Tag Archives: stake

The Icknield Way

Trail talk: After my autumn wander on the Icknield Way- a bit of a gear review

My last post covered my recent six day hoof across the Icknield Way Trail. With a bit of wandering, also a mile backtrack to retrieve a map I thought I had lost, but hadn’t, and one or two momentary periods of confusion when my route abandoned me in a couple of towns, I covered 120 miles.

Day two on the Icknield Way Trail for Three Points of the Compass

Day two on the Icknield Way Trail for Three Points of the Compass

I used this walk as an opportunity to further drill down my gear selection for my Three Points of the Compass walk commencing 1st April 2018. I thought I was just about there, but even at this point, I realise I still need to drop a handful of items, change a couple of others and make one, for me, large change in my approach. I’m not going to cover everything in this post but if you want my thoughts on any item in my Icknield Way gear list, do ask.

Z Packs Duplex on my third night on the Icknield Way Trail

Z Packs Duplex on my third night on the Icknield Way Trail

Z Packs Duplex

This was a perfect opportunity to try out my new Z Packs Duplex shelter. This single skin, cuben hybrid, two person tent proved to be absolutely excellent. I never timed myself erecting it, but it is easy to put up and takes less than five minutes. Even on sloping ground on the first night, I was still able to achieve a taut pitch. I had taken a selection of pegs/stakes and it took only a couple of nights to realise that best results were achieved using the carbon core Easton nails on the four corners, and a longer MSR Groundhog on the two sides (nearest and furthest sides in the image above). My final night on trail was on short springy turf and heather, this coincided with strong gusty wind for most of the night. For this, I double pegged the guys on the windward side and had no problem with anything pulling out. I conclude that my handful of extra pegs is a necessity in the frequently changing soil types of the UK

Last night of wild camping on the Icknield Way Trail. Cavenham Heath proved to be a windy location

Last night of wild camping on the Icknield Way Trail. Cavenham Heath proved to be a windy location despite my finding the most sheltered spot I could in the failing light

I had taken a tall thin cuben dry bag for the tent. This fitted the long ‘wand’ pocket on one side of my Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack well. I had to take care to roll the shelter tightly otherwise it was a pig to get into the drybag.

Many people fixate on the condensation issues inherent in single skin tents. Obviously I have much to learn and experience with this tent, but I found condensation no more of a problem than with a double skin tent. Ventilation is everything. On three nights I set up well, had a through breeze and had zero condensation. I did have a wet interior after a night camping on long wet grass. None dripped on me and my feet and head remained clear of the wet interior. A wipe down with a bandanna in the morning sufficed. If anything, this was handy as it gave me a clean water soaked cloth for a wipe over of my body. The other night had just a little condensation, not enough to worry over.

My base weight was around 11kg with consumables on top of that. My Mariposa pack from Goassamer Gear carried the weight well and was comfortable until a problem manifested itself on day two

My base weight was around 11kg with consumables on top of that. My Mariposa pack from Gossamer Gear carried the weight well and was comfortable until a problem manifested itself on day three

Gossamer Gear Mariposa

Laying my pack down at a halt on day three, I was dismayed to see the internal aluminium stay poking through the belt. There was little, if anything, I could do to fix it

Laying my pack down at a halt on day three, I was dismayed to see the internal aluminium stay poking through the belt. There was little, if anything, I could do to fix it

I purchased by Mariposa pack in 2016 and had already used it on couple of hikes prior to taking it with me on the Icknield Way Trail. This was my one piece of kit to break on me, the first breakage I have experienced for some years beside the wearing out of trail shoes. Some say that lightweight gear isn’t robust, I have found that if properly looked after, such gear is usually no less robust than many a cheaper, heavier option.

