Three Points of the Compass has tried various combination sets of tent pegs over the years. There is no one-size-fits-all peg, though some come damn close to being perfect. Some ground or soil types or weather conditions such as wind or snow lend themselves better to more specialised pegs.
Backpacking in the UK, you can encounter various ground situations, especially on a longer linear hike where you are moving through geology. It can be useful to have a small selection of peg types to hand (OK, stakes to our friends across the pond). I have moved through various very lightweight combinations however often their lightness introduced an unwanted fragility, so my peg selection is now a bit beefier, and consequently, a bit heavier. Very rarely am I carrying thin Ti Shepherds Hooks these days as I have found their holding power in many soils woeful, especially if there is any wind. I also dabbled with the incredibly lightweight carbon core stakes but found them too expensive to keep putting up with breakages.
MSR Groundhogs have a deserved reputation. I have tried a number of other three-vaned Y profile pegs as well as these and the simple fact is that the MSR Groundhogs, both seven and a half inch full size and six inch Mini are just about the best general purpose peg on the market. There are lighter circular carbon core pegs that find favour amongst many backpackers, I have used them myself, but those are more prone to damage or catastrophic failure than the Groundhogs. There isn’t much you can do with a snapped peg whereas the Groundhogs will simply blunten or bend slightly if they hit a rock, and that seldom.
I have found a fraction in difference in the weight of individual MSR Groundhogs, averaging 14.2g. The Mini Groundhogs average around 10.2g each. Both MSR products are made of anodised 7000-series aluminium. There are fake clones of the MSR products, beware them. But there are also perfectly good similar products such as the reasonably priced bright blue aluminium alloy CL622 pegs from Clamcleats. Beside the slightly lighter 13.6g Clamcleat offering being a half inch shorter, I do feel the MSR pegs have the slight edge over them in performance.
Every now and then I am pitching up on hard or rocky ground so I like to have the option of a couple of titanium nails that I can pound in with a rock. My choice for this is two 5mm thick eight inch Clamcleat Spear (advertised as 19g each but actually 17.9g). The Vargo Titanium Nail Pegs are similar, just two inches shorter (14g each). There are thinner titanium pins but I have never bent one of the Clamcleat Spears, and they have occasionally had severe punishment to get them in the ground, so I’m sticking with the beefier option.
Conversely, I may be on soft or boggy ground so I also carry a couple of wider pegs that will better resist pulling out. These are two six and a half inch long Tornado Titanium Tent Pegs (advertised as 19g each but actually 18.1g), also from Clamcleats. I have had the top vanes on these occasionally distort but it is easy enough to hammer them back when back home.
Just occasionally I might anticipate in advance very boggy or sandy ground where an entirely different peg would be an advantage. In which case I might carry two or four Delta Ground Anchors. I confess, I have frequently laid them out with my gear prior to a trip and then eventually sighed and taken them back out. They are large, bulky, especially in larger numbers and at over 45g each, they are pretty heavy. There are smaller options than the Deltas but they offer less holding power.
If I am packing along my favourite shelter, my Zpacks Duplex, then I am carrying the core selection of pegs shown below. This has been my peg selection for the past four years and has proven itself adaptable enough for anywhere in the UK. I cannot see myself changing from it in the near future.
My peg selection is comprised of six or seven Mini Groundhogs and two full-size Groundhogs, plus the two Ti pins and two wide Ti pegs for problem sites, or for double pegging in windier conditions. With a lightweight peg bag the total weight is 174g (including the extra seventh Mini Groundhog). If I am carrying my MLD Duomid and Inner, then I simply add more Mini Groundhogs for the extra pegging points.
I do have two issues with my peg selection. The MSR can pick up a fair bit of dirt between the vanes when extracted. So a few seconds is spent running the tip of one peg along each of the three sides to extract it before bagging each peg. And just occasionally, I have pushed the top of a peg through the sole of a trail shoe when easing it into the ground. More on that in another post. Pegs are carried in a small bag made of DCF or some other lightweight material from Tread-Lite Gear or Wild Sky Gear, however a plastic bag would easily suffice for this, and would be a good deal cheaper too.
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