9 Best Tent Stakes for Camping, Bushcraft & Survival in 2024

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We tested and researched over 20 tent stakes and found the MSR Groundhog to be the best tent stake for Camping, Bushcraft, and Survival.

The Y-beam design of the MSR Groundhog tent stake makes it the best tent stake for camping, bushcraft, and survival in most soil types. It is made from a durable and lightweight aluminum alloy and provides plenty of holding power for tents, rainflies, and tarp shelters.

Best Tent Stake
Tent stake in the ground in the wilderness with a guy line attached
The MSR test stakes and the ABS plastic “Survival” Tent Stakes

I have over 35 years of experience camping and living outdoors. I have made my own tent stakes and purchased various others along the way. My engineering degree also gives me a better understanding of materials and the strength of certain designs.

To build this list, I took my past experience and reviewed many different tent stakes with our team. I also discussed with others in the outdoor community what they use and prefer. This includes campers, bushcrafters, as well as other survivalists.

With so many choices out there, the best tent stake for your needs can be very hard to determine. In this guide, I break down all the different considerations of camping, bushcraft, and survival to help you decide what is the best tent stake for you.

Also keep reading for a great tool that can really save you some aggravation.


Quick Comparison of our Favorite Tent Stakes

BEST OVERALL
MSR Groundhog Tent Stakes

MSR Groundhog Tent Stakes

Aluminum Alloy

Y-beam Design

7.5″ Long

Price: $$

BEST FOR SURVIVAL
Coghlan’s 9” ABS Tent Stake

Coghlan’s 9” ABS Tent Stake

Durable

Great Fire Starter

Affordable

Price: $

BEST FOR LARGE SHELTERS
Wocholl 12” Anchoring Spikes

Wocholl 12” Anchoring Spikes

Heavy Duty

Long Length

Works in Hard Soil

Price: $$

BEST LIGHTWEIGHT
MSR Carbon Core 6” Tent Stake

MSR Carbon Core 6” Tent Stake

Very Lightweight

Holds Well

Good Head Design

Price: $$$

BEST FOR HARD GROUND/GRAVEL
Coleman 10” Steel Nail Tent Pegs

Coleman 10” Steel Nail Tent Pegs

Heavy Duty

Head for Guy Lines

Affordable

Price: $


Best Tent Stakes

MSR Groundhog Tent Stake – Best Overall

MSR Groundhog Tent Stake – Best Overall
  • Material: Aluminum Alloy
  • Length: 7.5”
  • Shape: Y-beam
  • Weight: 0.46 oz
  • Best For: All-around general use

The MSR Groundhog Tent Stake is our top pick for the best overall tent stake.

I have been using this tent stake for a while, and it has continued to do well in most conditions. It is lightweight, durable, holds well, and is easy to remove once I strike camp.

I like the length of this stake. At 7.5 inches, it is a good compromise between the standard 6-inch and 9-inch stakes that I typically find.

I usually camp anywhere from soft, moist soil to rocky ground in the mountains. The “Y” shape of this stake is wide enough to hold well in soft soil yet narrow enough to penetrate rocky soil.

The notch at the top of the stake is wide enough to hold my guy lines at a fairly steep angle. But it is not too wide that it makes the head area weak.

I also like that these stakes come with a pull loop already attached. I can usually pull them right out of the ground. In hard ground, I have used the hook on my Swiss Army knife or the Gerber Stake Out multitool to pull the loop if I have trouble. This allows me to pull with both arms.

Overall, the design of this tent stake is a good all-around compromise for most conditions and uses. The price is a little higher than other knockoffs, but these are superior and will last a long time.

Recommended for:

The MSR Groundhog Tent Stake is the best overall tent stake for camping and bushcraft. I recommend it to everyone that is looking for a good all-purpose tent stake.

