Best Tent Stakes of 2021
The lightweight and user-friendly 6-pack MSR Mini Groundhog is our top recommendation for anyone heading into the backcountry for overnight trips. There is good reason why MSR has kept this stake around for decades, and why its design has been imitated many times over. The tri-beam (y-beam) stake, made of aircraft-grade 7075 aluminum, drives into most sediment types we tested well and simply stays put in the face of strong forces. The shape and notched guyline placement points allow the Mini Groundhog to be placed in any direction, adding convenience when setting up camp. We are surprised that despite its shorter length, it doesn't suffer a significant loss in holding power compared to longer models we tested, which we attribute to its design. The shorter length makes for easier installation by hand and foot, allowing you to keep a stabilizing heel on the ground with a boot placement. The paracord loop on each stake is helpful in removing them from the ground, although some ultralighters will remove it to save weight.
While the MSR Mini Groundhog is our favorite model to take backpacking, it has a few drawbacks. Like many stakes, it can be difficult to remove by hand in hard, firm soil despite the pull cord's help. And being aluminum, it's far from impossible to bend or break. The thin neck at the notch, which helps keep guy lines in place, is an obvious weak point. While we found it easier than others to install by stepping on it with our boots, using care is still required to get a decent placement and prevent unnecessary bending or breaking. It should be noted, though, that it's relatively easy to bend almost any tent stake we've tested or ever used personally, so careful use is always recommended. Overall the MSR Mini Groundhog is a great option for beginner backpackers looking to spruce up their tent pitching accessories and experienced outdoors people alike.
Showing impressive stability in sand and scoring among the best for holding power and durability, the 10-pack of Eurmax Galvanized Steel 10-inch round tent pegs proved to be an excellent option for front-country staking needs. With the help of a hammer or mallet, these stakes can be installed into hard and soft sediment easily. In our tests, they consistently and reliably hold up to the task at hand. The Eurmax pegs come with four ten-foot guylines and a polypropylene replacement top to ensure adequate preparedness for campground needs and repairs. The various guyline attachment points and straightforward installation make the Eurmax Galvanized pegs easy to use and reliable when installed fully into the ground. The long steel pegs are the opposite of backcountry models that favor lightweight materials that aren't as durable. Any stake can get bent, but the Eurmax is one of the least likely.
There are few differences between the Eurmax Galvanized pegs and the similar Coleman 10-inch Steel. The Eurmax is a little heavier, but as these are intended for car camping, we aren't concerned by the minor weight difference. We wouldn't take either set on backpacking trips. We do appreciate that the Eurmax comes with replacement parts and extra guylines that are not included with the Coleman set, and we think the Eurmax presents a better value overall. While these stakes are galvanized steel, they are still thin metal and still capable of bending. Like any stake, it's a good idea to carefully drive these stakes when working in firm and rocky sediment. Once the stake is bent, installation becomes more challenging. We also recommend getting a hammer to help drive long, thick stakes like these into the ground. Overall the Eurmax Galvanized pegs are still significantly stronger than most. It's a reliable heavy-duty option that performs admirably in campsites that don't range far from your parking spot.
The best lightweight value in our review, the 12-pack of All One Tech tri-beam (y-beam) aluminum tent stakes receives top marks across all measured metrics. The All One Tech stake provides a great balance of length, design, and weight to achieve a powerful hold while still being a manageable size to take into the backcountry. Its tri-beam design and notched guyline placement points allow for multi-directional placements, and the included stuff sack provides an easy and convenient way to keep stakes together and packed away. While installing by foot can be tricky, even having the stake halfway in the ground proved durable and secure. And with 12 stakes at a low price, you can afford to bend or break a few while still having plenty of stakes to hold down the fort.
Dedicated backpackers will likely prefer the lower weight and smaller packed size of the Vargo Ti or MSR Mini Groundhog, though. The All One Tech is heavier and bulkier. Installation with a hammer is straightforward with the All One Tech stakes in all types of ground. However, installing by hand and foot can be a challenge. The taller nature of the stake makes it difficult to have a stabilizing heel on the ground when using your foot to install it. Instead of packing a hammer into the backcountry, a flat rock is a fine substitute. When the stake is fully set into firm and hard ground, removal can be difficult even with the use of the attached cord, demonstrating some serious holding power. Overall the All One Tech stands out as an excellent value for weight-conscious backpackers and weekend warriors.
