7 Best Tent Stakes for Backpacking & Camping

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Selecting the best tent stakes for backpacking and camping hinges on two things: reliability and weight. We tested 11 of the best tent stakes on the market and put them to the test out in various terrains during backpacking and camping adventures. Then we put the stakes against each other on the same playing field to pick out the best ones.

In our testing we focused on tent stakes that had the best holding power, weight, durability, and suitability for different terrains and specific conditions.

Overview: Best Tent Stakes for Backpacking & Camping

Let’s begin by highlighting the standout tent stakes of 2024, including the best tent stakes in various categories:

MSR Mini Groundhog Stake

Best Versatility

Specs

  • Price: $36.95 (6 stakes)
  • Material: Aluminum 7075
  • Style: Y-beam
  • Weight: 0.32 oz
  • Length: 6″ inch

Pros

  • Versatile works for variety of terrain
  • Durable
  • Superior holding power
  • lightweight

Cons

  • Sometimes difficult to remove

Try the MSR Groundhog Stake

In our testing of the MSR Groundhog stake we found it to be one of the best stakes for backpacking or camping. For backpacking trips, we preferred the MSR Mini Groundhog stake due to the more slimline build and for more front country trips used the standard Groundhog.

During our testing we found the MSR Mini Groundhog stakes to excel in durability, weight, and offer a firm hold into variable terrains. One of the key advantages of the MSR Mini Groundhog stake is its exceptional holding power. The Y-beam design provides excellent grip in various soil types, ensuring that my tent remained securely in place throughout the night.

Additionally, the reflective pull cord proved to be a thoughtful and practical feature, making it easy to locate and remove the stakes, especially in low-light conditions. Another noteworthy aspect is the versatility of these stakes, as they performed well not only in soil but also in rocky terrain, showcasing their adaptability to different camping environments.

While the MSR Mini Groundhog stake has many positive features, I did encounter a minor drawback during use. The small pull cord can make it a little hard to remove the stake which but, this is me being a little nitpicky.

Despite this, in my experience, the MSR Ground Hog Stake offers the best balance between weight, durability, and holding power, making it my go-to choose for the majority of my backpacking and camping adventures.

Best Use: Excels in variety terrains especially medium to hard pack areas great holding power and bend resistance.

Vargo Ascent V Stake

Best for Soft Soil

Specs

  • Price: $23.95 (6 stakes)
  • Material: Titanium
  • Style: V-beam
  • Weight: 0.39 oz
  • Length: 6.2″ inch

Pros

  • Ideal for soft soil or snow
  • Reliable holding power in soft ground
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to stack and pack

Cons

  • Not the best in hard rocky ground
  • Low bend resistance

Try the Vargo Ascent V Stake

My recent experience with the Vargo Ascent V stakes impressed me especially during snow and sandy conditions. The V-shaped profile and slots inside of the stakes allows for superior holding power in a variety of terrains, especially in sand, snow, or loose soil to moderately-packed ground.

The standout feature of the Vargo Ascent V stakes is undoubtedly their ultralight construction. Made from high-quality titanium, these stakes strike an excellent balance between strength and weight.

I also liked how they could be stacked into each other making them easy to stow away without taking up much space. Additionally, the reflective cord attached to each stake made it easy to spot and remove during nighttime, without fumbling around in the dark.

However, with the many pros of the Vargo Ascent V stakes, I did find some cons. The narrow V shape profile of the stakes, while advantageous in many soft soils, sand, and snow make it more difficult to drive in moderate and hard rocky terrains. In fact, I just would not recommend using them in hard ground at all there are better choices.

Despite this, their overall performance and reliability, especially in softer terrains, make the Vargo Ascent V stakes a worthy stake to put in the toolbox for any backpacker or camper staying nights in sand or snowy conditions.

Best Use: Really works well in those loose and soft ground conditions for backpacking. Doesn’t have the best bend resistance in harder ground.

