When going camping at established campsites, there are certain amenities that often come with the site: A pit toilet, perhaps a water spicket, usually a place for trash.
Some established campsites are better than others, but when they are good, they offer a great way to experience a place not open for backpacking.
The problem with these established sites are that they have tent areas that are very hard and impacted. The ground makes it hard to put a tent stake in effectively.
And it is not just car camping sites, either. When you have to use established backcountry sites (such as national parks), the ground tends to be hard as well.
So what to do? My method in the past was to grab a Big Ass Rock (BAR), pound the stake in, sometimes bend them (with cheaper tent stakes esp.), curse and finally get the stakes in the ground.
A little while ago, I stumbled upon a much easier method. I still use a BAR, but also add the simple tool of a water bottle. Simple. Effective. And saves endless aggravation!
Here are the easy steps!
- Take water bottle and pour a small amount of water on area where you plan to place tent stake.
- Wait a minute or two for water to settle a bit.
- Place stake.
- Use the BAR to tap in stake..or even your foot if the ground is now soft enough.
- Repeat until all needed stakes are in sufficiently.
- Blissfully enjoy your campsite!
Easy peasy…mac n’ cheesy!
What to use for tent stakes?
My personal stakes of choice in the since 2014 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?
- Gutter Nails – The budget alternative I like to use on occassion esp with the large tarp in the camp kit.
Update: A well known blogger suggested using urine because it does not waste water. Apparently this blogger has not met a past partner. 🙂 If she knew I was peeing where I planned on putting the tent stakes…well, let’s just say a Central European accent is really effective at vocalizing displeasure. 😉