Standard tent stakes that come bundled with tents and sunshades are not the best tent stakes in the world – fact.
Early in my camping career I just always assumed that all tent stakes were a bit bad. It wasn’t until I’d bent so many that I had to buy my first replacement set that I realised quite how much choice there was out there.
Selecting the very best tent stakes is highly dependant on:
- the ground you intend to pitch on (which will determine the best design),
- how big a canopy/tent you plan to erect (which will help determine the length of tent stake),
- whether you have any weight requirements (for example, if you need a tent stake for car camping vs ultralight tent stakes for backpacking),
- and your budget.
After looking at dozens of different options, I think I can simplify things for anyone looking to choose a new tent stake. So for this article I’ve reviewed a bunch of different options for different designs, different materials different lengths and different budgets.
Best Tent Stakes Overall
These tent stakes basically have 3 ‘wings’ to keep them stable in the ground. They are typically constructed from aluminum and tend to be 6″-8″ inches long. They shouldn’t weigh less than around half an ounce each. And are generally available in 6-packs or 12-packs.
These bad boys are great all-rounders. I think they strike a very good balance of quality, weight, length and price. Aluminum is both strong and lightweight. I haven’t found a brand that doesn’t have a handy, colored pull loop to make them easy to get out of the ground. But I’d recommend you consider buying stakes and pull loops that are really brightly-colored so they stand out against the terrain.
The Y-Beam design itself provides good holding power in all directions. If you’re used to those standard, slimline tent stakes slicing through the earth as soon as they get a sideways tug, the y-beam will come as a very pleasant surprise as you’d have to be on really, really soft ground for there to be any lateral give. They’re absolutely rock solid. (Even pulling them out vertically can require a bit of effort).
As you can probably tell from the design, they’re quite bulky compared to some tent stakes. They don’t nest at all, so even when you get them in the carry sack you can’t expect them to be very compact. And that also means they can rattle around a bit. (I roll them up in the middle of the tent to stop that happening). But other than that, there’s not much to dislike.
Be aware that different tent stake brands have different reputations. While it hasn’t happened to me (yet), there are reports of cheaper y-beam tent stakes shearing off near the top, rendering them unusable. More common are complaints of poor finishing that leaves sharp edges
Which Ones to Buy?
I’m fairly certain that MSR came up with the original design and when it comes to y-beams they undoubtedly make the best tent stakes.
- MSR Groundhog Tent Stake Kit Mini – 6 tent stakes, 6″ long, 0.35oz per stake
- MSR Groundhog Tent Stake Kit Standard – 6 tent stakes, 7.5″ long, 0.46oz per stake
Because they’re so good, it’s hardly surprising that a lot of knock off versions have entered the market. I’ve kept an eye on them over the years and TBH, I’m not sure many of them pass muster.
The ‘brands’ will typically pop up on Amazon for a season then disappear. Many of the reviews will typically talk about flimsy metal that bends with the first gust of wind. Others talk about the poor finishes, where the metal will easily cut you (MSR always round their corners off).
That being said, if you are looking for a cheaper alternative you may want to check out two other versions that have been around for a good few years and have reasonable reputations:
- Wise Owl Outfitters (16 stakes in a nice carry bag)
- TNH Outdoors (pack of 8, 2 different lengths & a carry bag)
I’m not sure you’ll find a better all-round tent stake. They are the perfect option for replacing and upgrading the tent pegs that came with your original tent. A great stake kit IMO!
The best tent stakes for sand should be really long and really wide. These ones from Tesorrio are 12″ long and 1.4″ wide. They’re made from aluminum alloy and weigh 1.8oz each. They come in packs of 6 are a fairly inexpensive.
These long, wide stakes are specially designed to hold fast in very loose ground, making them perfect for pitcing your tent in snow or sand. They have a u-shaped design making them really strong and capable of holding firm in winds up to 40mph.
The bright orange color is garish to say they least but their great visibility makes them really easy to spot in all colors of beach sand. And the 6 extra holes in the blade mean you can rig them a bunch of different ways.
The aluminum alloy is quite soft which means if you use them in compacted ground they are likely to bend. They really are only intended for use in sand, snow or really soft soil. It also means that, while you can use a mallet, you’d want to use a really soft touch.
As you might expect they are extremely large and bulky, which is exactly what you need for locking down a beach canopy. But they are exactly what you don’t need on your average trip (coastal thru hikes and arctic expeditions excepted).
