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Big Sky Tube Steak Tent Stakes Review

Big Sky Tube Steak Tent Stakes Review

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.

The 20 cm Tube Steak is actually about a quarter inch shy of 8”, while the 15 cm stake is about a tenth of an inch short of 6" stake.
The 20 cm Tube Steak is actually about a quarter inch shy of 8”, while the 15 cm stake is about a tenth of an inch short of 6″.

But there’s a key difference the Big Sky Tube Steaks and the Easton Aluminum Nano Stakes and that is 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 cord on Easton Nano Stake (top) runs through the cap and is prone to failure, while the cord on the Big Sky stake (bottom) runs through the tube.
The cord on Easton Nano Stake (top) runs through the cap and is prone to failure, while the cord on the Big Sky stake (bottom) runs through the tube.

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.

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Disclosure: Big Sky provided the author with these stakes but he wasn’t under any obligation to review them.

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6 comments

  1. great timing of your review, i just purchased the sm Lunar solo on your recommendation and was wondering how my msr needlestakes or mini groundhogs would do , but sounds like these are the ones to get

    • Unless you’re in fierce wind or really hard soil, I really would stick with the needles and their top hooks for the Lunar Solo. These may be overkill. They are very serious stakes for a specific purpose.

      • ok, thanks for the advice, going to be heading out on the a.t here in eastern p.a. and maybe up to the pocono’s

      • Think about it this way. The one stake out point on a Lunar Solo under the most tension is the front door beak. If you were to use these stakes, that’d be the guyout point to use it on. The other guyout points on a Lunar Solo are under considerably less tension.

        For example, if you had a rectangular or cat cat tarp, you would use these at the ends of the ridgeline. The same with any two peak tent. On the ridgeline ends. You’d use a lighter smaller stake like the needle on the other guylines.

  2. People will remember the name of the product, however unfortunate that name may be.

  3. “…the most unfortunate product name imaginable. You have to wonder if it’s deliberate or not.”

    Given that the name is spelled Steak (not Stake), it is absolutely intentional. And truth be told, much like “the Deuce of Spades”, I love it.

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