Zpacks Ultralight Titanium Stakes

Best for Ultralight Backpacking

Specs

  • Price: $2.50 per stake
  • Material: Titanium
  • Style: Shepard Hook
  • Weight: 0.19 oz
  • Length: 6″ inch

Pros

  • Ultralight
  • versatile for different ground types
  • Very thin and packable

Cons

  • low bend resistance
  • not the best in sand, snow, and loose soil

Try the Zpacks Ultralight Stakes

During my hands on testing with the Zpacks Ultralight Titanium stakes I found quite a few pros which has made these stakes one of my favorites for ultralight backpacking. These stakes felt super lightweight and somewhat easy to bend when I was handling them.

But I was surprised by how durable they were for how thin they were and how well they held up in a variety of terrains. In my testing I found these stakes to do really well with penetrating harder rocky ground due to how thin they were. Though I still had to be careful staking them in because they do bend fairly easily.

The Zpacks Ultralight Titanium tent stakes did do okay in soft ground but, because of how thin they are they do have lower holding ability and easily slip out of sand, soil, and fair decently in really loose ground.

The bright red color of the stakes is pretty helpful in adding visibility. I was able to easily spot these stakes in grass during lower light conditions. Additionally, the shepard hook shape does make them easy to remove.

Overall, I found these stakes to be one of the best stakes for ultralight backpacking and to really excel in harder soil conditions. Though I recommend being a little careful when staking them in as they bend easily especially when staking with your foot.

Best Use: Excellent for ultralight backpacking with use in medium to hard ground conditions. Does have to be babied a bit due to low bend resistance.

Big Agnes DirtDagger UL

Best for Holding Power

Specs

  • Price: $14.95 (6 stakes)
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Style: I-beam
  • Weight: 0.31 oz
  • Length: 6″ inch

Pros

  • Exceptional holding power
  • Works well in various conditions
  • Several length options 6 – 10″
  • Reflective cord pull

Cons

  • Not the best in soft soil, snow, or sand
  • Can be hard to pull out of the ground

Try Big Agnes Dirt Dagger

During my recent backpacking trip I tested the Big Agness Dirt Dagger UL stakes. Which I really was shocked by how well they held up during the trip. The Dirt Dagger UL stakes are crafted from high-quality aluminum, these I-beam-shaped stakes strike an excellent balance between durability, holding power, and weight.

Another thing I really liked about the Dirt Dagger UL stakes was that there is availability of various size options. Which means you could easily use the 6″-inch options for ultralight backpacking, 7.5″-inch option for more traditional backpacking or camping tents and the 10″-inch options for bigger car camping tents or shelters.

Some cons I found while using the Dirt Dagger UL stakes is that they tend not to be the best in loose soil, snow, or sand. The I-beam shape does work super well in moderate to hard ground and hold so well I actually tore the reflective pull cord trying to get the stake out.

In conclusion, the Big Agnes Dirt Dagger UL stakes proved to be one of the best tent stakes for holding when it comes to backpacking or camping. If using for bigger shelters I recommend sizing up on the length of the stake.

Best Use: One of the best stakes for holding power and versatility has different sizes that also work for camping

REI Snow Stake

Best for Snow Conditions

Specs

  • Price: $6.00 per stake
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Style: Flat U -shape
  • Weight: 1 oz
  • Length: 9.6″ inch

Pros

  • Works well in snow, sand, and soft ground
  • Excellent grip and stability
  • High visability color

Cons

  • Not best for hard ground
  • Heavy

Try REI Snow Stake

I put the REI Co-Op Snow Stake to the test in light snowy conditions and muddy wet conditions and enjoyed its holding ability. The REI Co-op Snow Stakes broad, slightly U-shaped profile of the stake ensures a secure anchor in the snow, snow, and soft soil conditions without it shifting or loosening too much.

