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Nite-ize Figure 9 Guy Line Tensioners

Nite-Ize Figure 9 Tarp Tensioners

I use a number of different ultralight guy line tightening systems for my tarps and tents already, including LineLocks, but I was interested in trying the Figure 9’s because they’re a little more robust, especially for winter use when ice is likely to gum up a guy line. They also don’t require any knots, which is great when you need to wear heavy gloves or mittens.

Figure 9 Rope Tensioners

Step by Step Instructions for Securing a Tarp

I’ve included a photo above that shows how to use the Figure 9’s either with one cord, to anchor a shelter loop to a tent stake, or two separate cords, one attached to your shelter and the other some to some other object like a tree.

The instructions for how to use a Figure 9 tightener are also embossed on its surface making it idiot proof in case you forget between trips. I just can’t remember my knots and a self documenting guy line tightener like this is a god send.

To illustrate how easy this system is to use, here is a step-by-step series of photos that shows how to use the first of these, using one cord, that you loop through the loop on a tarp or tent, and a hiking stake.

Figure 9 Guyline Tensioner

First, run the guy line (supplied) through the loop on your shelter and then through the back of the top hole on the Figure 9. (Ignore the yellow cord – that’s the original guy line that came with this tarp).

Figure 9 Rope Tightener

Next, wrap the guy line under the horizontal piece attached to the Figure 9 loop, and then loop it under the first loop.

Figure 9 Tent Guyline

This creates a surprisingly secure (up to 50 lbs of pressure) friction binding, where the first loop presses down on the second.

Guyline Tensioner

Next, loop the other end of the guy line around or through a tent stake, that’s firmly planted in the ground.

Take the end of the loop that you wrapped around the stake and cinch it around the short claw. Pull it tight.

Guyline Tensioner

Now wrap the remainder of the line under the bottom of the Figure 9 and around and over through the long sided claw, where it will stay put. That’s it!

Guyline Tensioner

These are coming on my next long distance section hike in October. I’m also going to try them for winter camping when we get some decent snow, using my MLD Duomid with snow anchors.

Written 2010. Updated 2018.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.

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  1. I bought some of these last week too. I think you've made the use of the Figure 9 rope tightener way too complicated. Why don't you just use the method in the diagram that is shown with the red rope?

    That being said, I think rope-only methods of securing lines (such as the taughtline hitch) are probably the best way to go (unless you are wearing heavy gloves or mittens). More versatile and nothing to get lost or break.

  2. p.s. Use the Figure 9 as shown with the red rope, including the small loop on the end as shown. The small loop on the end of the line is used to Lark's Head to the tieout on your tarp.

    The Figure 9 has an advantage over most other tensioners: The end of the rope is free so you can run it through the loop of cord on the end of your tent stakes (if you are using that style of stake). With a tensioner like the ClamCleat Line-Lok CL266, if you want to go through the loop of your tent-pegs, you would have to undo the stopper knot on the Line-Lok or the undo the knot on the loop of your tent peg. If you are just putting your guyline over the end of the tent stake (such as with a Sherperd's hook stake) and not through a loop, then the ClamCleat Line-Lok's are not at a disadvantage compared to the Figure 9's. Or if you don't mind having the pegs always attached to the lines, then the Line-Lok's will work also.

  3. I've used them a few times over the years and they can handle a lot of tension. Their real convenience is they don't need a line end to use; just slack a line and stick them wherever you need to, so I can leave the stakes at home and just run a network of lines around several trees for a hammock tarp.

  4. Thank you! I bought these things because they are reflective, and I guess I'm an idiot, because I don't think I have them hooked right to take advantage of the hooks-I'll check out your photos.

  5. Fu – Maybe you're right about the red. It seemed like the blue was easier for me to comprehend at the time.

    Also, I hate tying lines to stakes. I don't always use stakes if there's a tree handy, or I need to use screw-eyes to sleep on a platform.

  6. Diane – when it comes to guy lines, we're all idiots. :-) I feel like I've spent about 15% of my life fiddling with tarps, tents, and shelters to get a perfect pitch.

  7. Thanks – I'd always wondered how useful those things were. They always seemed overly complicated to me, but maybe there is a use for a couple in certain circumstances. I'm also lame at knots, but I like the challenge (for me) of learning them and the simplicity of using them.

  8. So you're not using the guylines provided by z-packs, adding heavier guylines, and you're introducing a heavier option to cinch it all down next to cuben which is not known for dealing with abrasion well and would likely add more stress to the stitched cuben manufacturing which is not as strong as bonding?

