The best tent in the world is only as good as the parts holding it in place. When the winds start to blow the last thing you want is your expensive hiking tent blowing across the prairie. Tent stakes are an often overlooked part of the hiker’s kit that play a crucial role in safety and comfort. Today we’re covering some of the best tent stakes on the market to help you pick out the set that fills your needs.
- 1 Best Tent Stakes
- 2 Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Tent Stakes
- 3 Dealing with a Broken Tent Stake in the Backcountry
- 4 Final Thoughts
Best Tent Stakes
A lot of people are confused when we mention tent stakes. After all, don’t those come with your tent?
If you want to be the best hiker you can be, or if you need to replace lost or broken tent stakes, it’s important to pick out the best ones you can find. There are tons of inexpensive and high-quality options out there.
We picked several great tent stakes at each price and performance level to make it easier to find the best tent stakes for your camping style.
MSR Groundhog Tent Stakes
MSR is a well known name in the hiking and outdoor world. They’ve been making high-quality products for 50 years, including excellent tents and tent stakes. Their Groundhog tent stakes are made from aluminum in a y-shaped design.
They come in a pack of six and each have a blaze orange pull string attached to their head. They’re 7.5 in long and weigh just .46 oz a piece.
Their y-shaped design gives them excellent holding strength while their aluminum construction makes them light yet durable. The pull string is highly identifiable even at a distance and makes it really easy to pull up.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced set of quality tent stakes the MSR Groundhog tent stakes are a great option.
Coleman 10-In. Steel Nail Tent Pegs
Coleman is just about synonymous with camping and the outdoors. Their classic 10 in steel nail tent stakes are made from stainless steel combined with a plastic top to catch and hold guy lines.
Their unique design allows them to be used as nail style tent stakes going through eyelets or as traditional shepherds hook style holding down guy lines. They’re definitely on the heavy side but make up for it with their versatility and durability.
At 10 in long they have the depth and holding power for serious winds and rough terrain. Even better is their price: You can frequently find them available in a pack of four for well under $10.
If you’re looking for durable and inexpensive tent pegs and aren’t too worried about cutting ounces you should definitely check out the Coleman 10 in steel nail tent pegs.
Vargo Titanium Tent Stakes: Nail Peg and Fluorescent Orange Head
They’re each about six inches long and weigh .6 oz for a nail peg or .3 oz for a shepherd’s crook style. Each has a fluorescent orange marking at the top to make them more visible and easy to find.
Picking between the two really comes down to the type of tent you have. Each provides excellent performance, albeit at a very high price.
If weight and performance is the most important thing to you when picking out hiking gear and price is no object the Vargo Titanium Tent Stakes could be the perfect choice for you.
MSR Carbon Core Stakes
The MSR Carbon Core Tent Stakes are some of the lightest and most high performance tent stakes on the market today. They’re made using a rigid core of carbon fiber encased in a sheath of aluminum.
This gives them incredible strength and durability without increasing the weight. Each stake is 6 inches long yet weighs just .2 oz. This is remarkably light for stakes as durable as these.
The Carbon Core stakes use a nail peg design with a red reflective cord to make locating and pulling up these stakes easier. Keep in mind though that all this performance isn’t cheap.
The Carbon Core tent stakes are some of the most expensive tent stakes on the market.
If cutting weight is your primary objective when considering tent stakes the MSR Carbon Core Stakes should be your first choice. They’re incredibly lightweight yet highly capable tent stakes.
BareFour Heavy Duty Tent Stakes
The BareFour Heavy Duty Tent Stakes are extremely capable tent stakes for serious camping. They’re made from forged steel and available in either 8 or 12 in varieties.
Each stake is a fusion of a nail peg stake with a shepherd’s hook style addon just below the head. This gives you lots of flexibility and makes them easier to hammer into the ground.
They’re large and seriously sturdy tent stakes that work well in just about any soil type. The 12 in stakes in particular are effective even in sandy and loose conditions.
The biggest downside to these heavy duty tent stakes is their weight. Forged steel isn’t light, and 12 in of forged steel adds up fast.
If you’re mostly a car camper and are more concerned with performance than portability, the BareFour Heavy Duty Tent Stakes are a highly capable and inexpensive option.
