Everything You Need To Know About Tent Stakes
Are you tired of restless nights while camping due to your tent collapsing under harsh weather conditions? Or have you experienced the frustration of hearing the flaps of your tent whistling in the wind or the annoyance of puddles pooling?
The key to avoiding these camping nightmares is investing in high-quality tent stakes. At SilverAnt we believe tent stakes are the unsung heroes of camping, protecting you from the elements.
Nevertheless, with so many different types of tent stakes on the market, how do you choose the right ones for your needs? Fear not, as this ultimate guide to tent stakes has got you covered.
In this article, we’ll delve into the various shapes, sizes, materials, and designs of tent stakes, while also providing you with valuable tips on how to properly use and maintain them. Whether you're a seasoned camper or a beginner, this guide will help you make the most of your camping experience by ensuring your tent stays firmly in place.
The Different Types Of Tent Stakes
Common Tent Stake Materials
Throughout human history, we have been nomadic. Whether that meant moving to follow food or to discover new worlds we have sought and built shelters. In early times we would use wooden stakes with a notch to secure our shelters. But, as centuries have passed and new materials have been discovered, our shelter building has only improved.
Nowadays, a range of materials are available to modern campers and backpackers. You can utilize low-weight nano-fabrics that are completely waterproof for shelters and rather than wooden tent stakes you can now choose: titanium, carbon fiber, plastic, aluminum, or stainless steel tent stakes. There is an abundant range of options available to you, and it has never been easier to get outside!
With all tent stake materials, there are both advantages and disadvantages. In the below summary let’s take a look at the good and bad of each tent stake material.
Titanium Tent Stakes
Who would I be if I didn’t mention titanium first? Titanium tent stakes are known for their high strength and lightweight properties, making them an attractive option for your tent. They are much stronger than aluminum or plastic tent stakes and are less likely to bend or break when driven into hard or rocky soil.
Titanium tent stakes are resistant to rust and corrosion. So whatever the weather or soil type you will have enduring tent stakes.
The main drawback of titanium tent stakes is their cost, as they are typically more expensive than other types of tent stakes. But in general, the higher cost is mitigated by the weight saved in your gear bag.
Aluminum Tent Stakes
Aluminum tent stakes are also a popular choice among campers and backpackers due to their lightweight and affordability. Also frequently when buying a quality tent from a respected outdoor retailer they usually provide aluminum tent stakes too.
One of the main strengths of aluminum tent stakes is their versatility, as they can be used in a variety of different soil types and conditions. However, aluminum tent stakes can bend or break more easily compared to other materials, such as titanium or steel. This can be a drawback if you plan on camping in areas with rocky or hard-packed soil. Additionally, they may not provide the same level of stability as heavier, bulkier tent stakes, making them less suitable for use in windy conditions.
Stainless Steel Tent Stakes
Stainless steel tent stakes are used among campers for their strength and durability. They are typically more robust than aluminum or plastic tent stakes and can handle heavy-duty use without bending or breaking easily.
One of the main strengths of stainless steel tent stakes is their ability to provide a high level of stability, even in high wind conditions. This makes them a great option for camping in areas with unpredictable weather.
However, the main drawback of stainless steel tent stakes is their weight, which can make them less convenient for backpacking trips. Sometimes the individual weight of a stainless steel tent stake can be double or treble that of a titanium or aluminum tent stake. Another factor is that they can be more difficult to drive into the ground compared to lighter tent stakes. If you are setting up a permanent campsite then stainless steel tent stakes are a great option as they are strong and you won’t need to carry the extra weight.
Plastic Tent Stakes
Plastic tent stakes are a good alternative to metal stakes and are made of reinforced polycarbonates or nylon. They are lighter than metal tent stakes and are available in many color options for easy locating. Amongst the tent stake options, plastic is the cheapest. Often budget tents will include either plastic or basic steel tent stakes.
An advantage of plastic tent stakes is that they can bend without breaking. If you have some very firm or rocky ground the risk of bending is reduced but still they have the ability to snap if too much force is applied. Plastic stakes are better suited for light camping trips or in areas with mild weather conditions.
Carbon Fiber Tent Stakes
Carbon fiber tent stakes are by far the least common variety of tent stakes available. Usually designed and constructed in a slim pin profile they are great for very firm or rocky ground. By utilizing carbon tent stakes you get both a strong and ultralight tent stake.
