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The Transport Hitch

The Transport Hitch

Swiftwater Tactics and Tools Vol. 1                The Transport Hitch

Some of you have been asking about the transport hitch. This entry will hopefully shed light on how to tie  and how to use this amazing rope tool, known to some as the PM hitch (‘purely  magic’). For those of you unfamiliar with the transport hitch, it is a  fast and simple technique used to tension a line.

We’ve put the transport hitch to the test, and have agreed that it works due to  friction, but the jury is still out as to exactly where or how. It has left many students and instructors alike scratching their heads.  The Air Force Pararescue jumpers who showed  us the hitch last year use it for a variety of applications. So far to date, both in Sierra Rescue classes and on my own, I’ve personally used it to:

  • Move stuff in place of mechanical advantage (Vector Pull)
  • Unwrap a raft (internal tension system)
  • As a highline
  • For a tension diagonal
  • As a pre-tension back tie

Here’s the basics for set up. You’ll need: two anchors, one rope and two carabiners. That’s it.







Tie one end of your rope to an anchor. This could be anything from a big bomb proof tree or the bow of a boat. From that anchor come back about 1/3 of the distance toward the other anchor and tie a clove hitch. Clip carabineer 1 into this clove hitch. You can also tie any direction loop knot (directional 8, butterfly).







Continue with the rope to your second anchor and take the rope around it and back toward anchor 1.  When you are  almost back to Carabiner 1 tie a second clove hitch and attach carabiner 2 to the rope. Pull a bight of rope through carabiner 1 and clip it into carabiner 2 (you may have to adjust the clove hitch on carabiner 2 to allow this to happen).






Pull toward anchor 2 to tension, if you let go the tension holds….Magic! To release, simply pull in the other direction and the tension is instantly gone…Magic! Depending on your application of the transport hitch, the space between the carabiners will dictate how much you can tension. Eventually carabiner 2 will end up at anchor 2.

We’ve experimented using pulleys at all attachment points  (Carabiner 1, Anchor 2, and Carabiner 2), and it still works! The  system will slip however under lots of pressure. To keep the system from slipping or to back it up, tie a prussik from the line to Anchor 2. Make sure to attach the prussik to the correct line so that it actually captures! Good luck. Check back for a video demonstration soon.




Note that when attaching the second carabiner to the line, a releasable knot (muenter mule, quick release overhand, etc) can be used to rapidly detach the transport hitch. The above diagrams utilize two clove hitches, and once loaded, the clove hitch itself does  not release. However, you can still slack the whole system by pulling the correct rope.

ZB 11.6.12