However, as I say, I had a problem with the pack. Just before the half way point of the trail, the aluminium stays poked their way through the webbing slots that they nest into on the hipbelt. This meant that much of the weight that was supposed to be transferred to the hipbelt, was mostly placed on the shoulders due to the resulting lack of internal pack structure. There was nothing I could do to repair it. So I released the velcro tab holder at the top of the stay, inside the pack. A couple of days after I returned home, I emailed Gossamer Gear to ask if there was a fix I could carry out. They replied within a couple of hours:

“Sorry to hear about this! What is your best mailing address? I would be happy to send you a new belt and little plastic caps for your frame. We have not had this happen in mass but we have started to put little caps on the stays to prevent this”

Stays poking their way through the hip belt

Removed from the pack, this shows how the stays poked their way through the hip belt

Within a week, I received the replacement belt. I cannot fault Gossamer Gear’s customer service. While an annoyance. I believe the caps on the end of the stays should prevent a re-occurrence so am more than happy to continue with what is, overall, an excellent pack. The external pocket configuration is exactly as I like it and I find myself using the external stretchy mesh pocket on the back far more than I initially thought I would. For example, it is very useful for putting wet socks in to dry.

My original, damaged, Mariposa hipbelt below, and its replacement above. Note how the design has altered slightly, the belt pockets are now positioned further round to the side. Not an advantage I fear

My original, damaged, Mariposa hipbelt below, and its replacement above. Note how the design has altered slightly, the belt pockets are now positioned further round to the sides of the wearer. Not an advantage I fear. Both belts are size Large

Autumn on the trail meant that temperatures varied from close to freezing to into the 20's. A variety of clothing is necessary for such a range that could have ranged still further. My spring/summer walk in 2018 will present a similar problem

Autumn on the trail meant that temperatures varied from close to freezing to into the 20’s. A variety of clothing is necessary for such a range that could have ranged still further. My spring/summer walk in 2018 will present a similar problem

Montane Terra Pants, these are the 'graphite' coloured version. Photographed on Inishowen Head, Co. Donegal, Ireland in 2015. Note the side zips on the leg to provide additional ventilation

Montane Terra Pants, these are the ‘graphite’ coloured version. Note the side zips on the leg to provide additional ventilation. Photographed on Inishowen Head, Co. Donegal, Ireland in 2015.


For this walk, Three Points of the Compass took his normal choice of leg wear, the Montane Terra Pants. I have used these for years and will continue to do so until something better comes along. Not light at 367g (including 29g belt) for a size XXL. They are a tough product with a couple of features that I really like. The side zips on the leg are fantastic for a bit of ventilation and the side poppers on the fairly narrow ankles stop an excess of material flapping around. Really useful in muddier conditions which helps to keep the lower part of the trousers much cleaner. I do wish I could find a lighter option though, that still has these features. I wish there were a side cargo pocket too.


Maps are essential, guide book a desirable on the Icknield Way Trail. I took a photocopy of the small initial section starting from Tring railway station (from O.S. 181), plus O.S. Explorer maps 193, 194, 209, 210 and 229. Each weihed about 110g. The 'Walkers' Guide' from the Icknield Way Association weighs 154g

Maps are essential, guide book a desirable, on the Icknield Way Trail. I took a photocopy of the small initial section starting from Tring railway station (from O.S. 181), plus O.S. Explorer maps 193, 194, 209, 210 and 229. Each weighed about 110g with covers removed. The ‘Walkers’ Guide’ from the Icknield Way Association weighs 154g

Electronics etc.

I took far more in the way of electronics and gadgets than I required for a walk of this length. Again, this was a deliberate decision to try and duplicate as far as possible the gear I am taking with me on my long hike next year. It may have transpired that I required something from my ‘electronics bag’, as it was, all I needed was my phone.

Phone, mp3 player, headlight and power- Little was required

Phone, mp3 player, headlight and power- Little was required


Rug Gear RG730 phone. IP68, 3020mAh battery, 5″ Gorilla Glass 3 capacitive screen. No lightweight at 215g, this android phone does me well

Rug Gear RG730 phone. IP68, 3020mAh battery, 5″ Gorilla Glass 3 capacitive screen. This android phone is no lightweight at 215g but does me well

