Quick Tip: Psuedo Deadman Anchors

A deadman anchor is an effective way to secure your shelter (or any structure) when the ground is soft sand or snow.

Deadman anchor illustration from the USFS.

Simply bury a stick perpendicular to the guylines, tie off with the appropriate knot, adjust, and you should have a secure shelter. A buried rock and a stuff sack can work well, too.

And if you in a sketchy off-road area, solo, and have a very major OOPS!, a deadman works for vehicle recovery (with a lot of digging!).

But there is a quick and dirty way to provide a bit of a deadman anchor ability without the digging. Useful when it is rainy out in the otherwise dry desert and you just want to get the shelter set up quickly without digging. And on rocky terrain where you can’t effectively dig of course!

As with a true deadman anchor, grab a large stick and place it perpendicular to the guylines, but then place the stake behind the stick. Weigh down with large rocks.  Easy!

You can even turn the stake sideways and perpendicular to the guylines in a pinch too.  Larger stakes than the MSR Mini Groundhog I have pictured here as an example will work better. I find this method works best on rocky areas where sticks may be in short supply. Useful for hard packed ground in established campsites, too!

Is this pseudo deadman anchor always optimal? Of course not.  For snow, this idea is no substitute for actual deadman anchors.  And in windy conditions, a real deadman anchor is the better option.  But for something quick and you’d rather get in your shelter just as quick, this hack can be useful. And for rocky areas, you may not have a choice!

Like all tips, this idea is a good one to have in the skill kit for various situations as appropriate.

And ultimately it is skills and knowledge to apply gear and tools that make the outdoors enjoyable. Not acquiring gear, collecting it,  and slapping the weights on a spreadsheet. 😉

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