Wrap the tail of the six completely through the ring and then do likewise for the “9”, leading out the opposite sides of the knot. Dress the knot by tightening up so that it makes a neat symmetrical bump.

zeppelin bend knot 69
Finished Zeppelin Knot - Pull tight and dress. Your Zeppelin Bend knot is ready for action.

Features of the Zeppelin Bend Knot

  • easy to tie
  • easy to untie even after heavy loads
  • strong and secure
  • jerk resistant
  • jam resistant
  • perfectly symmetric

Sounds like a knot to learn!

Dan from Canada brought up an interesting question about using the Zeppelin knot to tie two ropes of different diameter. Read the comments section below for information on how to accomplish this.

So the next time you need a dependable knot for tying two pieces of rope together or for making a secure loop, use the Zeppelin Bend. It may very well save your life.

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