PROS

Lightweight

Durable

Pull Loop

Guy Line Notch

CONS

Price


Coghlan’s 9” ABS Tent Stake – Best Survival Tent Stake

Coghlan’s 9” ABS Tent Stake – Best Survival Tent Stake
  • Material: ABS Plastic
  • Length: 9”
  • Shape: T-beam
  • Weight: 1.0 oz
  • Best For: Survival Kits

The Coghlan’s ABS Tent Stake is the best tent stake for your survival kit, bug-out bag, or any other wilderness survival pack.

Why is this the best survival tent stake?

Why would you want a plastic tent stake?

This tent stake is made from an ABS plastic polymer. Not only is ABS super durable, but it is also flammable.

You can light one of these tent stakes with a lighter or match, and it will burn very hot – even if it is wet. This makes it ideal for survival since you can use them to start a fire if no suitable tinder is available.

These tent stakes can also withstand a beating without breaking.

They are wide and work great in softer soil. If the soil is very rocky, they can be hard to drive into the ground. They are bulkier than aluminum tent stakes simply because it takes more material to make them rigid.

I like that they have a flat, wide head. This makes it easier to drive them into the ground. The head also has a nice hook for guy lines.

For general use, they are not my top choice, but for a survival kit, they are the best.

Recommended for:

The Coghlan’s ABS Tent Stake is for anyone looking for a tent stake for their survival kit. They have multiple uses from staking a tarp to starting a fire.

PROS

Durable

Good Fire Starter

Price

CONS

Best for Softer Soil


Wocholl 12” Anchoring Spikes – Best Permanent Shelter Tent Stake

Wocholl 12” Anchoring Spikes – Best Permanent Shelter Tent Stake
  • Material: Steel
  • Length: 12”
  • Shape: Spike
  • Weight: 6 oz
  • Best For: Permanent Bushcraft Shelters

The Wocholl 12” Anchoring Spike is a heavy-duty nail-type steel spike that is great for hard rocky soil.

The spikes are 3/8” in diameter and are the strongest stake on our list. But they are also the heaviest.

If you are building a permanent bushcraft shelter or have a large tarp or tent on hard ground, these are great. You can pound these with a sledgehammer without bending them.

These are nail shaped and do not have a notch for guy lines. This can easily be solved by picking up some fender washers at your local hardware store. Simply put the washer on the stake before you drive it and loop your guy line under it.

If you drive these very deep, they are almost impossible to pull back out without a crowbar, so keep this in mind.

If you have far to hike to camp these are heavy (and you need a crowbar). So, they are not the best for anyone that has far to travel.

Recommended for:

The Wocholl 12” Anchoring Spike is for someone that needs a more permanent tent stake or has a very large tarp or tent on hard, rocky soil. These are super heavy-duty tent stakes.

PROS

Long Length

Heavy-Duty

Works in Hard, Rocky Soil

CONS

Heavy


MSR Carbon Core 6” Tent Stake – Best Lightweight Tent Stake

MSR Carbon Core 6” Tent Stake – Best Lightweight Tent Stake
  • Material: Aluminum and Carbon Fiber
  • Length: 6”
  • Shape: Round Spike
  • Weight: 0.2 oz
  • Best For: Lightweight Backpacking

The MSR Carbon Core 6” Tent Stake is a super lightweight tent stake that is half the weight of our top pick (and the MSR groundhogs are less than ½ an ounce each)!

These tent stakes have a carbon fiber cylindrical core wrapped in a thin layer of aluminum. The carbon fiber’s shape makes them structurally strong, and the aluminum coating protects the carbon fiber from damage. This is a very unique and intelligent design.

The head of the stake has a plastic mushroom-shaped cap. This makes them easy to pull out of the ground and provides a landing for a guy line to hook on.

These stakes are 6 inches long – the minimum length I would consider. They do not hold as well as the groundhogs and are not as good in rocky terrain. They are larger in diameter than spikes, though, and hold well in soft ground.

If you try to drive these into rocky or hard ground, you must not hit them too hard. If you meet resistance, stop.

They can not handle a high side load, and stepping on them with your boot off-center could bend them.