The lowest-weight stake we tested, the Vargo Ti Shepherd's Hook is a titanium stake made for the ultralight backpacker in mind. This six-pack of stakes is surprisingly flexible, allowing it to adapt to the ground it's driven into. This natural flex also allows the stake to bend with the direction of pull and almost completely rebound back to its original shape when removed. The hook design allows for easy removal even in the toughest ground, and its narrow profile allows it to settle in and around rocky ground quite well. The slender design also packs up small, taking up very little space in a backpack. It also proved more durable than the aluminum stakes we tested while being less weight and more packable. This model balances a backpacker's needs very well.
While the Vargo Ti Shepherd's Hook's natural flexibility and durability are mostly advantageous, there is one drawback to its bendy nature. Installing this stake by hand and foot can be a bit squirrelly underfoot before breaking into hard ground. You do have to be delicate not to stomp too hard on these to get them placed well, which is standard practice for lightweight stakes. While these stakes' small size is excellent, some testers wished they came with a stuff sack to keep them together. Many ultralight backpackers will leave such a stuff sack at home anyhow, though, to shave off weight. We also didn't find the smooth cylindrical shaft to have as much holding power as the tri-beam models, although it would take some impressive gusts to pull these hooks out if well placed. Overall, the Vargo Ti Shepherd's Hook is an excellent choice and our recommendation for those seeking the lowest-weight stakes that still function well.
If you often set up camp with a canopy tent on the beach or other areas with soft sediment, the Orange Screw Ultimate Ground Anchor is the stake for you. Its screw design, flexible plastic material, and length are the perfect recipe for a lightweight, durable, robust holding power machine in loose sediment where other stake designs struggle. Another bonus is that these screws do not require a hammer or an awkward balancing act to install by foot. Rather they use a plastic tube that threads through the top of the anchor for extra leverage to screw in by hand. Even if the anchor can only be installed 50% into the ground, the natural flexibility of the plastic and effective traction of the screw in the ground still provides an awesome hold.
Where the Orange Screw doesn't shine is in hard, rocky ground. The main challenge in tough rocky earth is gaining initial traction with the anchor. As rocks shift and get dislodged as the anchor tries to dig in, it loosens up the ground reducing any traction the anchor might have had initially. This limitation to soft sediment already largely disqualifies these stakes from backcountry use, while the bulky size of these screws makes them an unrealistic option for backpacking as well. Overall, the Orange Screw is a durable option for staking applications requiring a strong hold in both horizontal and vertical directions of pull in soft to firm conditions. While you likely won't see these miles away from the trailhead, there are plenty of uses like backyard canopies, car camping, and festivals where these stakes can shine, plus the fact that it is made of recycled materials is an added bonus.
The TOAKS Titanium V-shape tent pegs provide a strong performance under the right conditions. The v-shape makes it ideal for holding strong in softer ground conditions, though not necessarily as soft as sand. The space-saving, nesting nature of these stakes and the 0.42 oz weight per stake make the TOAKS Titanium V-shape tent pegs convenient on backpacking trips. For those outings where you'll be pitching your tent in softer ground, the TOAKS is a great option, especially with the lightweight, high-visibility orange stuff sack that is included, which is easier to locate inside a dark backpack.
Before throwing out your old stakes and fully committing to the TOAKS, though, one should consider its few drawbacks. While hammering in these pegs in some conditions is easy-peasy, the same cannot be said for installing these with hands and feet in harder ground. When using a foot, one must be delicate to prevent the peg from bending towards its middle. If the peg is pulled in the wrong direction in firm or rocky ground, it is likely to bend. Once it is bent, it is only a matter of time before the peg breaks apart completely, as it did for us. While the numerous holes along the peg's length cut back on overall weight, it does appear to allow the peg to bend and shear slightly more easily. This low profile peg does not have a pull cord, making it more difficult to remove from firm and hard ground, requiring much effort to retrieve it. Overall the TOAKS Titanium V-Shape deserves credit for its lightweight and convenient nesting feature. It makes for an excellent choice for camping and backpacking in areas with softer ground where the increased surface area of the v-shape can be fully utilized.
