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A tent stake is also known widely as a tent peg, and is a spike which could be hooked at the top, or have a hole at the end of it. Tent stakes can be made from a wide range of material such as wood, plastic, metal or combinations of different materials. They are inserted into the ground via pushing or knocking in with a mallet, and hold tent cords or direct parts of a tent in order to secure it to the ground.
Usually, a brand new tent comes with a set of standard tent stakes which are commonly made from metal and have a hook on the end. They are designed for light, summer camping but, those who camp in more challenging areas and weather are unlikely to find these satisfactory.
A lot of experienced campers choose to use a variety of tent stakes for different circumstances, but first, we will help you understand the different types better, so you don’t have to waste time or energy making common tent stake mistakes on your camping trips.
Your Tent Stake Mini-Guide
Tent stakes come in a variety of shapes, materials and are designed for different uses. Understanding exactly how each type works, which materials are best for different scenarios, and how to choose the right stakes for the camping scenario you are in, is really useful if you want to keep your tent secure wherever you are. Let’s take a more detailed look at tent stakes:
The Different Types Of Tent Stakes
The classic stakes that come with tents and is a long piece of metal with a hook at the end. They come in different lengths and work in soft to medium ground, but really don’t work well with rocks as they bend easily. You can get tent stakes that are thicker, longer and stronger which are better for more seasoned campers. Crossing two pegs just under the surface of the ground will create an extra strength peg.
Skewer stakes are like classic stakes only they have a metal pattern like a meat skewer. This twist is there to provide better grip in the soil, but like classic stakes, they can bend easily when pushed into rocks. You can also cross skewer stakes just under the ground to create an extra strength peg.
A ripple stake is made of metal and has punched dents along it which cause a ripple effect. This makes them wider in the ground, and harder to pull out. They work well in the same kind of ground as the classic tent stakes, only they are harder to pull out so are more effective at keeping the tent and guylines in place.
V-Shaped and Y-Shaped Stakes
These stakes have fins joined together to form either a V or a Y (Imaging looking at the stake from a top view) and have more holding power than the classic stakes.
Because of the flat fins, they are suitable for hard, rocky and sandy ground. Y-shaped stakes work in all terrains, have more holding power and are heavier and pricier compared to V-shaped stakes. If you value your tent more than your wallet, you can get the Y-shaped stakes for better security.
Ground anchors are designed for extreme weather conditions and actually delve deeper into the ground when they are pulled. The way they sit is also extra flat so that they minimise trip hazards. Ground anchors are the extreme camper’s choice.
Plastic stakes are similar in shape and effectiveness to the classic, and also have a hook on the end of a spike, but they tend to be even less able to deal with stones and rocks in the ground. If you do have some that have bent, soaking them in hot water for a few minutes should make them malleable enough to bend back into shape.
Nail stakes are shaped like flat headed nails and work by keeping your tarps secure without much sticking up out of the ground. It usually has a plastic stopper on its head. This type of stake would not be suitable for holding guy ropes but works well for pinning your tarp down.
Heavy Duty Stakes
They are shaped like nails, only they are much bigger and durable. You can place them in the ground with a full hammer, rather than a wooden mallet, and work really well in rocky or stony ground.
Threaded Heavy Duty Stakes
Threaded heavy duty stakes are the same as above only they have a screw shape at the bottom, for increased ground security.
Screw Spiral Stakes
Screw spiral tent stakes come with handles you can twist into the ground. They are suitable for rock free ground, for beaches and for windy conditions. Sometimes the manufacturer will come with a handle to easily pull out the stake.
For the eco-conscious camper, biodegradable stakes are designed for repeated use, but if you do accidentally leave one behind, it will degrade over time.
Snow stakes are designed specifically for snow camping, are usually very strong to withstand the physical pressure on them and tend to have holes in them for maximum sturdiness in difficult conditions.
How Do You Choose A Tent Stake?
As a general rule, the tent stakes that come with the tent will match the purpose of the tent itself. So, if you are new to buying a tent, you’re good to go with the stakes you get with it. However, you may want a bit more versatility to when and where you camp that isn’t hindered by your tent stakes.
In this instance, it is best to have some hardier stakes as well as standard stakes because you’re then set up for various different situations. There are always creative ways to use even basic tent stakes so you’ll be well set up for most camping scenarios. If you’re planning on more hardcore camping that involves varied terrain and weather, you’ll want to look into the more hardy pegs like ground anchors.
Here’s a video for a good starting point for understanding the uses of different tent stakes.
Different Tent Stake Materials
As we previously mentioned, there are biodegradable stakes usually made from materials like potato starch, but generally you should expect them to be made from sort of metal, or plastic.
