After careful consideration, we’re happy to name the MSR Groundhogs as our best tent stakes for a secure tent pitch in any terrain. These strong and durable aluminum Y stakes are super lightweight and nearly impossible to destroy. You can drive them into hard-packed, rocky ground without fearing damage.
The stakes are 7.5 inches long and weigh 0.5 ounces. The fact that they don’t even budge in loose earth tells us they boast impressive holding power.
Even the metallic red finish can withstand its fair share of abuse. We drove these bad boys into the earth using some nearby rocks, and the stakes were barely scratched. The bright finish makes it super easy to see in low light, and the reflective pull cords serve as additional visibility aids.
The long, slender stakes provide extra security in storms. However, while they stack efficiently and don’t weigh much, they may be too heavy for ultralight-backpackers.
Bottom Line: The MSR Groundhogs are the best tent stakes for a secure pitch in any terrain.
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 tent stakes for a secure pitch in any terrain
- Our unbiased review of the best overall tent stakes
- Tips and tricks for pitching a tent in all terrains
While a regularly overlooked piece of camping gear, tent stakes have a tremendous impact on your camping experience. A poorly secured tent can result in 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 different types of terrain. Choosing to upgrade your tents stakes may help you pitch your tent more securely no matter the ground or weather conditions you camp on or in.
In this article, we examine the different types of tent stakes to see which ones are most effective for various kinds of ground. 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 Stakes for Your Needs
Different Stakes for Different Ground
It’s best to use a spiral stake when drilling into soft ground. If the ground is not compact enough, a smooth, straight stake, 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 a tent in hard ground. V and Y-beam stakes tent to offer more holding power and wind resilience, especially when they are made from durable metal.
Long, slender nail stakes offer comparable holds. Nail stakes also 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 stakes are heavy and cumbersome to carry. Not to mention, they tend to spin.
Y-beam stakes are the most versatile types of hold-downs. They can work their way past compressed rocks and sediment. They won’t shift or spin once they are anchored in place. V stakes offer a hold that is comparable to Y-beam stakes.
Shepard hooks, the arched stock stakes included in the purchase of most tents, are also suitable for anchoring shelters in dense, rocky ground. However, these camping stakes 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 opt for spiralized stakes when camping on sand. Straight stakes 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 snow stakes because they usually boast multiple holes along their surfaces. 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 stakes are made from metal, including aluminum, titanium, and galvanized steel. Meanwhile, there are some plastic stakes 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 they are also the heaviest. Aluminum and titanium stakes are slightly lighter. 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 a tent stake that weighs more than an ounce. Of course, heavier alternatives are always suitable for car camping.
The holding strength of tent stakes is determined by the overall ground conditions, the stake length, and the stake surface area. Simply put, long stakes 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 ground and weather conditions you are up against. Unnecessarily chunky tent pegs 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 the overall visibility of tent stakes. These features make the 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. I
Size and Length
The average length of a tent stake is 7 inches, though there is plenty of wiggle room between options. Shafts that less than 7 inches long is 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 Stake a Tent on Rocky Ground
Are you looking to stake a tent in rocky ground? The good news is that you probably have plenty of potential drivers. Opt for the thinnest, slenderest stakes possible. Place your pin into the ground and press your foot over. Apply gradual pressure to allow the end of the tent stake to work its way around stubborn rocks. If the ground is too rocky to insert a stock, you thread the tent stake through the guy out loop and then over it with large stones.
How to Stake a Tent in Snow
It’s easier than it looks to stake a tent in the snow. First, loop your guy lines through the hole on the top of the stakes. Then, dig a small hole in the place you wish to anchor the stakes. Place the tent stake 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. Stakes that are protruding from the ground can quickly become 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 snap 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 gear for future camping trips. You won’t regret it!
Adjust the tension of your tent. Sometimes campers blame poor tent 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 those stock stakes 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 stakes straight into the ground. This angle creates a more reliable anchor.
The Top Tent Stake Models Reviewed
- 6-pack of lightweight, durable, and versatile camping and backpacking tent stakes that stay put
- Three-sided Y-beam design offers superior penetration and holding power in a variety of soil types
- Notch at top for securing guy lines; attached reflective pull loop allows for easy removal
- Constructed from 7000-series aluminum; stakes are lightweight, yet rugged
- Includes six individual tent stakes; each tent stake weighs 0.46 ounces, and measures 7.5 inches long
The MSR Groundhog is a durable Y-beam tent stake that offers a premium pitch in all most types. The bright red aluminum stakes feature notched tops, reflective pull loops, and tapered ends. They come in sets of six.
Each tent stake weighs 0.46 ounces and measures 7.5 inches long. Minis, which weigh 0.35 ounces and measure 6 inches long, are also available.
