Hi all, there seems to be a lot of interest in tent stakes. Here are some responses to questions asked:
Jay, you asked for photos of the proper technique for Y-stakes. I'm not sure what you mean, but one advantage is they can be pounded in with a rock without damaging them (much). They can also damage your hand when pulling them out, so a good technique is to use one stake to pull out the others. While Y-stakes hold best, they hold dirt and require cleaning when you pull them out.
Roleigh, the 5-inch Y-stakes are available from Big Sky International. They're called Y-Not stakes.
Ashley, putting barbs on stakes (like a fish hook) would resist pulling them straight up, but would make no difference when pulling at an angle.
Petras, the main reason we are concerned about holding power is WIND. Sorry I didn't mention that in the article. It would be interesting to measure the actual pull on a tent stake from a strong wind gust. The bottom line is no one wants tent stakes to pull out in a severe storm, and we are looking for the lightest stakes that will do the job.
Tad, I would not advise cutting down your longer Y-stakes. Why not get some shorter stakes for general use and keep the longer ones for times you need them, like in sand. I didn't test holding power in sand, but generally longer is better. Snow is a more complex story, with lots of different options and techniques.
Inaki, as you mentioned, a definite issue with Shepherd Hook stakes is the top turning and releasing a tent guyline. Its best to push them entirely into the ground to anchor the hook part. They are definitely a compromise, and I have had plenty of occasions when one or more stakes pulled out. That's why I like to put a rock on them.
Thanks for all your great questions (and compliments)!