MSR Groundhogs come out on top as our best tent stakes for a secure pitch in any terrain. These strong and durable aluminum Y spikes are super lightweight and almost impossible to destroy. You can drive them into hard-packed, rocky terrain without fearing damage.
They measure up at 7.5 inches in length and weigh 0.5 ounces. The fact that they don’t even budge in loose earth boasts of their impressive holding power.
Even the metallic red finish can withstand its fair share of abuse. We drove these stakes into the ground using some nearby rocks, and they hardly had a scratch on them. The bright finish makes them super easy to see in low light, and the reflective pull cords serve as additional visibility aids.
These long, slender spikes provide extra security in storms. However, while they stack well and don’t weigh too much, they may be too heavy for ultralight-backpackers.
Bottom Line:MSR Groundhogs are the most durable and versatile Y-beam stakes on the market.
Tent Pegs For Every Situation
Looking for the best tent stakes?
You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:
- How to choose the best tent stakes for your environment
- The top nine camping stakes for a secure pitch in any terrain
- Our unbiased review of the best overall tent pegs
- Tips and tricks for pitching in all terrains
Pitching your tent on awkward terrain (hard ground, snow, sand) can be difficult if you don’t have the best tent stakes for the job – check out which brands do which best….
An often overlooked piece of camping gear, tent stakes have a tremendous impact on your camping experience. Poor securing of your shelter can have some disastrous results (Ed: I once witnessed a [empty] tent blown over a cliff edge), and the pegs that most manufacturers provide are generally cheap shepherds hooks.
While these generic pegs may work well enough as an anchor point in benign conditions, most people fail to realize that there is a tent stake for every different type of terrain. Choosing to upgrade may help you pitch a more secure tent no matter the terrain or weather conditions you camp on or in.
In this review, we examine the different options there are to see which tent stakes for camping are most effective for various kinds of terrain. We also identify nine of the best tent stakes on the market and hone in on our number one pick.
How To Choose The Best Tent Pegs For Your Needs
Different Stakes for Different Ground
It’s best to use a spiral peg when drilling into soft ground. If the ground is not compact enough, a smooth, straight option, such as a nail stake, will struggle to stay put in even mildly windy conditions.
Hard Ground, Rock or Ice
V stakes, Y-beam stakes, and nail stakes are all great options for pitching in hard ground. V and Y-beam models tend to offer extra holding power and wind resilience, especially when they are made from durable metal.
Long, slender nail spikes offer comparable holds and do a fabulous job of squeezing past tightly packed rocks and clay that may be hidden below the earth’s surface. On the downside, many of these spikes are heavy and cumbersome to carry. Not to mention, they tend to spin.
Y-beam are the most versatile types of hold-downs. They can work their way past compressed rocks and sediment and won’t shift or spin once they are anchored in place. V stakes offer a hold that is comparable to Y-beams.
Shepard hooks, the arched stock pegs included in the purchase of most tents, are also suitable for anchoring shelters in dense, rocky ground. However, these tend to spin. Since most shepherd’s hooks do not have notched or threaded tops, guy lines are more likely to come loose.
Sand, Snow and Loose Material
Always choose spiralized stakes when camping on sand. Straight spikes fail to secure guy lines in loose conditions. Long, durable spirals will lock your tent down despite loose pitch terrain and potentially heavy winds.
Snow stakes are long, broad, and made from durable metals, such as titanium. It’s easy to identify a snow stake as it will usually boast multiple holes along its surface. These holes are designed to be packed with snow to increase the overall hold strength of each anchor.
Depending on snow conditions, they may be used vertically or horizontally, in what is called a deadman anchor.
The vast majority of tent pegs are made from metal, including aluminum, titanium, and galvanized steel. Meanwhile, there are some plastic models on the market (or a combination of plastic and metal elements).
You must choose stakes that are strong and durable enough to withstand harsh drives and impacts. If your campsite is only a short distance from your vehicle, opt for the most durable material, regardless of its weight and size.
Steel stakes are the most durable, but are also the heaviest. Aluminum and titanium are slightly lighter. However, the trade-off is that they tend to be more expensive and more susceptible to damage. Plastic stakes fall somewhere in the middle in terms of weight. However, they are also the most fragile option.