These are incredible stakes for sand because of their width and holding power. They are perfect for beach camping and for pitching any sort of beach canopy. They are also probably a good shout if you are kayak camping and plan to anchor a tent on really soft ground.
They are also pretty darned great for camping in the snow. Although for snow camping you may consider springing for the pricier the MSR Blizzard snow stakes which perform a bit better.
You’ll want to avoid them for backpacking unless you specifically plan to pitch tents on sand or in snow.
One of the best value, specialist stakes on the market.
These heavy-duty steel stakes from TriWonder come in two sizes. You’ve got the 8″ version and the 11.8″ version. Both sizes come in packs of either 6 or 10. The 8″ stakes weigh just shy of 4oz each while the 11.8″ ones weigh a little over 5.5oz. ($$$)
If you’re looking for a stake that can withstand real abuse then look no further! They are perfect for very hard ground where normal stakes would bend, break or otherwise be ruined.
They are much thinner than most stakes and this design makes it easier to drive them into very compact earth, gravel and any other hard ground you might be pitching on. They are more basically a large nail with a hook. This means you’re really going to want to use a hammer or mallet to get them in properly. They don’t have massive grip, so they can be pulled out relatively easily (just make sure to get them in at the correct angle).
Because they are long, heavy, bulky and require a camping mallet I probably wouldn’t recommend them for most backpacking trips. If you know you’ll 100% need heavy duty stakes then fair enough, take them. But for the most part it’s really not worth adding an extra 3+lbs to your pack!
It’s also worth noting that they don’t perform well in soft soil. The thin, spike-like design that makes them so effective in compact ground means that they don’t have the grip of a more typical tent peg. So definitely don’t get these for sand and think twice about using them on an average camping pitch.
These are very strong, durable, rust-proof and make an excellent choice for hard soil and rocky soil. Not great for backpacking but perfect for car camping or base camping (and kind of camping where you don’t have to walk far with them). As nail stakes they are the best tent stakes for ground and even gravel. And once you’ve driven them into the ground you can be confident of them holding your tent firm whatever the weather.
The best ultralight tent stakes are made from titanium IMO. come in a couple of different versions. V-shaped and Large V-shaped. Both are 6.5 inches long but the large V is wider at 14mm. Each individual stake weighs 0.4oz and 0.6oz respectively.
There’s 6 to a pack. They come with a nice carry case and nest together. ($$$$)
These are great v-stakes for backpacking and thru-hiking. They are extremely light and the way they nest together ensure they are extremely compact.
I think I assumed that because they were titanium they would be much stronger than a normal tent peg but in actual fact they aren’t. I think they probably perform just as well as aluminum stakes (and are just as easy to bend) but they are much lighter and more compact which is the major advantage over their aluminum counterparts.
Once you get over the fact they aren’t unbendable, you realise that you probably don’t want to abuse them too much. You can use a rock or a hammer to get them into the ground, but you’d be better off using your foot where you can.
They are also shorter than many stakes and this also has implications. It means they work better with smaller tents. They aren’t particularly suitable for very soft ground. And I definitely wouldn’t use them as snow stakes or in sand.
Where they excel is when used in normal ground and for people looking to shave ounces off their pack weight. In this situation they are 10x better than your standard tent pegs. I like the well-designed hook that make it super easy to attach your guy lines.
The only issue I have with them is that they are easy to misplace. I’ve added a small loop of reflective paracord to mine so that I can see them easier in the dark and also to help me pull them out. And I think that’s definitely worth doing.
They are excellent for the AT, the PCT and any other long distance trail. I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who enjoys thru-hiking. Not great for a large tent but perfectly matched with an ultralight tent.
So long as you understand that they aren’t the best tent stakes for hard ground, they are not indestructible and they do need to be looked after like any other decent kit, you won’t be disappointed by them. An excellent addition to your camping gear!
These awesome aluminum camping stakes from TNH Outdoors come in two sizes, 7″ (Regular) and 11.8″ (X-Large). They are very light (about half an ounce per stake) and compact. They come with reflective paracord (already attached) and a neat carry case. Sold in packs of 8. ($$)
The Swirl Shaped stakes come at a cheap price point and have a twisted shaft with multiple blades that should offer decent purchase in materials such as soft soil. The bright colors should make located stakes easier on the ground, and the pull loop that is installed may make retrieval easier. The manufacturer offers a full money back guarantee on these stakes.
