Tent Stake Holding Power: Comparative Evaluation of Various Designs and Lengths
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Oct 15, 2008 at 9:02 am #1454565Ron BellBPL Member
Good article- gets you thinking!
I may have missed it- how were the stakes put into the ground? By hand, started by hand and finished by stepping on them or hammer driven — various combinations?
One upside of the Ti hook skewer stakes, if the holding power is enough, is they can be hand placed most places and will tend to deflect around small buried rocks/pebbles/sticks allowing easier placement.Oct 15, 2008 at 9:57 am #1454570Terry GBPL Member
@delvxeLocale: Pacific Northwest
Y stakes are under accessories:
pretty good price, too.Oct 15, 2008 at 10:15 am #1454578Inaki Diaz de EturaBPL Member
@inaki-1Locale: Iberia highlands
> One upside of the Ti hook skewer stakes, if the holding power is enough, is they can be hand placed most places and will tend to deflect around small buried rocks/pebbles/sticks allowing easier placement
I think this feature creates more problem that it solves because you have to be so much more careful to avoid bending the stake section that's not in yet. I usually find it easier to hand place Ys or (thicker) nails just because they won't bend, apart from the fact that you have it easier to use other means of pounding them in but it's happened to me many times that when I had spare stakes and I could choose among them it was easier to place the Y or, particularly, the nail even if only by hand. Also because either of these is usually fine even if not completely in while the hook skewer is best when completely in.
That's actually the whole thing about my using more the Y or nail stakes than the hook skewers that I mentioned before. They're heavier but I'm usually done so much quicker and I'm sure they'll stay put.Oct 15, 2008 at 10:32 am #1454585Michael DavisMember
@mad777Locale: South Florida
Fantastic report! Great research! Thanks!
I have pretty much settled on 6" ti nails and 6" ti V-stakes due to the following: they don't bend and can be pounded in with a rock and they have "pull strings" attached to make removal easy and blood-free. uhum.
I have used both 6" and 9" aluminum nails which I really liked at first but, occasionally the epoxyed heads pop off when pounding or when trying to extract them. So, they lose points for that. And they will bend in extremely hard ground.
I have GoLite Y's and Big Agnes X's both 6" variety but the Golites have significantly larger fins. I've always believed these type stakes would hold as good or better than anything else, but, my hands are a bloody mess after extracting a set of them. Just not worth the pain.
Note however, if I know I going to be camping on beach sand, I will use the 9" aluminum nails.Oct 15, 2008 at 10:35 am #1454586Keith HultmanMember
Nicely done Will. Since you mentioned that there was some variance of holding power for each stake, I wonder if you could add in some error bars on the graph? Or even just post up the highest and lowest measurement for each stake. That would make it more convincing if the differences seen in the graph are more than the spread of measurements for each type of stake.Oct 15, 2008 at 10:48 am #1454588David OlsenSpectator
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
Were there any tests done with stakes set at different angle
rather than 90 degrees to the pull?
Any old timer who made their own stakes from wood knows that
greater holding power comes when the stakes are more in line
with the pull.
Same for tests Chounard did with ice screws.
Barbs may indeed be a better way.Oct 15, 2008 at 11:09 am #1454591D GSpectator
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
"I've always believed these type stakes would hold as good or better than anything else, but, my hands are a bloody mess after extracting a set of them. Just not worth the pain."
I've got a set of the Golite Y stakes. They are super easy to pull out. Just grab another Y stake and holding it perpendicular to the stake you want to pull out place it in the notches at the top of the stake and use it as a handle to pull up. It's actually easier to pull up than other stakes where generally you are using one or two fingers to pull up. Here you are using your entire hand. The only trick is that you need to get the first stake out, but a stick, pen or other similar item works good for that.Oct 15, 2008 at 11:14 am #1454592Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Exactly what I've been sayin' on this site. My MSR "Groundhog" Y stakes are the best holding stakes I've found.
Yeah, 8 years ago I wuz making my own arrow shaft stakes from the back ends of discarded aluminum arrows. I'd remove the broadhead inserts & re-glue them in the shortened shaft then add an angled aluminum screen door holder tab & screw. Serendipitously the screen door tab's screw was exactly the same thread as the arrow head insert!!
Longer (8") arrow shaft stakes worked best BUT not as well as MSR's "Groundhog" stakes. Plus, as Will R. mentioned, the Y stakes are TOUGH. My homemade stakes, not so much – but they were the lightest at that time.
EricOct 15, 2008 at 12:09 pm #1454600darren stephensMember
@darren5576Locale: Down Under
I use y stakes and love them . They were originally wilderness equipment but i have noticed the Aussie hiking shops now sell a generic brand. You can smash them in with a rock, and they still hold good when its soft. Another feture i have found is when you are camping on theose wooden platforms in some national parks you can drive them between the gaps in the wood. If the gaps too wide you just pack them with a stick.
I do own some titanium wire stakes but dont use them very much
DarrenOct 15, 2008 at 1:56 pm #1454626
> The problem I have is the paint doesn't stay on very well. Does anyone have a technique to paint titanium (and aluminum) stakes so the paint sticks really well?
Yep – epoxy primer. Hardware store.
CheersOct 15, 2008 at 1:56 pm #1454627
For the past 4 years I've been using 6.25" Ti Shepherd Hook stakes. They came painted in a bright orange that makes them easier to find. I've used them in every type of soil, except sand, and they've worked very well. If I'm trying to set them in rocky soil I sometimes have to move them around and try different angles to get past rocks they won't go between/around. I most always use a "hammer" rock to pound them in and have never had one bend, break or pop out.
To ensure they don't twist in the ground, and allow the guy line to pop off, I drive them flush with the ground. I use a rock on top of the stake if the soil is soft.