When it comes to material strength, weight can be a significant trade-off. Galvanized steel can handle quite a beating, but it is too heavy for backpacking. If you’re heading to a campsite on foot, you probably cannot afford to carry more than an ounce of weight per stake. Of course, heavier alternatives are always suitable for car camping.
The holding strength is determined by the overall ground conditions, the stake surface area and length. Simply put, long pegs with greater surface areas do a better job of anchoring outdoor shelters.
Of course, clunky stakes are not always the best option for backpacking. You must know what terrain and weather conditions you are up against. Unnecessarily chunky spikes can be overkill.
Reflective pull cords, high-visibility color coatings, and even glow-in-the-dark finishes are some of the more common design elements used to increase overall visibility. These features make tent pegs easy to spot in less than stellar conditions
These aids are particularly helpful for campers who are looking to retrieve their stakes from sand or snow. However, they also come in handy when it comes time to assemble or take-down a tent under the veil of darkness.
Size and Length
The average length is 7 inches, though there is plenty of wiggle room between options. Shafts that are less than 7 inches long are perfectly suitable for hard soil and moderate weather. Options between 7 and 10 inches are better suited for soft, loose ground and windy conditions.
How To Pitch A Tent On Rocky Ground
Are you looking to pitch up on rocky terrain? The good news is that you probably have plenty of potential drivers. Choose the thinnest, most slender option possible. Place your pin into the ground and press your foot over it. Apply gradual pressure to allow the end of the stake to work its way around stubborn rocks. If the ground is too rocky to insert, thread the stake through the guy out loop and then cover it with large stones.
How To Pitch A Tent In Snow
It’s easier than it looks to pitch a tent in the snow. First, loop your guy lines through the hole on the top of the stake. Then, dig a small hole in the place you wish to anchor and place the tent peg vertically, if the snow is packed, or horizontally (deadman) if it is loose. Use your boot or a shovel to press the snow over the stake. Pack snow around the holes to secure the pitch. Once the snow sets, tighten your guy lines.
Tent Peg Tips And FAQs
Only leave a small portion of the stake exposed. Pegs that are protruding from the ground can quickly become trip hazards. Remember, you only need enough space to attach your guy lines and rain fly lines.
Drive with your feet first. While most stakes are durable enough to be driven into the ground with a rock, it pays to use your feet. Rocks tend to be abrasive and unforgiving. They have the potential to bend or break some stakes or even chip off finishes.
Pack extra. While most campers aren’t fond of overpacking, extra stakes can be a lifesaver. If anything, throw a couple spare shepherd’s hooks into your camping gear for future trips. You won’t regret it!
Adjust the tension of your tent. Sometimes campers blame poor stability on their stakes when it’s the tension that is to blame. Always make sure that each guy line is pulled taut. Otherwise, that structure has the potential to turn into a kite.
Replace any stock pegs with a set with more holding power. Let’s face the facts. Even tent manufacturers tend to overlook the importance of proper staking.
Lastly, always drive your pegs straight into the ground. This angle creates a more reliable anchor.
Need Additional Camping Accessories?
Check our guides to the following:
- The best tent seam sealer
- The best camping fan
- The best tent poles
The Top Tent Stake Models Reviewed
The MSR Groundhog is a durable Y-beam option that offers a premium pitch in all terrains. These lightweight aluminum stakes are a bright red color, featuring notched tops, reflective pull loops, and tapered ends. They come in sets of six.
Each weighs 0.46 ounces and measures 7.5 inches long. Minis are also available, weighing in at 0.35 ounces and in length measure 6 inches each.
The three-sided Y-beam design performs excellently for all sorts of terrain. The tapered ends work their way between deeply embedded rocks while also managing to hold firm in loose, sandy conditions.
They’re light enough to take backpacking and the notched sides nest together nicely. Not to mention, their reflective loops make for easy removal with minimal lighting. Our only warning is that they do not respond well to heavy hammering.
- Made from light, sturdy 7000-series aluminum
- A reflective pull loop for easy removal in the dark
- Six in a set
- May bend under immense pressure
Bottom-Line: MSR Groundhogs are simply the most durable and versatile Y-beam option on the market.
