Quick Tip: Gutter spike nails as tent stakes


There are many variations of tent stakes. From the very inexpensive but prone to bending aluminum shepherd’s hook type to expensive, but light,  titanium stakes.

My personal stakes of choice in the past year or so have been:

  • MSR Groundhog minis for backpacking. A good, all-purpose  tent stake that is somewhat expensive but is light (.35 oz), versatile, sturdy and holds down well. Works well for the off-the beaten path areas I often favor.
  • Colghan’s Ultralight tent stakes: The budget alternative for above that happens to be much longer.  I use them in my car camping tote. The areas for car camping tends to have harder ground and beats on stakes. Why not use the budget, but still capable, alternative?

But there is a third option. Something I’ve been using for about 5+ years now. An item that is inexpensive, has good holding power, durable, light (.40 oz), and at only $5-$10  for a pack of ten, very affordable: 7″ aluminum gutter nails.

I originally read this use on the site I bought stuff sacks from many years ago.

The gutter nails are a little cruder than the two previous items above and don’t pull out of the ground quite as easily. (Simple solution? Make a loop and tie off with a double overhand knot with some bank line. ) The gutter nails work surprisingly well overall, however.

Along with bank line or paracord, I use gutter nails with the tarp I have stored in the vehicle. Perfect for erecting a sun shade, gear cover or a rain fly when car camping 
or doing a bivy on the way to a backpacking destination. If a gutter spike should bend on hard ground, I am out of an item that is inexpensive, easily replaceable and found at any hardware store.

So consider gutter nails as a good, inexpensive, durable, light and very useful alternative to a traditional tent stake.

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8 years ago

Hello Paul,
I never thought of using gutter nails. I didn’t even know they came that long. Sounds like a good alternative to the expensive stakes. I’ve always used the cheap ones that came with the tent. My Alps Mountaineering Tent came with some pretty good thick stakes. They’re holding up pretty good so far. Thanks for the post. Have a great day!

8 years ago

I blunt the point on mine by hitting the point with a hammer. They still drive into the ground, but they don’t poke through my stake bag. If you bend one, they are relatively easy to pound back into shape. A stump and a big rock work well. Tying a loop under the head before using them makes them easier to pull out.

7 years ago

Good idea. I use 12 inch landscaping spikes with a washer on top. I can find them for around 70 cents apiece and they work very well.