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Tent Stake Holding Power: Comparative Evaluation of Various Designs and Lengths
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Tent Stake Holding Power: Comparative Evaluation of Various Designs and Lengths on 10/14/2008 16:13:18 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Tent Stake Holding Power: Comparative Evaluation of Various Designs and Lengths

Darin Banner
(dbanner) - MLife

Locale: Pacific North West
Brilliant! on 10/14/2008 18:07:19 MDT Print View

Thanks for doing the work on this Will. It just goes to show ya that, like using a scale to weigh your equipment, you can't make the best decision by just looking at the material and configuration alone. This is a great example of the methodical and detailed work that BPL puts into their articles, which I really appreciate.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Tent Stake Holding Power on 10/14/2008 18:44:00 MDT Print View

Bravo- Thanks for taking the time to do that research.Y- Stakes! Interesting! Who woulda thought? Is there pictures of proper techniuqe for the Y-stakes?

Edited by Creachen on 10/14/2008 18:46:37 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Tent Stake Holding Power on 10/14/2008 20:16:48 MDT Print View

> Y- Stakes! Interesting! Who woulda thought?

That is what you get from BPL: real technical data based on carefully-made measurements. We are committed to this approach.

PS: great article, Will.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Stake Holding power on 10/14/2008 20:34:50 MDT Print View

Will, great article. Question, if I cut down my MSR "Y" stakes to 5 inches, this would reduce the weight and therefor increase the holding-power:weight ratio. Would it be worth cutting them down or just stay with my Ti shepherd stakes? Looking for your educated opinion.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Y-Stake, Aluminum 5" -- where on the net to get such? on 10/14/2008 22:42:47 MDT Print View

Great article, another reason I keep my subscription up to date. Thanks!

Y-Stake, Aluminum 5" that weight the reported .34 oz, -- where on the net to get such? Thanks! ps -- I'd like to get the brand you got as I wonder if two different brands might use different guage/strength of aluminum (but same design/length)?


Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Tent Stake Holding Power on 10/14/2008 23:09:53 MDT Print View

Good article. Makes me wonder why there aren't any tent pegs with little "barbs" on the shaft. Wouldn't that help to keep the pegs in place with little additional weight or length required? Clearly if you made the barbs too large it could make it difficult to actually pull the things out of the ground when you need to, but I would have thought that small barbs would increase holding power without this becoming an issue. Is there anything out there like that, or is there a practical reason why it wouldn't work or be worthwhile?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Tent Stake Holding Power on 10/14/2008 23:31:38 MDT Print View

Hi Ashley

The guy rope load is at right angles to the stake, so the barbs would be ineffectual - and irrelevant.


Pedro Arvy
(PedroArvy) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne
Not quite the bottom line on 10/15/2008 00:44:45 MDT Print View

Although this article seemed interesting at first, it doesn’t seem to address the practical issues of stakes.

I have never had a stake pull out, and why would they? The weakest stake in the test pulls out at 24 pounds of force. What sort of structure would exert that force on a single stake in normal conditions?

The number one issue for stakes is whether they will end up getting bent when you wack them into the ground.
Y stakes are definitely the strongest here but others have suggested that thin titanium stakes can also work if you use another stronger stake to pre-make a hole prior to belting their flimsy little bodies into the dirt. Does the pre-made hole weaken the stake significantly, who knows?

The only other issue with stakes is whether once they are secured, can the structure lift off from the stake because it doesn’t have a decent hook at the end?

I would like to see these issues addressed in a review as it’s the bottom line for me.

Edited by PedroArvy on 10/15/2008 00:45:49 MDT.

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
Re: Not quite the bottom line on 10/15/2008 02:04:11 MDT Print View

i already had a stake to pull out.
this summer we hiked in Iceland, our titanium light nail stakes were perfect for the Landmmanalaugar - Skogar hike, in rocky/firm ground.
but when we hiked in hornstrandir, we had a few times, earth mixed with sand ground at the imposed campsites, with no shelter from the sea wind.
it was a good test of the twin sisters, but we had to find big stones to set our shelter because even at 45° the stake wouldnt hold with the wind we got.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Not quite the bottom line on 10/15/2008 03:17:12 MDT Print View

Hi Petras

As Fred said, it depends on the soil. Now in the Melbourne clay, anything will work. Lucky.

In some of the softer sandy soils it's another matter. On a sandy river bank, big trouble. OK, river banks around Melbourne are not sandy, but they are around Sydney.

