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Gear talk: adding caps to my MSR Groundhogs

Shelter selection of pegs with new caps
Duplex peg selection with new caps

I mentioned in a previous post the three types of peg that I normally take on a backpacking trip. In this little selection I have two that I can pound into hard, stony ground with a rock. These are two 5mm eight inch Clamcleat Spear. For boggier, sandy or soft ground I carry two wide profile pegs. These are two six and a half inch long Tornado Titanium Tent Pegs. Because these are usually being used for soft ground types these are easily eased into the ground. The standard pegs (stakes) I use however are MSR Groundhogs and Mini-Groundhogs. These are pushed in by hand into soft ground or if the ground is firmer, I will ease the peg in with the sole of my trail shoe. The top of MSR Groundhogs is pretty hard and angular and can be a tad painful on the hand when pushed in. On just a very small number of occasions, the thin three vanes at the top of a peg have also pushed through the sole of a shoe. I have poked a hole through the bottom of both Cascadia and my current favoured trail shoe- Altra Lone Peaks. It hasn’t happened often, just three or four occasions over the years, but my foot certainly knew about it when it happened. It is just something to bear in mind and be wary when pushing them in.

Watching Renegade Scot on his YouTube channel a few months ago, he mentioned that he had tried using plastic caps on his pegs to mitigate this issue so, ever the Magpie, I have run with the idea.

Lawson Equipment Guywire
Lawson Equipment Guywire

My plastic caps came from KTSparts2015. MSR Groundhogs measure about 13mm across and the Mini 9.5mm, so I purchased 14mm and 10mm diameter caps. The cost was reasonable enough for an experiment.

For my replacement loops on each peg and to keep the caps in place I used 2mm polyester Guywire Accessory Cord from US supplier Lawson Equipment. This is available in the UK and I purchased mine from Valley and Peak. This is a particularly strong low stretch product. I could have used the reflective Lawson Glowire instead but because I wildcamp I try and steer clear of reflective materials for discreetness, though I may be going over the top for just a couple of inches of cordage flat to the ground. However the Guywire is also (obviously) used for replacing or adding guys.

Plastic caps from KTSparts
Plastic caps from KTSparts

Seeing as I had my Vargo pins to hand, I used one of them, heated over a stove, to burn holes in each plastic cap.. A short length of cord, sufficient to comfortably and easily loop a finger through, was passed through both cap and the hole in the top of each peg, then tied off.

I can imagine the gram-weenies throwing their hands up in horror at the increase in weight fitting such caps will generate. I weighed a couple, on average each of the Mini and full size Groundhogs went up by 1.6g. Trimming a little off the open end of each cap or thinner lighter cord would reduce this, I never bothered.

Burning holes through caps with ti peg
Burning holes through caps with ti peg
Threading cord
Threading cord
Weights: Bare Groundhog Mini 9.1g, Groundhog Mini with cap and cord 10.7g, Bare Groundhog 14.1g, Groundhog with cap and cord 15.6g
Weights: Bare Groundhog Mini 9.1g, Groundhog Mini with cap and cord 10.7g, Bare Groundhog 14.1g, Groundhog with cap and cord 15.6g

I am not sure how this little solution might pan out long-term. I have only used these modified pegs on a two-week backpacking trip so far. Pitching on a wide variety of soil types no obvious problems presented themselves. The cap can slide off a little but are still retained on the cord loop and are easily pushed back on. It may work out, it may not. But for now, I’m leaving them on.

Easing a peg, with plastic cap, into the ground
Completed pegs, Groundhogs with plastic caps
Completed pegs, Groundhogs with plastic caps

7 replies »

  1. Hi Jools, I’ve too have had the problem of Groundhogs being painful on the hands to push into hard ground and have also previously made a hole in a shoe when using my foot. I’ve wondered about carrying a metal thimble to cover the end when inserting each peg but would probably lose it on a trip so I’m very impressed by your ingenuity in making an adaptation. I’ll give it a try. Thanks, Peter.

    Liked by 2 people

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