World’s Best Tarp Stakes

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OK, that’s a bold claim, but at 83 cents apiece these military antenna/tent stakes are high up on the “Best Stakes” list.

https://colemans.com/u-s-g-i-12-alum...stakes-12-pack

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P5170014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

12” tall, 1/8” thick aluminum that withstands a serious hard ground pounding. 3oz each, but they nestle well.

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P5170015 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

After a couple coastal trips, on which I buried those stakes pounded beneath the sand, I got smart and added a pull cord that can stick out more visibly. Plus I’d rather yank the sacrificial pull cord than worry my Glo-wire guy lines against the stake hooks in any case.

Even trickier, or so I thought at the time, I added a little square of High Intensity reflective tape to the heads of the stakes, just a little 1” square on both sides, so they would wink flashlight bright at night. Those fat headed green stakes in green forest duff are a toe smashing hazard.

But, mistake #1, using matching green reflective tape was kinda stupid, yellow or orange tape would have been better, and #2, it would be nice if the green tops of the stakes were more vibrant visible in non-flashlight daylight.

I have friends who are group shelter tarpologists, and the only tarp issues I have seen are stakes pulling out in extreme winds, and incautious beery folks stumbling over stakes and guy lines. Those mil-spec antenna stakes have yet to pull out, even in high winds. When some drunk tangles with the guy lines, eh, drunk is going down, tarp is staying up.

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PA040030 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I’m not buying my tarp sheltering friends reflective Glo-wire for their guy lines, but those mil-spec antenna stakes are cheap enough, and I shelter under Nightswimmer’s sturdy group tarp often enough to want the best for him. And me.

Time for another couple dozen military antenna stakes, fancied-up for friend’s counted-on-coverage group tarps. I already got mine. Nightswimmer needs at least 8, other friends need some as well. They weigh too much for Conk to carry while gram-weenie bushwhacking between Adirondack ponds, but maybe a handful for his truck tarp.

24 new mil-spec antenna stakes, my friends are worth it.

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P5170017 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The other difficulty with green stakes is finding them on the green ground if you carelessly toss them aside (“Bad Mike, Bad!”) instead of keeping track. If you are colorblind it becomes even more of a challenge; I appear to already be missing one of my original 12 pack.

Step 1, scrubbed and rinsed at the hammer end to remove any contaminates before the next . Step 2, leftover spray cans of metal primer and “neon fluorescent” spray paint to make the tops of the stakes more visible.

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P5170020 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Well, dang my short-sightedness. Now I really want to neon fluorescent paint the tops of my stakes with the dumbass green reflective tape and yellow pull loops. That waterproof High Intensity tape was pricey even in 1” squares, and has been discontinued. I hate to waste those existing green tape squares under spray paint.

Little strip of 1” painter’s tape on each side covers the reflective tape. The pull cord loops are kind of a PITA to cut, seal and tie, might as well try to salvage those as well. Yeah, I’m that cheap.

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P5170022 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Time to get spraying. A leftover can of metal primer first. OK, a confession, not “first”; I tried spraying the fluorescent paint without metal primer first, ‘cause I’m a dumbshit and cheap. The fluorescent paint ran off the stakes like water off a duck’s back, leaving zero trace of fluorescent paint on the green stakes. It was comically stupid, and I stopped after the first couple stake fails.

Metal primer first.

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P5170025 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Then some neon fluorescent a half hour later.

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P5180029 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Damn those are gaudy, although Doug D’s may need some glitter under clear coat, but I like ‘em. Even I can probably spot those stakes when carelessly tossed aside in the duff.

Still cogitating more work on friend’s fancy tarp stakes. Should I add the 1” squares of yellow reflective tape to the tops? Should I add the little pull cord loops? Are my friends worth that extra effort? Do I have too much time on my hands?
 
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Not too bold a statement perhaps Mike. They seem to tightrope walk between seriously solid and delicately designed. That's aluminum for ya. Fairly strong, fairly light. It'd take some sloppy stake pounding with yer axe poll to do damage. (I never use my axe for that.) Up here where I go there's little enough glacially scraped soil to pound even a fraction of those stakes in, but everything has it's place. Those environs where you use yours look ideally suitable. And yes, while olive green looks très cool looks can be deceiving, enough to cause some stakes to be lost. My guess is they're the most common camp article accidentally left behind? But I don't know. Your gaudy paint effects are entirely practical. I would've kept the green and called it quits with new "Look at me now!!" lanyards. But even those can be overlooked amongst the forest duff. I'm sure we've all lost the odd tent peg or two.

...and that may be another thing we all have in common right now, we have time on our hands. Nothing wrong with keeping busy and out of trouble.
 
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Up here where I go there's little enough glacially scraped soil to pound even a fraction of those stakes in, but everything has it's place.

What do you use on glacially scraped soil? I can see fully freestanding tents having a place in such conditions, but what about tarp lines – anchored to rocks and maybe trees?