Some alpine soils hold well; others are rather soft.

In the Wild Dogs in the Blue Mts you can be fighting to get a Ti wire into the ground. I have never needed to use a thicker stake to make a hole for them: the crack between the rocks is often a bit narrow to start with.

OK, for many people it is a non-issue. But surely it won't hurt to know a bit about how well your stakes will hold? Or to know while that storm howls around your head that the stakes probably will hold? :-)

As to the hook at the end - you are right, but we usually handle this by making sure the stake is in at the correct angle.


Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
stakes turning on 10/15/2008 04:23:07 MDT Print View

one issue that's not mentioned but I think it's relevant (and hope it doesn't only happen to me) is the stakes turning on themselves as a consequence of the pull. This is common to thin, cylindrical section stakes and becomes an issue with shepherd hook style ones because they may release the line they're holding when the hook is facing the wrong direction. It happens both with a loop or a clove hitch at the end of the line.

You can mostly prevent this from happening by inserting the stake all the way down so the end of the hook is also into the ground but this is not always easy. It's actually quite common that you can insert the stake enough for good holding power but eventually find this underground obstacle that prevents from getting it all the way in and the thin shepherd hooks are not good for pounding.

As usual, I take a few stakes of each (Y, nail, shepherd hook) to maximise versatiliy, particularly for the long trips, but I've been taking less thin shepherd hooks lately because of this problem. I appreciate the lighter weight but I keep them just for secondary lines.

I guess some side flaps or protruberance (like some snow stakes have) would help prevent them from turning for little weight penalty but I haven't seen this feature in any lightweight stake. A thinner Ti nail stake might be interesting too because stake turning wouldn't be an issue with these, I guess.

My Y stakes (Groundhogs) and Ti nails (Vargo) are around twice the weight of the lightest shepherd hooks I have (those sold on this site) but I find them so much easier to use and worry free I've been using more of those in recent times.

Edited by inaki on 10/15/2008 05:02:43 MDT.

Donna Chester
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Tent Stake Holding Power: Comparative Evaluation of Various Designs and Lengths on 10/15/2008 06:56:06 MDT Print View

OK...laugh at me if you want...but I have used those Ti stakes and hate them, for all the reasons above, especially bending, popping out and losing them. I use Kelty no-bendiums for several years now and they are bullet-proof, are 7"long, weigh .50 oz. I've pounded the snot out of them and still hold up strong without bending. Mine are blue (older model)and can easily find them in the dirt. I have yet to have one pop out. They are made of adonized aluminum. They've even held up in a tropical storm on the beach.
That said, I could try the Y-stakes, but these are so much cheaper and reliable.

Edited by leadfoot on 10/15/2008 07:04:18 MDT.

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Responses to Tent Stake Questions on 10/15/2008 07:04:48 MDT Print View

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)!

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Painting Titanium Stakes on 10/15/2008 07:15:30 MDT Print View

Donna, good comment on stake color. A bright color is really a plus. The Shepherd Hook titanium stakes are easy to lose, and I have lost a few, so I now paint mine orange. The problem I have is the paint doesn't stay on very well. Does anyone have a technique to paint titanium (and aluminum) stakes so the paint sticks really well?


Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Stakes on 10/15/2008 07:48:47 MDT Print View

Will, i paint my Ti wire stakes too. I use the yellow spray-paint that is used for road-marking etc. There was some at my place of work, so i 'borrowed' a can for 10 minutes. I don't know the brand. It seems to 'hold' pretty well.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Responses to Tent Stake Questions on 10/15/2008 07:51:40 MDT Print View

I see no offer of Y stakes on big sky site.

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Carry both Y and Ti... on 10/15/2008 08:09:36 MDT Print View

FWIW, I carry two Y-stakes (MSR) for my main ridge line and a number of Ti stakes for the sides and "additional" tie-outs.

René Enguehard
(ahugenerd) - MLife

Locale: Newfoundland
Re: Painting Titanium Stakes on 10/15/2008 08:23:43 MDT Print View

The only way that I know of that makes paint adhere to titanium decently is through electro-deposition. You run a low current through your metal object and paint it using a metallic aerosol paint.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Tent Stake Holding Power on 10/15/2008 08:43:47 MDT Print View

Golite carries Y-Stakes 7 inch at 0.4 oz
Thanks Will!!

Edited by Creachen on 10/15/2008 09:09:27 MDT.