When it comes to shopping and purchasing tents, it’s almost a no-brainer that the ten should come with stakes. In fact, it’s probably not even a consideration for many people as it’s an addition that is just expected. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, however, and remember that it’s important to read the accessories list that comes with your purchase.
Most tents will indeed come with stakes but that’s certainly not the case for all tents. High-end or premium tent purchases may surprise you by arriving at your door with no stakes whatsoever. That’s because premium tent manufacturers prefer to let the customer choose their stakes for a given terrain.
If you spend a lot of money and a really nice tent, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t come with stakes. You should either check the fine print before you make your purchase or you should go out and shop for some stakes that are the best kind for where you will spend most of your time camping.
How to know if your tent comes with stakes
While there are always ways to secure a tent without stakes, you definitely want to have some or at least have the option of purchasing them in addition to your tent. Now that you know not every tent is going to come with stakes, you should know how to figure that out before the purchase.
If you’re purchasing your tent online, whether it is directly from the online store of the manufacturer or Amazon, there should be a section called, “What’s in the Box,” or something very similar, which will give you an itemized breakdown of what the tent comes with.
If you find the tent that you want at a physical location and it doesn’t have an item list or description of what it comes with, you can jump online, Google the tent model and manufacturer, and search for the items that it comes with there.
Most of the time, however, the box at the store that the tent comes in will give you a full breakdown before you walk out of the door with it.
Why would some tents not have stakes?
It’s not like some of these tent manufacturers are trying to rob or trick you, it’s just that a particular tent stake may not be viable in your area and there’s no sense in taking on the cost of packing in tent stakes that you can’t use.
Typically, you’re only going to see this with tents that are up there in terms of price. While it may offend some, the tent manufacturer, in these cases, is simply trying to give you a choice, rather than packing in the wrong stakes.
Geography throughout the country isn’t always the same. For example, someone camping out in the Grand Canyon is probably not going to use the same, cheap metal stakes that someone camping out in the Florida Everglades would use.
Some tents don’t require stakes
Known as ‘freestanding tents,’ these tents are designed to hold their shape and structure without any need for tent stakes. These tents are popular for backpackers and campers who like to go solo.
There are two types of freestanding tents: the single-wall design and the double-wall design. The double-wall tents come with a rainfly while single-wall tents do not. Either way, these are generally very small tents that set up nearly as fast as a pop-up tent will.
Despite their small size and light weight, freestanding tents are remarkably well constructed and are highly durable tents. Most of the time, the manufacturers of freestanding tents don’t actively advertise if their freestanding tents come with stakes. Some do and some don’t.
Non-freestanding tents are just a fancy way of saying that it is a more traditional tent and these tents will usually come with stakes.
What kind of stakes should you buy?
If your tent doesn’t come with stakes, it’s not very likely that it’s because the manufacturer is going cheap on you. The choice is yours, however, where do you get started and what are the best stakes to choose from?
- Y-Beam stakes (otherwise known as groundhog stakes)
- Shepherd Hooks
- Carbon Fiber stakes
There may be other names for the kinds of stakes listed above but you will generally find them under those names and each one has its own unique use, whiles some can be used in a variety of situations.
Y-Beam stakes are all purpose stakes
Y-beam stakes are probably the most popular stakes out there, at least they are pretty popular with backpackers. Manufactured from aluminum, these are considered to be all-purpose stakes and can be used in a variety of terrain types.
The Y-beam stake has a unique shape to its point, which resembles a lower-case ‘y’. Now that you know where the name comes from, the only other important aspect of this unique shape is that it holds itself well in many different types of soil.
The y-shape allows it to grip even loose sands or you can use it in hard-packed earth or thick clay. The only terrain that it might have trouble with is rocky terrain, however, that kind of terrain is going to give any stake fits.
Shepherd hooks are for tougher ground
Shepherd hooks aren’t designed for hooking in and gripping the earth. The ‘hook’ in its name comes from the top of the stake, which is shaped like a question mark and designed to grab ahold of your guy line as you hammer the stake down into the ground.
These are usually made out of stainless steel or titanium and can withstand much more harsh and rocky environments. They’re well suited for thick clay, heavily compacted earth, and other thick soils. If they are too thin, you do have to worry about bending if you are trying to force them.
When it comes to loose dirt or beach sand, you will need something in addition to your shepherd hook to keep the stake down, like heavy rocks or logs.
Carbon fiber stakes are the lightest
Carbon fiber stakes are not the best stakes in the world and they’re liable to snap on you if you try hammering them down into the rocky ground. They’ll also snap if you hit a thick root just below the ground’s surface.
They are best to use for medium terrains or soil that is solid but not incredibly thick or hard. These are the typical, thick metal stakes that you often find with mid-size tents, both in terms of the tent’s size and price.
Depending on the type of carbon fiber stake you get, some of them will work pretty well in loose soil.
These stakes are usually found in premium tent types or in some of your mid-range tents. They are probably the most versatile stake available and grip very well in most soil types. Like Y-beam stakes, V-stakes are manufactured with aluminum and their length is typically determined by the tent that they come with.
There are two options with the v-stakes: Aluminum and the larger, titanium v-stakes. The larger, thicker, titanium stakes are much better for sand and loose soil types while the smaller, aluminum stakes are designed for much harder and less forgiving soil.
Do you even need tent stakes?
Not all of the time. If you’re camping in an area where there is no wind and is generally pretty calm, you can get away without using any tent stakes. The biggest concern would be a freak thunderstorm with some pretty high winds rolling through in the middle of the night.
As mentioned above, some tents are designed to be used without stakes at all, typically for solo campers and hikers or backpackers.
Even a standard rain would make you wish you had tent stakes dug in, however, as the tent will lack rigidity throughout the bad weather. That means it will be more ‘flappy,’ for lack of a better word. And a flappy tent is a tent that doesn’t shed water very well.
The rigidity of a tent is necessary for certain conditions, but you can generally get away with not using tent stakes for the most part, especially if it’s a big, leisurely family affair. Of course, you can also use other things around you for tent stakes if necessary.
You can even use some particularly long nails, or even screws or bolts. So long as you can find something to force the tent into a more rigid position, it will withstand the wind, rain, and adverse elements better than it would without.
Most tents are going to come with stakes, even if the manufacturer makes a tent that doesn’t need them. In cases where you purchase a freestanding tent, stakes will often be thrown in there with it, almost as an afterthought.
However, you will occasionally come across a tent that doesn’t have any stakes and that is usually going to happen in places where the terrain itself is a bit eccentric, in terms of what most people are used to. That just means that the choice of tent stakes is entirely up to you.