The 12-pack of FANBX F Tent Pegs are made of aluminum alloy and are a shepherd's hook design with a hexagon rod stake. Weighing 0.67 oz each, the FANBX F proves to be an effective, lightweight tent stake option with a simple design. The hexagonal shape helps prevent unwanted spinning in the ground once it is placed, and the hook makes for easy removal. Its 7-inch length is still short enough to be a reasonable size for backpacking, yet it is still long enough to penetrate deep enough into the ground for increased holding power. This peg showed a surprising ability to get repeatedly hammered into the ground and provide an anchor despite getting bent out of shape along the way. To its credit, it bent badly but refused to break.
The downside of the FANBX F Tent Pegs is the challenge of installing them without a hammer. The peg has a tendency to move underfoot easily, especially in tougher, rockier conditions. We were unable to get any usable placements in hard, rocky ground when trying to install by hand and foot, necessitating the use of a hammer. Because it is a shepherd's hook design, there is only one direction in which the guyline can be attached to the peg, thus constraining the peg to a directional placement. Once the peg is bent, this directionality becomes a weakness in the peg's overall usability. While the FANBX F Tent Pegs might be a lightweight and tough tent staking option, installation remains the main factor preventing this peg from achieving higher marks. Overall it presents a reasonable, packable staking option for those on a budget and does well in softer conditions like lawns or uniform soils. Be careful when driving it into the ground, though, as it proved quite willing to bend in our tests.
The AnyGear 7075 Aluminum tri-beam (y-beam) tent stake takes some getting to know, but once you figure it out, it is a solid performer. It weighs in at 0.48 oz per anchor and is 7 inches long, providing a nice lightweight to length ratio for easy packing and reliable holding power. When used correctly, the AnyGear stakes are yet another data point for the strength and durability of tri-beam tent stakes. The three notch points along one spine provide guyline attachment options, which are most useful when the stake can be installed only partially into the ground. A lower guyline attachment point for a partially installed stake creates a more secure holding position and less torque compared to attaching the guyline at the top of the stake.
While the three attachment points can come in handy depending on the circumstances, they also create significant points of weakness at the lowest notch. It took some unfortunate trial and error and a couple of broken stakes to finally find the winning combination for a strong, durable hold. If the stake is fully seated into firm or rocky ground and the guyline is attached to the uppermost notch point, the stake bends and breaks at the lowest notch point, unable to support the pulling forces from that top-notch. If the stake is fully installed into firm and rocky ground with the guyline attached at the lowest notch point, no bending occurs and the stake performs quite well. The uppermost notch point can be utilized for softer ground conditions, allowing the full use of the stake's surface area for traction, however in tougher ground, best to use the lowest of the three attachment points just to be on the safe side. We struggle to forcefully get behind this design due to these weaknesses that can amount to significant frustration on a camping trip. On their positive end, they are inexpensive and work well when the user is quite careful.
The Coleman 10-inch Steel round peg achieves high scores in holding power and versatility due to its length and burly nature similar to the Eurmax Galvanized pegs. When installed fully into the ground, the Coleman peg rarely shows any signs of wear and tear even after several uses. It is one of the few stakes that is able to provide a strong hold in sandy conditions. The polypropylene top piece proves to withstand continual use and provides three different guyline attachment options.
The Coleman 10-inch Steel peg provides reliably strong holding power throughout soft and firm ground. However, it starts to lose its consistency in hard, rocky ground or when installed without a hammer. Installing this nail peg by hand and foot into tough, rocky ground allowed for minimal success. While holding power still remains strong even with partial installation into the ground, it becomes much more likely to bend. Once the peg is bent, continued use becomes increasingly more difficult. While using a foot or hammering in this nail peg once it is bent is possible, it is not very fun and increases the likelihood of bending farther. Weighing in at 2.88 oz per stake, the Coleman 10-inch Steel peg is not the optimal choice for the aspiring ultralight backpacker. It's suitable for car camping or staking down canopies and larger tents at festivals, and a fine option if the Eurmax Galvanized Steel stakes aren't available.
Presenting the most affordable option we reviewed, Coghlan's Tent Peg is made of a thermoplastic polymer called ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), making it a very lightweight tent stake option at 0.35 oz per stake. Its bright yellow color makes it easy to find, and despite being plastic, the stake tip holds up surprisingly well throughout all ground types. When installed by hammer into firm ground, Coghlan's Tent Peg does provide strong holding power.