The stakes are heavy for their size, which may be an issue if you wish to keep your pack light. In order to allow the stakes to work effectively, they will need to be driven in at a deeper angle. The notches near the head of the stake may weaken structure strength, so caution must be used when hammering them in. The shorter length may cause them to work loose easier than other twisted shaft designs that are longer.
If you are looking for something unbreakable, check out these heavy-duty stakes made from galvanized steel or these titanium tent stakes. But all in all, these are a good option for upgrading the tent pegs that came with your original tent. A great stake kit and TNH are delivering fantastic value IMO!
While they are a better deal than MSR Groundhog, it’s worth noting that not everyone shares my opinion as the MSR Groundhog stakes have marginally better reviews and are more popular than TNH. So it’s worth taking a look at them as well.
These plastic spiral tent stakes from Hikemax are 10 inches long and comes in packs of 15. Each stake weighs around 1.3oz and Hikemax claim they are “unbreakable”. ($)
The Hikemax are actually another great buy (on reflection they might be the best price camping stakes on the list). But my reason for including them being both spiral and plastic they offer a real point of difference compared to more traditional camping stakes. In particular, they are very easy to get into the ground because they just twist in and out.
I wouldn’t use them to go backpacking because they are quite bulky and a bit heavier than others on the list here. But because of their strength and holding power they are much more suitable for family camping and go great with larger tents. And the hook at the top makes attaching your guy lines really easy and help form a really strong anchor point.
Being as bright as they are, they’ve got great visibility and are easy to spot, even in fading light. So if you’ve got kids running around even they should be able to see the bright orange glow and take evasive action.
They are better than the camping stakes you got with your tent for sure. And they are dirt cheap (if you’ll pardon the pun). So a fantastic budget replacement and whilst I would question the “unbreakable” claim they are suprisingly strong. They are a great alternative to Triwonder Stakes and a good option for car camping.
MSR Blizzard stakes are made from aluminum, are 9.5 inches long and come in packs of 4.
Packed Size: OK
The MSR Blizzard tent stake is designed with snow in mind and the wide blades ensure they perform this function excellently. The bright color may make these easier to find in the terrain, and each stake has six holes that will offer you multiple tie-down points on each. The product is also designed to be a deadman anchor.
The length may prove to be a disadvantage if you plan to use these camping stakes on any terrain other than loose material and could bend if driving the stakes in completely into other ground surfaces.
These bad boys don’t come cheap. That may be an issue for some folk but to be honest, when it comes to making sure your tent has complete integrity in the snow, it’s probably not time to scrimp. To put it another way, how much would you be willing to pay to not have your tent break free in the middle of a blizzard? I’d wager it’s more than these guys charge.
Obviously not for everyone but the MSR Blizzard tent stakes are a brilliant choice if you plan to camp in snowy conditions. So when the weather turns, you’ll want to add these to your gear because they really are the best snow stakes on the market. Big, wide, not too heavy and perfect for a deadman anchor.
Material: Aluminum Alloy
Length: 9.8 Inches
Number in Pack: 4
Packed Size: Bulky
The MSR Cyclone stakes have a twist design to their shaft, which is intended to extra holding power in windy weather and make them very strong. The red color should allow these stakes to stand out against the terrain. The product has a cord tied to the top that may ease removing them from the ground.
The Less Than Good
While these MSR stakes are long, extra length would help them hold in softer soils. In order to prevent them from working loose they must be inserted at a steeper angle. The stakes are very heavy compared to similar products, which may be a factor is you are wanting to pack light. They also do not come with a storage bag, requiring you find one or let them remain loose in your pack.
A Great Choice If…
These are a great choice if you need tie-down points in the wind and at their best if you are planning on setting up your tent on a beach or using a beach canopy.
Material: Aluminum Alloy
Length: 7 Inches
Number in Pack: 10
Packed Size: Compact
The Chill Gorilla stakes are a great bargain buy and live up to their name as an extremely light offering at about half-an-ounce each. The Tri-Beam blade design provies really strong holding power meaning you can really anchor your tent. And they’ve got three latch points which can be pretty handy. The stakes are also covered by the manufacturer’s hassle free warranty and Chill Gorilla have a reputation for great customer service.