The hardest ground I have ever tried (unsuccessfully, and I really tried) to pound tarp stakes into was a campground field in southern Florida. It looked like a sandy patch with drought dead grass. It was freaking concrete, and here were no nearby trees, and sure as hell no rocks.

Brad, I have beat the bejeepers out of those antenna stakes pounding them into hard ground, with no damage to the 1/8” thick aluminum heads. The only damage I have managed to do is to smash the 3mm cord loops on a couple with inattentive hammering.

The one place I prefer another type of tarp stake is when car camping on gravel pads that have been compressed by years of parked RV’s. That stuff solid, and these spikes at least pound in easier better in that guise.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-1...takes/13848624

Note that the heads are, once again, toe stubbing WTF stupidly green. We have a bunch of those from car camping days.

I happily used up the last of the leftover spray cans of metal primer and neon fluorescent paint on the mil-spec antenna stakes, which I counted as a shop storage spray paint blessing; half used cans of spray paint eventually go bad in storage; you can rattle that ball for an hour and what comes out is a brief pencil-lead diameter turd of paint, and that’s all she wrote.

I do have a partial can of grey spray primer, and a partial spray can of orange Rustoleum. Thanks, I need to get those spike stakes out and gaudy up the green heads for better visibility.

And yes, while olive green looks très cool looks can be deceiving, enough to cause some stakes to be lost. My guess is they're the most common camp article accidentally left behind?
I'm sure we've all lost the odd tent peg or two.

The left behinds I find most often are tent stakes, and rope. Always shitty tent stakes and crap rope. The things I have left behind or lost track of on a site are most often tents stakes, and rope. I do not want to leave good rope or good tent stakes behind; I use reflective tracer line for most things, and MSR Groundhog stakes on the tents. Neither are cheap.

I got better at noticing rope by using brightly colored line or reflective tracer, a naked black or green 3mm cord drying line between trees is easy to overlook. I got better with tent stakes too, largely because I now take special care to put them in the cup holder receptacle on my camp chair for safe keeping.

Folded, shock corded poles go on the chair seat, to keep the ferrules clean of sand, dirt and duff. The fly and tent body, when dry, get draped across the chair backrest until it’s time to pack them up. While I am putting up or taking down the tent I’m not sitting in the camp chair, and it might as well serve a multi-functional purpose.

Time to go gather those Wallyworld spike stakes for some orange spray painted heads. Thanks.
 
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"What do you use on glacially scraped soil?" A free standing tent with small and slim MSR V stakes, whatever they're called. I use the same for my tarps only if rocks and trees are in short supply. (lol) The soils are sometimes no more than 3" deep if that. (Or maybe I perpetually pitch my tent and tarp in the wrong places.) The stakes are eased in at an angle trying best to avoid roots and rocks, which is why I'm often using only half the stakes in my kit, tying off to whatever is naturally available to me. Re: bright colours. I love my reflective tent guy lines and metallic red stakes. I've yet to lose any (that I'm aware of).


NB Can anyone beat those yellow plastic pegs as the worst ground stakes known to campers? Light, bright, and useless. But I may be wrong.
 
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These stakes look fantastic, maybe I need to order my self a set of 12 to use with the new tent we just ordered!! Maybe they are a bit heavy... Maybe not... 3oz each time 12 = 36oz divided by 16 = 2 1/4 lbs.... that is half the weight of our new MLD mondo mid with liner.... Hmmm... Maybe it would be great with our Campfire tent!?!?!
 
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NB Can anyone beat those yellow plastic pegs as the worst ground stakes known to campers? Light, bright, and useless. But I may be wrong.[/QUOTE]


Oh contraire! Those big yellow pegs rock for the shield. Just don’t pound them into the ground unless it’s beachy, use them as rock pegs. Put a loop of cord on them so it can sinch over itself, then put them through the stake out points and put a big ol’ rock on it. Saves your guy lines and tent fabrics by getting the rocks away from them and onto the peg. The windier it is, the bigger the rock. You'd think they’d break easily being cheap-o plastic, but they last a really well.
Your pegs are definitely superior Mike, and would no doubt work great as rock pegs, just had to defend the crappy plastic pegs ;).
 
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NB Can anyone beat those yellow plastic pegs as the worst ground stakes known to campers? Light, bright, and useless. But I may be wrong.

The stock "Stakes" from may parents' dome tent (Coleman 6-man, probably close to 30 years old now, still useable)

Somewhere between 8 & 10 Gauge steel wire, with a bent hook on one end. They bend if you look at them wrong, Won't hold worth anything you care to name. (And probably some things you don't care to name) Hard to hammer (with the rounded bit of the hook as the hammer point, aiming becomes a fine art)

The only earthly good the were was to prevent that dome from sliding if not loaded down/occupied. (If there was any kind of lifting force on that dome, there were... hanger loops on the inside. I remember one night where Dad had a loop of cord draped down just far enough that he could hang his arm over it and try to get some sleep...)
 