I appreciated the bright orange color of the stake which made it super easy to find in muddy, sandy, and snowy terrains. It does not have a pull cord making it sometimes a little difficult to get a hold of and pull out. I sometimes had to manually shift it back and forth in the ground to loosen it up.

While the REI Co-op Snow Stake excelled in snow-specific scenarios, its larger size and weight might be considered a drawback for those seeking ultralight options for backpacking in non-snowy conditions. This is where the Vargo Ascent V stake may come in handy as an alternative.

However, for winter camping or winter backpacking, the durability, size, and structure of the REI Co-op Snow Stake make it one of the best cold weather tent stakes for backpacking and camping.

Best Use.: The best stake for backpacking or camping in snow and soft terrain that is reasonably priced

REI Aluminum Hook Stake

Best Budget-Friendly Stake

Specs

  • Price: $2.00 per stake
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Shape: Shepard’s hook
  • Weight: 0.5 oz
  • Length: 7.25″ inch

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Durable
  • Versatile for various ground types

Cons

  • Less effective in sand or soft terrain
  • low visability

Try REI Aluminum Hook Stake

The REI Aluminum Hook Stakes looked and felt like most traditional tent stakes you get from camping tents or backpacking tents. The REI Aluminum Hook stakes are not really anything too special but they are made out of durable Aluminum 7075-T6 and have a functional design that has been proven to work.

My experience with the REI Aluminum Hook stakes met my expectations. First, they are affordable while I also found them to work well for camping tents and backpacking tents. They are easy to drive into the ground with a mallet or your foot and wont bend under resistance. While they are also easy to remove.

In my experience they do not perform well in sand or snow. But work well from soft soil to moderately hard ground. The versatility of these stakes was evident as they held up well in different camping environments, providing a secure anchor for my tent.

I do wish that REI would add orange or red pain to the top to increase visibility but again my just being a little picky. Overall, the REI Aluminum Hook stakes work well for a budget yet versatile stake that can be used backpacking or camping in various terrains.

Best Use: Best budget pick nothing special just a tried-and-true stake that works for backpacking and camping

Coghlan’s Heavy Duty Nail Pegs

Best Heavy Duty Tent Stakes

Specs

  • Price: $6.49 (4 stakes)
  • Material: Steel
  • Shape: Nail
  • Weight: 3.3 oz
  • Length: 10″ inch

Pros

  • Super Durable
  • Strong and excellent holding power
  • Good visibility with orange top

Cons

  • Less effective in snow
  • heavy

Try Coghlan’s HD Nail Peg

For heavy-duty usage, Coghlan’s Heavy Duty Nail Pegs are the best. In my experience with testing these stakes for years. They withstand a lot of abuse, making them a suitable choice for tough camping conditions. I’ve found these stakes particularly useful when setting up camp in rocky or hard soil conditions where lesser stakes may literally just fold over.

While these stakes offer impressive strength and versatility, they are heavier compared to other options. This makes them less ideal for backpackers who are very concerned about the weight of their gear. Which I believe these stakes are best used for more car camping or setting up bigger shelters that require more holding power.

As a backpacking stake I would go with other lighter options like the MSR Groundhog, Big Agnes Dirt Dagger UL, or Zpacks Ultralight Titanium Tent stakes.

For camping however, the Coghlan’s Heavy Duty Nail Pegs should be a highly considered option. The amount of holding power and ease of penetrating difficulty terrains is worth it for a car camper especially since you won’t really be carrying these heavy pegs around much. I also really liked the orange top which adds a good amount of visibility in grassy areas.

If using these stakes I do recommend getting the Coghlan’s Mallet-Peg Puller otherwise you are going to have a hard time getting these pegs out of the ground. This tool is just perfect for driving these pegs into the ground and then using the hook aka peg puller to pull them out of the ground.

Best use: Basically, indestructible. Fantastic for camping or for putting up big heavy shelters.

