ALL ABOUT TENT PEGS
PEGS, STAKES or SPIKES are among the simplest camping accessories but they are responsible for a vital task: SECURING YOUR TENT TO THE GROUND.
Because all tent pegs are not made equal, it’s important to take some basic considerations before buying a new set and avoid wasting your money in something that won’t work as needed.
The important factors to consider can be organized in three basic categories:
Each of these factors should be analyzed under the perspective of the intended use for the pegs, specially in reference to the geographic features of the camping place (type of terrain, wind strength, etc) combined with the way you will travel the terrain (backpacking or in a vehicle).
Let’s take a closer look to each aspect.
TENT PEGS DESIGN
When we talk about a tent peg design we refer basically to the external shape of the spike and the overall dimensions (form factor).
These physical characteristics will influence the peg holding power in different types of terrain, the total weight of the stake and also the proper method to insertion in the ground without damaging it (by hand or if you will need to use a hammer).
The cross-sectional shape of the spike and its wide will have a saying in the holding power of this accessory.
For example, a thin and round shaped peg tends to do better in rocky and hard terrain because it’s better suited to navigate easily between rocks and cracks, while for softer soils (such as sand, mud and snow), stakes with a blade shaped as a V, Y or T tend to maximize the grabbing surface and therefore offer a better holding power.
Considering the design of the peg head we can easily identify the ones created to be inserted by hand and those that can be hammered into the ground by hitting their more resistant head.
The classy “shepherd hook” is an example of he first type while the stake “nails” represent the second option.
Another usual trend in peg design is to make some perforations or holes in the metal with the objective of decreasing its overall weight (there are also campers that claim an improved holding power when these stakes are used in very soft soils).
How many pounds can you carry (or want to carry) in your backpack?
30… 40… 60!
Whatever the answer I’m pretty sure that if your plan a trip through backcountry trails and need to camp along the way, you will mind any extra pound added over your back, no matter how strong you are (backpackers are always fighting the cargo weight).
This explains why light-weighted pegs are favored by the backpacking pack, but there is a problem: the weight of the pegs is proportional to size and/or material used (steel spikes won’t weight the same as the one made of aluminum, titanium or wood). The choosing here also impact the peg durability and strength.
As said before, the material used in manufacturing a peg will determine its overall structural strength in combination with their diameter or the transversal size of the spike.
Tent stakes need to be pinched firmly into the ground (occasionally in very hard ground) and they tend to bend or even break depending of the material strength and the terrain hardness, so you will be served better with strong stakes that potentially can last for years and won’t bend easily after touching the smallest rock.
Durability and resistance to weather exposure (rust and corrosion) are other factors that should be considered when evaluating any strenght-material relationship (for example: stakes made of steel are strong but this metal corrodes easily when exposed to the elements).
THE TITANIUM TENT STAKES
Tent pegs have been made of wood, iron, steel and aluminum (and there are some even made from plastics), but recently many manufacturers are going crazy for using titanium for their high quality camping items.
If we believe the scientific data in this field, titanium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal and also can be alloyed (read mixed) with iron, vanadium and aluminum, among other materials. In plain language all this translates in obtaining low weight, better strength, and production versatility for the item.
As a curious fact, titanium was named after the mythological Titans from the ancient Greece lore, something that probably was inspired by this metal strength.
For tent stakes the titanium also offers excellent resistance to rust and corrosion besides the always desired light-weight and structural strength (they don’t break or shatter easily).
But, if the titanium pegs are that good, why do the less expensive tents in the market don’t use it for their stakes?
The answer should be simple: low pricing is usually accompanied with some type of quality sacrifice, but Titanium is really more expensive than the abundant aluminum or steel, so, using the cheaper metals saves some money in the manufacturing process.
Also note that a common advice given to those who buy inexpensive camping tents is about acquiring better spikes to substitute the cheap models usually included with the product (some settle for the ones that come with the tent but in many cases I have found that the tent owners bought new pegs of good brands).
