Have you ever marveled at the knots you’ve seen and wondered both why a certain knot was used as well as how to tie it yourself? Look no further that What Knot to Do in the Greater Outdoors (“What Knot”) by Columbia Sportswear.
Big Idea: Step-by-step instructions for tying knots useful in outdoor activities
Developer: Columbia Sportswear Co.
What Knot is a utility app that teaches you how to tie 72 different types of knots that you might useful (and possibly life-saving) when you’re out hiking, backpacking, fishing, hunting, boating, climbing – anything that uses rope, really. The knots are broken down into the six categories of bends, hitches, loops, bindings, stoppers, and specials. For each knot, What Knot provides some background information on the knot, why and when you’d want to use it, and then 4-5 beautifully done drawings that step you through the tying process. In addition, What Know includes a glossary of knot typing terms and a handy diagram of rope parts to quickly get you up to speed.
Under the Hood
As complexity goes, the app has a very simple and elegant design. It is tab-based, using a set of seven tabs split across two different screens to help you quickly discover and access the features. Navigating between the knot categories and individual knots is done using a pair of standard iOS “wheel style” picker controls. By my estimate, there are over 350 hand-crafted drawings, in addition to rest of the app’s very nice artwork. Check out the “dirty screen” effect the artist has created on the “Into” screen. You’ll swear your phone is smudged, which it probably will be while you’re out in the wild tying knots.
This app is the latest member of my “Monster Master List” of apps too handy to be without. Clearly, this is the app to have in your pocket if you need to tie real-world knots, but you weren’t raised by wolves, Longshoremen or professional mountain climbers. The explanations and diagrams are simple and clear, and you will be successful in tying these knots in fairly short order, especially if you tend to be visually oriented.
The price. But it’s free? Exactly. Kudos to Columbia for not lacing What Knot with in-app advertising, as makers of free apps tend to do, but unlike so many free apps, What Knot actually brings some real value. And that value is worth something greater than zero. Charging nothing for it undermines the value that good software delivers and sends the wrong message. The artwork alone probably cost the developers a small fortune. A drop in the bucket for a Columbia most likely, but not all software comes from folks with deep pockets. Good software is worth paying for. If people become conditioned to getting it for free, there will eventually be a lot less of it available.