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  1. #1
    Senior Member dejoha's Avatar
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    Question Becket Hitch or Sheet Bend? ABOK and knot experts please!

    Hey folks, it's been a LONG while since I posted anything and I hope you're all well.

    Years ago when I was doing research for my book there was some discussion about the technical name for what has grown to become the "hammock knot." Many folks on this forum much more technical than I made the argument that what I initially called a sheet bend (or slipper sheet bend) (ABOK #1437) was more aptly called a becket hitch (ABOK #1431). Like any good researcher, I invested in the tome (ABOK is a BIG, expensive book!) and did as much research as I could to make sure I was sharing accurate information.

    Anyway, fast forward a few years and becket hitch has certainly gained traction as the de facto name (and that is what I have been referring to it ever since), but recent conversations I've had have made me want to re-confirm. Now, I'm not asking for a debate or to stir the pot, per se, but I really would like to hear from as many knowledgeable knot experts to either confirm or refute with clarity what may be at this point a purely academic exercise.

    Here is my understanding:

    1. A sheet bend is so called because it is tied using a bend on one end, whether that be a fabric (e.g., a sheet or sail cloth), or another rope.

    2. A becket hitch, while tied nearly identically to the sheet bend, differs only in that instead of a bend, the working end is tied to a closed loop.

    Let me be completely transparent. At the end of the day, I really don't care too too much on whether the knot is more properly called a "sheet bend" or a "becket hitch" (I'm not working on a PhD in Reefing), because I'm much more interested in helping folks improve their hammock experience and use effective systems. I think also that "becket hitch" has gained enough traction that trying to correct the name may be futile (if it needs to be). This post is more an academic exercise as I would like to hear from as many knot experts their thoughts.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    cmc4free's Avatar
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    In short, my understanding is the same as yours.

    The sheet bend is so-called because it joins one rope to another. By definition a bend is a knot used to join one rope to another. Most bends involve each piece of rope having a free working end.

    The becket hitch, while having the same structure as the sheet bend, is used to join a rope to a closed eye or loop. The word becket has multiple definitions, all of which relate to a closed loop of some sort, though often that loop happens to be made of rope. A hitch is a type of knot used for binding a rope to an object. There's nothing that says the object can't be made of rope, but with most hitches, usually only the rope (or the part of the rope) the hitch is being tied with has a free working end. The hitch might even be tied to the same piece of rope, as in a tautline hitch, but in that scenario the hitch is tied using the working end of the rope and the standing part of the rope the hitch is tied around is considered the object.

    Since in the context of hammocks we're typically talking about joining a strap with a free working end to a closed loop (the continuous loop on the hammock), I believe becket hitch is absolutely appropriate.
    Last edited by cmc4free; 12-11-2019 at 00:09.

  3. #3
    cmc4free's Avatar
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    Same as you, while seeing no real value in being pedantic about it, I've questioned to myself whether the J-bend (a slightly less popular alternative to the becket hitch for hammock suspension) is mislabeled. It's basically a modified marlinspike hitch, where the continuous loop of the hammock takes the place of the toggle, and then a bight of the webbing is run through the continuous loop to keep it from pulling through the marlinspike hitch when loaded.

    I do agree J-bend sounds better than J-hitch.

    I'm curious if there's something I'm missing or if anyone would explain why it might actually be correctly labeled as a bend. Not that it really matters...

    Ok, end pedantry. LOL

  4. #4
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    To me, a Becket hitch is a sheet bend with a slippery half hitch.

  5. #5

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    I agree with CMC. The structure is the same, but the usage is different. A becket Hitch does NOT join two ropes together. It fastens one rope onto a loop. A very important distinction is that you cannot tie a becket Hitch with the loop end. A sheet bend could theoretically be tied from either end.

    It makes no difference if the knot is slipped, doubled, or backed up.

    It also amuses me how many hammockers refer to every other knot in existence as a “slippery half hitch” ;-)

  6. #6
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradA72 View Post
    To me, a Becket hitch is a sheet bend with a slippery half hitch.
    ... with the tail as a slipped bight.

    Otherwise, although I am not a knot expert—I merely have a small collection of pet faves—I concur with all the above.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

    Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest. Leo Babauta

  7. #7
    Senior Member dejoha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    ... with the tail as a slipped bight.

    Otherwise, although I am not a knot expert—I merely have a small collection of pet faves—I concur with all the above.
    This is truly where definitions can matter, or where the distinction between knots matters.

    As was mentioned earlier, almost any knot can have the addition of a "slippery" end, be doubled, etc. These variations do not necessarily constitute a different knot. The "slippery" termination just allows the knot to be easily untied. It has nothing to do with changing it from a sheet bend to a becket hitch. The "slippery" end just means that instead of pulling the working end all the way through, you just put a bend through so the working end can be pulled out easily.

    15.gif
    This image shows the subtle difference between a regular tie and a slippery tie.

    Becket Hitch Im.JPG
    Example becket hitch (closed loop)

    Schotstek_rechts.jpg
    Example sheet bend

  8. #8
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejoha View Post
    This is truly where definitions can matter, or where the distinction between knots matters.

    As was mentioned earlier, almost any knot can have the addition of a "slippery" end, be doubled, etc. These variations do not necessarily constitute a different knot. The "slippery" termination just allows the knot to be easily untied. It has nothing to do with changing it from a sheet bend to a becket hitch. The "slippery" end just means that instead of pulling the working end all the way through, you just put a bend through so the working end can be pulled out easily.

    15.gif
    This image shows the subtle difference between a regular tie and a slippery tie.

    Becket Hitch Im.JPG
    Example becket hitch (closed loop)

    Schotstek_rechts.jpg
    Example sheet bend
    I don't think it's in ABOK but you might like the slipped Lapp Hitch, which is now my default suspension webbing-to-CL choice. I'm all about simplicity and don't think there's any simpler hitch on the planet.

    Quite a few times people have mistakenly sworn it is a sheet bend/becket but close observation will show it is definitely not.

    I have hung on this many times with Kevlar webbing and Amsteel CLs with not one micron of slippage.

    Last edited by cmoulder; 12-11-2019 at 09:46.
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

    Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest. Leo Babauta

  9. #9
    cmc4free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmoulder View Post
    I don't think it's in ABOK but you might like the slipped Lapp Hitch, which is now my default suspension webbing-to-CL choice. I'm all about simplicity and don't think there's any simpler hitch on the planet.

    Quite a few times people have mistakenly sworn it is a sheet bend/becket but close observation will show it is definitely not.

    To my knowledge, the Lapp bend (or hitch in this case where it's being tied to a continuous loop! ) does not have an ABOK number. A little research reveals that it has often been called a "false sheed bend" which is understandable, though in this case not an indication that it's an inferior knot. The standard version of a Lapp bend/hitch can be difficult to untie, but that's easily solved by tying a slipped version per the illustration you provided. I agree, it's marginally simpler and easier to remember than a becket hitch.

  10. #10
    cmoulder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmc4free View Post
    To my knowledge, the Lapp bend (or hitch in this case where it's being tied to a continuous loop! ) does not have an ABOK number. A little research reveals that it has often been called a "false sheed bend" which is understandable, though in this case not an indication that it's an inferior knot. The standard version of a Lapp bend/hitch can be difficult to untie, but that's easily solved by tying a slipped version per the illustration you provided. I agree, it's marginally simpler and easier to remember than a becket hitch.
    The best part is no reeving!
    UL, because nobody ever asks "How can I make my pack heavier?"

    Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest. Leo Babauta

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