Whether you find yourself securing a boat to a vehicle roof or shoring up a tent with guy lines, most outdoor travelers will at some point need to tighten and secure a rope or line. Unfortunately, a large number of people never learn to tie knots used to secure lines, or they're simply "knot challenged" and find tying knots a mind-bending exercise. The Nite Ize Figure 9 Rope Tightener is a clever little device that makes the process fairly simple – in fact, dare we say it can turn hopeless rope fumblers into experienced tie-down experts?
The Figure 9 basically replaces tensioning knots such as the trucker's hitch. By looping a cord through the device, you can not only pull it super tight and keep it taught, but you won't have to tie and untie knots that can get jammed under pressure. At some point, you've probably spent frustrating minutes picking at a stuck knot. For those of us who have done this in the freezing cold with numb fingers, the Figure 9 comes as a welcome addition to our utility kit.
Describing knot tying is sort of like writing about music; words often fail to convey a clear picture. But it suffices to say that the Figure 9 can be used in a couple of ways. First, you can use it in a loop system. For this application, you first attach one end of a line to the Figure 9 using a bite that stays secure. (No knot tying required.) You then loop the cord around whatever you need to tide down. Say you're tying a load to a vehicle using the roof rack bars. You just run the cord beneath the bars, and then wrap it over a boat or anything else you're hauling. You then take the free end of the line (the end without the Figure 9) and run it through the Figure 9 to pull it tight and lock it off.
You could also use the device with a fixed end of line. For example, we sometimes keep one end of a guy line permanently tied to attachment loops of a tent. (This way, we don't accidentally lose cords.) Take the free end of the cord (the end not attached to the tent) and pass it through a tent stake, or loop it around a rock or tree. Then, you attach the Figure 9 to any spot on the line coming from the tent loop. (Again this doesn't require a knot.) Finally, take the free end and run it through the Figure 9 to tighten the line and lock it off.
We actually used the device to haul a boat, secure tent lines, secure lumber during an at-home work project, and even put up a clothesline in the backcountry. In each case, the Figure 9 kept cords clamped down and secure. One thing we really liked is that when hauling things in a truck bed or on a vehicle roof, a rope and Figure 9 system seemed much safer than bungee cords. We could release the tension gradually with any sudden pops, and we didn't have hooks flying around dangerously. And using the Figure 9 is much safer than you and a buddy improvising with knots, and then looking at the spaghetti you've created and saying, "Well, I reckon that'll hold."
Though we had no problem learning how to use the Figure 9, we recommend that you hold onto the packaging, which has drawings to explain how to use it. Very simple directions are engraved on the piece itself, but you'll want more substantial instruction at first. Also, the company's web site has a helpful video demonstration. You'll feel more comfortable if you experiment with the Figure 9 a few times at home to get the drill down before hitting the road. Also, as with any knot or device, practice does make perfect.
Made of aluminum, the Figure 9 is lightweight but durable, and it fits in the palm of your hand. The piece is available in two sizes—one accommodates cords with diameters from 1/16 to 3/16 of an inch, while a larger model work with cord or rope with diameters from 1/8 to 3/8 of an inch. The larger version will not work with beefier climbing rope.
You can purchase an individual Figure 9 with or without a nylon cord, or buy a package of two with or without two nylon cords. We recommend the two-pack because most situations will require more than one Figure 9, and you may find that this little item is useful in more ways that you could have imagined.
SNEWS Rating: 5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $7 for the large size with 10 feet of 1/4 inch rope; $4 for large size without rope.
For more information:www.niteize.com