If you got a heavier tent, something like a Kodiak Canvas or Springbar, then having to hammer in your tent pegs can take a long time with over 16 stakes demanding a beating.
This is especially true if you’re older or carry a disability. Getting up and down can be after bashing the living hell out of the tent pegs can be quite painful on the back. Trying to hammer in the pegs on a hot summer day just adds to the degree of difficulty. With sweat rolling into your eyes and the palm of your hands losing grip with the hammer.
Hard Ground Requires Heavy Duty Tent Stakes
Not only does it take a long time to knock all the pegs in, but it can also be made even more difficult by how hard the ground is. This is one of those things that is a fact of camping and very difficult to get around with your average camping pegs.
A heavy-duty tent peg can make short work of hard ground, but it’s not also a guarantee. I’ve used some of the most heavy-duty tent pegs and still couldn’t manage to drive them all the way in. Sometimes, the ground is just too hard and compacted.
Thankfully there are a few tent peg alternatives that can take a lot of the hassle out of having to deal with the hard ground and ease some of the pressure on the backs. Not to mention to help save time during the set-up period leaving more time to settle into the campsite.
#1 Tent Peg Alternative – Lag Bolts
Every once in a while you come across a camping guru who just happens to know everything there is to know about camping and fortunately, is willing to share their information with you. This is what happened to me when this guru showed me a sure-fire way to staking tent pegs, no matter how hard the ground was.
What he showed me were some 3/8, x 8-inch Lag (Spax) bolts that were far more sturdy then what I had and once staked, weren’t going anywhere.You can buy 25 of them on amazon here which should suffice for most size tents.
You could go with some longer 14-inch bolts if you want to, but I feel 8 inches is fine for most occasions. They make great tent stakes for Burning Man tents. 14″ bolts act like rebar and are quite heavy duty, so therfor an 18v drill is certainly recommended.
Heavy Duty Is An Advantage But…
The biggest advantage of these types of bolts isn’t there durability and ability against the wind, but how easily they can go into the hard ground. With the added help of a cordless drill, you can get these bolts into the ground in a matter of minutes.
Having regular tent peg alternatives that are this heavy duty and can drill into hard ground with ease is a game-changer for most. Sure, this solution is not really helpful to people camping in places with softer earth, like Florida, but for the occasions where the ground is very hard, there’s nothing better.
For me, I don’t think there isn’t a better alternative to your stock standard tent pegs then using some of these Spax bolts. With how easy they can go into the ground and how durable they are, it makes it hard to not at least have a set in your toolbox.
Pro Tip: Use large fender washers on the screws as this will help secure the loops of the tent better due to a larger surface area.
*Apply zip-ties or rubber band between the head of the screw and fender washer to create a gap to loop your guy line around.
Is There A Downside To This Tent Peg Idea?
There isn’t too much of a downside to using these bolts in my opinion since you almost always have to replace the stock standard tent pegs right out of the box anyway. So the extra cost of buying the bolts isn’t something I’d consider to be a downside.
The only real downside to this bolts is that you require a cordless drill. Most people generally have a cordless drill in the shed, so there’s no loss there. But if you don’t have a drill already, I can see this being a downside since it’ll cost you some coin to buy one.
However, most modern drills will be able to handle such a simple task, so if you’re struggling a bit with money, a cheaper drill will still get the job done. No need to spend hundreds on a brand name drill just for the sake of securing your tent in hard ground.
Don’t Want To Take Power Tools Camping?
I get it, not everybody likes the idea of taking a power tool camping. It could be fo any number of reasons, the purchase of a drill, the extra item to remember and find space in your vehicle for or the fact you’re relying on a battery to stake down your tent.
The simple solution to this is to take a long a manual ratcheting screwdriver. Something like this one by Kingheart on amazon. It offers super simple torque with the return rotation onto the screw.
You simply insert the appropriate size hex drill bit (9/16″ hex for 3/8 thread) into the opening and use the torque to your benefit when screwing in the bolts.
Won’t The Screws Puncture Tent Equipment?
Some people I’ve met do tend to worry about the sharpness of the tip of the bolt and how it could puncture their tent when in storage. A good idea is to wrap the bolts in a cotton wrap then put a rubber band around them to keep them together.
Alternatively, you can store them in a plastic container which will only cost you a few dollars at your local hardware store. This will help prevent them from puncturing something that shouldn’t be punctured.
Nails As Alternative Tent Pegs?
This is a common question that I see getting asked in the camping community and especially with a lot of first-timers. Can you use nails to stake down a tent? Do nails make a suitable tent peg alternative?
With nearly all tent reviews, you will find most people will recommend you get new tent pegs instead of the ones that come with the tent. Naturally, people don’t want to spend even more money after heavily investing in their tent, which I can completely understand, so they look online for potential tent peg alternatives.
Perhaps the nails they have hidden away in their shed can be used instead of forking out more money on heavy-duty tent stakes. 3/8 x8″ Spike Nails are available on amazon and are a good choice for most tents.
The Type Of Nails You Can Use To Stake A Tent
The answer to this question comes down to the type of nail and the different variations of the nail will decide if they will work or not. I find using some 10-inch nail spikes will be able to do the trick and are a decent option as they are not super expensive.
Nail spikes do have the advantage of going into the ground much easier than your standard tent pegs, which are there biggest selling point. Since they’re so sharp they just slide into the ground like a knife through butter.
One thing I like about using nails is that they come in a lot of different size variations which can help with wind. The more durable and longer they are will make it harder for the wind to pull out the nails.
The Downside Of Using Nails For Tent Pegs
Using nails does have one or two downsides that can be fixed by doing certain things, but it’s these extra things that people will consider downsides. Tho whether you consider it to be a downside will come down to your personal preference.
The first and biggest issue with using a nail is that they can get stuck in the ground and be almost impossible to get out of the ground. The best way to solve this is to bring a pair of vice grips which you can use to get them out of the ground.
However, if you have nailed a 10-inch nail into hard layered clay, pulling them out with vice grips is going to be a lot of hard work. Sure they will work better than regular tent pegs, but it can be quite the mission to retrieve them from the ground.
Which Is The Best Heavy Duty Tent Stake Alternative?
If you’ve come this far and are still not convinced as to which is the best alternative heavy duty tent stake, here’s my two cents on the topic.
I prefer the Spax bolts and the reason for this is that you can drill them into the ground which is much easier than hammering nails. With nails, you need to go back to hammering them into the ground which is physically harder which is the same disadvantage of using normal tent pegs.
Retrieving the screws is a lot easier with a drill compared to using vice grips on nails to pull from the ground.
Nails I find lack some of the protection from the wind that other pegs do and using them in really windy places isn’t something I really trust. So I’d use them in places that don’t get a lot of heavy wind just to be on the safe side.
However, there’s one situation where I’d use nail spikes over spax bolts, and that is for staking down tarps or camping mats in front of the tent. As these are high traffic areas, using a plastic head nail spike will hold down the outdoors flooring without creating a tripping hazard, nor a sore foot if you happened to walk on a screw head.