Since these have a unique design, they are the most expensive stakes on our list. If weight is your primary concern, these are the lightest, just be aware of their limitations.

Recommended for:

The MSR Carbon Core 6” Tent Stake is for someone looking for a very lightweight tent stake for a long backpacking trip. They are short and best for softer soil.

PROS

Lightweight

Unique Design

Holds Well

CONS

Price

Short Length

Durability


Coleman 10” Steel Nail Tent Pegs – Best for Hard Ground

Coleman 10” Steel Nail Tent Pegs – Best for Hard Ground
  • Material: Steel
  • Length: 10”
  • Shape: Round Spike
  • Weight: 3.1 oz
  • Best For: Rocky Ground

The Coleman 10” Steel Nail Tent Pegs are heavy-duty tent stakes for hard, rocky ground.

These tent stakes are basically a large steel nail with a plastic hook that slips over the spike and is held on by the head. They are very heavy-duty, and bending them is very hard.

These must be driven into the ground with a hammer or the poll of an axe. Depending on the ground and what you drive them into, they can also be tough to get out. I like to attach a loop of paracord to them so I can pull them out with my multitool.

If you are camping in a campground with gravel, these are a must-have, as they can penetrate through the gravel into firm ground.

They are a little heavy, so keep this in mind if you are hiking very far to camp.

I like the design of the head on these stakes. They have a hook on one side for holding guy lines and a rounded, smooth surface. I find adjusting guy lines after pitching my tarp is easy with these. There are no surfaces to catch my line like some other stakes.

For the price, these are a great affordable option just to keep with your bushcraft or camping gear in case you need them.

Recommended for:

The Coleman 10” Steel Nail Tent Pegs are for someone looking for a heavy-duty tent stake for hard rocky ground or gravel.

PROS

Heavy Duty

Head Design

Durable

Price

CONS

Heavy


MSR Mini Groundhog Tent Stake

MSR Mini Groundhog Tent Stake
  • Material: Aluminum Alloy
  • Length: 6”
  • Shape: Y-beam
  • Weight: 0.35 oz
  • Best For: Lightweight general use

The MSR Mini Groundhog Tent Stake is a shorter, lightweight version of our top pick, the MSR Groundhog.

This tent stake has the same shape and design as our top pick and is just 1.5 inches shorter.

While this stake is not as light at the MSR Carbon Core, it is only .15 ounces heavier and the same length. If you carry 4 stakes, that is only 0.6 ounces difference. Unless you are an ultralight backpacker, you won’t notice the difference in carrying these.

These have a Y beam design, so they hold better than a spike shape in softer ground. They also are less likely to bend under side loads.

The 6” length is the shortest that I would consider for a tent stake. In very rocky ground or very soft ground, I have found that they are not quite long enough to hold as well as a longer stake.

These are very affordable, so if you are looking for a lightweight tent stake on a budget, these are a great option.

Recommended for:

The MSR Mini Groundhog Tent Stake is great for anyone looking for a low-cost, durable, lightweight tent stake. For most, our top pick is the best choice due to the longer length, but these are very similar in design.

PROS

Lightweight

Y-beam Design

Price

CONS

Short Length


Big Agnes Dirt Dagger UL Tent Stakes

Big Agnes Dirt Dagger UL Tent Stakes
  • Material: Aluminum Alloy
  • Length: 10” (others also available)
  • Shape: I-beam
  • Weight: 1.65 oz
  • Best For: When Holding Power is Needed in Soft Ground

The Big Agnes Dirt Dagger UL Tent stake has a unique I-beam design that makes it strong and lightweight at the same time.

I-beams have been used in construction for hundreds of years since they can span long distances and are not as heavy as a solid beam. This is the same principle at work with these stakes.

These stakes are much lighter than any of the other 10” stakes on our list – yet very strong and durable.

I find that the head is not the best for guy lines. It has a small notch on each side to hold your paracord in place, but you have to ensure the stake is aligned when you place it in the ground. If it is off slightly, it reduces the amount of “bite” the notch has.

These stakes have a loop of paracord attached to help pull them out of the ground. Since these are longer and if you drive them into hard ground, they can be difficult to remove. You must have a multitool with a hook to pull them out if you drive them very deep.

In softer ground, these hold great – better than any other stake on our list. They are also easy to remove when you strike camp. If you camp on soft, wet ground, these are an excellent choice.

Recommended for:

The Big Agnes Dirt Dagger UL Tent stake is for someone looking for the most holding power in softer ground. These are a great lightweight option for long 10” stakes but also come in other lengths.

PROS

Length Options

Holding Power

Durable

Lightweight

CONS

Head Notch


MSR Core Tent Stake

MSR Core Tent Stake
  • Material: Aluminum Alloy
  • Length: 9”
  • Shape: Spike
  • Weight: 0.5 oz
  • Best For: Hard Ground and Lightweight

The MSR Core Tent stake is designed to be a lightweight stake for hard ground.

This tent stake is similar to other spike stakes on our list. It is made from a 7075 Aluminum alloy, providing strength and making them much lighter than steel stakes.

It has an aluminum mushroom head with a paracord loop to help pull them out of the ground. I found that the head held a guy line nicely while providing a smooth surface for the line to ride on as I adjusted it.

With a length of 9 inches, it is long enough to penetrate through rocks or gravel.

These stakes are not as durable as the steel spikes on our list. They will bend if you do not drive them straight or put a side load on them with your foot. Durability is the trade-off here to save weight.

If you need a longer stake for hard ground and weight is a concern, these are for you. If you carry six stakes, these can save you nearly one pound in your pack over the Coleman steel stakes. That is a considerable saving for long hikes.

Recommended for:

The MSR Core Tent stake is for someone looking for a long, lightweight, spike-type tent stake for hard ground.

PROS

Lightweight

Long Length – Holds Well

Head Design

CONS

Not as Durable as Steel


MSR Blizzard Stake

MSR Blizzard Stake
  • Material: Aluminum Alloy
  • Length: 9.5”
  • Shape: V-Shaped
  • Weight: 1.12 oz
  • Best For: Sand or Snow

The MSR Blizzard stake is a wide V-shaped stake that works best in very soft soil like sand or snow.

While I have not personally used these, many have found them to work well on the beach or in snow as a dead man’s anchor.

To use them, you first dig a shallow hole. Then, you drive the stake, attach the guy line, and then fill the hole with snow or sand. The wide design of the stake helps it hold securely, and the sand or snow on top of it prevents it from pulling out.

I like that these have multiple holes so you could attach multiple guys lines to a single stake if needed.

While at the beach, I have seen many of those pop-up canopies people use for shade blow over. These tent stakes are great for keeping one of those grounded. If you are one of those people, buy these, so you don’t have to chase it down the beach while it takes out small children. (Anyway, I digress, but I have seen this happen.)

Recommended for:

The MSR Blizzard stake is for anyone who plans to camp in the snow or in deep sand. Installed correctly, they hold well in the wind – as well as keep small children at the beach safe.

PROS

Great in Snow or Sand

Multiple Holes for Lines

Wide V Design

CONS

Not Good in Soil


Tips for Choosing the Best Tent Stake

No matter the task, if you don’t select the right tool for the job, you will likely not have a good experience. Tent stakes are probably one of the most overlooked piece of gear for camping, bushcraft, and survival.

There is no “one stake fits all” solution depending on the situation. While some stakes do well in most conditions, some are much better than others.

In this guide, we will review which tent stakes are the best for camping, bushcraft, and survival.

Best Tent Stakes shown with Saw and Knife used to make Bushcraft Wood Tent Stakes
Some of my tent stakes

Tent Stake Material

The material that the tent stake material is made of influences the strength, weight, as well as price. It is one of the major factors to consider when selecting tent stakes.

Steel

Steel is the strongest tent stake material as well as the heaviest. Select steel when you are going to be camping in a rocky area, and weight is not a concern. A steel tent stake will withstand heavy blows as you drive it into the hard, rocky ground.

Aluminum

Aluminum tent stakes are not as strong as steel but are lighter in weight. Pound for pound, aluminum has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than steel. This makes it a great material for tent stakes when weight is a concern. For most people and scenarios, it is one of the best tent stake materials for general use.

Titanium

Titanium is used mainly in lightweight applications. It is heavier than aluminum, but because it has a higher strength, much less of it needs to be used to create a similar tent stake. It is also more expensive than aluminum. I have not found much use for titanium tent stakes since the weight difference is very small and the price of the titanium is so much higher.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon Fiber is a very light material with good strength depending on how it is configured. Typically, it is very strong in one direction but not in the opposite (sheer vs. compression). These tent stakes can be very expensive and are not for most people. The only reason to consider carbon fiber is if weight is a top concern and price is not.

Wood

Traditionally bushcrafters will make their own tent stakes out of wood if they need them for a tarp shelter. They are not as strong as the other materials but can be driven into the ground and left since they are a natural material.

These can be made before your camping trip, but if you have time, they can be made at camp. In this case, the weight savings is a bonus since there will be nothing to carry in your pack. These can also be made for a survival shelter in an emergency if you do not have any stakes.

Use a green hard wood to make your wood stakes, such as Oak or Maple. Saplings that are about 1 inch in diameter are a great choice since they are easy to cut down and are usually straight. No matter if you have a camp axe, folding saw, or just a bushcraft belt knife, you can make your own from a small sapling.

Plastic

Plastic is usually not a material that is thought of to be the best for tent stakes. To get a stake that is strong enough, it must be fairly thick. The cost of plastic is low, so if you are on a budget, they are worth considering.

ABS polymer is the best plastic material to consider for a tent stake. ABS is impact resistant and works well in cold weather. It is a durable material and can be driven into the ground with the poll of your camp axe or hatchet.

ABS tent stakes also have one unique advantage over all other materials. When exposed to a flame from a lighter, ABS material will melt and burst into a hot intense flame even if it is wet. This is a huge advantage in a survival situation, especially in wet conditions.

Since both shelter and warmth are primary priorities to maintain your body heat based on the survival rule of 3, I recommend keeping ABS plastic tent stakes for a survival kit for this very reason.

Best Tent Stakes for Bushcraft, shown holding a bushcraft and Survival Tarp pitched in the woods
The MSR Groundhogs work well in rocky ground

Tent Stake Length

In general, longer stakes offer more holding power. However, they are harder to drive into the ground and hard to remove once you are done camping. In my experience, a length of around 6 to 9 inches works best for most scenarios.

Tent stakes that are longer than 9 inches are best for permanent shelters or larger tarp shelters that require a lot of holding power. Very rocky terrain or gravel campsites may also require longer tent stakes.

If you make your own tent stakes out of wood, you could consider making them longer if the ground is not too rocky. Around 12 inches is a good length, or just measure from your palm to your elbow.

Tent Stakes that are shorter than 9 inches are best for smaller tents that simply need to be held down when they are not occupied. They can be used directly through the grommets of a tent or tarp when no guy lines are needed.

If you plan to use guy lines to fly a tarp, I recommend at least a 7.5-inch tent stake. Longer ones are ok, too, since you don’t have to drive them as deep, but they are heavier to carry.

Best Tent Stake, shown in the woods being used by the author with a guy line attached
Jason using an MSR tent stake

Tent Stake Shape

There are a few different shapes of tent stakes available. Each has its pros and cons.

Y Shape

A “Y,” “I,” or “T” shaped stake offers the best holding power in softer soil. They also are structurally the strongest and are more difficult to bend. They offer the best strength and holding power at the lowest weight. Overall, this shape is usually the best choice.

A more specialized stake is better if you are camping in very rocky terrain or very soft soil like sand.