The Less Good
The top is quite sharp which makes it difficult to push the stakes in by hand (and you might not want to use your boot either). So a mallet or a rock is really needed to get them in the ground and that sort of pressure can have an impact of the long term durability. The design could limit the roles of this product to a backup stake or as an equipment tie-down.
A Great Choice If…
Another fantastic budget choice and great y-stakes. Although my preference might be for use as a light duty stake or as a lightweight backup when backpacking.
What To Look For In Tent Stakes?
What sort of ground will you be pitching your tent in? Sand? Snow? Rocky soil? Gravel? Knowing the state of the ground will make it easy to choose the most ideal stakes to include in your camping gear because each tent peg will have different holding power.
What sort of grip will you need the stakes to have? Wide blades are ideal to anchor your tent in loose terrain. Narrow spikes are more suitable for really hard ground. Normal stakes are ideal for softer ground and have a grip to match. Do you have a big tent? Because that will have an impact too.
Will you be concerned about the weight and bulk? Galvanized steel is heavy. Aluminum is light. Titanium is lighter still. As for strength, steel tends to be the most strong and durable. Aluminum alloys have surprising strength. And again, titanium has the best strength to weight ratio, with plastic stakes not far behind.
Length: Impacting Weight, Packed Size & Tent Stability
7 inches is fairly standard for a tent peg. If you go much shorter than that tents risk losing purchase in looser ground. There are also longer stakes, and these tend to be for slightly more specialised use such as in snow or sand or in big winds.
And for car camping and to stake out a family tent, there’s no harm in going for a longer heavy option like steel tent stakes if it’s going to give you peace of mind (or plastic stakes).
Material Used: For Weight, Strength & Packed Size
Most tent stakes are made from metal. Aluminum is most common but they are also made from other metal with galvanized steel and titanium also being common. And there some great plastic choices too. Whatever you choose, you’re obviously looking at a weight-to-strength trade off as well as pack size when it comes to this, and you’ll be in the best position to assess what’s most important to you. When it comes to packed size I’ve given each stake a rating of “Compact, OK or Bulky” to help you make a decision.
Tent Stake Designs
The y stake design is my preferred tent stake because of its holding power combined with it’s length and weight. They are not the most compact design which means they can add a bit of bulk to you pack. But this is probably only an issue for the most die hard backpackers.
Typically made from steel, spikes can be excellent for harder ground. They tend to be heavy and long (usually over 12″) and are especially good for shoring up larger canopies (even in a high wind). Be aware that they will only reliably hold fast in hard ground as they will slice through any soft ground type.
V Shaped Stakes
If you’re looking for a compact tent stake the v stakes are fantastic because they nest together. The v shape also create the widest surface area of any tent stake design making them ideal for loose sand and snow. They seem to mostly be quite lightweight stakes but range in size from 6″ for backpacking stakes to nearly 2′ for sand and snow.
Screw stakes are a pretty cool design if you don’t like to hammer tent stakes into the ground. That doesn’t make them less effort in my opinion. But they are a very respectable option if you’re car camping.
Shepherd’s Hook Design
The shepherd’s hook design is your standard tent stake. They bend easily, carve through softer ground like butter, can be difficult to locate and even harder to pull out.
Price Per Stake
This is one of the more annoying things to understand when buying new stakes, largely because each manufacturer sells a different number of stakes in a pack. In this list they range from about $1 per stake to $15 per stake. To simplify things, I’ve offered a rating of $ – $$$$$ so you can get an indication of cost.
What Are They For?
It’s difficult to make a good recommendation without knowing what the intended use is. If you are tent camping in snow, you’ll want big, wide blades. If you are putting up a big beach canopy, you might want long, heavy spikes.
For windy weather, you might like a spiral stake. If you are backpacking with a lightweight tent, you’ll be looking for sturdy, light stakes. The type of stake you choose will be determined by your tent and your intended use.
What are the best tent stakes for sand?
The best best stakes for sand are probably Cosmos Sand & Snow Stakes which you can check out here on Amazon.
How do you get tent stakes into hard ground?
The best way to get tent stakes into hard ground is probably to use a camping mallet. If you don’t have one, then you can also use a rock or a show. Beware, though, that many tent stakes are quite easy to bend. If you are expecting seriously hard ground, it might be best to use a steel stake like these ones from TriWonder.