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Tent Stakes: How Many? What Kind?

Cordage and Tent Stake Bag
Cordage and Tent Stake Bag

When I go backpacking, I carry a small stuff sack with my tent stakes and extra cordage. I typically carry betwen 6 and 11 tent stakes with me, extra paracord and Kelty triptease.

This is one of the more general purpose elements of my gear list, but it’s worked well in a wide variety of conditions, so I can tolerate the few extra ounces that it add to my pack. The entire lot weighs about 8 ounces which is more than most of the tarps I carry these days. Most of the extra weight is in the paracord which I use instead of other cord type to save money and because it’s easier to tie friction knots with.

Types of Tent Stakes

Rather than carry one type of tent stake, I usually carry three for different soil conditions and with different levels of holding power.

For example,

  • For sandy soil with a lot of buried stones in it, I like a beefier stake that’s unlikely to bend. I’ve been using a V style titanium stake that’s good for tarp corners in terms of holding power. You can thread a guy line through them or just rely on tension to hold it in the cut out notch.
  • For ridgelines on a cat tarp or the main supports on a flat tarp, I like to use a 8″ Easton aluminum tent stake. They have great holding power but they weigh 14 grams each so I only bring two. This is also a good stake to use with shaped high tension tarps like a pyramid shelter.
  • For tarp sides, where I don’t need a lot of holding power or in woodsy soils without a lot of rocks in them, I’ve been using a combination of short and long high visibility titanium shepards hooks. 

What is in your cordage and stake bag? Do you use different tent stakes?


  1. I generally just carry the stakes and guy lines that came with my tent (Big Agnes Seedhouse 2). I always carry extra cordage, but have never had a need to use any to secure my tent. I guess this is more of an issue for tarp tent users.

  2. I'm a hammocker, I carry 2 stakes and 2 6ft. lengths of cord.

  3. Depends on if I am car camping for the weekend or backpacking for the weekend, usually just bring along the stakes from my Big Agnes tents. They are light weight, but bend easily in hard soil or gravel/sand. In that situation I always take along a set of 4 extra 3 sided aluminum stakes like these… Those usually work pretty well.

  4. Generally n+1 where n is what I need, I tend to accumulate them as I go along. I always carry a length of parachute cord because that is often useful. If I'm going with a group of people I'll often use a work glove as a sheath for the stakes both to protect my pack and so I have the glove which can be helpful.

  5. I swear by the MSR Needle stakes. They weigh about half of what normal aluminum stakes do, and they are very thin so they take up less space. I've used them in multiple types of earth with no problems. They are very tough, and I haven't been able to bend one yet. I bought 16: 8 for my 2-person tent, and 8 for my tarp shelter setup, and I usually will take 2 extra beyond what I need just in case. Great idea on the eye hooks for wood platforms! I ran into that problem on the AT in The White Mountains in NH. As for cordage I like the Kelty Triptease as well, but found some comparable reflective line from Nite Ize on Amazon for a little cheaper ( I usually leave guylines tied on my tent/tarp and carry 50ft. extra. Anyone have any experience with using Spectra Cord or Dyneema?

  6. Add another vote for MSR Needle Stakes. Very light and easy to drive. I usually add one or two and have never damaged one so I don't know why I ever bring any extra.

  7. Another vote for whatever comes with the tent kit. But that's because I'm lazy about stuff like that. I do like the MSR needle stakes. I also carry at least one wooden stake, in case of vampires.

  8. MSR Groundhog stakes are great. 6 for a tent, 6-12 for hammock/tarp.

  9. I traded out the 6 inch aluminum Y stakes for 8 MSR Needle stakes on my Shangri La1. I carry no extra. I did buy some very skimpy 6 inch titanium ones. The standard 80 degree(ish) hooked ones. They're just not suited to the ground in the Ozarks though. Too many rocks and loose gravelly soil. The Needles excel there. I believe that the tool needs to match the job. I carry only a 50 piece of 2mm Dyneema for my bear bag. I will soon make a paracord strap for my watch though, giving me a bit of cordage for extreme need.

  10. I generally take just the Ti shepherd crook stakes. In places where they won't go in, nothing else will either–no stake will go through a rock or a root! I use a rock to supplement the stake if it can't go all the way in. This is necessary only for the front and rear guylines on my tent or my tarp. When fully in, they hold just as well as the Easton stakes. I had trouble with the caps coming off the Easton stakes, so I stopped using them.