  9. Johnny – I really don't like the z-packs supplied guy lines, which only weigh 0.3 oz, all in. They're very fine and it's hard to tie and untie knots in them.

    (My Hexamid review is finally coming out next week)

    Regarding weight. First off the shelter is very light, weighing only 8.2 oz with the bug netting and 3.2 oz without. Adding a heavier thicker line is not going to kill me, especially if it makes it easier for me to pitch and is potentially more weather resistant in high wind. I also haven't tried the half dozen or so other cords that I do normally use to see whether they work with the Figure 9's, so it's not clear that I'm going to stick with the cord that comes with them or switch to something I like better like Triptease which is probably even heavier.

    I can't speak to the difference between stitching and bonding with cuben fiber – it's not an area I really understand. Can you elaborate? What kind of stress levels are you talking about?

  10. If you are using needle style tent stakes like you are using in the photo, there's no need to tie knots in the line, other than permanent ones, no matter what kind of tensioner you use. You tie a short, permanent loop in one end of the line… which is used for Lark's Headding to your tarp tie-out at the time you pitch your tarp. And the other end of the line is attached to the Line-Lok with a Double Overhand Stopper, which you also don't need to ever untie.

    Disclaimer: I don't have any actual experience with these lines or tensioners. :-)

  11. I attached my figure 9s to a cord with prussic knots. The prussic knot is a friction knot that will slide on the cord when moved a certain way but will "bite" on the cord when under tension.

    This may be overkill but it accomplishes two things: 1. guy lines do not need to be attached to stakes or tarp and 2. tarp can be easily re-tensioned via prussic knot.

    I am investigating making "self-tensioning" guy lines; saw them in a DIY thread on hammockforum.

  12. Tom Murphy wrote:

    > This may be overkill but it accomplishes two

    > things: 1. guy lines do not need to be attached

    > to stakes or tarp and 2. tarp can be easily

    > re-tensioned via prussic knot.

    Actually I'm not following your points. The tarp can easily re-tensioned with the Figure 9 alone. Why add the Prusik knot to the mix?

    > I am investigating making “self-tensioning”

    > guy lines; saw them in a DIY thread on

    > hammockforum.

    I assume you are talking about guylines with elastic/rubber sections in them (, and not whoopie slings/UCR's?

  13. Hey Phil,

    I picked these guys up a couple seasons ago, and still carry them along. I've been exclusively using the blue line method since it doesn't involve any knots. They've worked great so far in snow environments. That being said, I have slightly different ones than yours. Mine are are black, and made of plastic, and were packaged with reflective green line…a bit lighter than the aluminum ones, plenty strong, and I figured it's always a perk to have a shiny line. I think i picked them up at REI right here in Boston.

  14. These are the weights that I measured:

    Figure 9 small (black plastic) 2 g

    Figure 9 small (black-anodized aluminum) 4 g

    I don't have any of the shiny aluminum ones.

    Konrad Chen: The red method doesn't require any knot tying in the field. A Lark's Head is just slipping the free end through the loop to secure it to your tie-out.

    The blue method requires up to 2x more line than the red method for the same length of guyline.

  15. Fu,

    I didn't explain it well enough. One end of the guyline is attached to the tarp with a larkhead so it can be easily detached.

    The figure 9 is attached with a prussic knot which can slide up or down the guyline so that I can easily adjust it. So it acts simlar to looping the line thru the figure 9 but it is attached to the guyline so you can't lose it [stopper know at end].

    Yes the figure 9 is easily adjusted to tension the tarp but the prussic know is even easier.

    As I said it is a bit of overkill for the guylines but it really shines for the ridgeline tie outs. I use a two line system with each line having two prussic knot attachments – one for mini-biner to tarp and one for figure 9 to tree.

    For the tensioning, it is the same functions as the JRB style, but instead you try the shock cord to the guyline at two locations and when you tension the guyline the shock cord is fully stretched. What looks cool about the method is that you will be able to "see" how much the silnylon stretched based on how much slack is in the guyline.. See pics on that forum for much better idea.

  16. I’m about 5 years late to the discussion, but if it helps, here are my 2 cents… I tied a bowline and used the loop of the bowline to secure the figure 9 as you do in step two with the red rope above. That way the guy line is always attached to the figure 9 but then I pass the free end through the tent loop and around the stake creating one big loop that can then be tightened and secured with the figure 9. When I’m done, I wrap my guy lines (which stay attached to the figure 9s) and store them with my tent stakes in a small bag.

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