The most common tent stake materials are plastic, steel, aluminum, and titanium:
Titanium tends to be very strong and very light and tent stakes made from titanium are usually smaller than pegs made from other materials, and therefore easier to place in the ground. Because titanium is able to bend without breaking, it is also an excellent choice for using in hard ground or tricky ground because it can be bent back into shape if it goes out of shape in use.
The only downside to titanium stakes? They can cost a lot more than stakes made from other materials so they are a bit of an investment.
Plastic tent stakes are durable and can come in standard shapes like bog standard stakes, or specialist shapes as with ground anchors.
Aluminum is a great fair weather stake material because it is lightweight, cheap and easy to replace. It does snap if pushed to bend and used with hard ground so isn’t suitable for more advanced camping trips.
Steel tent stakes are extremely tough, but they are heavier than other materials so aren’t a popular option with hikers. Because of how tough the material is, steel stakes can be used for all kinds of ground, even frozen ground.
How To Use Tent Stakes
Here’s a quick and easy video on how to stake out a tent with really useful tips.
Although every camping situation requires a different approach, there are lots of general rules for using tent stakes that everybody should abide by for the best results:
- Push your stake all the way in the ground to maximise its strength
- Use a rock or a hammer to secure stakes, because using your boots can result in a bent stake
- Use the right stake for the camping situation you are in IE: fair weather pegs for soft ground, hardier pegs for harder or frozen ground
- Drive the stake directly down rather than at an angle for maximum strength
- Face the hook away from your tent
- Place a rock over the top of your stake for extra visibility and security
- Ensure the guy lines are taut
- Follow the X rule with guy line placement where the guy lines go out to make an imaginary X across the top of the tent
- Use ground that is firm enough to hold the stake in place
Tricky Tent Stake Questions
As with any tool or adventure gear, there are a few common questions surrounding stakes and their use.
For example: whether or not to use a mallet or a rock for placing stakes is a common question. This article gives a pretty good run down of the two options and, rocks come out winning, which is no surprise because they are free and you can find them anywhere.
Another common question is whether or not all tent stakes are necessary, which can only be answered by individual circumstances. There is a ton of flexibility with tent stakes. Some can be used for multiple ground conditions, others can be combined together to create additional strength, others are only suitable for specific conditions.
More often than not, it comes down to how much you want to carry. If you have an RV or truck you can afford to take a selection of stakes, if you are hiking with your gear, you have to go for light options that have been chosen carefully. The best thing is, there is always an option to suit your needs.
The Best 9 Tent Stakes
Best Overall – MSR Groundhog Stake
- Durability: 5 / 5
- Weight: 4 / 5 ( 4 oz each )
- Value: 4 / 5
Specifications: 8 inches long, 6 in a pack and made of aluminum
The MSR groundhog stakes turn up in many top 5 tent stake reviews because they are an excellent all-rounder for all kinds of camping trips. They are lightweight, good value and durable and pack a lot of punch for their small size.
- Usually cheap
- Easy to place in the ground
- Strong and durable
- Reflective pull-out cords for easy retrieval
- Not as light as other materials
- Can bend if struct with a rock
Best Tent Stake for Soft Ground - Delta Ground Anchor
- Durability: 4 / 5
- Weight: 4 / 5 ( 1.6 oz each )
- Value: 3 / 5
Specifications: 4 in a pack and made of nylon composite
The Delta Ground Anchor is not widely available worldwide yet, but it is making ripples in the outdoor community for its innovative design. Their distinct shape is being hailed as a game-changer in tent peg design,maintaining tent and awning security in soft to medium ground, in windy conditions. The reviews coming in so far are making everybody want to try this amazing product.
- Award winning design
- Able to hold over 1600 times their weight
- Safer insertion and no tripping hazards
- Extremely strong and durable
- Pricey for the pack size
- Only available for direct purchase in the UK at present
Best Tent Stake for Hard Ground - Vargo Titanium Nail Peg
- Durability: 5 / 5
- Weight: 5 / 5 ( 0.32 oz each )
- Value: 1 / 5
Specifications: 6 inches long, 6 in a pack and made of titanium
The use of titanium in these 6 inch long nail pegs means they are fantastic for use in hard ground. They are exceptionally strong and durable, so although you will pay more for the materials, the product will last you many adventures to come.
- Incredibly durable
- Hard wearing and strong for a lightweight stake
- The titanium is more expensive than weaker materials
Best Ultralight Tent Stake - Vargo Titanium Ascent Ultralight Tent Pegs
- Durability: 5 / 5
- Weight: 5 / 5 ( 0.3 oz each )
- Value: 2 / 5
Specifications6.25 inches long and made of titanium
These ultralight tent pegs are made from titanium, which means they are extremely durable and hardwearing. Best of all, they are incredibly light at just 0.3 ounces per piece making them ideal for hiking. You can use them in soft ground, sand or snow.