MSR Blizzard Aluminum Tent Stakes
Best for Pitching in Sand
The MSR Blizzard pegs are excellent options as both snow and sand stakes. Made from premium 7075-series aluminum alloy they measure in at 9.5 inches in length and weigh just 0.74 ounces each. Individual pegs are equipped with several holes which can be packed with snow or sand to create an impressive amount of holding power.
MSR Blizzards are sold individually or in sets of four. As such, it’s easy to purchase the exact amount you need for your shelter. Their bright red anodized surface will make sure it is hard to miss them. Each has a hole on the top for securely tying down any guy line.
When conditions call for it, the MSR can pull off excellent deadman anchors and offer superior holding power in bad weather. They’re a good option for campers who are hiking into campsites.
- Made from 7075-series aluminum
- Can be used as a deadman anchor
- Single stake weighs 0.74 ounces
- 9.5 inches long
Bottom-Line: If you’re looking for a stake that will fare well in both sand and snow, check out the mid-range MSR Blizzards, our top pick as the best tent stakes for sand.
Vargo Titanium Tent Stakes
Best for Budget Backpackers
These titanium shepherd’s hook pegs provide solid hold-downs in moderately loose to hard-packed ground. Each is 6.5 inches long and 0.14 inches in diameter. They weigh just 0.3 ounces. Their low-profile and low weight make them an excellent option for backpackers.
We love the hooked hold-downs fluorescent orange color at the heads. This makes it easy to find them when it comes time to pack up. They also went into and out of the ground with ease. The beveled bottoms meant they were easy to drive in using nothing more than our shoes.
While shepherd’s hooks tend to spin, we were impressed with the overall resilience of this model. Overall, it worked well in a wide variety of staking situations. However, at just 6.5 inches in length, in windy conditions we wouldn’t consider staking anything more significant than a two-person tent.
- An inexpensive swap for stock pegs
- Great visibility
- Weigh just 0.3 ounces each
- Ultra-durable and long-lasting
- Prone to spinning
Bottom-Line: If you are ‘hoofing it’ to your campsite on foot, a lightweight yet durable set of shepherd’s hooks might be your best option.
Coleman 10-in Steel Tent Stake
Best for Car Camping
These provide an excellent heavy duty option for anyone driving into a campsite. The nail-shaped spikes drive past hard-packed ground, stones, and other obstructions. The plated steel base can handle quite a bit of abuse. At 10-inches in length, they promise plenty of good holding power.
The polypropylene tops have two tie-down options. You can thread a guy line through the holes or hook them over the stakes. It also is an easy surface to target during driving. The color is discreet but still offers premium visibility.
Each weighs roughly 1.6 ounces. So, you can see why we don’t recommend them for backpacking. Still, they are priced affordably and built to last. If you’re frequently driving into your campsites, you can’t go wrong with a set of Colemans. They offer plenty of holding power in both soft and hard conditions.
- Nail stakes are excellent for rocky, hard-packed ground
- Tops with thread-through holes and hooks
- Durable polypropylene tops
- Plated steel construction
- Ultra-long for better stability
- Too big for backpacking
Bottom-Line: These 10-inch nail stakes are perfect holding down tents in drive-in campsites with dense, rocky soil.
REI Co-Op Snow Stake
Best Snow Tent Stake
These brightly colored aluminum snow stakes will help you create a flawless shelter in cold weather conditions. They also work exceptionally well in sand. Each peg is 9.6 inches long, 1 ounce in weight, and is bright orange in color.
These stakes have holes that can be filled with snow or sand to create an unrelenting anchor. They can also be used in the horizontal position to create a deadman anchor. The reflective surface is easy to spot in poor weather and low light.
Each has a notched top with a threaded hole for tying down a guy line which prevents guy loops from slipping off in the wind. Overall, these provide a secure anchor in soft soil. They’re holding power is even adequate in poor weather.
- Made from durable aluminium
- Holes for better anchoring
- Brightly colored exterior makes it easier to find
- Light enough for backpacking
- Does not hold well in fierce wind and rain
Bottom-Line: If you’re looking for a set of pegs that will hold up well in snowy conditions, the REI Snow stakes are your best bet.
NEMO Airpin Stakes
Most Innovative Lock Down System
The Nemo Airpin boasts a highly innovative three-point anchor system. It enables campers to tie down any guy line without knots, cord locks, or tensioners. Each is 6 inches long and 0.7 ounces in weight, with a full set easily fitting into a backpack.
