Best Tent Stakes and Pegs for Camping and Backpacking

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We narrowed our top choices for the best tent stakes down to six by looking at durability, versatility, hold, and price, and the Chill Gorilla came out on top. The MSR Groundhog, which is only a few hundredths of an ounce lighter, came in a close second. 

Both of these tent stakes, along with the other four reviewed here, come with superior value and differing advantages which we explain below. 

And just so you know, we use “tent stake,” “tent peg,” and “tent anchor” interchangeably in this review.

6 Best Tent Stakes Reviewed in this Post

Best Heavy Duty Tent Stake

Orange Screw Ground Anchor

We found this tent stake to be one heck of a good choice for the common campsite. The screw-like design and sharp point make it easy to put in the ground, and also easy to remove, while adding superb hold for a variety of ground types. 

This Orange Screw Ground Anchor comes 9.5 inches long, with a diameter of 7/8ths of an inch, which seems to be just about right for balancing durability and efficiency. A pack of stakes comes with one clear driver that fits through the eye to form a T-handle, and this makes both setup and tear down so much easier. 

These tent pegs are proven to secure your gear in windy weather, even when used in the sand, and the bright orange color makes them easy to see. Even though they’re made out of plastic, they hold their own against metal tent pegs. 

A word of caution, though: if you’re planning to camp on dry, hard ground, it can be hard to twist them into the surface, and you may risk breaking them. They are a little heavy for backpackers (1.8 oz. each), but work great for weekend campers and hikers. And, they come with a lifetime guarantee – so if you break it, they send you a new one! 

While they do land on the more expensive end of the spectrum as far as tent stakes go, these tent stakes are one part of your camping gear that you can afford to spend a little more on because you know you’ll be getting great value. 

Best Tent Stake for Sand or Snow

Ogrmar Aluminum Snow & Sand Tent Stakes

The first thing that will stand out about these stakes is their length. At 12 inches, they are much longer than the typical tent stake, and for good reason. The added length, which is intended for use in sandy ground, increases the leverage produced by the stake, and thereby creates greater hold in loose sand, snow, dirt, or gravel.

This U-type tent anchor also features several holes along the spine, and these can be used either for different rigging setups (such as the “deadman anchor” below), or for added friction in the snow (the snow will melt together and create cross-wise pegs). 

And, these stakes are not a bad option for backpackers, given their weight. At 1.8 oz., they compete with many shorter tent stakes, and their shape makes them easy to pack. 

On the downside, these are certainly not one-size-fits-all. Because of their length, they will not work well in shallow snow on frozen ground, and you should avoid hard, rocky ground altogether with these bad boys. 

Still, their anodized finish protects them from the usual wear and tear, and for the price, you will struggle to find a better anchor for the sand and deep snow. 

Best Lightweight Tent Stake

Chill Gorilla 7075 Aluminum Alloy Tent Stakes

Looking for a lightweight tent stake? Chill Gorilla has made one of the best on the market. Each tent anchor weighs only 14 grams, or about .49 ounces, and in the 7-inch version, they make a great choice for backpacking tent stakes. 

These tent anchors are made of 7075 aluminum alloy, which means they are made of the same material found commonly in airplanes and high-stress structures, and that they have a higher resistance to corrosion than other types of aluminum.

You can find them in either the 7-inch or 11.8-inch versions, but be aware that the longer stakes come as “Quads” (looks like a + from the top), while the shorter ones come as “tri-beam” (looks like a Y). 

The tri-beam version has three latch points to provide multiple attachment options, while the quad version has latch points at the top only. And, both come with tough, reflective paracords at the top. You will find that the paracord provides an additional attachment point, while also making the stakes easier to remove. 

Although they might not be as durable as their steel or titanium competitors, the Chill Gorilla tent pegs come 10 to a pack with an included carry bag, making them one of the best-priced options out there.  

Best All-Purpose Tent Stakes

MSR Groundhog

A legend in the camping universe, the MSR Groundhog pulls no punches when it comes to versatility, durability, and dependability. They measure 7.5 inches, with a reflective loop for removing them from the ground, and their Y-beam construction creates extra holding strength in nearly all surface types. 

You can attach the guylines for your tent using the notches at the top of each stake. And since these notches are straight and not hooked, make sure you angle the stake away from the tent properly for maximum hold.

At .46 ounces per stake, they are a lightweight choice for backpackers, and they maintain their strength using 7000-series aluminum. The Groundhog will cost you less than many of the more expensive brands of tent pegs, and with a solid reputation to precede them, you can be certain you’re getting a great product. 

ABC Canopy

If you are looking for a more traditional, T-type tent anchor, the ABC Canopy stake combines innovative technology with the simplicity of a nail. These heavy duty stakes have a milled point and a large peg head for easy insertion into hard (or soft) ground. 

Made with galvanized steel, you can plan to use these for many camping seasons, as they are resistant to bending, breaking, and rusting, and at 9.8 inches, they will provide plenty of leverage and grip in a variety of ground types. 