6.25" Ti Shepherd Stake – 6.6 grams each.Oct 15, 2008 at 2:04 pm #1454628
I'm thinking of getting these.Oct 15, 2008 at 3:13 pm #1454635
Look identical to the BPL ones.
Yep, I hammer them into rocky ground with a rock too. And like you, I 'have never had one bend, break or pop out' either. Bit useless in sand by themselves though … :-)
I increased the visibility of the wires by painting black rings on the orange paint with an oil-based model paint from a hobby shop.
CheersOct 15, 2008 at 3:15 pm #1454636Pedro ArvyBPL Member
Petras, the main reason we are concerned about holding power is WIND. Sorry I didn't mention that in the article. It would be interesting to measure the actual pull on a tent stake from a strong wind gust. The bottom line is no one wants tent stakes to pull out in a severe storm, and we are looking for the lightest stakes that will do the job.
Good point. So you really need to measure the force extered by various tents on the stakes. Can a tent exert 24 pounds of force?
Things would get complex as the force is being applied dynamically, this would substantially weaken the stake. I guess that also needs to be taken into account.Oct 15, 2008 at 3:20 pm #1454638Michael DavisMember
@mad777Locale: South Florida
I think you have just made this whole report useless! Everyone will now want those flamingo stakes! :-)Oct 15, 2008 at 3:25 pm #1454640
There are a number of scary things about those flamingo tent stakes:
Someone thought of making them
Someone else is willing to sell them
Someone will probably buy them, and worse –
Someone might actually use them!
At least they're heavy….Oct 15, 2008 at 4:41 pm #1454649
> There are a number of scary things about those flamingo tent stakes:
What's really scary about them is what they are doing at 2 am…Oct 15, 2008 at 4:43 pm #1454650
> Can a tent exert 24 pounds of force?
I suspect that a tightly-pitched tarp tent in bad weather may well exert that sort of force on the main (ridgeline) guy ropes.
Equally, I suspect that the end anchors on my snow tent were exerting that sort of force on my tent in that storm.
CheersOct 15, 2008 at 4:44 pm #1454651
Deleted! I thought I had a photo of those stakes being used at Showers Lake. Turns out it's a "film" photo, and my scanner's down. Rats.
They're inflatable and weigh about an ounce.Oct 15, 2008 at 6:47 pm #1454667Monty MontanaBPL Member
@tarasbulbaLocale: Rocky Mountains
Will, thanks for a great article! One design that was not reviewed is the aluminum V stake. I have some from Sierra Designs and Montbell. Curiously enough they weigh nominally the same as the Y stake, probably because they're thicker down the center length. However, IMHO they have the same holding power as long as the flat surface faces the direction of pull…I don't see much difference between them and my Y stakes. And as has been noted, since these really grip the soil, don't use your bare hands to pull these bad boys out or you'll hurt yourself, use another stake or your Ti spoon or a piece of cord.
As for bending, I've never ever bent a stake, not a V, not a Y, or even the thin SUL Ti stake. If it won't go in then I simply reposition it a few inches one direction or another. I don't subscribe to the "If it don't fit then force it" school of thought. But a friend of mind does, and the fool hammered one of my stakes into a tree root and it would not release when time came to break camp!Oct 15, 2008 at 8:02 pm #1454674
David Olsen's question about testing the stakes at different angles and referencing Chouinard's "Climbing Ice" got me to thinking.
When we were learning to use ice screws we were taught the screw actually held better if it were angled towards the pull, rather than away from it. Very counter-intuitive. But the theory is when the screw is angled down there is much less force on the top surface layer and it helps support the shaft so the screw does not flex and bend.
Here's a link to a study on it done in 2003, concluding that perpendicular to the slope was stronger than either a positive or a negative angle. http://ocw.mit.edu/NR/rdonlyres/Aeronautics-and-Astronautics/16-622Fall2003/27035861-8E99-48EB-96E5-3E575C08E061/0/Bennett_and_Alzieti_LS.pdf
I'm not sure the same idea would work with tent stakes, because the ice freezing to the screw was part of the dynamics. So if the ice screw angle theory can transfer to tent stakes, it may be the tent stake would be stronger if we just pounded it in perpendicular to the ground rather than pounding the stake perpendicular to the pull of the guy line, which seems mechanically correct. Has anyone tried this?Oct 15, 2008 at 8:09 pm #1454675
The angle you describe works with ice screws because of the "bite" the threads get in the ice. Tent pegs are smooth and would pull out more easily.
Tent pegs driven in at a 45° angle allow the guy line put the peg in shear. Probably the strongest direction for a small diameter titanium or aluminum "wire"
The barbs would be a very small surface area compared to the area of the 45° peg being pulled sideways against firm soil.Oct 15, 2008 at 8:12 pm #1454676
So back to Ashley's idea of barbs?Oct 15, 2008 at 8:13 pm #1454678
> So if the ice screw angle theory can transfer to tent stakes, it may be the tent stake would be stronger if we just pounded it in perpendicular to the ground rather than pounding the stake perpendicular to the pull of the guy line, which seems mechanically correct. Has anyone tried this?
I have tried it (proper test set-up) with snow stakes with very amusing results. The stake just popped straight out of the snow when the load went on. The reason is related to how skates and skis work. The initial tension caused the snow to develop a thin film of water against the surface of the stake – just like with skates, and there was little left to hold the stake in place. Out it slid, pop!
If the stake is angled inwards the same applies of course, except that now the stake is going to dig in.
If the stake is left for a while freeze in, it may stick a bit better – but do you want to risk it?
CheersOct 15, 2008 at 8:25 pm #1454680
Thanks for clearing that up! I will happily continue to pound in my (plain, unadorned) stakes perpendicular to the pull.
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