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Holding Strength of 4 Common Tent Stakes

We tested the holding strength (the pounds of force required to extract a tent stake) of four of the most popular and commonly used tent stakes. Each tent stake was tested in the same type of soil within 30 minutes of each other. The experiment was reproduced five times to obtain an average holding strength for each stake.

Paul Bodnar       Educational       07/14/2021
Paul Bodnar
Educational
7/14/2021
tent stake In the ground and the same tent stake being measured next to a ruler

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 very durable because of the Y type construction.

We tested the popular 6 inch MSR Mini Ground Hog Y-stake that weighs 9 grams and retails for around $3. The stake was placed straight in the ground and a guy line (cord or string that is used to secure a tent or tarp to the ground) was attached at a 30 degree angle from the ground. The force to extract the tent stake was then reproduced five times to obtain an average.

It took on average 23 ±4 pounds of force to extract the tent stake.

tent stake In the ground and the same tent stake being measured next to a ruler

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, V-stakes are not as durable as Y-stakes.

We tested the popular 6.5 inch Toaks Titanium V-stake that weighs 11 grams and costs around $3. The stake was placed straight in the ground and a guy line was attached at a 30 degree angle from the ground. The force to extract the tent stake was then reproduced five times to obtain an average.

It took on average 32 ±4 pounds of force to extract the tent stake.

tent stake In the ground and the same tent stake being measured next to a ruler

Shepherd’s Hook Stake

The Shepherd’s hook stakes tend to be lightweight, but tend to spin and bend.

We tested the popular 6.5 inch TiTo Titanium Shepherd’s hook stake that weighs 6 grams and costs around $3. The stake was placed straight in the ground and a guy line was attached at a 30 degree angle from the ground. The force to extract the tent stake was then reproduced five times to obtain an average.

It took on average 14 ±1 pounds of force to extract the tent stake.

tent stake In the ground and the same tent stake being measured next to a ruler

Nail Type Stake

Nail type stakes tend to be lightweight, but tend to spin in the ground. Nail type stakes lack a prominent hook so losing your guy line is more likely under windy conditions.

We tested the popular 6 inch MSR Core stake that weighs 5 grams and costs around $8. The stake was placed straight in the ground and a guy line was attached at a 30 degree angle from the ground. The force to extract the tent stake was then reproduced five times to obtain an average.

It took on average 20 ±1pounds of force to extract the tent stake.

graph of tent stake prices

Summary

The Shepherd’s hook stake and MSR Core nail type stake were the easiest to drive into the ground.  The thin Shepherd’s hook stake showed the lowest holding strength. The best and strongest holding strength was from the Toaks titanium V-stake. However, it took extreme caution not to bend the Toaks titanium V-stake when driving it into the ground.  The great holding strength of the V-stake was likely due to the large width of the stake. Surprisingly the best performing stake per unit weight was the MSR Core stake. The MSR Core stake had a holding strength of 20 pounds and only weighs 5 grams. However, the MSR Core stake costs almost three times the cost of the other stakes tested.

It is difficult to declare a clear winner. The best stake for your hike will depend on your individual needs that may include weight, cost, and holding strength.


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Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association

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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.