I was climbing in Yosemite last summer and, while at a belay, was talking to a party from Bozeman, Montana. They noticed all the proto gear on my rack and deduced that I was from Black Diamond. My partner and I bailed (typical) and they were watching me like a hawk. I asked what they were looking at, and they said, "We want to see how the QA guy from BD raps." In particular, they were eyeing my rap knot.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of rap knot, but is there one that is superior in strength to the others? I put all three knots (with three different rope diameter scenarios) through a quick-and-dirty series of pull tests and have provided below some basic strength testing data based on my limited testing of the three most common rappel knots. (Note: only two data points per configuration.)

Average knot strength table


  •  The Double Fisherman's and Ring Bend had similar strength results
  •  The Euro Death Knot was the weakest: ~20-30% less than the Double Fisherman's and Ring Bend.
  •  The Euro Death Knot slipped a bit before failure at ~4000 lbf with the 10.2 and ~2000 lbf with the 8.1 in the system.


Kolin Powick (KP) is a Mechanical Engineer hailing from Calgary, Canada. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the engineering field and has been Black Diamond's Director of Global Quality since 2002. Kolin oversees the testing of all of Black Diamond's gear from the prototype phase through continual final production random sample testing. If you have a technical question for KP, please email him at askkp@bdel.com and he will TRY to respond.