They come with a plastic hook and eyelet for multiple attachments, and the bright orange is both easy to see and hard to lose. (But, you can find them in green, too, if you’d like.) 

You might want to consider using a tent peg hammer for these because the small heads might be difficult to hit with a rock, and due to the steel, they can be rather heavy for backpacking. Still, for a quality, all-purpose, heavy-duty tent anchor, ABC Canopy certainly hit the “stake” on the head with these, and they’ve thrown in a 10-foot rope for free – just because. 

AAGUT Galvanized Steel Tent Pegs

Now, if you really want to get back to basics, or if you are simply looking for a bulk order that doesn’t break the bank, the AAGUT shepherd’s hook stakes will do the trick. 

At 9 inches long and with a 1 inch hook, they create ample leverage beneath the surface and superb hold above it. These 6 gauge diameter galvanized steel rods are durable and rust-resistant. And, their tapered points make for easy insertion. 

Unfortunately, these stakes do not hold well in sand or snow, and they would add significant weight for a backpacker. Still, these stakes are tried and true, and if you want something that works, at a great price, with plenty of extras, I would recommend the AAGUT Steel Tent Pegs

Top Pick for the Best Tent Stake: Chill Gorilla

After comparing these six tent stakes for durability, versatility, hold, and price, our top pick came down to a near tie between Chill Gorilla and MSR Groundhog. Both stakes are lightweight and sturdy. Both grip in a variety of soil types, and both are composed of rust-resistant aluminum.

While the MSR Groundhog comes slightly longer than the small version of the Chill Gorilla, it weighs less. Still, the Chill Gorilla offers two lengths with a Y-beam and Quad version, and tends to be cheaper. For these reasons, our Top Pick goes to Chill Gorilla.

Best Tent Stake Hammers

Since you’re already buying the stakes, you might want to pick up the tool to help you insert and remove them. 

MSR Tent Stake Hammer

The MSR Stake Hammer is our top choice for a hammer that is rugged, effective, and pleasant to use. The stainless steel head is well-balanced with the handle and includes an integrated bottle opener (one of our favorite features). 

At a total of 11 ounces, it remains lightweight while serving as a good peg driver. And, the claw on the back makes removing stakes a piece of cake. (Or, if you happen to be using the hooked AAGUT stakes above, you can use the opening within the head….)

We think the MSR Tent Stake Hammer is a versatile tool that makes camp setup and tear down so much easier, and we recommend that you get one. (For other options, see below.)

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How to Choose the Best Tent Stakes for Any Campsite

As with every aspect of your campsite, tent stakes are intended to add security and stability to your shelter in the wilderness. With the variety of environments you might encounter, there are many factors to consider when determining which tent stakes are right for you. 

In the following section, we go over the materials and shapes to look for, what tent pegs work for which campsites, and some of the science behind what makes a tent stake effective. 

orange and white tent on rocky desert ground

Surface Conditions

Generally, the campsite surface will be either rocky, sandy, soft dirt, or snow. When choosing tent stakes, do some research so you know what kind of ground to expect and what tent anchors will best suit your needs. 

Sand

You will most likely encounter sand when camping near the ocean, on the shore of a lake, in the desert, or anywhere in Florida. Like every other surface, the conditions may vary widely, but sand will usually require a longer tent peg with a specialized shape. 

Loose sand does not provide enough friction for the basic shepherd’s hook or tent spike, so the design of the stake must compensate for this. V, U, or Y-type stakes may work just fine in the sand and also work in other surface types, but a screw or spiral stake will have the most holding strength. 

And, stakes designed for the sand will typically be between 10-12 inches (rather than 7-9 inches) to create the most resistance. (If you want to know more about the science of tent stakes, keep reading.)

Snow

Snow and sand present similar challenges for the camper, but one thing to consider with snow is that it will usually not be as deep as sand, so the long stakes you use at the beach may not help you much here. 

The best solution for snow camping that I have found is to use U-pegs that contain holes down the spine. Rather than inserting the stake vertically, create what is called a “deadman anchor” by laying the stake horizontally and burying it. 

The holes in the stake will allow you to secure the guyline to the stake, and the snow will provide additional resistance as it freezes around the stake. 

If you choose to pound the stakes into the ground, keep in mind that the ground will probably be frozen, so you will want to make sure you have solid tent pegs, along with the proper stake hammer for inserting and removing them. 

Dirt

Dirt, whether hard and dry or soft and moist, will provide the best staying strength for your tent stakes and be the easiest to work with. 

The tent anchors included with your tent might work just fine here, but I would still recommend something with more stability, such as a Y-stake, simply because they will be less likely to move and provide more options when securing the guylines. Nail stakes should work fine as well, but keep an eye out for rocks.

Rocks

With rocky campsites, make sure you choose heavy duty stakes that can withstand repeated impacts. Steel stakes will work best in these conditions, as aluminum stakes will bend or break easily. 

Additionally, rocks and pebbles will not create as much friction on the surface of your stakes as dirt would, so you may want to consider using longer stakes as well. 

two tents on prairie and large flat rocks gray sky and sparse brown grass

Types of Tent Stakes

Material

Tent stakes are most commonly found in aluminum, plastic, and steel, but you might also find them in titanium or iron. 