How to Choose Stakes for Backpacking & Camping

The selection of appropriate tent stakes is key to a successful backpacking or camping trip. Factors such as the type of terrain, weight considerations, stake design, and material all come into play.

Weight

The best tent stakes for backpacking are generally lightweight stakes like the MSR Mini Groundhog are preferred due to their small, packed size and weight. On the other hand, heavy-duty stakes like Coghlan’s heavy duty Pegs which are made out of galvanized steel offer impressive holding power and versatility but are better for car camping and much too heavy for backcountry use.

Design

The design of a tent stake can significantly affect its holding power and ease of installation. For instance, tri-beam (y-beam) stakes can be driven into various sediment types and offer strong holding force. While other stakes that are thin like the Zpacks Ultralight tent stakes will have less holding power.

Durability

Durability is another important factor to consider. Materials such as aircraft-grade aluminum and titanium offer a balance between strength and lightness, although they may still be prone to bending or breaking if not used carefully.

Also, the thickness and weight of the stake generally correlates to durability. Thicker heavier stakes are often more durable than lighter stakes. Lighter stakes take more finesse when driving into the ground.

A lot of backpackers usually use the foot method to drive stakes into the ground however, with some stakes in my experience it can be better to use a rock or log as a makeshift hammer instead.

Tent Stake Materials

A thorough knowledge of the materials used in tent stakes is essential in choosing the stake that best suits your needs. Common materials include:

  • Aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Plastic
  • Stainless steel
  • Carbon fiber

Each material offers different weight, strength, and performance characteristics.

Aluminum tent stakes are cheap, light, and widely used, although quality varies with some bending easily. Titanium stakes are strong and light but can bend in difficult soil conditions if they are too thin.

Plastic stakes while generally lighter than metal can also be fairly durable however, I have yet to see and test any reliable ones out on the market yet. Stainless steel stakes are practical for specific situations, stronger than aluminum stakes, but heavy and difficult to drive into the ground making them the best for car camping or bigger shelters.

Carbon stakes are light and usually integrated with titanium like seen in MSR Carbon Core but I have heard are prone to shattering or bending. I have yet to test out some of the Carbon stakes and will probably be the next ones I test out.

Best Stakes for Different Soil Types

When choosing the best tent stakes for backpacking or camping the choice of tent stake should be influenced by the type of soil or terrain on which you plan to stay on. In the table below we feature all the stakes we have ever tested and rank them in various criteria.

StakeMaterialWeightLengthTerrain (Best For)
MSR Mini Groundhog Aluminum0.32 oz6 inMed – Hard
MSR GroundhogAluminum0.5 oz7.5 inSoft – Firm
Zpacks Sonic StakeAluminum0.32 oz6 in Med – Hard
REI Shepard HookAluminum0.5 oz7.25 inMed – Firm
REI Steel StakeSteel2.7 oz8.25 inMed – Hard
REI Snow StakeAluminum1.0 oz9 inLoose – Soft
Coghlan’s HD Nail Pegs Steel3.3 oz10 inMed – Hard
Vargo Ascent V stakeTitanium0.39 oz6.2inLoose – Med
Big Agnes DirtDagger UL Aluminum0.31 oz6 inMed – Hard
Zpacks Shepard HookTitanium0.19 oz6 inMed – Hard
Coghlan ABS Tent PegPlastic0.91 oz9 inSoft – Firm
Table for Best Stakes for Backpacking

*Table of Contents

Terrain is ranked from Loose -Soft – Medium – Firm – Hard and is to be looked at as a spectrum. Also, terrains generally have a variety of terrain types present.

  • Loose – describes snow, sandy, wet or loose soil
  • Soft- describes snow, sandy, wet, soft packed ground
  • Medium- describes moderated packed ground
  • Firm- More packed ground may be slightly rocky or dry
  • Hard- Very packed soil, rocky, dry, or frozen

Quick Notes

For Medium to hard terrain conditions the best backpacking stakes in my experience will be stakes that can cover a variety of terrain and have good holding power and bend resistance. The MSR groundhog mini, Zpacks Sonic stake, and Big Agnes DirtDagger UL are all my top choices.

