Modern dome tents made from rip-stop nylon are easy to pitch, but require tent stakes to prevent them from rolling away. Different terrains require different tent stake designs, such as pointed stakes for rocky terrain and angled iron stakes for firm to medium ground. Tent stakes are affordable and available wherever camping gear is sold.
In the past, pitching a tent was often a major headache, but today’s tents almost pitch themselves. The popular dome tents made from durable rip-stop nylon pop up in minutes with little effort. However, you may find your tent rolling away with the first breeze unless you use a text stake in each pole ring to secure it.
A tent stake is a spike of varying design, driven into the ground at a 45° angle around the perimeter of the tent. The number of tent pegs required depends on the size of the tent, but most tents have double-stitched nylon tent peg loops at each corner and at midpoints on each side. These rings attach to the pole heads, with the tent peg positioned so that the pole ring is pulled. This keeps the bottom of the tent flat and prevents damage. It also prevents the curtain from shifting.
There are many models of tent pegs for use in different terrains. For example, a tent peg designed for hard ground won’t secure a tent in sand or snow. Therefore, it might be wise to invest in a few different sets of tent pegs so you’re always ready to pitch your tent.
Rocky Terrain: The pointed tent stake is made for pitching your tent on rocky terrain. These stakes look like thick, pointed railroad spikes and are sometimes called “rock buster” stakes.
Firm Ground: Needle curtain poles, also referred to as shepherd’s hooks, resemble knitting needles with hooked heads. These tent pegs are available in different lengths and in different types of material, including extremely strong titanium. Sometimes, lower quality needle poles are included with the purchase of a tent. If the metal is too soft, the tent stake will bend when hammered. As these pegs are lightweight, they are not suitable for breaking through rock, but their slim profile allows them to be more easily driven into hard ground.
Firm to Medium Ground: The angled iron tent stake can take a beating, and its wider profile makes it more versatile than other types. It can be driven into firm ground with a little more muscle than it takes to drive in the tent pegs with needles, but the angle iron tent peg will hold better where the ground is a little looser. For an all-round tent pole, the angle is probably your best bet, although it won’t suffice in snow or sand. Plastic tent pegs are often shaped like angle iron pegs, but inferior plastic types don’t stand up to hammering.
Sand, snow, or frozen ground: Tent pegs for this purpose are usually made of strong, lightweight aluminum, shaped like an angle iron, but with holes or vents punched into the design. This allows the cold ground to form ice through the holes, creating a “grip” on the tent pole. In sandy ground, the holes create resistance for the tent pole. An alternative peg design for sandy ground resembles a stake with an inverted pyramid plate attached to the top third of the tent stake. In the sand, it can be helpful to place a heavy stone on top of the buried portion of the tent pole.
Tent stakes are modestly priced and are available wherever camping gear is sold. Secure your tent with quality poles and you’ll thank yourself for this small investment that pays off in big dividends.