Backpackers will find aluminum and plastic stakes to be the lightest. These kinds will also work great for camping near salt water, since aluminum and plastic will not corrode as steel does. 

For camping in the Canadian Shield, where rocks abound, galvanized steel may be the material of choice for its durability. 

Length

The length of your stakes will contribute to their holding strength, but keep in mind that a long stake may be impractical for certain situations. 

For instance, you might find it very hard to pound a stake into the dry, desert pavement of the Southwestern United States. Not only would you risk bending or breaking your stakes, but you might not be able to insert them deep enough in the soil to be useful. 

Similarly, snow stakes will hardly be useful in locations where the snow is only a few inches, as you would want a tougher, thicker stake to penetrate the frozen earth. 

By contrast, long stakes are really useful in loose sand, where they will get most of their grip from leverage. 

Visibility

While not directly related to the effectiveness of the pegs you use, stakes with bright colors are much easier to find in grass or leaves. You will also help to avoid stubbing your toes on them, and if you use bright-colored guylines, your kids will be less likely to trip when running around the tent. (Read more Tips for Camping with Kids.)

large family tent on green grass at sunset eight tent stakes

Price

Like everything else, tent stakes will range in price by brand, material, and storefront. In my own experience, I have not noticed a large difference in performance that can be correlated with price tag.

That is to say, you can usually get a quality product that is cheaper than the name brand. 

However, I would recommend that you avoid choosing the cheapest stakes you can find, as these will often be made of the lowest grade materials, and they will not last long. 

If I were to list the elements of a tent stake in order of priority, I would place material at the top. The composition of your stakes must suit your purpose, be it backpacking or car camping, or even holding down inflatables in the front yard. 

Length and visibility would come next – also according to the intended use – with price last of all. 

The Science Behind Tent Stakes

In order to get the maximum holding strength from your tent anchors, you must squeeze as much resistance out of them as you possibly can. Understanding the mechanics of tent stakes and how they work will not only make your tent more secure, it will also help your stakes last longer. 

Leverage

The majority of a stake’s hold resides in the Law of the Lever, which uses the basic mechanical advantage of a beam and pivot. If you’re not sure how levers work, here is a short video by Ted-Ed to explain:

In the case of the tent stake, the guyline is tugging on the top of the stake, and the stake is pivoting against the ground. The farther the stake has been pushed into the ground, the less leverage the tent will have to pull with. And what’s more, the ground will provide greater resistance below the pivot point. 

But, it is very important that each tent peg is angled away from the tent. If the pegs are pointed toward the tent (so that the head is closer to the tent than the point in the ground), then there is no fulcrum at all, and the stake is relying solely on friction. The precise angle is not as important, but try to keep it close to 90° between the rope and the stake.

Friction

Additionally, your tent anchors will get some of their hold from the friction between the ground and the surface area of each anchor. If the ground is packed, the stakes will have more friction and thus hold better. 

On the other hand, loose gravel or sand will not hold well, so stakes that are designed for these surface types will usually have an additional feature, such as screw threads or a twisted shape. 

Drag

The drag resistance of your tent pegs comes directly from their shape. Drag comes into play particularly with sandy campsites, where the surface packs poorly. Some stakes made for the sand will be longer than others, providing more leverage, but they will also be wider in order to “catch” more of the sand as they are pulled. 

Think of a parachute – it catches a lot of air and creates tremendous resistance as a result. This is the secret behind the deadman anchor, which is a favorite hack of campers and backpackers. 

Stakes with a V, U, or Y-shape develop holding power using this principle of drag, while also creating friction by having greater surface area. Combined with leverage, these types of stakes tend to be the most effective in all campsites.

Infographic for
Source: https://theultimatehang.com/

Tent Stake Hammer

As you may come to discover, tent stakes can be hard to insert and remove by hand. While you can usually find a rock to pound stakes into the ground, removing them can be a little more challenging. 

In order to eliminate these struggles, companies such as Eurmax, Darkeagle, and ABC Canopy have developed stake hammers to aid with inserting and removing tent stakes. I personally like the design of the MSR Stake Hammer because it has both a face, claw, and loop to match any stake type (along with a built-in bottle opener), and it weighs only 11 ounces. 

Just a note about removing stakes:

Knock it from side to side once or twice to loosen the stake before you remove it from the ground. This will help to prevent it from breaking as well as to make the extraction more easy. 

Alternative Way to Use Tent Stakes

In the video below, Mike Wyen from cargocultcafe.com shares some alternative ways to use tent stakes, as well as other ways to secure your tent if you lose, break, or forget your tent anchors.

And keep in mind that when you are not camping, tent stakes can become incredibly useful elsewhere: 

  • For holding down inflatable lawn decorations
  • For tying down tarps
  • To secure pool covers or greenhouse enclosures
  • For anchoring a kayak or canoe to the shore
  • As a dog tie out for a small dog
  • To hold a badminton net
  • To secure beach umbrellas
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