The main disadvantage of carbon fiber tent stakes is their cost. In comparison to aluminum, a single carbon tent stake can be as much as 10 times more expensive. Although strong and lightweight many backpackers struggle to justify the cost when titanium or aluminum is cheaper and equally as strong.
Now that I have shown the main advantages and disadvantages of each material it is time to discuss the designs, styles, and types of tent pegs.
Common Tent Stake Designs
In general, there are 5 main designs/styles of tent stakes. These designs are then available in different materials and from a variety of manufacturers.
When selecting tent stakes it is important to know what terrain and ground you will usually be pitching your tent on. With the different tent stake styles some are better suited to certain ground types. Although there are some great all-round tent stakes each style inevitably has a few weaknesses.
The main types of tent stakes are Y-shape, V-shape, pin, hook, and screw. Below is a summary of each design’s strengths and weaknesses.
Y-Shape Tent Stakes
The Y-shape tent stake is the ultimate all-round tent stake. It is strong, and durable with a reinforced Y-shape that reduces the risk of bending. These tent stakes are ideal for use in a variety of different soil types.
Use these tent stakes in all conditions, all year long. For really open terrain use Y-shape tent stakes as they excel in windy conditions.
The flat end of the tent stake is also good for using a mallet, the sole of your foot, or a flat rock to help insert it on the firmest of ground. One weakness is they are difficult to get around rocks that are submerged under the ground. In contrast, a pin tent stake is much better at this.
V-shape Tent Stakes
V-shape tent stakes have a V-shaped design that helps to provide additional stability and support. They are great for use in hard-packed or loose soil and are suitable for use in high wind conditions.
The top of the tent stake being flat makes it easy for using a tool to deliver even force and drive into the ground. Commonly V-shape tent stakes will have holes cut out which gives them good holding strength.
In contrast to Y-shape stakes the V-shape is easier to bend when driven into firm ground or rocky areas.
Pin Tent Stakes
Pin tent stakes are the simplest and most straightforward tent stakes. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. They are long and thin, with a pointed end for easy insertion into the ground.
A negative of this style is that they are easier to bend and usually have a smaller notch where you secure the guyline for your tent. This in cold conditions can be a little frustrating. Pin tent stakes are suitable for use in soft or loose soil and are ideal for use in warm weather conditions. If you use this style of tent stake in windy conditions you might need to secure it with a rock.
Hook Tent Stakes
Shepherds hook tent stakes are very similar to pin tent stakes. They have a pin stake and then a hook end for attaching the tent’s guylines.
The thinner tent stake profile in contrast to a V-shape or Y-shape make it easier to insert between roots or rocks. A negative I personally don’t enjoy about this design is the hook on firm ground makes it harder to deliver an even driving force into the ground. This can lead to bending. A shepherd’s hook tent stake is great for loose or medium ground types. This design is also lighter than V or Y-shaped tent stakes.
Screw Tent Stakes
Screw tent stakes are designed with a threaded end that can be screwed into the ground with a tool. They are great for use in soft or loose soil although they can be used in both loose and firm ground. With this design of tent stake, it is harder for the stake to slip or move.
Usually made from plastic, they are strong and available in a range of bright colors for easy finding. For permanent campsites, they are a good option, but personally for multiple pitches backpacking, they can be a bit annoying screwing and unscrewing each time. Also if you lose the tool to screw its annoying using a suitable twig.
Amongst all the materials and designs of tent stakes, it is most important to consider use. If you are at a different campsite each night it will affect your choice in contrast to car camping or a permanent campsite. Below I will detail the factors to consider to help you choose which tent stakes will be most useful for your adventures.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Tent Stakes
When choosing tent stakes it is not enough to just know the material and design. There are several factors you should consider to ensure you choose the right tent stake for your camping needs. Below are the most crucial factors to consider.
- Tent Size and Weight
- Camping Conditions - Weather and Season
- Soil Type
- Ease of Use
Tent Size and Weight
The size and weight of your tent will impact the type and material of tent stakes you need. It’s not a science but definitely an art!
If you are setting up a 1-2 person tent as these are much lighter, aluminum or plastic tent stakes are suitable. Heavier and larger tents such as a hot tents will require sturdier tent stakes that provide the necessary support needed.
