Several years ago, Ray Mears was credited with introducing the Siberian hitch to the woodcraft/bushcraft community. Since that time, the Siberian (Evenk) Hitch seems to have taken the community by storm, rightly so when one considers its ease of use… even while wearing winter gloves, however, not as popularized by Ray Mears. More on that later.
In the beginning, I’ll admit, I paid it no mind. I was quickly turned off by the fanciful twist around the hand, which just looked like too much fluff. Actually, it still does. Which is why I don’t use it, but that’s just me. That in no way downplays the effectiveness of the knot.
Well, after some time and countless people telling me they use it, I decided to give it a closer look. After watching a couple of videos on it, something was nagging me. Then it struck me. The Siberian hitch is a complete rip off of another knot with an added twist, literally.
If one looks to old westerns and in fact talks to people who own horses one will notice a knot used to hitch up horses to posts that look strikingly similar to the Siberian hitch, but it’s not. It is in fact the Halter Hitch Knot. The only difference is the halter hitch uses a half twist, while the Siberian uses a full twist—accomplished by wrapping it around the hand. Aside from that, they are identical.
Here are three videos, The First Two showing the Halter in its own equine environment and the third showing the Siberian in the woodcraft environment.
Halter Hitch Knot
Here’s another Halter Hitch video from Australia
So why do I say it’s a ripoff? Well, ripoff is kind of a harsh word, maybe a modified copy is a nicer word. Anyway, the Halter hitch was in the Ashley book of knots back in 1944 (page 305) while the Siberian hitch has only been in recorded use since the 1990s (according to wiki), but that doesn’t mean much. Personally, I would prefer a full twist halter, but something tells me with the name Siberian, that part of the world is probably knot (misspelled on purpose) aware of the name halter, or maybe we just weren’t aware of the name Evenk. That said, both the Halter and Siberian (Evenk) hitches are complete ripoffs of the slippery hitch, but the slippery hitch has hardly the strength of either the halter or Siberian… Maybe we just call it either a half twist slippery hitch or full twist slippery hitch
So is there an advantage to either one? Well, the half twist halter hitch is faster to tie, while the full twist halter, the way Ray Mears does it, has more flair. And while the Siberian is suppose to be easy to use with gloves, the way Ray and his many clones do it, it is not so easy. The simple act of wrapping it around the hand, makes it difficult to come back through the loop with the thumb, as is required, to pull a bend back through the loop. A much better way would be to just twist it then bring the bend back through the loop. As for stength, in theory, the full twist spreads the load giving more strength at the knot, but for a ridgeline it doesn’t matter.
In the end, choose the knot that suits you, you can’t go wrong with either. Me? I prefer the Halter because it’s faster.