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4 Types of Common Tent Stakes

There are four basic types of commonly used tent stakes: the Y-stake, V-stake, Shepherd's Hook stake, and the nail stake. Each type of stake has its advantages and disadvantages, and we took a look at the differences between each one.

Paul Bodnar       Educational       07/14/2021
Paul Bodnar
Educational
7/14/2021
tent stake being measure and showing the grooves and shape of stake

Y-Stake

The Y-stake gets its name from the Y shape of the stake from the top view. Y-stakes resist bending, are more durable, and don’t easily spin in the ground. Y-stakes are commonly constructed out of high grade aluminum. Y-stakes are going to be the most durable tent stake and provide good overall holding power.

MSR Ground Hog Stake: 7.5 inches, 15 grams, $3

MSR Mini Ground Hog Stake: 6 inches, 9 grams, $3

(not a comprehensive list)

tent stake being measured

V-Stake

The V-stake gets its name from the V shape of the stake from the top view. The V-stake resists bending and does not easily spin in the ground. V-stakes are commonly constructed out of titanium. However a V-stakes are not as durable as Y-stakes.

Hikemax Titanium: 6.3 inches, 12 grams, $3

TiTo Titanium: 6.3 inches, 13 grams, $3

(not a comprehensive list)

tent stake being measured

Shepherd’s Hook Stake

The Shepherd’s hook stakes tend to be lightweight, but tend to spin and bend. Wider tent stakes are less likely to bend, but weight more.

TiTo Titanium: 6.5 inches, 6 grams, $3

Vargo Titanium: 6.5 inches, 8 grams, $4

(not a comprehensive list)

tent stake being measured next to a ruler

Nail Type Stake

Nail type tent stakes tend to be lightweight, but tend to spin and bend. Some nail type stakes lack a prominent hook, so losing the guyline  (cord or string that is used to secure a tent or tarp to the ground) is more likely under windy conditions.

Easton Aluminum Nano Stake: 6 inches, 8 grams, $3

Easton Aluminum Nano Stake: 8 inches, 12 grams, $3

MSR Core Stake: 6 inches, 6 grams, $8

MSR Core Stake: 9 inches, 14 grams, $9

MSR Needle Tent Stake: 6 inches, 10 grams, $3

(not a comprehensive list)

Summary

The most durable tent stake that provides the best holding power in various conditions would be the Y-stake design. However, these tent stakes tend to weigh more than other stakes.

If you want to use the lighter Shepherd’s hook tent stake, you should plan on replacing them more frequently because they are more likely to bend the more you use them.

In general, longer stakes of a similar design will perform better than shorter stakes.

TIP: It is always a good idea to carry a spare stake or two, in case you ever lose one or if they bend or break.


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About the Author
A man wearing an Arizona Trail baseball cap stands in a field in front of a mountain.

Paul Bodnar

Paul has always liked hiking and thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1997 after college. After years of working in chemistry, he wanted to create a career involving the outdoors, so he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail again in 2010 to do research for his guide book Pocket PCT. He realized that creating a smartphone app for navigating the outdoors would make it easier to keep the data current and provide a better way to navigate. While hiking with Ryan (aka Guthook) in 2010, they decided to work together to create the first comprehensive smartphone guide for the Pacific Crest Trail. Now with the help of a team of great people they have created over 50 guides for trails around the world.