Camping enthusiasts with a long-standing record of outdoor camping would attest to the fact that tent stakes are must-have camping gear. They play an important role in anchoring tents to the ground thus providing a firm structure. One that is able to withstand different weather elements. Staking a tent would have been a much simpler task if you learn how peoperly use a tent stake for different ground types. The thing is, every soil type requires a specific type of tent stake. As such, a newbie or anyone with little experience in erecting tent structures would find it extremely nerve-wracking to go about the whole exercise.
Thankfully, you do not have to go through all the trouble because we are here for you. We have dedicated our expertise to avail all the necessary information you would need to ease the hassle of using a tent stake to erect a camping tent. Read on.
Related: Best Tent Stakes of 2020
This article will cover tips for choosing and using tent stakes for soft and hard ground. We’ll be covering the following areas:
Top 7 Things You Should Know Before Staking Your Tent
- First and foremost, make sure to drive the stake properly into the ground and only allow a small portion of the stake sticking up. The small stuck-up portion should be enough to allow you to pull the stake out when dismantling the tent.
- Drive your stake into the ground perpendicular (90°), not at an angle.
- Even though we recommended pounding the tent, it should not apply to all the stakes. You can only pound the heavy-duty tent stakes since they are the only ones that can withstand the pressure and impact of the hammer.
- Do not force the stake once it hits a rock or root underground.
- To get the right shape of the tent, drive the stakes into the ground one by one in an alternating fashion. For instance, if you are erecting a rectangular tent, set the first stake followed by the one on the opposite corner. Make sure you made and X shape with these corners for a correct tension force.
- An important tip when setting a tent is to ensure that you start with erecting the tent before setting the stakes. It would be a lot more difficult trying to do it the other way around.
- Choose your tent stakes according to your campsite conditions. (Detailed information below)
Material Types of Tent Stakes
The type of tent stake is an important factor of consideration when making your choice. Tent stakes are categorized according to the type of material from which they are made. The following are the main materials that tent manufacturers use to make tent stakes;
Aluminum Tent Stakes
Just as the name suggests, aluminum stakes are made from aluminum material. Aluminum material is known for its lightweight properties, which makes this type of tent stake suitable for backpackers. However, it is not the strongest tent stake out there and as such, it may not survive quite well in hard or frozen grounds. But it works perfectly well on soft grounds and this could explain why it is often found in the package of small-scale tents. If you are planning on getting a large tent for a large group of campers, it would probably be a good idea to go against this type of tent. Also, bear in mind that it will work best under normal weather conditions. In this regard, take into consideration not just the type of ground but also the strength of the wind in the area you intent to go camping.
Steel Tent Stakes
Steel is a pretty common industrial material and you would probably be surprised if there were no such thing as a steel tent stake. In fact, it happens to be the most common type of tent stake, and this can be attributed to the fact that it is cost-effective. Steel is also quite tough and this makes it resistant to pressure and impact. Therefore, you can comfortably choose it for medium and hard grounds. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that steel is a relatively heavy material, which makes the steel tent stake a less suitable choice for backpackers.
Titanium Tent Stakes
Titanium is arguably the most durable and sturdy material for making tent stakes. It is a premium grade type of tent stake, which explains why it doesn’t come in large sizes. The fact that titanium tent stakes are strong and durable makes them ideal for hard grounds. They also work best in rocky and frozen grounds since they do not break. If you expect the camping ground to be hard, rocky, or frozen, then it is a good idea to choose titanium tent stakes.
Wooden Tent Stakes
These are less common and you are least likely going to find them being sold commercially. More often than not, wooden tent stakes are only homemade. However, you shouldn’t look down upon them because they are quite handy especially in small-scale tent structures on medium grounds. One thing to note, though is that wooden tent stakes should never be substituted with actual commercial tent stakes. You should only use them temporarily as you prepare to replace them with either aluminum, steel, or titanium stakes.
Plastic Tent Stakes
These are low-end tent stakes that are sold with budget tents and you can use on soft or medium grounds. It is worth noting that choosing this type of tent stake is considered a temporal solution. They easily break and for this reason, you will need to be replacing them from time to time. In this regard, only choose plastic tent stakes if you intend to erect a small tent on soft ground and on a normal weather day.
Ground Types and Right Stakes
When it comes to types of grounds available for pitching tents, four main categories come to mind. They include:
This type of ground comprises surfaces made of sand, snow, and loose gravel. It is one of the most common types of grounds for erecting tents. It presents a unique challenge for the camper because the soft ground does not easily hold tent stakes with enough firmness. This means that in the event of strong winds, the tent could easily be blown away.
Choosing a tent stake for Soft Grounds
Soft grounds are notorious for refusing to hold tent stakes firmly in the ground. But, here’s a piece of advice. You will need to choose a finned stake or one that is longer than the usual stake. Go for the plastic stakes if you are on a budget. They will still get the job done. You can as well consider wooded stakes as they are easier to modify and you’ll always get the right length with ease. And make sure you have the equipment to pound the soft ground for driving the stake into the ground.
This is the type of ground that comprises of fine soil particles like dry clay. Hard ground is quite common and it presents minimal challenges to the camper. A majority of camping enthusiasts find hard ground to be the most ideal for almost any kind of weather.
Choosing a tent stake for Hard Grounds
Be sure to choose the right stake. It should be made from heavy-duty material such as steel or titanium. You will always get it right if you select a tent stake that is not more than a quarter of an inch thick with the shape of a nail. The best thing about a hard ground is that it does not require the tent stake to be very long. This is because the ground is capable of holding the stake firmly in the ground. To be on the safe side, you will need to back yourself up with some 4” and 6” nails just in case the actual stakes fail to get the job done. Remember, the fancy heavy-duty tent stakes made of titanium or steel could be quite pricey.
If the ground is too hard, say rocky or frozen ground, then you might have to use some water to soften the ground a bit. To do this, pound the area you intend to drive your stake and then pour a small amount of water. Then wait for a couple of minutes, at least 45 minutes after which you can use a hammer or a tool to pound the stake into the softened ground. Just be careful not to hit your tent and destroy it while pounding the stake into the ground.