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Need a tougher tent stake
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Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Need a tougher tent stake on 07/23/2012 10:02:12 MDT Print View

I bent two of my Y stakes (similar to the MSR Groundhogs) on my last camping trip. The soil was dense with embedded rocks and I did a lot of trial insertions before I could find gaps in the rocks to drive the stake deeply enough to keep the tarp on the ground in the strong winds I just camped in. Even so, two are shaped more like bananas than stakes, so I would like to get something tougher. Suggestions?


Edited by JackElliott on 07/24/2012 18:39:35 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Need a tougher tent stake on 07/23/2012 10:20:03 MDT Print View

I haven't tried them, but a titanium nail stake seems like a good option.

Jeremy Osburn

Locale: New England
Re: Need a tougher tent stake on 07/23/2012 10:20:14 MDT Print View

Could you tie off to those rocks instead of using stakes? Otherwise a hammer and piton.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Need a tougher tent stake on 07/23/2012 10:35:14 MDT Print View

wow... when i read your subject line I would have suggested MSR Groundhog stakes because I never bent one. The only stake that I have found that works better in really hard soil are titanium nail stakes.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Need a tougher tent stake on 07/23/2012 11:14:12 MDT Print View

At some point you need to see light stakes as scacrficial gear, to be abused and replaced. You might need something on the order of a climbing piton in some rocky soils. The titanium nails might be an improvement, but when you hit a rock, something has to give. Even a steel spike has a limit.

As others mentioned, you might tie off to a rock or tie the stake on to the guy line and put a big rock on top. Or carry one heavy but tough stake and make holes for the others.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Need a tougher tent stake on 07/23/2012 11:43:13 MDT Print View

I usually take a steel stake to make holes for Ti shepard hook stakes if needed

I might get some of those Varga Ti nail stakes. The hook on a shepard hook stake is springy so it doesn't work so good.

Lawson shepard hook stakes at least have the top of the stake where you hit it, directly over the shaft of the stake

You got to feel when you're pounding a stake. Don't just hammer so hard until the stake bends. When you bounce off a rock, move over to a different location and see if you can get a stake in there. Sometimes I have to try 10 places until I get one to work

And sometimes you just have to resort to putting big rock on top. Especially if the stake doesn't go all the way into the ground or if it's sandy.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Yah, I've done the rock-on-stake thing on 07/23/2012 14:58:44 MDT Print View

Rock on a stake works better, IMO, when it's a stake holding a guyline. When the stake goes through a close loop on a tent or tarp, though, then the rock mashes part of the shelter's side, reducing inside space. But that's better than having the stake pull out in a high wind, I reckon.

So are the Groundhogs, which have always been my choice for sturdy pegging, considered pretty much top of the line in terms of your lightweight strong option? I was surprised to have bananaed two since I generally have enough sense not to try to pierce rocks or heavy tree roots with stakes.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Groundhogs vs Ti Nail Stakes ? on 07/23/2012 16:05:38 MDT Print View


Just off the top of my head I believe that the Ti nail type stakes would be more difficult to bend.

The 2012 MSR groundhogs weigh .6 ounces or 16 grams per stake and are made of 7000 series aluminum and are 7.5 inches long. They sell for about $2.50 each at Backcountry


I found some Vargo T-113 Titanium Nail Stakes at that weigh .6 ounces or 14 grams each and are 6 inches long.

Vargo Ti Nail Stakes

FWIW if you do the math .6 ounces equals 17.0097139 grams! ;-?

Also we keep finding out that if the L x W x H dimensions are the same titanium is heavier!

If six inches in length would suffice for your application the only thing that will be lighter after purchasing the Ti nail stakes will be your wallet. ;-)

$21.89 per 6/pk or $3.65 each.

Party On,


Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Groundhogs vs Ti Nail Stakes ? on 07/23/2012 17:26:01 MDT Print View

Match your stakes to the type of ground you can reasonably expect to encounter most often.

Bear in mind that some tie-out points on a given shelter type may require longer stakes than do others, based on such things as wind direction and the amount of tension being transferred to a given stake. You do not need a cold weld on all your stake to ground connections.

I always carry a mix of stakes, no matter the shelter carried. There are always at least two titanium nail stakes among them; they're great for making pilot holes, testing the ground, or even driving into an inconveniently placed and immovable log in a tight camping spot.

I prefer Y-stakes (like the MSR Groundhogs) over the traditional shepherd's crook stakes any day for their extra holding power. They are also easier to drive when driving is needed. Crooks are easier to insert and remove in soft ground (unfortunately, they are also less resistant to coming out on their own in a storm) and they're perfect for holding down a net tent under a tarp, where they are not taking the brunt of the storm.

Most of my stakes are 6 inches long, but I also carry a few 9 inchers for those tie-out points where there is a lot of tension applied (i.e. the ridgeline of a tarp).

Edited by wandering_bob on 07/23/2012 17:27:40 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Need a tougher tent stake on 07/23/2012 17:40:45 MDT Print View

Once in a while I find myself camping in a well-established campsite such as a campground in a national park. The sites tend to be well-constructed with a platform of rocks and gravel covered by a thin layer of sand or dirt. Those sites are really tough on stakes. I try to drive any stake, and it goes in about one inch and then hits a rock.

Once I get out into the backcountry, there is no problem. Sometimes there are used sites, but they were not constructed. They just happened. Typically the dirt is medium firm.

