Over the years, Ive had a lot of tent stakes of varying weights and metallurgical composition. I’ve now determined what is the best for my purposes in the PNW. I’m all about less shit rather than having a lot of different crap for different purposes/conditions. This is one area that Ive managed to simplify through trial and error and hopefully it’ll save you some time, money and frustration.
Keep in mind I don’t use a freestanding tent for my solo trips. Freestanding tents are much more forgiving in terms of stake quality.
I need my stakes to hold up (literally) in dry desert, soft soils in rainforest, sand, and sometimes packed snow. How to anchor in looser, fresher, fluffier snow is the topic of an upcoming post. There is one type of stake that can reasonably do well in these varied conditions.
In order of worst to best:
3. Steel Stakes (shitty and heavy) and Also phatty Aluminum stakes
These may come with your tent. Fuck them, particularly the steel ones because they are too damn heavy. Go ahead and recycle them cause thats the only good use for em at this point. It may be worth keeping the aluminum ones as backup in you gear area.
2. Titanium Shepards Hooks
While these stakes are the lightest, to be honest they just don’t stay in place if there is any tension on them. Some people swear by these, but in my experience they don’t stay put; resulting in my tent falling down. Ive tried them in many different soils and Im not impressed. The stakes themselves are of fine quality, but just don’t work for me. They’re also expensive compared to any other stakes. Almost worthless in dry forest duff. I have to put big rocks on top of the stakes just to keep them in place.
1. (Tie) MSR Ground Hog and Next Adventure (Wilderness Technology) generic version
These stakes are beasts. They’re made of aluminum. I own a set of MSR Ground Hogs, as well as a set of Wilderness Technology knock-offs (the yellow ones in the picture). I can tell no difference between the two after using them both interchangeably for the past year. One is markedly cheaper than the other, obviously. They grip the ground so well they’re hard to pull out. Ive used them in packed snow, sandy soil, rocky soil, wet soil and it performs reliably everytime. I use these for three different shelters and I’ll continue to use them happily.
Ive beat the shit out of these stakes and they’re holding up so far. The Next Adventure knock-offs are $1.29 apiece online here. They’re a local (for me) outdoor shop that also has an online presence now. MSR Ground Hogs are $3 apiece at your local retailer. Take your pick.
The ground hog knock offs have failed. Actual Ground Hogs are still going strong however. Look what happened when I tried to put them into soft ground using my foot: