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Tent Stake Hammer?


NWnoob

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Hey All!

I'm new! not just to here, but to forums in general and while we are on the subject, I'm new to backpacking as well. (Though after I describe what we do, you may want to argue whether what we do would even be considered backpacking.) So please forgive me if I didn't see this posted elsewhere (I looked) or if ask this in the wrong place (still new).

TL;DR - I need a tent stake hammer so i don't break so many tent stakes, but that are not heavy and awkward to carry... anything cool out there? Or did the camping companies forget about this tool?

That being said, My family and I have always camped at sites where the car is a short walk away (if not IN our campsite). I got pretty used to being able to bring whatever I wanted with me and never having to worry about over-packing (The way I always looked at it was, if the family fits when I'm done packing, then its not too much!)

Now the kids are getting older and they want to go on adventures and combine the two. We're not talking days on end with super ultra lightweight gear (at least not yet... We'll see how this goes for now.) Our version of backpacking is going out for a 4-6 hour hike, setting up camp, exploring our surroundings, then cooking dinner and crashing. Then basically just hiking back to the car the next day while exploring along the way. This summer we will try to push that a little maybe hike back to the car and re-stock on food then heading out in a different direction and doing a second night. 

So far our equipment is ok to carry, at least for what we do now. The nice thing is, finding newer lighter equipment isn't very hard and there are a ton of reviews out there for all of it. However, for all the time and money that companies have put into the super duper ultra light weight micro easily pack-able everything, I feel like I can't find a tent stake hammer that fits the mold. Maybe it's where we go camping? I just can't get those tent pegs to just push into the ground as easily as I can when they are in the back yard. I have an old Dead Blow (weighted rubber mallet) that I have been using for years while camping (as long as I remember to pack it), but there is no way that I want to carry that thing with me even for one day.  I've looked at the various tent stake hammers out there, but it seems to me that they are just... hammers. They are not smaller or lighter than anything I can get at the hardware store. Is this just an overlooked piece of equipment on purpose? Or am I missing something? Do I just need to buy a lot of tent stakes knowing that I'm going to break them with the rocks I find to mash them in and just forget about it?

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Aaron Zagrodnick

While I could see a tent stake hammer being nice to have on car camping trips, and especially for compacted high use campground tent sites, it's not an item I personally carry any time I'm hiking in (even if not far). That said, have you already seen the MSR tent stake hammer option? If you are encountering difficult ground or very rocky areas frequently a freestanding tent could be helpful. Have you tried different types of stakes? I usually like to carry a selection, and on hard or frozen ground I frequently have good luck with the sherperd's hook design. These need to be treated with some care, but the thin profile can help. Nail type stakes would be another option. Here's an overview article on tent stakes as well:

https://www.trailgroove.com/blogs/entry/136-backpacking-tent-stakes-a-selection-guide/

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Hey Aaron,

Thanks for the reply! I have seen the MSR tent stake hammer. Don't get me wrong, MSR makes some great stuff. I have some of their tent stakes (Groundhogs and Core Tent Stakes, not quite needing Carbon Core yet) and have been talking to the wife about one of their tents (there are actually a couple on that list from a couple different companies). 

Rant alert!

I guess I just wish I could find something better? Maybe someone else out there feels the same way?

Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty hammer and it has a bottle opener. In reading all the specs, it seems like a good tool. However, it just feels out of place with the rest of MSR's stuff... does that make sense? Maybe I'm just expecting more from them and some of the other manufacturers out there than I should be. I'm just surprised that with all of these companies paying all this money for R&D, no one has come up with something that goes outside the box a little... They have for everything else, and then they keep reinventing that same wheel year after year.

Tent stakes that weigh almost nothing. Sleeping bags that will keep you dry and warm even though its pouring down rain and its only 30 degrees and best of all they weigh less than a box of granola bars. Tents that fit 3 people (2 comfortably) but weigh only 5 pounds, inline water filtration, tear resistant backpacks to carry it all in and they weigh less than the extra pair of pants that I have packed in them. Year over year they just keep bringing the same stuff out, just lighter/stronger/better (well that's debatable). Oh, I forgot, tents that are hammocks, maybe I should just do that instead?