Orange Screw The Ultimate Ground Anchor
The Orange Screw Ground Anchors are plastic tent stakes that use a screw shaped design to lock into the ground. Each ground anchor is 9.5 inches long and is made from 100% recycled materials.
They’re a bit on the heavy side, each one weighs 1.8 oz, but provide undeniably strong holding power. Even better, they screw right into the ground so you don’t have to carry around a heavy hammer.
The Orange Screw’s come with a plastic drive tool that makes it easy to twist them into and out of the ground. Because of their screwin design they work well in both firm and loose soil.
One thing to keep in mind though, they don’t work well in rocky soil. The plastic screw has trouble finding purchase when large rocks get in its way.
For camping on the beach or in loamy soil the Orange Screw Ground Anchors are excellent tent stakes available at a very competitive price.
Coghlan’s ABS Tent Pegs
Coghlan’s is well known for its no-frills approach to outdoor gear and equipment. Their ABS tent stakes match this image perfectly.
They’re bright yellow y-shape tent stakes made from ABS plastic. This makes them sturdy and lightweight, with Coghlan’s guaranteeing that they are unbreakable under regular use.
The design of the ABS Tent Pegs includes a rounded hook to securely lock down your tent’s guy lines. When combined with the y-shaped design they provide excellent holding power at a very affordable price.
MSR Blizzard Tent Stake
The MSR Blizzard tent stakes are designed to provide secure tie down points in snowy or sandy conditions. They’re made from lightweight aluminum and each measure 9.5 inches.
They have a very flattened design with several large holes running up the back. This makes it easier for them to find purchase in loose materials like sand or snow.
They weigh 1.12 oz each and are MSR’s signature red color. This makes them light enough to pack in and easy to spot on snow or sand.
For winter camping or a beach trip the MSR Blizzard tent stakes are a great option at a reasonable price.
Buyer’s Guide to Buying the Best Tent Stakes
When it comes to tent stakes many people aren’t aware of just how many choices they have available to them. Not only are there multiple types of tent stakes, you also have to choose between material, size, weight, and design considerations relating to their performance.
Tent stakes, even very high quality tent stakes, aren’t incredibly expensive. You can get a basic set of aluminum or plastic tent stakes for under $10. If you’re looking for a really nices set of technical tent stakes made from titanium or another space age material the price jumps up to around $20-$30.
That’s not a ton of money, but it adds up quickly when you consider the cost of the tent, groundcover, sleeping bag, etc.
Types of Tent Stakes
There are as many types of tent stakes as there are tents. Every manufacturer seems to try and reinvent the wheel when it comes to tent stakes, but the vast majority fall under just a few basic categories.
Shepherd’s Hook Stakes – Shepherd’s hook stakes are what most people picture when they think of a tent stake. They’re basically just a piece of plastic of metal curved at the stop to catch a guy line.
They’re available in just about any material you can think of and are effective and inexpensive. One downside of their basic design is that shepherd’s hook stakes are easy to bend when hammering them into the ground.
V-Stakes – V-stakes take a flat piece of metal or plastic and bend it into a v shape. This gives it a long groove down the center for additional contact with the ground. They’re sturdy, effective, and available in a wide range of materials.
Y-Stakes – Y-stakes are nearly identical to v-stakes, just with the addition of another piece of flattened material at the bend. This gives them even more surface area but does add a little bit to the weight.
Nail Stakes – It doesn’t get much more basic than nail stakes. They’re long nail shaped stakes that pound straight into the ground. They work best with tents that have metal eyes to pound them through.
Most nail stakes have an attached cord or strap to make it easier to pull them out of the ground.
Snow/Sand Stakes – Snow and sand stakes are larger and wider than traditional tent stakes and usually have a series of large holes running down their center. They’re designed to have as much surface area as possible so they get more purchase in snowy or sandy conditions.
They’re great for their intended purpose but basically useless in any other conditions. If you frequently camp on a beach, in the desert or in wintery conditions though, they’re essential.
Ground Anchors – Once you get past the basic styles of tent stake there’s a broad category of exotic and specialized tent anchors usually referred to under the catch all term of ground anchors. One of the most popular types of ground anchor tent stakes uses a twisting screw style entry point to provide high levels of strength.
