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Tent Pegs

Hi all,
As mentioned in a recent post about the tent, I want to get new pegs for it as I simply don’t trust the tiny 1g titanium shepherds crook skewers that came with it. Aside from all the concerns about them pulling out too easily, I also found that they are turn around very easily (in which case the guyline can slip straight off the peg) and they are incredibly hard to find if the guyline has come off and they’re still in the ground! I may’ve lost one already when I set it up in the backyard the other day!!

I’ve been doing a lot of research about types of pegs (or “stakes” as they seem to be called). Here are some key points I’ve picked up.
1. In general stakes hold the ground better if they have more surface area, through either length, diameter (circumference) or complicated cross sections. This is especially important in soft ground.
2. Conversely, stakes will go into hard ground more easily if they have a smaller cross-section.
3. Stakes need to be strong enough to resist bending when being driven in (usually by being hit with a rock – apparently standing on them with a boot is a big no-no). This is achieved either by a thicker diameter solid circular cross section, stronger material or particular cross sections resistant to bending (X is probably better than Y which is probably better than V).

The lightest and simplest are simple straight bits of metal – “nail”  or “skewer” types.
The nail types generally have a larger section on the head (just like a nail!), which sometimes has a hole through it to attach a small piece of rope (presumably to help pull it out). Heads falling off (when being pulled out, or bashed in with rocks) seems to be a major issue with some of these. The lightest are generally ~6g each and are carbon with an aluminium tip, case and/or head.Skewer types are like what I have now, but usually thicker, and often with a more useful hook shape on the top.

The third type have a shaped cross-section (V, Y, X or some combination) generally made from bending (or joining) flat sections of metal. These are a little bit heavier but have more surface area.

Here is a list of stake options that I’ve compiled (in no way comprehensive)!!


My tent came with 14 stakes (14 grams) and while I still only used 13 to set it up the other day, I will take a full 14 stakes. I’m thinking of getting a composite set, with 7 Nail type and 7 Y/V type. This way I can use the most appropriate stake for the ground conditions (hard = nail, soft = Y/V) for the key staking points, and the sub-optimal stakes for the other points. It also saves weight (as you can see, the Y/V types, which I want to get for soft ground conditions, are ~twice as heavy as the nail type stakes).

I’ve read a lot of reviews and a few key things seem to be repeated over and over again:
1. MSR Groundhogs get a really good rap. Most people seem to love them.
2. There have been problems with the Easton heads coming off, although this may have been rectified in design change.

Based on this, I’m focussing on the MSR Groundhog, MSR Mini Groundhog or Terra Nova Ultralight Ti V for my Y/V stake. Questions for you: Is it worth getting the full Groundhog, or will the mini hold well enough? It is 1.5″ of extra length and presumably bigger diameter, but also 60% more weight. The minis also have a slight twist to the cross section so might hold better. There is some concern with the strength of the mini (heads breaking off while being bashed in, due to narrow cross section below the head – check out this review: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=59460&skip_to_post=708723). The Terra Nova V was recommended by the person I bought the tent from but I’m concerned about the possibility of bending the pegs with such a simple V design (and cut out sections). Which should I get?


MSR Groundhog (left), REI Tri Stake (middle), MSR Mini Groundhog (right). I’ve ‘borrowed’ this off a post in backpackinglight forum – see link above)



Terra Nova Superlite Ti V pegs

My choices for my Nail are the Ruta Locura (6″ or 9″) or the MSR Carbon Core 6″. The Ruta Locura stakes are light and well priced. They are wider than the MSR Carbon Core (which will give better hold, but may also be harder to get in to rocky ground). The head is smaller so it looks like it would be easy for the guy line to slip off. There is also no hole in the head to string a rope through (for pulling out). That said, the one review I’ve found has not had any problems with them. They are also made by a small US company, so I’m not sure what the shipping price will end up being to Australia. The MSR Carbon Cores are VERY expensive!! Also, they look like they have a plastic head, which may not stand up too well to being bashed around, and they’ve had some of the same problems as the Easton’s with heads coming off.


Ruta Locura Sorex 6″ vs MSR Carbon Core. (I have ‘borrowed’ this picture off an amazing blog I’ve found recently: http://sticksblog.com)

So, my questions for you are:
1. Does my “7 of each type” plan sound good?
2. Which V/Y stake should I get?
3. Assuming I can get the Ruta Locura stake, which length should I get? Am I even going to be able to drive the stake 9″ into the ground in hard ground, in which case 6″ will probably be enough hold anyway? In soft ground, will the extra 3″ of ‘hold’ be worth it?

Here are several buying options I’ve come up with. After rereading the concerns about strength of MSR Groundhog minis, I’m thinking Option 4 might be the best. What do you think?
Peg Options



  1. I have to say how great it is to see someone else doing in depth research to make the best purchase. Clearly you’ve done some thinking about this 🙂 Unfortunately I use a stand alone tent and rarely use stakes so I’m no help in making your choice, but good luck on both your shopping and hiking adventures!

    • Helen says:

      Thanks! I know how crazy it is to plan a long trip a long way from home as my first major hike, rather than building up slowly, accumulating and testing gear as I go. Research is a poor substitute for actual experience but I’m trying hard to be as well prepared as I can.

  2. thegomof51 says:

    How aerodynamic is the tent?…. Haven’t seen it yet but suggest that may be a point to consider also. Where’s the wind load greatest so pegs are distributed accordingly?
    I can’t see the 9″ pegs being significantly better in most general situations than 6″ so would opt for the shorter ones now if the difference is a cause for concern. You can usually add some sort of deadweight system to pegs …..eg rock, log, 2nd peg, etc if needed; but a guyline attached to a peg projecting too far above ground because you cant get it in, may create a higher force on the fulcrum point sufficient to flip the peg out.
    I’d go for option 4-5 for general use, if its extreme weather where the tent is in danger of blowing away, can the pegs for the vents be used as 2nd reinforcing pegs at the corners, either doubled or in line? Anyway you’ll be laying sprawled out inside the tent hoping you’re heavy enough to keep it grounded, so the peg wont matter!

    You can always add to your collection later so you can then select according to proposed outing.

    • Helen says:

      Pretty sure it is fairly aerodynamic – it is an elongated dome with quite a narrow back end (which would be pointing into the wind). I’m not worried about the tent blowing away, more about breaking something because it’s not pitched taut enough (e.g. fly or poles), possibly the fly blowing away (only connected to the poles with velcro loops) or the inner getting wet because the fly is not pegged out well enough.
      I keep forgetting about being able to add dead weight to the top of pegs. Need to remember that one.
      Also, I realised that if I’m concerned about mini groundhog strength (ie worried that they’ll break, not worried about holding ability), then I should probably consider Option 2 (Terra Nova Ti Vs) some more.

  3. I have the Terra Nova Ultralight Titanium pegs and they’ve always performed excellently 🙂

    • Helen says:

      Great! Thanks for that. I was leaning towards these (half set of these and half set of the 6″ Ruta Locura Carbon stakes) so it’s really nice to get some feedback from someone who’s actually used them. I’ve just ordered a set so hopefully I’ll get all my deliveries and some nice weather next week to play with my tent!

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