The hammer? I can go buy an 8oz ball peen hammer with a carbon fiber handle from the hardware store that is an inch shorter and slightly more compact than the one MSR makes for half the price. I'm getting older, I don't need the tent stake to get so light that I don't know that I'm holding it, I need a way to put it in the ground without breaking it.

I've been into tools my whole life, and I've seen some pretty crazy things out there. Quite a few that I'm surprised didn't make it into every tool box... there has got to be a better tool out there for this.

And I'm spent... I think I need a nap.

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Aaron Zagrodnick

I see where you are coming from, although you can save weight in the handle...I think the issue could be you can only make a hammer so light before it becomes ineffective or becomes insufficiently durable, by its nature it needs some weight to it. I am imaging an ultralight paper weight....might be ultralight, but not really good at being a paper weight. :D Then I think also to be considered is that most backpackers do not carry a stake hammer, thus limiting the market and reducing the motivation for manufacturers to devote resources towards the development of such an item. And when you're car camping, a heavy duty stake hammer if you take one is not a problem and maybe even best.

Back to stakes though, I saw you mentioned the Groundhogs and Core stakes, which I've used and have found to be good stakes but they are not the easiest type of stake to get in the ground. I would suggest giving a thinner stake a try (I usually mix), like some titanium sheperd's hook stakes or a titanium nail stake....check out the 4th photo down here.

Solid rock slabs aside, I've always been able to get a sheperd's hook stake in the ground and they've done the job, but it's always a tradeoff. Thus, I usually take a selection of the MSR Carbon Core Stakes along with some sheperd's hook stakes, with longer Easton Nano stakes mixed in when needed for tents that have guylines with a lot of tension.

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On 6/12/2020 at 3:30 PM, NWnoob said:

MSR makes some great stuff. I have some of their tent stakes (Groundhogs and Core Tent Stakes, not quite needing Carbon Core yet) 

I use DAC J-stakes after trying alternatives. They're inexpensive and I've not been able to break or bend one even when pounding them hard into very rocky ground.

https://www.bigagnes.com/J-Replacement-Stake

They don't include a loop to help pull them out of the ground but one can be added easily.

Good luck!

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I can't recall a time when I couldn't find a convenient rock at whatever campsite to pound in my stakes.  I am partial to the "stock" stakes that Big Agnes uses with their tents--have used them for over 10 years and have NEVER bent them.  You can order just the stakes from BA if you wish--I believe a set of 8-10 runs about $14 (even comes with a loop to expedite removal). Here is a link: https://www.bigagnes.com/Big-Agnes-7-Tent-Stakes-Pack-of-6 (7 inch pack of six is $17.95, also available in 6 inch, 8 inch and 12 inch lengths--well worth the cost as they last a lifetime)

Edited by John B
added clarity and link
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  • 6 months later...

I just use what nature provides like rocks or wood.  I really don't want to carry the weight of a hammer.  

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  • 2 months later...
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a_gunslinger

I use a rock as well.  Stake hammer will be one of the first items to not go on future hikes, esp if longer hikes and you begin to curse your heavy pack ;^)

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  • 5 months later...
Michael aka Mac

I think the only time i have ever seen someone use a hammer for tent stakes was my stepfather and he was anything but an outdoors person.

Instead of using a hammer or a rock,  try using a small branch. You said you worked with tools. There are times when u wham something  and other times with a tap tap tap

Try using a branch and while holding the stake towards the middle to help aid structure support of it, baton the stake slowly into the ground.  

I am just curious though  how thin are those stakes and are they round of flat. Also was this during winter camping where the ground is more dense or are you camping on extremely rocky areas? Asking as i do not remember ever bending a stake b4

Oh and just remember the angle at which you strike a stake matters. The force of the blow at an angle is one of the causes of bending a stake. You want to hit it dead on at same angle stake is being positioned

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