These are usually a little heavier than traditional tent stakes but provide excellent stability in very windy conditions.
The material of your tent stake is probably the single most important thing to take into account when considering your options. It plays a considerable role in determining the weight, strength, and size of your tent stake.
Stainless Steel – Stainless steel is one of the oldest and cheapest ways to make tent stakes. It’s cheap and very sturdy but weighs more than just about any other type of material. If you’re buying a large tent intended for car camping there’s a good chance it will have stainless steel tent stakes.
In the recent past just about every tent came with stainless steel tent stakes, but they’ve long since been surpassed. There are now cheaper, lighter, and higher performance materials, relegating stainless steel tent stakes to a distant second in just about every category.
They’re definitely good enough, but they’re by no means the best.
Aluminum – Aluminum is by far the most commonly used material for hiking and lightweight camping tents. It’s reasonably sturdy, inexpensive, and extremely lightweight.
You can find aluminum tent stakes in every style and type.
Plastic – Plastic is widely used in value priced tents and replacement tent stakes because of its extremely low cost and light weight. Plastic tent stakes come in just about every size and shape imaginable and are commonly used for larger applications like snow/sand stakes.
Titanium – Titanium is an exceptionally strong and lightweight material that’s rapidly becoming the gold standard for ultralight hikers. Titanium tent stakes are some of the lightest and most durable available but do have a major downside.
Expect to spend three to four times as much per stake on titanium stakes as you would on aluminum or plastic tent stakes.
Carbon Fiber – Until very recently carbon fiber was a material only used for aerospace and supercar applications. A few manufacturers have begun to experiment with carbon fiber tent stakes but they’re still a lot less common than any other material.
They’re the lightest possible material available but have a very high price, even higher than titanium.
With tent stakes weight usually is a serious consideration. They’re small but you tend to carry a lot of them. The material you go for will have the biggest impact on weight.
Smaller stakes are lighter, of course, but we rarely find it worth the tradeoff. You want your tent stakes to secure your tent firmly to the ground. Saving half an ounce on six tent stakes isn’t worth losing an extra inch of ground penetration.
Size and Length
The size of your tent stake is very dependant on the type and application you’re using it for. Standard tent stakes are usually about seven to ten inches long, including the above ground attachment point.
Once you get into more specialized tent stakes like snow/sand stakes the size and length starts to increase rapidly.
Holding strength of a tent stake is basically its entire job. The only purpose of tent stakes is to hold your tent down under windy conditions and keep you comfortable inside.
Longer tent stakes and those with more surface area provide greater bite and security than do shorter and smaller ones.
The last thing you want to do is spend several minutes searching the ground in twilight to try and find your dropped tent stakes. We prefer tent stakes that are marked with blaze orange caps or body coloring.
At the very least they should be silvered and shiny rather than matte and dark. That makes it a lot more likely you’ll find them if they should fall to the ground.
Dealing with a Broken Tent Stake in the Backcountry
The last thing you want when miles from shelter is to start setting up your tent and accidentally break or lose some of your tent stakes. If there’s even a light breeze setting up a tent without stakes is a recipe for disaster.
Thankfully there are several ways you can deal with this minor emergency in the field.
The best option is to always carry extra tent stakes. We recommend at least two extra stakes, kept in a different place than your regular stakes. This allows you to quickly switch out a broken stake and replace or repair it when you get back home.
If you’re deep in the woods and fresh out of spares it’s time to look for other options. You want to try and find a branch about ½ an inch to ¾ of an inch in diameter, preferably with a smaller limb sticking out from it.
Cut it off to about 5 inches long with your trusty pocket knife, hatchet or multitool and put a basic wedge or spear style point on it. If you were lucky enough to find one with a limb attached cut that off with about 1.5 inches of stump.
If it’s a smooth branch take your trusty tool and cut a basic wedge into the side near the top, pointed side down. This gives you a basic tent stake that will help secure your tent in a pinch and get you back to civilization.
When it comes to tent stakes, less is generally more.
The lighter your tent stakes are the easier they are to pack and carry. Price wise as well cheaper tent stakes are usually more attractive than more expensive ones.
So long as you balance the weight, price, and performance of the different tent stakes we reviewed you should have no problem finding the best tent stakes for your specific needs.