- Incredibly lightweight
- Titanium is extremely hard wearing
- V shaped for easy application
- Reflective pull cord for better visibility
- Because of titanium, it costs more compared to other types of materials
Best Long Tent Stake - Barefour Heavy Duty 12 Inch Camping Stakes
- Durability: 5+ / 5 (Unbreakable)
- Weight: 0 / 5 ( 48 oz for full pack )
- Value: 5 / 5
Specifications: 12 inches long made of steel and come 8 in a pack
It doesn't get any better than unbreakable when it comes to durability does it? These long tent stakes are made from steel so you can expect them to still be with you when you pass on your adventure gear to your grandchildren! They are great value for the length of time they will last, the only downside is the weight, but you won't notice that if you transport your camping kit in your car or RV.
- You may break your bones before you break this
- Good value for the whole pack
- Large head for easy ground penetration
- Hooked head to prevent full stake from getting buried
- Hole in the hook for easy ground removal
- Weight is definitely a pain compared to other stakes
Best Plastic Tent Stakes - Honbay Plastic Tent Stakes
- Durability: 3 / 5
- Weight: 5 / 5 ( 10.4 oz for entire pack)
- Value: 4 / 5
Specifications: 5.7 inches long and come at 40 in a pack. Yes, it's plastic 🙂
When it comes to plastic tent stakes, you want a good shape, and good value because they come in handy with all types of camping. From pinning down awning, to securing lines and supporting various camping setups, they come in useful constantly. The Honbay Plastic Tent Stakes are great value at 40 per pack for a low price.
- Super wallet-friendly
- Perfect for general camping uses
- Easy to replace… or throw as it seems
- Never rust
- Environmentalists may hate you since it’s not biodegradable
- Not suitable for use in windy conditions
Best Heavy Duty Stake - MSR Carbon Core Stake Kit
- Durability: 5 / 5
- Weight: 4.5 / 5 ( 0.2 oz each )
- Value: 0.5 / 5
Specifications: 6 inches long, carbon core covered in aluminum and plastic - comes 4 in a pack
The MSR Carbon Core stakes are designed to be chunky and completely hard wearing, so you can put them in any situation and they will do the job well. They might cost a little more than comparative products but, the unique design could be worth it for camping enthusiasts who love the latest in outdoor leisure innovation.
- Incredibly durable
- Designed to take any situation you put them in
- Big and bulky, not sure if that’s a good thing but it’s definitely keep your tent stable
- Unique design for hipster campers
- Not so friendly on the wallet
Best For Sand - Mountain Hardwear Sand And Snow Anchor
- Durability: 4 / 5
- Weight: 2 / 5 ( 9.5 oz )
- Value: 1 / 5
Specifications: Size is 46" by 30" and made of polyester - comes 1 in a pack
It isn't technically a stake or a peg, but it is certainly an anchor, and one you may well want on your next beach trip. It is designed to create drag and security for your tent, and although each piece is pricey, just one will provide you with a lot of security in this tricky camping scenario.
- Simple (and probably fun) to use, dig the sand, put it in, cover it and tie the guyouts to the tent
- Special way of securing your tent at the beach to inspire others
- Pricey because it is only one per pack and you probably need a couple of it
- Pulling out may be an issue if you’re not doing it the right way
Best For Snow - MSR Blizzard Tent Stakes
- Durability: 5 / 5
- Weight: 4 / 5 ( 5.4 oz )
- Value: 2 / 5
Specifications: 9.5 inches long and made of aluminium - comes 1 per pack
The best in the business for snow camping, the MSR Blizzard Tent Stakes have a special concave design to provide a strong anchor in the snow, and there is also an increased surface area for better grip. It slips really easily into the snow, and stays put until you want to take it out again. Additionally, the aluminium makes them extra light, so if you're hiking with your equipment you won't pay in weight for these specialist stakes.
Probably an alternative to Best Stake for Sand as well.
- High quality product from a reputable brand
- Designed mainly for snow and sand
- For extreme weather campers
- This stake might put a hole in your wallet rather than the ground!
Hopefully you're feeling totally up on tent stakes, and able to master the art of pegging your tarp and canvas down in any weather, on any type of ground. If you're not, consider having a chat with your friendly local outdoor store salesman about your next camping trip and they will be more than happy to recommend the right type of stake for you.
Remember that the stakes don't make the adventure, and if you spend too long worrying about them, adventure is at stake…