Tent stakes or pegs (the UK name) often come with tents and occasionally with some other gear. In this case, the purchase is the tent, not the stakes and although the ‘free’ included stakes will be fit for some purpose, they are usually simple aluminum or steal wires bent to shape. The ground beneath you tent can vary wildly from site to site and even from tent corner to corner. All stakes should be planted so that the the angle of the guideline is 90 degrees or less relative to the stake. More than 90 degrees risks the stake being pulled straight out. Less than 90 degrees risks the ground being pulled up. Lets looks at some stake options:
‘O’ Shape – Bent Wire
These solid bent wires are the lowest cost stakes. Solid wires have none of structural strengths which come from V, T or other shaped stakes and are most likely to bend. And, since they are solid, they are probably the heaviest.I don’t believe anyone buys these – they come for free with budget tents. They work fine in many situations. However, if the earth is too loose, they do not have enough surface area, too hard and they will bend. Plant these stakes so the end of the bend is pointing way from the direction of force.
These provide for significantly more surface area and will catch more soil. Usually these are cast and cost more. They are less likely to bend compared to bent wires. The ones shown are titanium for lower weight. Plant these stakes so the point of the ‘V’ is pointing way from the direction of force.
Even more structurally strong than ‘V’ shape. The stakes shown are plastic and suitable for loose ground. The plastics thickness means these stakes are unlikely to break and are light weight. Plastic stakes do not have a sharp hard point and so if they hit a gravel in the ground they will be difficult to drive in. Plant these stakes so the top of the ‘T’ is pointing way from the direction of force.
The MSR stakes shown have the most broad utility. Their shape makes them strong and unlikely to bend in any direction. With more than 3x the surface are compared to wire stakes, they are more likely to work in loose earth.
Stakes for snow/sand
Very loose ground like snow and sand call for a different kind of approach. Very large surface area stakes are available and should be considered for long hikes through this kind of terrain. A much lower cost option is to use ditty bags, fill them with snow/sand and bury them. In snow there is a risk that it will be troublesome to dig them out if there is a freeze.