Three Points of the Compass uses a RugGear RG730 android phone. Not particularly lightweight at 215g, it is a rugged phone, rated IP68, so I have no need for an additional protective case. This saves me a little weight, however I do keep it in a poly bag, usually with other electronics, as I am not daft. I don’t use it much on trail and keep it switched off if not in use during the day. On the Icknield Way, I sent daily messages to my wife and daughter, keeping it switched on for a few hours each evening. I also used the OS Locate ap once just to check my co-ordinates, and accessed the web over two pub lunches. Where it was probably most useful was when calling for a taxi at the end of my walk. The Icknield Way finishes at a car park in the middle of nowhere. I found that there was no service with 02 in that locale. Fortunately, another reason I chose this particular model of phone came to the fore. It is a Dual Sim phone, so I switched to Vodaphone, obtained a signal and Bob’s your Uncle.

From a 100% charge when I left home, this had dropped to 66% by the end of the walk. I never had the need to charge it at all, despite having the necessary lead and powerbank with me. The RG730 has a 13mp rear camera, but beyond a few photos sent to my daughter on the phone, I use my Olympus Tough TG-4 camera for capturing photos.

Stopping early morning to cook a hot breakfast and prepare a hot drink on the Icknield Way

Stopping early morning to cook a hot breakfast and prepare a hot drink on the Icknield Way


I am very careful to be as frugal as possible with my meths stove. I light it, pan of water ghows straight on and the flame is extinguisehed as soon as water is heated. Unburnt fuel is retained in the tightly closed burner for the next use. Over six days of walking, with five nights of wild camping, cooking meals and making hot drinks, I used just 179g of fuel

I am very careful to be as frugal as possible with my meths stove. I light it, pan of water goes straight on and the flame is extinguished as soon as the water is heated. Unused fuel is then retained in the tightly closed burner for the next use.

I have long preferred meths (alcohol) for cooking with. I find it pretty much fuss free, silent and my little burner, when combined with the very efficient Caldera Cone, is as efficient a system in a breeze as you are ever likely to find.  I have no real issues with my system, particularly for shorter jaunts such as the Icknield Way. I store my fuel in a bottle that use to hold hot sauce, this has a nozzle cap for directing and controlling the fuel issued.

My MYOG meths burner worked very well. So well that I will certainly use it unaltered when using this system again. Over six days of walking, with five nights of wild camping, cooking meals and making hot drinks, I used just 179g of fuel. However I do recognise that the maths has been done by others and gas does come out as a lighter and more efficient system over longer hikes. So, I will be making the change to a gas system next year.

I’ll comment on what I am going to be using at some point in the future.



Compressed towlettes are pretty fantastic. Extreme low weight, low bulk and a drop of Dr. Bronners soap and a smidgen of water converts them into a one-use wash cloth

Compressed towelettes are pretty fantastic. Extreme low weight, low bulk and a drop of Dr. Bronners soap and a smidgen of water converts them into a one-use wash cloth

Three Points of the Compass has been looking for an alternative to the excellent Gerwhol foot cream and balm for some time. I may have found it with the Foot Balm from Naturally Thinking

Three Points of the Compass has been looking for an alternative to the excellent Gehwol foot cream and balm for some time. I may have found it with the Foot Balm from Naturally Thinking

Unlike our hiking cousins in the US, walking in the UK means that we are are in the company of a clean smelling general public on a more frequent basis. I don’t mind getting dirty, but I do like to try and get myself as clean as I can on a hike. Teeth get brushed, hair gets combed and an attempt is made to clean as much of the days grime and sweat off, even if it is only the face, feet and pits that get the most attention. That said, I stank pretty badly at the end of my hike and it was mostly synthetic clothing to blame.

Wash bag and contents. The razor went unused

Wash bag and contents. The razor went unused. Alum stick is heavy but useful. Lanacane anti-chafe gel is an essential

Drying clothes at a midday halt

Drying clothes at a midday halt

I am pretty happy with what I took but the weight and, less importantly at present, the bulk, is still too great and I shall be further refining it. It is very, very easy to slip in too many ‘what if’ and luxury items, I think I need to do a fair amount of inward looking and remove a few of my many comfort items from my gear list. My Three Points of the Compass gear list is currently a work in progress but may be of interest nonetheless.