Despite ABS plastic claiming to be impact resistant and tough, Coghlan's Tent Pegs do bend incredibly easily in firm and rocky ground, especially while trying to install by hand and foot. The peg's width, 0.5 inches wide, and the softer nature of the plastic make them difficult to push into firm or tough ground and result in the middle of the peg giving way and bending. Coghlan's Tent Pegs were impossible to install by foot into hard ground and still very difficult when using a hammer. The short length and wide nature of the peg prevent it from succeeding in soft ground, pulling out before gaining traction. Overall, Coghlan's Tent Pegs is tough for us to recommend, considering the other options available on the market.
Why You Should Trust Us
As an avid outdoor recreationalist and industry professional, Hayley Walker has been adventuring and working in the outdoors since graduating college in 2011. Whether it is backpacking, canyoneering, climbing, mountain biking, trail running, pack rafting, or all of the above wrapped up into a multi-sport adventure, she has spent countless nights out under the stars pitching tents and shelters. Her several years of experience as a rental gear manager for an outdoor guide and outfitting service has given her a depth of knowledge and experience when it comes to assessing camping equipment. She is no stranger to the ins and outs of tent stakes and their unending ability to bend or break at the most inopportune times. With a keen eye for the details and vast experience testing equipment for quality, Hayley put her knowledge to the test with this tent stakes review sussing out the top performers to help others rest easy on their camping adventures.
We extensively researched the various types of tent stakes available on the market today, ranging from tri-beam, shepherd's hook, nail peg, screws, and v-shape designs, and compiled a list of dozens of the most popular models today. Keeping overall performance and cost in mind, we narrowed our focus further to the top contenders for meeting a wide array of end-user needs. We hammered, pushed, and pulled each stake in and out of an array of different ground densities repeatedly to gauge durability, holding power, overall versatility, and ease of use to suss out the best of the best. With 80 uses applied per stake, we installed and pulled on stakes over 800 times. We carefully weighed and measured each stake to gauge overall packability while considering the inclusion of a stuff sack or not. We kept detailed notes along the way capturing surprise or unexpected performances and logged ideal uses in order to provide you with all of the information you need in choosing your next set of tent stakes.
Analysis and Test Results
The criteria for comparison considers the important role tent stakes play in securing a protective and reliable shelter while out in the elements. Keep in mind your own staking needs and preferences as you consider the metrics and comparisons made between tent stakes below.
Durability is one of the most important metrics we used to rank each model. While material and design play an important role in predicting potential overall durability, we wanted to know how well each tent stake could weather being repeatedly used in a variety of ground types including sand, soft soil, firm ground, and hard, rocky conditions in order to arrive at a real durability score. We installed 1 of each stake into all 4 ground types 20 times per ground type for an overall total of 80 installations per stake. Of those 20 installations per ground type, we used a hammer for 10 of them and our hands and feet for the other 10. Stakes were then scored across 3 metrics associated with durability; bend factor, guyline attachment points, and stake tip.
The recycled polycarbonate plastic Orange Screw Ultimate Ground Anchor surprised us with the highest durability score showing very little wear and tear even after repeated uses. As expected, the steel Coleman 10-inch and Eurmax Galvanized stakes scored the next highest, especially under their ideal circumstances for use, with a hammer in soft to hard ground.
The Vargo Ti Shepherd's Hook received a high score considering its miniscule weight, displaying promising integrity with its titanium material and natural flexing capabilities. The aluminum models struggled to keep up with the sturdiest models in regards to durability, but with careful use, they can enjoy a long life, too.
Packability is another key area of performance, especially when considering a backpacking or backcountry setting. Car campers can largely ignore this metric, while backpackers are advised to tune in more carefully. We carefully measured and weighed each tent stake using a kitchen scale and measuring tape. Each stake within its set was measured and the average weight was scored relative to the other contenders. We measured one stake from each set to log and score the length and width. The smaller and lighter the stake, the higher the score. We also considered whether or not a set of stakes came with a stuff sack or not.