Traditional hook or shepard hook stakes usually do a great job in this terrain as well. If wanting a ultralight stake the Zpacks Ultralight Titanium Hook stake is a great choice but has less utility in softer or looser conditions. The best camping stakes for medium to hard terrain is the Coughlan’s Heavy-Duty Stake

For loose to soft ground the best stakes for backpacking will be the Vargo Ascent V stake or REI Co-Op Snow Stake. For camping the REI Co-Op Snow Stake, is one of the best for snowy and sandy conditions. For added holding power use a “dead man” anchor with these stakes.

How to Put a Tent Stake Into the Ground

While driving a tent stake into the ground may appear simple, certain techniques can help achieve a more secure and stable setup with more tent stakes.

By following these steps, you can easily set up your tent even on moderate to hard ground.

  1. Place the tent stake.
  2. A vertical position is fine up to a slight 15-degree angle
  3. If the ground is hard place some water on the area, wait a minute, to help soften it up
  4. Then use a rock, mallet, or your foot to tap or push stake into the ground.
  5. Repeat the process for all necessary tent stakes.

When staking out your tent in rocky ground follow these steps:

  1. Place the tent stake.
  2. A vertical position is fine up to a slight 15-degree angle
  3. Then use a rock, mallet, or your foot to tap or push stake into the ground.
  4. Reinforce the stakes by placing a large, heavy rock on top of them to prevent movement.
  5. Repeat the process for all necessary tent stakes

Alternatively, you can also ditch the stakes and tie the guy lines to rocks securing them by placing another rock over the guy line

When staking out your tent in snow or sand follow these steps:

  1. Pick a stake with slots like the REI Snow Stake or Vargo Ascent V stake
  2. A vertical position is fine up to a slight 15-degree angle
  3. Ideally position the open part of the v or u shaped stake of toward the tent
  4. Then use a rock, mallet, or your foot to tap or push stake into the ground.
  5. Repeat the process for all necessary tent stakes

*Tips: By positioning the open part of the v stake or u-shaped stake toward the tent you improve the holding power as it hugs against the snow, sand, or soft ground. For more holding power bury the stakes after staking them in or don’t stake them at all and use a “dead man” technique.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of tent stakes are the best?

The best tent stakes for backpacking or camping vary on the condition you will be staying on. Overall, I really like to use a Y-beam stake like the MSR Groundhog or Zpacks Sonic Stake. They have the best holding power, bend resistance, and versatility in different terrains especially in medium to hard substrates.

How do you drive tent stakes when backpacking?

There are many ways to drive tents stakes when backpacking a popular method is to use the bottom of your foot and push down with your toes and a alternative method I like to use with ultralight stakes is a rock or big stick and hammer the stake into the ground.

Which tent stake is best for soft soil or snow?

The best tent stakes for backpacking or camping in soft soil or snow is the REI Co-Op Snow Stake. For a ultralight alternative the Vargo Ascent V stake is a great option.

What is the best budget-friendly tent stake?

The REI Aluminum Hook Stake is a durable and versatile option for different terrains, making it a great budget-friendly choice.

Summary

Selecting the right tent stakes is an often overlooked but important for backpacking or camping. It helps to keep a variety of tent stakes for various conditions that you might encounter out camping or backpacking. From ultralight titanium stakes for backpackers to heavy-duty nail pegs for challenging terrains, there’s a tent stake for every terrain, weight preference, and budget.

The best tent stakes for backpacking and camping will vary depending on your specific needs. But use this guide to help you narrow down your search. Overall, I recommend a variety of stakes to add in your outdoor toolbox. Looking for awesome tents to stake down check out the best 2 person backpacking tents.

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