If you need better spikes for your backpacking tent, titanium probably is the way to go because they are light and with proper care can last forever (of course, no stake will go through rocks or tree roots without being damaged at some point).
BEST TITANIUM TENT PEGS
If you are already convinced for the titanium pegs here comes the hard part:
Which brand or model is the best?
I always say that best is a very elusive and relative term, so we can mostly state our product preferences here over the logic of some rational thoughts and personal experiences (selecting one brand over others doesn’t necessarily mean that the other manufacturers are not as good but, if we need to choose one, we need to be selective and exclusive).
The best titanium tent pegs from a recognized manufacturer in my opinion are…
The VARGO TITANIUM STAKES.
Why do I say that? Keep reading.
THE VARGO TITANIUM STAKES
Vargo is a company created by a hiker and, according to what I have read, this was the first company to use titanium for building tent stakes. Their products are well-made and in many cases display smaller sizes when compared to some aluminum stakes in the market.
In general is good advice to carry a set of combined stake models for different terrains and another common tip goes for buying models with fluorescent paint in the top or to paint them yourself to help in the task of finding them in the ground or if they accidentally fall in the grass (orange is the best color and you can check a video at the end of this post to learn how to do it).
On technique remember that it’s best to insert the pegs into the ground creating a 90 degrees angle to the guyline to obtain increased resistance to the tent pulling (the angle of the stake to the ground should be 45 degrees).
The less expensive titanium model made by Vargo is the “shepherd hook,” but they also build nails and V shaped stakes for those in need of more holding power. Many of these products are available in Amazon and I will use their pages to show the popular models and their photos (clicking the provided links will take you to the products pages. Note that all images are provided by Amazon and these are affiliate links).
SHEPHERD HOOK TITANIUM STAKES
These is the classic design favored by ultralight backpackers (each weights only 8 grams).
Owner reviews praise them for saving space and being durable. I usually like to insert the “shepherd hook” stakes deep into the ground to minimize the possibility of the tent guyline slipping out of the hook. Sometimes you can put a rock on them to avoid the case of being pulled out.
Check the selling page here.
ASCENT MODEL OF TITANIUM PEGS
This tent stake is positioned as a multi-season model that works well for soft soils (they are V shaped which adds on holding power if correctly oriented).
Learn more in the product page.
ULTRALIGHT TITANIUM NAIL STAKES
This a very light nail with a reinforced flat head. It’s good for rocky or hard terrain thanks to its penetration power and structural strength.
Note that they sell two variants of this nail with different weights. You can pound them into the ground or use it to create a pilot hole to insert other peg models.
Visite the Vargo nail page here.
VARGO CREVICE TITANIUM STAKE
This V shaped peg offers good holding power (specially useful when camping in snow) and they appear to be stronger than the Ascent model (12 grams weight and 6 inches long).
Check the Amazon page here.
So, where do we go from here? Do we have other models in the market?
I would suggest my next favorite: The MSR GROUND HOG STAKE.
This model is not made of titanium and therefore less expensive but it’s a good peg built of aluminum of the 7000 series (this is the strongest series of aluminum alloys). It also displays a three sided design (Y shaped) for an improved grip. The bright red color is also a good add-on for this tent peg.
Check the product page here.
- If you need more information you can check the page of the manufacturers: VARGO and MSR (Cascade Designs).
- For all the Vargo stakes available in Amazon click here.
- For all MSR pegs in Amazon check this search.
- The following videos show how to color the stakes (two versions) and the other weights some brands of tent pegs.
This is one of my old posts in another website that is now gone. I decided to move it here because some people asked for it but be aware that I haven’t updated this content to any recent developments on the tent pegs market.
This post has some affiliate links for the mentioned products but they haven’t affected the quality of the content (also was a way to use some images in Amazon for illustration purposes). All trademarks, images, and registered names are the sole ownership of their respective owners, developers, merchants, and legal copyright holders, therefore, you need to contact them for clearance on usage rights.