Tent stake used as a marlinespike hitch around a tree
A Marlinspike hitch with paracord and a tent stake

Round or Spikes

Round Tent Stakes or spikes are best for very rocky terrain. They can be driven past rocks and will penetrate deeper than other shapes. In the same soil as a Y-shaped stake, they will not have the same holding power and move more as tension is applied from guy lines.

V Shape

A “V” shaped stake is often a wide stake that is designed specifically for sand or snow. These have the best holding power in softer terrains. For normal soil, they are harder to drive and bend easily. If you camp in very soft terrain and have issues with Y-shaped tent stakes holding well, try a wider V-shaped tent stake.

Shepherd’s Hook

Shepherd’s hook tent stakes are the basic tent stake spikes with a hook at one end. They are typically the tent stakes that come with a tent. They are only useful for pushing through the grommets on a tent just to keep it from sliding around when it is not occupied. If you have a tarp or a rainfly that needs a guy line, these will not work well.

Screw Type

Screw-type tent stakes are specialized for use in loose sand. If you plan to camp on a beach, then consider this shape. They have a T handle at the top to make them easier to twist into the sand. These are heavier and bulkier than other stakes and have a specific purpose. “V” shaped stakes are usually better.

Here is a quick reference guide of the shapes and materials that are most common.

Shape/MaterialSoil TypeWeightDurability
Y, T, I Beam / AluminumAll TypesLightGood
Y, T, I Beam / PlasticNot RockyLightGood
Spike / SteelHard, RockyHeavyBest
Spike / AluminumHard, RockyLightGood
Spike / Carbon FiberNot RockyVery LightNot Good
V / AluminumSand/SnowLightNot Good

Tent Stake Weight

Weight may be important if you are backpacking or hiking a long way to camp. Aluminum tent stakes are usually the best choice for most people. In extreme weight-saving cases, carbon fiber is a good option.

As an alternative when trying to save weight, take extra utility lines and tie your tarp or tent to trees, rocks, or deadfall. For more traditional bushcraft, you can also just make your own stakes from green wood.

Tent Stake Diagram that shows the angle of the guy line on a tent stake
Tent Stake and Guy Line Angle

Buying a good tent stake like our top pick is usually the best way to be prepared. If the weather turns on you and you need to make camp quickly, you do not want to have to take the time to make your own tent stakes. Even worse, if you are injured, you may not be able to make your own.


What Makes a Good Survival Tent Stake?

A good survival tent stake should be lightweight, durable, and made from ABS polymer. As I mentioned above, ABS tent stakes make excellent fire starters, even in wet weather.

ABS Plastic tent stake on fire under kindling to make a survival camp fire
ABS Plastic Tent Stakes make a great survival fire starter

I recommend that you keep six of Coghlan’s ABS Tent Stakes in your survival fire starting kit, bug-out bag, and get-home bag. One can be used to start a fire, four can be used for your tarp shelter, and one can be used in a utility function as a toggle or for a second fire.


How to Make Bushcraft Tent Stakes

Here is a great video on how to make your own stakes in the woods if you don’t already have any. It also covers how to properly use tent stakes for flying a bushcraft and survival tarp.


What is the Best Tent Stake for You?

In my experience, the MSR Groundhog tent stake is the best all-around tent stake for most people for Camping and Bushcraft. If you are putting together a survival kit such as a bug-out bag or get-home bag, the Coghlan’s ABS Tent Stake is the best since it can also be used as a fire starter.

If you are going to be camping in an area with hard ground or in a campground with gravel tent sites, also get some of the Coleman 10” Steel Nail Tent Pegs if you are parking nearby or the MSR Core Tent stakes if you have a distance to hike.

Now that you have your tent stakes, check out our Bushcraft Guides and Gear Reviews for some other ideas on camping and bushcraft. Check out our Emergency Preparedness Guides for more info on preparing for emergencies.

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Jason has an engineering and problem solving background. He is an avid outdoorsman, survivalist, and competitive shooter. He enjoys researching the best and most practical solutions for the problem at hand, studying stoicism, and finding innovative ways to be prepared.