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Can you leave tent stakes at home? The answer is a definitive "sometimes."

Stakes are perfect in tundra, soft forest floor, grassy fields and alpine meadows, but woe be unto you if you depend on stakes in snow, sand, or rocky gravel bars. The solution for snow is the venerable deadman anchor (or, for political grooviness, deadperson).

For this text, I use the example of TARP set-up almost exclusively. Obviously, the same rules apply for TENT set-up, but since the tension on the cord is higher on a tarp, we'll use that as our worst case scenario.

Leaving the stakes at home requires a high level of competence when it comes to setting up the tarp. I teach expedition skills with tents and tarps, and I adhere to extremely high standards of aesthetics and safety. Aesthetics means the tarp (or tent) looks absolutely beautiful; nothing less than perfection is acceptable. Safety means it won't be compromised because of wind or precipitation, leaving the sleeping camper vulnerable to hypothermia.


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