As I said at the head of this post, I am only reviewing here a handful of the items I took with me. Do ask if you have any questions.

Three Points of the Compass- The End...

Three Points of the Compass– The End…

Three Points of the Compass is taking a variety of pegs on his Long Walk across the UK

Gear talk: Pegging down the pegs

Having purchased a new tent this summer, I thought I would look a little more thoroughly at the range of pegs/stakes that I will be taking with me on my Long Walk in 2018. I have chatted before about the various pegs I have used over the years, and this has helped inform my ‘final’ choice.

As anyone who has read much from my Three Points of the Compass site will know, in 2018, it is my intention to set off from the Lizard in Cornwall, to follow the coastline, through Lands End, to Minehead (via the most southerly compass point of mainland Britain). Strike across country to Bristol, cross into Wales and then head north to and into Scotland via Lakeland. Keeping northward (with a diversion off to the most westerly compass point), I plan on visiting the most northerly point before swinging round to John O’Groats. As you might imagine, the terrain and underlying soil types are going to vary incredibly across this walk, far more so than any other hike I have ever undertaken to date.

It is so that I am prepared for whatever I am pegging down into, that my peg bag is going to show a little more variety than normal, in addition to being a little heavier that I might perhaps wish. Despite having a fairly wide variety of pegs for various ground conditions, I have chosen carefully, and concentrated on good quality products that have kept the weight as low as possible. Total weight, including peg bag, is 152g.

I anticipate good loamy soils, springy turf, grit, rocks, sand, roots, hard compacted earth, strong winds and waterlogged ground. It is obvious that no one type of peg is going to handle all of these, hence my choice. My tent is the Z Pack Duplex. I am not taking a free-standing option, my tent is erected with a peg at each corner plus one for each side that holds the doors out. Finally, a little more internal room can be gained by pegging out the sloping walls. So, six pegs as a minimum, eight pegs ideally. In addition to the eight, I want something for when the ground is soft and pegs just want to pull through the mud etc. Also, a couple of strong spears to pound into solid ground, where taking a rock to the head of any other peg I am carrying is going to shatter it or turn it into a banana. Not much to ask for is it! Additionally, there has recently appeared a new kid on the block- these are stupid light pegs and made of a traditionally fragile material. But I am including four short plastic pegs for additional support, replacement of lost pegs, or when I am stringing up a drying line or similar.

At a pinch, I also have my ti shepherds hooks that work with my cooking set-up as pot supports, these could instead be used to wiggle through a gritty, rocky ground, finding their way through tiny crevices. So while the two ti hooks are really part of my kitchen gear, I include them here. I also have my toilet trowel that can be used as a peg, or bags could also be filled and buried as snow anchors if things get desperate.

Lightweight, yet tough, peg bag from Tread Lite

Lightweight, yet tough, peg bag from Tread Lite

I have previously used a really lightweight peg bag from Tread Lite that weighed just a single gram but I found it too fragile, so I have gone for a more robust bag from the same manufacturer. This is made of Icarex with a tougher Dyneema X Grid base where wear is greatest. Yet the peg bag still weighs less than 5 grams.

  Peg/stake Material number Length Individual weight Total weight
 Carbon and Aluminium 'Full Metal Jacket' nail from Easton Easton nail Aluminium/Carbon 8 153mm 6.2g 49.6g
 Clamcleats Titanium Spear Clamcleats spear Titanium 2 200mm 17.9g 35.8g
 Clamcleats Tornado Clamcleats Tornado Titanium 2 183mm 18.1g 36.2g
 Swiss Piranha Swiss Piranha RT90 Plastic 4 90mm 3.2g 12.8g
 Titanium hook from Cascade Designs Cascade Designs Ti-hooks (potentially repurposed from stove) Titanium 2 160mm 6.3g 12.6g
Tread Lite peg bag Icarex/Dyneema X Grid 1 270mm 4.7g 4.7g