    I have one set of Ti stakes that have a fluorescent orange coating (easier than yellow to see in fall when the ground foliage turns yellow) that I got from Mountain Laurel Designs.… The coating is quite durable so far (3 years). Those stakes are also a little more robust than most Ti hook stakes. For my older stakes I have that came in stealth gray, I do a yearly spray painting with fluorescent orange. The paint mostly wears off by late fall, so I have to start over each year. I've lost only one stake in the three years since I started doing this, so I'm now bold enough not to carry an extra stake any more.

  11. I have REI sand tent anchors attached to my Tarptent, and find that putting a football size rock into or on top of each is usually enough to keep the small tent rigid even in strong winds. Works well even on Utah slickrock, where there is just plain no way to use stakes.

  12. I use whatever comes with the tent in the summer, and SMC snow stakes on snow.

  13. I like twizzle pegs, but I can't seem to find them in the US anymore. The ones I have are orange hard plastic and seem to work well in soft or hard ground. You just screw them into the ground. No pounding needed. Mine are 20+ years old. Link here shows what they look like:… but these are black which might make them easy to lose.

  14. For most of the ADK's, I find that the simple shepherds hooks work as well as any (with the exception of any car camping-base camp.) For the tarp, I find that 6 works pretty well when set up as a pup tent. For a lean-to, I use 5. I carry 7. Yellow or red paint does not work well in all the leaves, soo, I don't bother painting them. I loose one every couple years, but, that's not the point of carrying an extra. The extra holding power of a criss-cross double stake helps in windy conditions…at least on the one coner that is being wind hammered.

  15. I do 2 9" Eastons for similar reasons as above. I usually use them for the ridgeline. Then I carry 4 6" Eastons since I can pound them in with a rock. I use them for the corners of the shelter. Then I carry 4 Ti Hi Viz for general purpose additional usage for high wind and loss scenarios.

  16. I carry 9 Ti stakes when I carry the tent and 6 Ti stakes when I take the tarp. The stakes that came with the tent weigh double those of the Ti of the same number. Weight is weight, save it where you can.

  17. with tent and tarp I use 4-Ti 6-inch shepherd hooks on the corners and 2-Ti V-stakes for the ridgeline, I carry 2 additional shepherd hooks for my cook kit that can be used if needed

  18. While I usually stick with the tent stakes that come with the tent, I'll sometimes switch them out for the Vargo Outdoors Hi Vis titanium stakes. They are really sturdy and the orange coating makes them easy to find.

  19. I really like the shepherd type stakes for ease of pulling them out. I usually use these for staking the four corners. I use the “crook” part to hook into the stake that’s in the ground to pull it out. I also use the stakes that came with my Mountainsmith, the titanium v-style. Very light and have a notch to attach guy lines.

  20. I only need 2 stakes for my hammock tarp. I carry 2 titanium shepherds hooks, a 10 ft length of Zpacks Z-Line, and a 10 ft length of shock cord. As a “back-up”, a also carry a titanium V stake, which doubles as an implement for digging my catholes.

  21. I like pretty much any MSR stake. Used the aluminum 8″ spikes for years but switched to the longer Y stakes for the upcoming high Sierra trip. Snow stakes in the winter.

  22. I’m looking for a good all-around tent stake for my Eureka Mountain Pass tent. The standard aluminum stakes are ok for softer ground, but they bend all too easily in rocky terrain. I’ve heard good things about the MSR ground hog stakes, but I’m concerned the lines on my tent (the corner stake out points not the guy lines) will slip off the small notch. Has anyone tried these with a standard backpacking tent, and can you post pictures?

    • Jody,

      The heads of the Ground Hogs tend to break off in very hard soils (ask me how I know this). :) “Y” shaped stakes like Ground Hogs tend to have less holding power than “V” stakes. Titanium “V” stakes will probably be your best bet for something that won’t bend, will have good holding power, and will have enough notch to secure your guy lines.


  23. I have a preference for shepherd type stakes due to their easy removal. Typically, I use these for securing the four corners. The ‘crook’ section is particularly useful for hooking onto the stake in the ground for extraction. Additionally, I utilize the stakes that were included with my Mountainsmith, which are of a lightweight titanium v-style and feature a notch for attaching guy lines.

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