Generally the larger the surface area of your tent the stronger and sturdier tent stakes you need. A larger tent surface area means a greater adverse effect the elements can have on your tent.
The camping conditions you will be facing will also impact the type of tent stakes you need. If you will be camping in areas with high winds or heavy rain, you will need tent stakes that are durable and able to provide the necessary stability. On the other hand, if you will be camping in areas with mild weather conditions, you may be able to get away with lighter and less durable tent stakes.
The type of soil you will be camping on is a funny one. You can check the weather for the entire length of your trip but knowing the soil type is a more difficult challenge. Nevertheless, the ground type will also impact the type of tent stakes you need.
If you are camping on soft soil, you may need more tent stakes and perhaps sturdier, longer stakes to provide a secure hold. On the other hand, if you will be camping on rocky or hard-packed soil, you may want to consider stronger tent stakes, as they are better suited for these types of conditions. When uncertain of the ground conditions it is better to be prepared with an all-round tent stake.
Ease of Use
When choosing tent stakes, it's important to consider how easy they are to use. Metal and plastic stakes are typically the easiest to use, as they can be driven into the ground with a mallet or the sole of your foot. However, screw tent stakes may be more time-consuming to install.
Another factor with tent stake use is securing guylines, and inserting them into the ground and extracting them. Quality tent stakes will have a well-designed notch to secure your tent. Also the tent stake will include a cord which is very helpful with pulling out of the ground. If its colorful then its an added bonus for easier locating. A great tent stake should be practical yet functional!
What length tent stakes do I need?
After careful consideration of the factors for choosing tent stakes, we come to another common question. What is the best length for tent stakes?
This question is extremely common and the online suggestion is 6” to 7.5”. At SilverAnt we know this is a good recommendation but the answer is a little more nuance.
If you want heavy-duty tent stakes then slightly shorter is more advantageous as these will be less likely to bend. Nevertheless, in super windy conditions shorter tent stakes can be more unstable. Hence why the online outdoor community suggests an average length of 6”-7.5”
At SilverAnt we suggest a good selection of tent stakes from a range of sizes. For rocky, firm ground to have a few short tent stakes is great. For medium to soft ground to have a couple of long tent stakes is also advantageous.
The average 2-4 person tent needs roughly 8-12 tent stakes. With this knowledge, you can buy a few different lengths so that whatever the conditions you are always prepared for the ground conditions and weather.
Proper Use and Maintenance of Tent Stakes
Once you have chosen the right tent stakes for your camping needs, it's important to know how to properly use and maintain them. This last section of the article will address the do’s and don’ts for your tent stakes.
When staking out your tent, it's important to place the stakes in the correct locations. Most tents have grommets or loops where the stakes are meant to be placed. Make sure to stake out all corners of the tent and any other points where the tent is anchored to the ground. This will provide the necessary stability and prevent the tent from collapsing or blowing away in the wind.
When staking out your tent, make sure to drive the stakes into the ground at a roughly 45-degree angle away from the tent. This will provide maximum stability and prevent the stakes from pulling out of the ground in high winds.
With the 45-degree angle, you need to be cautious of bending stakes at this angle, especially when using the sole of your foot or on firm ground.
When driving tent stakes into the ground, make sure to use a mallet or other tool specifically designed for this purpose. Never use rocks or other heavy objects to drive tent stakes into the ground, as this can cause damage to the stakes and the tent. When driving tent stakes into the ground, make sure to do so with a steady, controlled motion to avoid bending or breaking the stakes.
Regular maintenance of your tent stakes is important to ensure they last for many upcoming camping trips. After each use, inspect your tent stakes for any signs of damage or wear and replace any that are bent or broken. Store tent stakes in a dry place when not in use to prevent rust or other forms of corrosion. Of course for titanium stakes, rust or corrosion isn’t an issue. Nevertheless, a good clean, and removing the dirt is good practice.
Tent stakes are an essential component of any camping trip and play a crucial role in ensuring your tent stays securely in place. With so many different types of tent stakes available, it's important to consider the factors that will impact your camping conditions, such as tent size and weight, camping conditions, soil type, ease of use, and durability and strength. With proper use and maintenance, tent stakes can provide many years of reliable service for all your camping adventures.
Leave a comment below or connect with SilverAnt and let us know what tent stake is your go-to.
To your next adventure!