Stakes are, quite literally, the anchor of any shelter set up. Depending on the type of shelter you use, stakes may not always be necessary. If and when they are required, you can save a significant amount of weight in your shelter set up by choosing from the plethora of ultra strong and ultra light stakes available today. These aren’t your grandparent’s steel shepherd hooks; technology and new materials have brought tent stakes down into the single digit gram realm.
The following are some ultra light shelter stakes that I’ve used and liked, or researched and wish to use, on the trail:
Weight: 1 gram / .035 ounces
Length: 4.72 inches / 120mm
Diameter: 0.067 inches / 1.7mm
If you want the absolute lightest stakes available, look no further than the Terra Nova Equipment Titanium 1g Skewer Pegs. At 1 gram per each, these stakes are just insanely lightweight. They are just so delicate, that the soil needs to be pretty soft to anchor them securely. These stakes can be gently tapped into harder earth, but if hammering is required, a more durable stake should be used.
If you are expecting any wind, you should reach for something more hefty too. Most people use these for side points and secondary guy lines, interspersing more durable stakes into the set, for doors and corner tie outs, though I have certainly read positive reviews from those who choose to use only these tiny stakes for their entire set up, with success. So, it seems possible to get your entire total weight for your stakes down to just 6 grams!
Weight: 8.33 grams / 0.3 ounces
Length: 6 inches / 152.4mm
Diameter: .125 inches / 3.17 mm
The first move to make in lightening up the weight of your stakes, is to seek out some made from Titanium. The Ti shepherd hooks I use are from Vargo, a trusted name in outdoor accessories. There are definitely cheaper Ti stakes out there from generic companies, but beware of inaccurate weight and material composition (not pure Titanium) claims.
Titanium is a pretty cool element; its properties lend themselves well to outdoor applications. Titanium is 45% lighter than steel, 2x stronger than aluminum, won’t rust or corrode, is mildly flexible (helps prevent snapping), and extremely durable. It is important to note that Aluminum is still a lighter material, but will not hold up as well when stressed. I would save aluminum for more gently used items such as a cups or utensils, instead of stakes.
Another important note is that TITANIUM CAN STILL BEND AND BREAK! Even Titanium ultralight stakes are still somewhat delicate and are best used in softer soil. It is always best to avoid scenarios that result in you having to pound ultralight stakes into hard or rocky ground with large stones.
Don’t expect the fluorescent orange coating to last very long with regular use. That has nothing to do with performance, just visibility, and you can always repaint them.
This particular set of stakes comes in a 6 pack, resulting in a cost of about $3.67 per stake. Six stakes are typically the minimum required to set up an ultralight shelter. Again, there are cheaper and lighter generic stakes out there, such as this 6 pack of generic Titanium ALLOY tent stakes, but performance may vary.
Weight: Larger Easton Stake: 12.68 g / 0.44 oz
Smaller Alloy Stake: 9.85 g / 0.34 oz
Total For Set (1 large + 5 small): 60.79 g / 2.14 oz
Length: Larger Easton Stake: 8.75 inches
Smaller Alloy Stake: 6.25 inches
I purchased this set of stakes from Six Moon Designs, specifically to complement my Six Moon Designs “Wild Oasis Shelter”.
The smaller stakes performed very well; always providing the stability that I needed on all anchor points besides the main entry. I never had one bend or pop out of the ground. The larger “Easton” nail-style stake was light for its size and provided good holding power.
Since the entry stake handles most of the force created in the Wild Oasis’s tee-pee-style setup, sometimes this stake did become unearthed a few times if it was not buried at a sufficient angle. Also, the “nail head” on the Easton stake popped off after a couple of weeks on the trail, which required me to implement an even more severe angle of ground entry to keep the guy line from slipping off of the stake.
Weight: 11.15 grams / .39 oz
Length: 6.5 inches
Diameter: .55 inches
I picked these up for use with my Zpacks Camo “Altaplex” on my 2017 Florida Trail thru hike, due to the likelihood of soft and sandy ground in Florida. They worked very well in stabilizing my shelter in those conditions. However, when I was faced with harder soil as I traveled NOBO, I had to resort to hammering in a few stakes a couple of times. On one of these occasions, one of my stakes bent, pretty easily in my opinion.
Granted, hammering ultralight stakes is never recommended, but this one bent under a relatively light first strike. Part of this is due to the design of the stakes, using empty space cutouts to save weight and allow the sand/snow to pass through, thus helping with stability but obviously compromising strength. I was still able to use the bent stake for the rest of my hike. It still held fine, just wasn’t pretty to look at.
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