The bright green exteriors make them easy to identify whilst the tapered geometric shape makes for easier striking. The aluminum holds up well to intense impacts. The long, slender, tapered bases drive past dense, rocky soil while still providing secure hold-downs.
We cannot look past the low-price and convenient design of these unique anchors. Though, we fear that their relatively short length will not hold up well in whipping winds.
- Backed by Nemo’s lifetime warranty
- Birch leaf green for enhanced visibility
- Made from super durable 7075-series aluminum
- Super easy striking point
- Only 6 inches
Bottom-Line: Great value pegs that are easy to use and can drive through rocky soils. May not be a good choice for the windiest of conditions though.
REI Co-op Steel Stake
Best Tent Pegs for Hard Ground
If you’re looking to anchor a substantially sized tent or shelter, highly technical tent stakes for camping may not be feasible. These durable steel shepherd’s hook stakes offer a secure, safe pitch for an affordable price. They are also our top option for hard ground pitches.
They are 8.25 inches long, with each one weighing 2.7 ounces. Since they are somewhat bulky and do not stack well, they are only a good match for car camping.
If anything, REI has developed a superior replacement for the stock pegs that come with most types of tent. The long, slender shape makes them an excellent choice for pitching on everything from loose to rocky soil. The impact-resistant hooked tops can be driven in with nearly any tool. The beveled bottoms are designed to cut through particularly rough earth.
The low price makes them easy to replace, you don’t have to fret if you forget one at the campsite. While there aren’t any specialized notches or tie-down points, you should have no trouble attaching any guy line to the hooked tops.
- Each weighs 2.7 ounces
- 8.25 inches long
- Made from solid steel
- Great replacements for broken, worn-out, or lost pegs
- Run-of-the-mill shepherd’s hooks
Bottom-Line: These classic shepherd’s hook pegs work great in rocky soil. They’re excellent replacements for inferior stock pegs.
Best Tent Pegs for Wind
The MSR ToughStakes serve as super reliable tent anchors in both snow and sand. They are also a good match for intense weather, including heavy rain and harsh wind conditions. According to the manufacturer, they have 10-times the holding power of traditional metal ground stakes.
ToughStakes have a unique spade-shaped head made from aircraft-grade aluminum. They also come with stainless steel tie-down cables. The metal cable rings attach directly to the stakes and your tent’s guy out loops.
Coming in 2 sizes, the smaller pegs are 9 inches long and weigh 1.5 ounces. Whilst the larger ones are 13.5 inches long and 5.5 ounces in weight. Of the two sizes, only one is suitable for backpacking. Still, both designs stack nicely for storage. Keep in mind that the small set includes four stakes, while the medium set only consists of two. They have a bright red coating, making them a good match for pitches with challenging visibility.
- Stack nicely for storage
- One size is suitable for backpacking
- Holds securely in winds up to 50 MPH
- Made from aircraft-grade aluminum
- Shape is bulky and awkward to pack.
Bottom-Line: The MSR ToughStakes are perfect for car camping pitches on hard earth.
MSR Carbon-Core Tent Stake
Best Ultralight Tent Stake
If you’re making the trek to your campsite on foot, check out these ultralight, full-strength nail stakes by MSR. The 6-inch spikes boast resilient carbon-fiber cores and seemingly indestructible aluminum skins. Despite their unmatched durability, each one weighs less than 0.2 ounces. As a result, they’re a fantastic option for backpackers looking to shave some pack weight.
The round, pointed shape makes them an excellent match for dense, rocky soils. The bulbous heads make for super easy driving. For the best possible results, hammer them gently with a blunt rock or mallet. It does not take much force to anchor these into the ground.
These metal tent stakes have red tops and bottoms to assist you in finding them in low light and poor weather, you won’t need to worry about leaving any behind. MSR nail spikes come in sets of four.
- Each weighs just 0.2 ounces
- Carbon core with aluminum skin for enhanced durability
- Sold in sets of four
- Drives smoothly in rocky soil
- Just 6 inches long
Bottom-Line: If you’re focused on minimizing the weight of your camping gear, a set of ultralight MSR nail spikes should do the trick.
Last update on 2024-02-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API