As a result, I generally don't stay in campgrounds so much. If I do, I try to use some self-supporting (read: heavy) tent that doesn't really need stakes.


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Groundhogs vs Ti Nail Stakes ? on 07/23/2012 17:51:55 MDT Print View

Vargo said, by email, that the nail stakes are 2 mm diameter. They weigh 0.6 ounces. They are 6 inches long.

I have some (BPL) Ti shepardhook stakes that are about 3.5 mm diameter (my measurement) and about 7 inches long if you straightened out the hook, and weigh 0.22 ounce.

If you assume that all "Titanium" has the same density, this is inconsistent. Since my stakes are twice the diameter and about the same length, they should weigh 4 times as much, but they weigh less than half???

Are the Vargo stakes really just 2 mm?

Maybe that Titanium is heavier?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Groundhogs vs Ti Nail Stakes ? on 07/23/2012 17:56:48 MDT Print View

Most of the shepherd's hook stakes are around 0.20 to 0.25 ounce each in lengths of 6.5 to 7 inches long without anything straightened.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Groundhogs vs Easton Nanos ? on 07/23/2012 18:41:43 MDT Print View

Even thought they are still experiencing a few bumps, I am a big fan of Easton Nanos.

I've beat the crap out of mine for 4 years and had maybe 3 head failures. I expect the new batch to be better.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Maybe that Titanium is heavier? on 07/23/2012 19:12:50 MDT Print View


"Are the Vargo stakes really just 2 mm"?

Are you remembering to allow for the much larger head of the Vargo nail type stake?

I am pretty sure that 2mm refers to the slim portion of the stake and not the head which is much larger in diameter.

My question regarding these stakes is whether or not the head is included in the overall length of 6 inches. If it is I'm guesstimating that the useful length of the stake winds up being 5.5" or so be cause of the design of the head.

They do have a lighter Ti nail stake option on their website.

UL Ti Nail Stake

These have a much slimmer in design head.

Party On,


Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: Re: Maybe that Titanium is heavier? on 07/23/2012 19:35:40 MDT Print View

Just measured one of my Vargo titanium nails.

The head is 11/16 inch (0.687 inches)

The useable shaft, including the tip, is 5.75 inches

The total length is 6.437 inches (6 - 7/16 inches)

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Maybe that Titanium is heavier? on 07/23/2012 20:39:19 MDT Print View

What's the diameter of the skinny part? and the diameter of the head? and how much does it weigh?

Arthur Haskind
(Anubis) - F - M
good thread on 07/24/2012 11:11:20 MDT Print View

SUL put aside, what pegs would you take with you on a long trip with hard soil?

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
That's the problem, brother. on 07/24/2012 11:33:18 MDT Print View

Well that's just it, Arthur, most of us would say MSR Groundhogs or Easton Nano, but the Groundhogs are what is failing him. Tough call. Beyond that I'd say something steel or titanium, but the steel stakes are heavy and the titanium ones tend to be narrow nails or hooks that don't hold well in loose soil so they aren't a good all-around choice. But, really, IS there a good all-around choice?

That said I agree with the "found anchors" idea- I tend to tie off to big rocks or trees whenever possible. I have also found the "place a rock on top of the stake" thing to be invaluable in tenuous soil or high wind. Someone mentioned that you can only do that to guyline stakes but not to tent perimeter stakes for fear of tearing the tent fabric- which is inaccurate. That might be true if you put the stakes right through the tent perimeter loops but many of us don't do that- we usually use a line from the stake to the perimeter loop. This is de rigueur for tarps and pyramids, for example. (I've sort of decided that I'm a 'mid guy.) It also makes it easier to move the stake if you hit a rock, as some others have complained of. If you are putting the stake right through the perimeter loop then there is only a very small candidate area in which to drive the stake, but if it is on a line there is a much larger area in which you might find a rock-free spot.

Edited by acrosome on 07/24/2012 11:34:43 MDT.

adam blanton
(adamallstar) - MLife

Locale: Central Texas
interior rocks on 07/24/2012 11:43:47 MDT Print View

Would finding some smooth rocks to put inside your tent to weigh it down be an option? Probably depends on how windy it is, along with how much room is available in your tent.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Perimeter guys on 07/24/2012 12:09:00 MDT Print View

Dean wrote, "[...] we usually use a line from the stake to the perimeter loop. This is de rigueur for tarps and pyramids, for example."

Never thought of that. 6'' of line on each perimeter loop would move the stake away from the tent fabric, allowing the stake to be pinned by a rock without it mashing into the space inside the tarp.


Besides, rocks sitting on the tarp fabric are easily bounced off under windy conditions.

BACK TO MY ORIGINAL POST, WHICH STARTED THIS THREAD: Many have commented on how tough the MSR Groundhogs are, and were surprised that I bent a couple. This makes me wonder whether I have Gen-U-Wine MSR stakes here. They are red-anodized aluminum, they have the three-pointed star cross-section, they have the notches near the head, they have holes in 'em for passing a bit of cord through; but they are 9'' in length and, unlike the photos I've seen of Groundhogs, did not come with a cord loop at the head.

Maybe what I've got here are counterfeit? Made out of whatever is the opposite of 7075 "aircraft" aluminum, but something wimpy and pathetic like 2024?