How to Easily Create Your Own Rope Ladder

by A Manly Guest Contributor on April 19, 2012 · 22 comments

in Manly Skills, Projects

Editor’s note: This post was written by Bryan Black and originally ran on ITS Tactical.

If you lived on the second floor as a boy, you probably spent some time thinking about how you’d get out the window and onto the ground if there was a fire, and how cool it would be to climb down a rope ladder to make your escape. But maybe your parents never bought you that ladder and you didn’t know how to make one yourself.

Well today I’ll show you such a simple way to create a rope ladder, you’ll wonder how you never knew about it!

What you’ll see here is a field expedient way to quickly throw together a ladder in a rescue situation or to complete the final touches on a Pioneering project. A truly versatile technique that you should throw into your knotty toolbox.

Ladder Lashing 

This ladder lashing should be created with natural fiber rope like Manila because it grips wooden rungs better. Natural fiber is always superior to nylon (or even paracord) in lashing situations, because of how it bites into wood, particularly rough wood. Natural fiber rope can also be soaked in water prior to lashing to create a stronger hold as it dries in the lashed position.

Something to note on this lashing, that I also mention in the video below, is that there are other ways to lash together a ladder that are more stable. You’ll see in the ratings below that under abnormal load this lashing isn’t that stable. This is because the rungs can move out from under a very heavy load. Even though I mention rescue applications for this lashing, please note that this would ONLY be in situations where putting a ladder together as quickly as possible is required.

(Strength: 3/Secure: 3/Stability: 1/Difficulty: 3)

Please refer to this post for a description of what these ratings mean.


  • Field Expedient Rescue/Climbing
  • Ladder to reach heights on Pioneering Projects


  • Two equal strands of rope
  • Wooden posts or tree limbs for rungs

Tying Instructions:

Start by using two equal strands of natural fiber rope that you’ve whipped the ends on (dental floss works great!).

Tie Two Timber Hitches to Fixed Point

Secure each strand to a fixed point with a Timber Hitch explained in the video and photos below:

Reach towards the two strands with both of your hands turned thumbs down. Let each strand sit in the groove of your thumb/index finger so that your fingers wrap around the strands.

Turn your thumbs rightside up, creating loops with each hand.

Insert your thumbs into the loops and grasp the standing part of each strand and pull it through the loop in each hand.

For the next steps you’ll need some sturdy posts or wood pieces to create as many rungs for the ladder as you’ll need (The rungs we used are approx. 16″ each). Have a buddy insert the rung into the gap created behind the standing part you pulled through each loop.* Repeat the process to create additional rungs.

*This method can be done without a buddy, but each side must be done one at a time so you’ll have a free hand to grab and insert the rung.

Watch the Video to See All the Steps in Action


ITS Tactical (Imminent Threat Solutions) is an awesome website run by Military Veterans and those serving in the Special Operations community that covers skill-set information, tactical gear reviews, and DIY projects that can help you live better and survive any scenario. Check ‘em out and become a member!

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Eric S. April 19, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Pretty cool, I have to get around to making one of these.

2 Tim Hardy April 20, 2012 at 7:08 am

Great – Now I know how at last I’m going to have a go – I think a stronger and thicker rope is needed though!

3 Ross McCabe III April 20, 2012 at 7:28 am

This article has very clear instructions. It would be a great project to do with my 7 year old son.

4 Evan M April 20, 2012 at 7:46 am

Wouldn’t a clove hitch be better for attaching to a bar than a timber hitch?

5 Andres April 20, 2012 at 8:24 am

Cooll!! I’m making one right now!!

6 Jon M April 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

@Evan M I have made ladders like this before and I’d tend to agree with you on the clove hitch being a better knot for this, the only problem with the clove hitch is that the ladder rungs will have a tendency to try to roll downward as you step on them. The reason why this tutorial recommends this know though is because you can quickly and easily put the entire ladder together much faster than with any other knot. For a longer term ladder, put some more time into it and drill a hole in your ladder rung then use a larger rope with simple overhand knots to hold the rungs in place.

7 Stephen Wood April 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Very cool! I didn’t realize it was so easy. I’m going to have to try this soon.

8 Brent Pittman April 20, 2012 at 6:39 pm

This seems very cool, but when would I need to use this quick ladder trick? Out running a zombie hoard comes to mind, but how do you usually use this quick ladder?

9 Gary House April 20, 2012 at 7:57 pm

This looks like a great project to teach my boys! They love stuff like this. The photo’s are perfect – each step visually defined for them. Awesome!

10 cybulski April 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm

This sounds like something I could use to distract my 12 yro away from the Xbox. Thanks!

11 caleb April 23, 2012 at 8:55 am

A note on the timber hitch: the example shows the knot tied in a way that is fairly compact. The twists need to be spread out for friction to work properly. It it is bunched together like that it will end up slipping out in a short amount of time.

The Timber Hitch is way stronger than the Clove Hitch when supjected to a constant force. If it is tied correctly. And, it is easier to untie after it has withstood said force.

12 caleb April 23, 2012 at 8:57 am


13 Pavegs April 23, 2012 at 9:14 am

I would recommend back-splicing the ends of the rope rather than whipping. While whipping can last a long while, splicing will last for the entire oife of the rope, and wont unravel. You should do an article on splicing rope. Pretty mich the manliest, and most impressive method of preventing laid rope from unraveling.

14 Peregrine John April 23, 2012 at 11:15 am

Whoops, caleb beat me to it. I’ll simply agree, then, that a timber hitch (spread out to go around the pole a bit) is indeed the better choice – even, or especially, when the load comes and goes. A clove hitch, stable only with constant load, will cheerfully work itself free in those situations, which on a ladder can be inconvenient.

15 Alex April 23, 2012 at 9:23 pm

That’s actually a series of hitches, not a lashing. Hitches attach a rope to an object; lashings attach objects to other objects. Still works, though.

If you’re up for a little splicing and are looking for something a little more stable, consider trying this. Drill holes through each end of each rung. Pass the two working ends through the rung and then slide the run into position. Finally, pass the rope from below the rung over the wood and secure it in place with a running eye splice.The rungs won’t spin or slide, and the rope less likely to snap with a splice than it is with a knot.

16 Lalo April 24, 2012 at 9:35 am

Easy instructions and does not look to be to hard to accomplish. I now have a weekend thing to do with my boys, I am sure they will love it, not only because they get to build it, but because they can play on it too.

17 Kerfin April 30, 2012 at 12:57 am

I was expecting that to be a bit more complicated. I might have to try this one out myself, though I don’t think I’ll be escaping out of my window any time soon… I hope.

18 Tom King May 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Someone asked for an article on splicing rope. Here’s how we did it back at good old summer camp. Works great with any three strand rope and makes a repair that’s stronger than the original rope.

19 Caleb M. May 10, 2012 at 11:29 am

im thirteen and i wanted somehing cool to make on my next camp out, this is a great idea

20 Caleb M. May 10, 2012 at 11:30 am

im thirteen and i wanted somehing cool to make on my next camp out, this is a great idea.

21 Steve February 7, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Um, no, that is a rope and wood ladder. *This* is a rope ladder…

You’re welcome.

22 Mikemenn May 11, 2013 at 8:46 pm

The hitches he used for the rungs of the ladder are technically called a Marlinespike Hitch. It’s also good to know if you need to pull on a rope if you have a screwdriver or dowel like in the video. You can get a good handle on the rope not matter the size.

Clove hitch should not be used when your life could depend on it. It’s a knot that can slip. Timber hitch is better.

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