It’s just a different beast when you try to stake a tent in the sand. Are we right or are we right? Those who’ve attempted to pitch a tent in the sand, such as at the beach, know this all too well. While several factors can play a role, we want to specifically focus on the stakes for this post.

Most standard tent stakes will be designed to be secured into hard ground and soil. The problem is that’s not what you’ll stake into in the sand (unless you’re talking about hard dirt). So, that must mean that shopping for sand stakes for tents becomes different, right?

Indeed, that’s very much true. And, in general, the best sand stakes for tents will be very long (oftentimes 10 inches or longer), will have U-shaped or screw-shaped designs, or will just be snow stakes. The material the stakes are made of can be important but it’s not the most vital characteristic, additionally.

Now, most tents will come with a set of stakes from the manufacturer, but that’s more than likely not going to do you a whole lot of good as the included stakes will probably not be the best for sand. More than likely, you’ll have to shop for specialized stakes that are geared to handle sand (or even snow).

That’s what we want to further analyze right now by starting with some of the main types of stakes that can work well to admirably for securing in sand.

Types of sand stakes for tents

V-stakes

The first thing to note about V-stakes is the fact that while they can work well in sandy ground, they work best when the ground is still hard. So, for soft and plush sand, there are better choices. Anyway, V-stakes are more durable than hook states thanks to their shape.

They do so without increasing weight too much, and some V-stakes will come with holes in the shafts that you can thread line through for additional holding power. In general, V-stakes are ideal for hard ground (not really soft sand).

Y-stakes

Y-stakes can be considered terrific, all-in-one stakes as they can be used in a wide range of different terrains. They have excellent holding power in hard and rocky ground, but also in more forgiving soil (which could include sand).

It’s the unique shape of a Y-stake that allows it to have so much holding power, but it’s also important to know that such a stake is also going to be heavier than the average stake. Y-stakes can also be a little pricier, but if you plan on pitching your tent on different terrains from time to time (including sand), their versatility and performance will justify the price.

Plastic utility stakes

When compared to your standard tent stakes that will often come with the tent you purchase, plastic utility stakes can offer some superior quality and performance. The Y-shaped shaft present on such stakes helps them have greater stability.

For sand, the longer length of plastic utility stakes can also come into play. They might not be the number one choice for pitching a tent in sand, but they are also one of the least expensive stakes that you can buy. In other words, they can probably work if money is tight. Still, there are better choices.

Snow stakes

Ah, snow stakes. Let’s be real. If you want the best sand stakes for tents, then you might want to stick with snow stakes. As you might expect, such stakes are designed for camping in the snow. Winter camping offers different challenges altogether, such as ensuring that your tent is properly insulated, including pitching tents.

Wait, there seems to be an inconsistency with what we just said. After all, snow stakes are designed for winter camping, and you’re probably not going to deal with soft sand in the winter. Even though they’re called snow stakes, their nature and design naturally make them ideal for loose sand.

They’re going to be heavier and more expensive than ground stakes, but their great holding power in snow (or loose sand) is what you’re looking for. Plus, length is very important in snow stakes, which also makes for better sand stakes.

When you think about it, securing stakes into snow and loose sand is quite similar. Outside of the length, the increased surface area and sharp points of snow stakes also make them highly suitable for loose sand.

Does the material of the tent stakes make a difference?

Photo by Ivan Torres / Unsplash

We alluded to the fact that the material of tent stakes isn’t the most important characteristic to take into account when looking for the best sand stakes for tents. However, let’s not act as if the materials are irrelevant as they’ll always serve their purpose.

From plastic to aluminum to steel, tent stakes can be made from a variety of different materials. They can alter the strength and weight of tent stakes, but other properties such as the length, surface area, and shape of tent stakes will make more of a difference when trying to buy some that will hold admirably in sand.

To better explain this, Outdoor GearLab created a list of the best tent stakes of 2022. What we did was look at their list to see which stakes were designed to work best in the sand. What’s nice is GearLab tested the stakes to know firsthand how well they worked in specific terrains.

What we want to do is place the spotlight on three specific tent stake models that were on that list as all three are made of different materials, and all three are great for sand based on the testing of GearLab.

Eurmax galvanized tent stakes

In the words of GearLab, these stakes hold in sand when others fail to do so. Based on the title of the stakes, they’re made out of galvanized steel. Based on the website’s testing, they scored amongst the best for both durability and holding power. It’s not very likely that these suckers will get bent. Their longer nature also comes into play for sand. Now, these are also heavier (thanks to the steel construction).

Coleman 10-inch steel stakes

Another one of the best sand stakes for tents on the list is a set that’s made out of steel. The fact that the stakes are 10 inches in length also is vital, though. These provide a strong hold in sandy conditions based on GearLab’s testing. Yet, again, due to the steel, the weight of each stake is going to add up if you’re backpacking with them.

Orange screw ultimate ground anchors

Now, these stakes are a bit different and, according to GearLab, they’re the “best for the beach and soft sediment.” As opposed to the previous two, these ground anchors are made out of plastic. But it’s the screw design and the optimal length that makes them so good for holding in loose sediment. Even with the anchors only 50 percent installed into the ground, the traction of the screws and the flexibility of the plastic will allow the stakes to still provide an excellent hold. In hard and rocky ground, these stakes aren’t the greatest. They are more or less optimized for soft sediment.

As you can see, with two being steel and one being plastic, it’s not as if one specific material is going to be the best for sand. The other factors already mentioned play more of a role, and you can opt for plastic if weight is going to be a concern for you.

Why does sand make it more difficult to stake a tent?

Photo by Michał Bielejewski / Unsplash

What’s ironic about this question is for some stakes, securing into hard ground is going to be more difficult. However, generally speaking, the average set of tent stakes isn’t going to be optimized to stake into loose sand.

The primary reason why loose sand can make things more challenging is the lack of foundation and strength that it provides. When you stake into hard ground (or even just the ground), the foundation of the ground provides natural strength and holding power.

The quality of the stakes you use still matters in hard ground, but loose sand doesn’t provide much of a hold in and of itself. Hence, specialized stakes designed to work well in the sand should be purchased if that’s your main goal.

Final thoughts

If you buy a tent and it comes with stakes, it’s highly likely that you won’t be able to use them in the sand. Well, you could use them, but they might not hold your tent very well.

Opting for specialized sand stakes for tents that are optimal in length, shape, and design will yield much better results if you go to attempt to pitch your tent on the beach or in any other area that has loose sand. Such stakes can even be great to use in hard ground, though not all will be that way.

All this talk about sand stakes for tents is great and all, but what about securing a tent without stakes? Hmm, that could even play a role with what we just got done analyzing. Go ahead and click on that link if we piqued your interest there.