Big Sky International’s Tube Steak Tent Stakes have the most unfortunate product name imaginable. You have to wonder if it’s deliberate or not. Regardless, they’re great tent stakes for pounding into hard ground or compacted soil with excellent holding power. I use them with shelters that require a lot of tension and deep stake penetration to erect, like tarps and single-wall shaped shelters, and when I know strong winds are prevalent.
Specs at a Glance
- Material: A7075 aircraft aluminum alloy
- Available in 6″ /15 cm and 8″ / 20 cm lengths
- 6″ stake weighs 0.35 oz/10 g
- 8″ stake weighs 0.48/13.6 g
The Tube Steaks are made with aluminum tubing and available in 6″ and 8″ lengths. They have a metal cap at the top so you can pound them into the ground with a rock and a pull cord that runs through a small hole drilled into the tubing. To remove them from the ground, you can pull on the cord by hand or run another stake through the cord, and pull on that like a handle. They’re quite similar to the Easton Aluminum Nano Stakes that ship with Tarptent’s tents (also sold by a handful of other small manufacturers), which are also available in 6″ and 8″ lengths.
But there’s a key difference the Big Sky Tube Steaks and the Easton Aluminum Nano Stakes and that is the design of the cord pull. The cord on a Tube Steak runs through a hole in the aluminum tube itself, while the cord on an Easton Nano runs through a metal cap attached to the head of the aluminum tube. That matters, because the heads of the Easton tent stakes have a history of coming off occasionally, making it often impossible to get the rest of the stake out of the ground. This is a real pain in the ass if you get into the habit of only bringing the minimum number of tent stakes that you need. I’ve had it happen to me multiple times, which is why I avoid these Easton stakes or bring a few extras along on multi-day trips.
The heads of the Easton Nano Stakes don’t come off predictably or reliably and no one is sure exactly why some stakes fail and others don’t. But it stands to reason that if you make a two-piece stake with a cap and tube, and run the cord through the cap, it’s going to pop off sooner or later. I’ve never had the same problem with the Tube Steaks that come with Big Sky’s tents (also sold separately) since the cord runs through the tube and not the cap. These are the stakes I carry when I need the extra holding power of a long stake and the reliability of a stake that won’t fail. The long Big Sky stakes (10 g) are also slightly lighter than the Easton Nano Aluminum states (12 g), measured without the cords.
So if you want aluminum tube stakes that you can reliably get out of the ground, get yourself some of Big Sky’s Tube Steak Tent Stakes, or bring a titanium trowel so you can dig your Easton stakes out of the ground if their caps pop off.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.
Disclosure: Big Sky provided the author with these stakes but he wasn’t under any obligation to review them.
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