Don't Make these Common Tent Staking Mistakes

Once you make it to camp, it's tempting to just throw your tent up and move on to more important things... like food. But properly staking your tent is an important part of setting up camp.

To ensure that you and your tent are safe and comfortable during your camping trips, avoid these 10 common tent staking mistakes.

1. Not driving your stake all the way into the ground

Your stake's holding power is at its strongest when it is driven all the way into the ground. Pushing your stake halfway into the ground and calling it good won't work out well if you're camping in less than ideal weather.

2. Using your foot to drive your stake into the ground

Tent Staking Mistakes

Placing your stake and then pushing it into the ground with your foot seems convenient, especially if you are wearing solid hiking boots, but this is a recipe for bent stakes. If the stake doesn't bend, it will turn into a lever that might pry up on the soil and reduce holding power. Using a rock as a hammer and pounding the stakes into the ground is a much better solution.

3. Using the wrong kind of stakes

There are more types of tent stakes out there than you might think. We go over some of the most commonly used tent stakes in a different blog post, which you can find here. Take a look at these options to decide which is best for you. This mistake is most crucial to avoid when camping in snow or sand. In these conditions, snow stakes are a must.

4. Driving your stake into the ground at an angle

Tent Staking Mistakes

Your tent stake should be perpendicular to the ground rather than going into the ground at an angle. Driving the stake straight into the ground will give your tent stronger holding power.

5. Facing the stake's hook the wrong way

Your tent will be most protected from the wind if the hook of your stake is facing away from your tent. This will help keep the guy line -- and your tent -- in place.

6. Not reinforcing weak stakes

Tent staking mistakes

Placing something heavy (like a rock) over essential stakes will add extra holding power to your tent on especially windy days. The rock also provides extra assurance that the guy lines won't slip off of the tent stakes.

7. Not pulling the the guy lines tight enough to make your tent taut

When you stake your tent, you should be pulling the guy lines tight so your tent is taut. This is especially important if you are using a non-freestanding tent. Tightening those lines will make your tent more stable and increase the holding power of your stakes.

8. Staking your tent in a way that creates an odd tension

tent staking mistakes

Your tent should be taut, but if the tension is placed incorrectly your tent won't be as sturdy, or as comfortable, as a tent with the correct tension. When you lay out your tent, imagine an X laying over the top of it. The angles at which you pull the corner guy lines should follow the angles of that imaginary X.

9. Staking your tent in soft ground

Soft ground might seem ideal for staking your tent since it makes placing stakes easy. But if your stakes go into the ground easily, that means they are likely to come out of the ground easily. The most ideal ground in which to stake your tent is firm, but not rocky. (If you do camp on rocky ground, this staking tip will help!)

10. Not staking your tent at all

tent staking mistakes Flickr photo courtesy awnisALAN

The biggest tent staking mistake you can make is not bothering to stake your tent at all. This can be tempting on days when the conditions are perfect, but weather can change quickly. It's better not to risk your safety or risk damaging your tent by taking a few minutes to stake it into the ground.
posted by
Lauren Seidl
Blogger at Sierra Trading Post
Lauren enjoys hiking, camping, climbing and exploring the outdoors. She's always up for trying something new, especially if it involves getting outside. When Lauren isn't out finding adventures in her home state of Colorado, she can be found writing as Sierra Trading Post's blogger.
Comments (1)
5/31/2017 at 7:37 AM
Good advice but I'm a little surprised by the stake angle recommendation. I always stake the tent floor at 90° but for any lines or fly stakes where there's vertical tension, I've always put the stakes at an angle away from the tension. I just did an online search and there seem to be differing viewpoints on this. It would be interesting if someone could test which is best.
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