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"What do you use on glacially scraped soil?" A free standing tent with small and slim MSR V stakes, whatever they're called.

NB Can anyone beat those yellow plastic pegs as the worst ground stakes known to campers? Light, bright, and useless. But I may be wrong.

These mostly useless things?

P6190911 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Gawd we never throw anything away. Not actually “we”, I think most of those pre-date marriage and now 30 year old children. At least I didn’t keep the broken ones. “Mostly” useless because we still use a few in the soft soil gardens to stake down tomato cages or tie back bushy stuff.

MSR’s old (I think now discontinued) V shaped tent stakes had some application advantages over their current Y-shaped Groundhog stakes (or knock off, flimsier aluminum Sierra Designs/Coughlans/etc). For a decent guy line catch on the “hook” the Groundhogs are fussier than the old MSR V’s about stake angle and orientation. I think the minimalist “hook” design is mostly to prevent bending/breaking the head of the Groundhogs if pounding them forcefully into hard soils.

P6190916 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

If those MRS V’s work for you in 3” of soil don’t lose any.

We have Groundhogs and mini Groundhogs, enough for every tent and hammock, no more bent (and bendable) wire J-stakes in our tent bags. But to secure a sizeable tarp, with more wind-catch and stake pull-out stress than a small tent, I want something beefier.

I’m trying to recollect times I have tented on 3” of soil; I guess maybe a few spots above timberline in the Rockies, and some flat, zero-soil rock plateaus. I don’t think I habitually pitch my tent and tarp in the “right” places; rain runoff issues have certainly shown that not to always be the case.

(Rambling now, waiting for some clear enamel spray paint to cure) When it comes to something like extreme winds on an exposed coast, or haboobs blowing up a desert river canyon, I want big arsed stakes, and sometimes more than just stakes.

P5092008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That wing tarp is fully parabolic bat-wing, lofted solid in the wind; a flat tarp would have been unmanageable, and a cheap flat tarp quickly torn to shreds. Even with that properly set wing there are three guy lines at the windward low end and two guy lines off the poles, with antenna stakes buried and rocks piles atop. The wind was funneling up canyon, gusting at least 40 or 50 MPH at times. It was insane, and I loved every minute of it. It helped that the windward low end of the wing was helping prevent sandblasted epidermis.

I appreciate our big Tundra tarp, but in high wind areas, desert rivers or coastal tripping, I’ll take the wing. I love those true catenary curves when the tarp goes rock-solid, bat wing lofted and unflappable in high winds.

Desert rivers, or North Carolina south of Hatteras, where the wind always blows.

P2180703 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

PA150376 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

A true catenary cut tarp is a bit fussier to properly erect than a flat tarp, and a flat tarp offers more variations in set up; a wing only goes up correctly one way, and in one orientation to the wind. But once up a true wing will withstand damn near any winds. And the rain drainage is low end predictably specific, which is nice on the coast or desert where collecting fresh rainwater is precious.

Hey, the clear enamel spray paint is finally dry enough to touch.
 
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Mike, with such a stake selection as yours I swear your middle name must be Buffy.
I love those OBX dune views.
 
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Should I add the 1” squares of yellow reflective tape to the tops? Should I add the little pull cord loops? Are my friends worth that extra effort? Do I have too much time on my hands?

Answers. No. Yes. Yes. Yes.

I wanted to add some protection to the scrape-able fluorescent yellow paint, and a look through the spray paint box revealed the remains of a spray can of clear enamel. In for a penny, and the fluorescent paint now has a protective layer of clear enamel atop. And I have one less can of aging-out spray paint. My friends are worth it.

No reflective tape squares on the heads of the stakes. Peeling the backing from that reflective tape is damn near impossible with little 1” squares, and I’m not doing that 24 times.

I did add pull cord loops, and kinda killed two birds with one stone. I had some old black guy line with reflective tracer, long ago replaced with Lawson Glo-wire.

https://lawsonequipment.com/Reflecti...ire-p1024.html

The Glo-wire reflective tracer is brighter than anything else I have found.

Black is a strangulation-stupid color for guy lines, I still wonder why some many tarps come with black guy lines.

Cut into 12” lengths, ends flame sealed and used as pull cord loops. That’ll work, and used up some otherwise useless black cord with reflective tracer. The stake heads are already fluorescent yellow for daytime visibility, and the tracer in the cord should wink at least a bit under nighttime flashlight use. And, as a buried-in-the-sand pull cord, black should be easier to see on pale yellow sand.

P5240001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

While I had the clear enamel spray out I felt the overwhelming urge to dress up a few stakes heads for a special friend. Glitter, sprinkled on the clear enamel spray just after spraying, top coated with more clear enamel so the flakes are well embedded in the clear topcoat. BWAHAHAHA.

P5240006 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Apologies to the Plaid Prancer, you are special, but not special enough to spend $15 mailing $3 worth of gaudy tarp stakes to Canada.

You sure do got some purty tarp stakes there Doug!
 
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