The three-sided Y-beam design performs excellently in all sorts of ground conditions. The tapered ends work there way between deeply embedded rocks while also managing to hold firm in loose, sandy
They’re light enough to take backpacking. 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 stakes in a set
- May bend under immense pressure
Bottom-Line: MSR Groundhogs are simply the most durable and versatile Y-beam stakes on the market.
MSR Blizzard Aluminum Tent Stakes
Best Tent Stakes for Sand
- Broad profile holds extremely well in Sand/snow
- Made from 7075-series aluminum
- Can be used as deadman anchor
- Specs (single stake): 21 g (.74 oz),24 cm(9.5 in)
- Available for a single unit
The MSR Blizzard Tent Stakes are excellent options as both snow and sand stakes. The stakes are made from premium 7075-series aluminum alloy. They are 9.5 inches long and weigh just 0.74 ounces per stake. Each stake is equipped with several holes. The holes can be packed with snow or sand to create an impressive amount of holding power.
MSR Blizzard tent stakes 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 stake 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. The stakes 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 fair 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
These titanium shepherd’s hook stakes provide solid hold-downs in moderately loose to hard-packed ground. Each stake 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 boast a fluorescent orange color at the heads. This makes it easy to find them when it comes time to pack up. The stakes also went into and out of the earth with ease. The beveled bottoms gave us the confidence to drive them 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, we would consider staking anything more significant than a two-person tent in windy conditions.
- An inexpensive swap for stock stakes
- 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 heavy duty nail stakes are an excellent option for anyone driving into a campsite. The nail-shaped stakes 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 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 offer premium visibility.
Each stake weighs roughly 1.6 ounces. So, you can see why we don’t recommend them for backpacking. Still, their priced affordably and built to last. If you’re frequently driving into your campsites, you can’t go wrong with a set of Coleman tent stakes. 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 tent stake is 9.6 inches long, 1 ounce in weight, and bright orange.
The 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 stake has a notched top with a threaded hole for tying down a guy line. This prevents guy loops from slipping off in the wind.
Overall, the stakes serve as a secure anchor in soft earth. They’re holding power is even adequate in poor weather.
- Made from durable aluminum
- 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 stakes that will hold up well in snowy conditions, the REI Snow stakes are your best bet.
NEMO Airpin Stakes
Most Innovative Lock Down System
- Smart three-point locking system holds cord and eliminates the need for knots, cord locks, or guyline tensioners for a swift set up.
- Premium 7075 aluminum for minimal weight and superior strength.
- Tapered geometry and easy striking point is ideal for driving into the ground.
- Protected by the NEMO Lifetime Warranty.
- Minimum Weight: 10g
The Nemo Airpin Tent Stakes boasts a highly innovative three-point anchor system. It enables campers to tie down any guy line without knots, cord locks, or tensioners.
Each tent stake is 6 inches long and 0.7 ounces in weight. A full set will fit easily into a backpack.
The stakes’ bright green exteriors make them easy to identify. Their 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 the relatively short stakes 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
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 may not be feasible. These durable steel shepherd’s hook stakes offer a secure, safe pitch for an affordable price. There also our top option for hard ground pitches.
The stakes are 8.25 inches long. Each one weighs 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 stakes that come with most tents. The long, slender shape of the stakes them an excellent choice for 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 of these nail stakes 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 stake weighs 2.7 ounces
- 8.25 inches long
- Made from solid steel
- Great replacements for broken, worn-out, or lost stakes
- Run-of-the-mill shepherd’s hooks
Bottom-Line: These classic shepherd’s hook tent stakes work great in rocky soil. They’re excellent replacements for inferior stock stakes.
Best Tent Pegs for Wind
The MSR ToughStakes serve as super reliable anchors in snow and sand. They are also a good match for intense weather conditions, including heavy rain and harsh wind conditions. According to the manufacturer, they have 10-times the holding power of traditional tent 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 tent stakes and your tent’s guy out loops.
The smaller stakes are 9 inches long and 1.5 ounces in weight. Meanwhile, the bigger 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 stakes.
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
- Lightweight, full strength carbon core tent stakes
- Utilizes a carbon fiber core for strength and rigidity, and an aluminum covering for durability
- Sold as a pack of four stakes
- Each stake measures 6-inches and weighs 0.2 ounces
- Made in the USA
If you’re making the trek to your campsite on foot, check out these ultralight, full-strength nail stakes by MSR. The 6-inch stakes 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 of the stakes 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 nail stakes.
The stakes’ metallic red tops and bottoms make it easy to find in low light and poor weather. You won’t need to worry about leaving any behind.
Stakes come in sets of four.
- Each stake 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 gear pack, a set of ultralight MSR nail stakes should do the trick.
Last update on 2021-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API