The most packable stakes were the Vargo Ti Shepherd's Hook, the MSR Mini Groundhog, and the TOAKS Titanium V-Shaped, all of which were indeed lightweight and quite small in size. The Vargo Ti and the MSR Mini scored well for being the lightest of the bunch while the TOAKS Titanium scored well for its ability to pack down into a neat, compact size by nesting into itself and for coming with a high-visibility, ultralight stuff sack.
Holding Power is how strong of a hold each stake provides across soft soil, firm ground, and hard rocky conditions. Upon installing each tent stake into the ground during our durability testing, we then attached a guyline to each stake and pulled at a near-horizontal angle to the ground. Across 20 pulls, we judged how easy or difficult it was to pull out of the ground. Scores were tallied either as an easy single-hand pull, a difficult single-hand pull, or a hard two-hand pull. Difficult two hand pulls were then tallied for each stake across the soft soil, firm ground and hard rocky ground types to give an average holding power score. We intentionally left out sandy conditions to give a more accurate representation of holding power under the most common circumstances. If a stake held strongly in one ground type but performed poorly in another, it's overall holding power score was lower despite excelling under some circumstances.
Our strongest performers included the longer steel nail peg designs like the Coleman 10-inch Steel and the Eurmax Galvanized which were able to dig down deep maximizing their surface area and traction. The other top contender, especially in softer to firm ground types, was the Orange Screw Ultimate Ground Anchor with its wide screw design and length reaching and gripping effectively into the ground.
The other above-average performers included the TOAKS Titanium V-Shaped utilizing maximum surface area with its v-shape design and the aluminum tri-beam models like the MSR Mini Groundhog and the All One Tech stakes. Some of the sheperd hooks impressed us with more holding power than expected, but still landed lower than the models mentioned above in this metric.
Ease of Use
Ease of Use is how user-friendly or not the tent stakes are. We used four criteria; ease of installation by hand and foot, ease of installation by hammer, the inclusion of a pull cord or equivalent, and the ease of removal from the ground. It should be noted that we did not use a hammer or foot to install the Orange Screw Ultimate Ground Anchor but rather, due to its design that utilizes its own mechanism for installation, based its ease of installation scores off of its intended installation method.
The top performers had pull cords and a tri-beam design in common, two factors contributing to easy removal and easier installation by foot. The highest score for easiest to use was the MSR Mini Groundhog due to it installing by foot better than most others, hammering in easily, and its relative ease of removal with the help of its pull cord. The notches are also very useful for keeping guylines in place.
A close second is the All One Tech which was equally as easy to remove however its length compared to the MSR Mini made it a bit more difficult to install by foot. Another close contender was the Vargo Ti Shepherd's Hook with its slim profile making it easier to install in and around rocks and easy to remove by hand with its hook design.
Versatility determines overall stake performance and is based on scoring answers to a few basic questions. First, we consider how many guyline attachment points the stake presented. The more available options for attaching guylines increased the overall usability of a single stake. Second, we consider whether or not a stake requires a directional placement in the ground or if it can be placed in multiple directions. A directional placement requirement reduces the ways in which a stake can be placed and used reducing its overall usability. Third, we consider the stakes' utility across varying sediment densities from loose sand to packed and dry dirt. Lastly, we consider whether or not it is still feasible to use a stake after it was bent or damaged through prior testing.
Our top performers for versatility included the All One Tech and MSR Mini Groundhog stakes for their overall solid performance in holding power, non-directional placement capabilities as tri-beam designs, and their ability to be used over and over again with minimal bending or damage. They are also lightweight enough for backpacking trips yet also work fine for car camping.
The Coleman 10-inch Steel and the Eurmax Galvanized received higher scores for their ability to hold in sand where most others failed. Only the Orange Screw also performed well on the beach, although this screw is mostly limited to the beach or quite soft or moist sediment. The FANBX F Tent Pegs, while not the most versatile overall, did have a noteworthy performance in their continued usability despite getting bent out of shape early on in testing.
We used our professional experience working with rental equipment, our depth of personal experience pitching tents, and our extensive research and hands-on testing to bring you our comprehensive review and recommendations. After relentless usage in all types of environments from sandy and soft conditions to our backyard lawn to rocky and unforgiving terrain, we documented stake performance through it all to identify the top models and their best uses, all with the hope of shedding light on what tent stakes make the most sense for your tent staking objectives and needs.
— Hayley Walker