Titanium Shephard’s Tent Stake
Photo by Paul Bodnar
Read something else

Which Tent Stake is Best for Your Thru-Hike?

I tested the holding strength of the four most common stakes in a controlled environment in an earlier blog post. The stakes I tested were the Y-stake, V-stake, Shephard's hook stake, and the nail type stake. Last month, I took these stakes to the John Muir Trail to do a real field test over 17 days and over 240 miles of hiking.

Paul Bodnar       Tech on the Trail       09/07/2021
Paul Bodnar
Tech on the Trail
09/07/2021

Shephard’s Tent Stake

I started the field test using just the titanium Shephard’s tent stakes (6 grams and about $3 each). These tent stakes showed the lowest holding power of just 14 pounds of force in our controlled experiments. Surprisingly, with just 14 pounds of holding power, there was no problem keeping the tent upright even in a modest amount of wind.

The Shephard’s titanium tent stakes were placed into the ground by hand. Stakes were never forced into the ground using a rock or other forceful means. Only one Shephard’s tent experienced a slight bend over the 17 days of tests.

The Shephard’s titanium tent stakes appears to be the best stake for the weight and cost while providing the minimum amount of holding power needed.

A tent stake being measured and in the ground

MSR Core Tent Stake

I tested the 6 inch MSR Core tent stake (5 grams and $7 to $8 each) which is the lightest and most expensive tent stake I tested. The MSR Core tent stakes showed a holding power of 20 pounds of force in my controlled experiments. With 20 pounds of holding power, there was no problem keeping the tent upright even in a modest amount of wind.

The MSR Core tent stakes were placed into the ground by hand. Stakes were never forced into the ground using a rock or other forceful means. The MSR Core tent stakes experienced no bending or damage over the 17 days of tests.

The MSR Core tent stakes appears to be the best stake for the weight, holding power, and durability but they were about three times the cost of the other stakes tested.  A set of 8 MSR stakes can cost well over $50.

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

Titanium V-Stake

I tested the titanium V-stake (11 grams and $2 to $3 each). The titanium V-stakes showed the best holding power of 32 pounds of force in my controlled experiments. With 32 pounds of holding power, there was no problem keeping the tent upright even in a modest amount of wind.

The titanium V-stakes were placed into the ground by hand. Stakes were never forced into the ground using a rock or other forceful means. Setting the titanium V-stakes required the most caution to avoid any bending. The titanium V-stakes experienced some bending or damage over the 17 days of tests. Extreme caution had to be used when reusing a bent V-stake to avoid breakage.

The titanium V-stake provides the best holding power, but appears to be the least durable.

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

Aluminum MSR Groundhog Mini Y-Stake

I tested the aluminum MSR Groundhog Mini Y-Stake  (9 grams and $2 to $3 each). The titanium Y-stakes showed a holding power of 23 pounds of force in my controlled experiments. With 23 pounds of holding power, there was no problem keeping the tent upright even in a modest amount of wind.

The aluminum MSR Groundhog Mini Y-Stake were placed into the ground by hand. Stakes were never forced into the ground using a rock or other forceful means. Setting the aluminum MSR Groundhog Mini Y-Stake was easy because these stakes felt the strongest and most durable. There was no evidence of any bending or damage over the 17 days of tests. The aluminum MSR Groundhog Mini Y-Stakes provided the most peace of mind when setting.

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

Conclusions

So what did I learn?

  • The overall best performer in utility, cost, and weight was the titanium Shephard’s tent stake
  • The best overall tent stake (if money was not a factor) would be the MSR Core tent stake
  • The most durable stake with good holding power was the aluminum MSR Mini Groundhog Y-Stake
  • I would avoid the titanium V-Stake due to the lack of long-term durability and the weight

Want to keep up with all that’s going on at Atlas Guides? Sign up for our newsletter!

Read more!

Check out some related blog posts!

Download our popular hiking and biking guides!

Trail guides that get you to places you’ve dreamed of.

As the makers of Guthook Guides, Bikepacking Guides, and Cyclewayz, we help you navigate the most popular trails around the world on your smartphone. Our hiking guides and biking guides work completely offline. Let Guthook guide your next adventure!

Showers Lake Vista, Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association
A lake reflects a nearby wildflower meadow and trees.
Showers Lake Vista, Tahoe Rim Trail
Photo courtesy of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association

Trail guides that get you to places you’ve dreamed of.

As the makers of Guthook Guides, Bikepacking Guides, and Cyclewayz, we help you navigate the most popular trails around the world on your smartphone. Our hiking guides and biking guides work completely offline. Let Guthook guide your next adventure!

Download our popular hiking and biking guides!
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 40 guides for trails around the world.