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How to build a rope litter

Many of our Wilderness First Responder and WFR recert students have requested this post because what we recommend is a bit different than the text used in our courses. There are many different ways to build rope litters, this is our favorite. If you have any questions please feel free to write me at abigail@sierrarescue.com.

How to build a daisy chain rope litter:

Step 1- Create pole supports using either tent poles or trekking poles. The spacing in this pic would be as far apart as you would like them. The closer the poles are the more support you will get. If you don’t have any poles you can skip this step but the litter will end up like a worm, kind of wiggly.

Will just goofing around using the pole base he built as "wings"









Step 2- Lay out the rope. Static rope used in Technical Rope Rescue is best.  If all you have are throwbags or a dynamic rope that will work but you will have to work extra hard when you get to the tightening phase. You will need 100 ft of rope minimum and this will work if you have a small person or if you have a larger person that is not going into a hypo wrap. 150 ft is usually plenty for most people. Start laying out the rope with a Figure 8 on a bight. Make a zig zag with the rope going back and forth. The width of the loops/zigs are dependent on the size of the patient and what kind of packaging/thermal protection you are adding in. Make sure they are wide enough to go around the person and their padding.

Step 3- Place the frame inside of a large backpack with a padded waist belt.

Step 4- Lay a tarp down on top of the ropes-not pictured in this sequence.

Step 5-Place the pack w/poles down on top of the rope.

frame going on to the ropes








The pole frame and pack gets placed on top of the rope








Step 6-Lay 1-2 Ensolite or Thermarest pads on top of the poles.

Ensolite pad goes on top of rope/base








Step 7- Place 1-2 sleeping bags on top of the pads.

Sleeping bag goes on top next








Step 8- Lay the patient inside the sleeping bags. If the patient is hypothermic consider placing the patient inside an internal vapor barrier before placing them inside the sleeping bags. Also consider putting or creating a diaper on the patient if it is a long carry out.







Step 9- Time to start tying them up. Start at the shoulders. Take the figure 8 on a bight and bring it over the top of the shoulder. Start the daisy chain by bringing the first bight over the opposite shoulder and pulling it throught the figure 8 on a bight.  Continue daisy chaining along.


-You only get one chance of getting this tight so go slow and tighten as you go.

-Keep the loops small that you bring through(no bigger than 4 inches).

-The space between each loop should be no bigger than 6-8 inches.  The closer the loops=the more supportive the litter.  Keep the loops close together around the shoulders and hips.

-Keep the loops centered as you work your way down the body

When you get to the end you can use the excess rope to tie up the feet to make sure the patient doesn’t slide down.

Step 10- You may want to use webbing or other straps as carrying handles.  We recomend that these go around the whole patient/package so as not to pull on the ropes. If you use the rope as handles it will pull the daisy chain in different directions creating parts of the rope to dig in.

Additions: Other things to consider adding in are:

-using a Sam Splint or something else as a face shield

-protective eye wear

-B/P cuff and stethascope