  • The Full Metal Jackets from Easton have either been shamelessly cloned by other manufacturers, or Easton are now producing them for a few of the smaller (and not so small) retailers under other names. They are an excellent and truly lightweight peg. Incredibly strong, they still have to be put in and removed with respect.
  • The titanium pins I have included can take quite a bit of punishment and can easily be pounded in with a rock. You will find thinner variants of these pins on sale but these are the 5mm thick titanium Spears that have been hammered  through four inches of wood by YouTubers on a frequent basis.
  • In soft ground, the thinner profile pegs shown above can be pulled out either with ease, or will struggle to hold. I wish I could justify a whole set of eight wide profile V pegs but instead, have included two Tornado pegs that can be used where it matters most, perhaps on the windward side of a tent.
  • Swiss Piranha RT90 pegs are short, made of a supposedly ‘unbreakable’ plastic and, in good ground, hold pretty well. At just 3.2g each, I felt I could include four of these as back up.
  • The titanium hooks that can provide pot support in my Sidewinder stove from Cascade Designs, can also be put into service as tent pegs. These thin pegs are good on gritty, rocky pitches, finding purchase where thicker pegs can prove impossible to penetrate the ground.

I am pretty sure that the above is going to be my final peg selection but do want to try this out for a few nights before committing to it. I am walking the Icknield Way Path over the course of a week in October and will be taking this set of pegs with me. I shall also be packing along two additional pegs, just to see if I am tempted to use them, or if they are required. These will be two of the excellent MSR Groundhogs. These are a tried and tested classic aluminium vaned peg.

 MSR Groundhog MSR Groundhog Aluminium 2 191mm Individual weight:  14.3g Total weight: 28.6g

Gear talk: A few grams here, a few grams there… in search of the perfect tent peg


Right from the outset let me say that there is no such thing as the perfect tent peg, or stake as many prefer to call them, or even ‘sardine’, a name for which I have an inordinate fondness. What there is, is a good peg for specific circumstances. It is better to hammer a decent pin into rocky solid ground than a Y or V profile peg or similar. However the latter type peg is going to provide a far better fix in soft or sandy ground. A Ti shepherds hook will do nothing in soft snow but burying a bag of snow or a stray branch with the guy tied round it will provide an incredibly efficient anchor. All that said, lets have a look at just a handful of the options available when it comes to selecting pegs or stakes to suit a tent or tarp and associated ground conditions.


Nottingham based, and apparently ‘fuelled by doughnuts’, UK firm Alpkit have been designing, sourcing and manufacturing good quality, well priced gear since 2004. Their titanium V peg is a well thought out design and is an easy hop into saving a few grams in tent weight. I have used them in most types of ground, I found that they were just about perfect for the dry, sandy Brecklands of East Anglia.

Alpkit pegs can bend with ease if used in unsuitable ground

Alpkit pegs can bend with ease if used in unsuitable ground

However I have probably relied on these too much and often attempted to use them in unsuitable ground conditions. It is almost certainly this reason, and my fault, that I have bent so many over the years. The large, brightly coloured cord loop is not only almost essential to pull a peg out, but also enables the grey muted colour peg to be found in the undergrowth. Every peg has its problem, and I feel that the holes in the sides are part of the problem with these pegs. Over the years and following unfair abuse, you will begin to notice that too many are starting to show bends, buckles and curves in various places along their length. This is a problem that manifests itself with many pegs that utilise holes in their length. To my mind, while this is a potential weight saving device, it is too much to the detriment of the strength of a peg and is usually an undesirable feature.


Alpkit peg has cut out holes to reduce weight. These same holes can make a peg prove problematic to withdraw from ground that has frozen on occasion

The basic peg, shown above, is in a simple V configuration. This bent piece of titanium provides a good strong profile and the media saves the weight. Weight is also saved by the ten cut out holes in the shank, five on each side. I am told that this design provides more than a weight saving in winter as snow (ice) will apparently freeze in the holes providing increased grip strength. Unfortunately this can be at the expense of gripping a peg more tightly when you wish to retrieve it. If so, just remember to tap each peg into the ground a little further to release the grip before attempting to draw it out.


If subjected to an excess of force when driving into the ground, just about any peg will bend at the weaker points. The Alpkit peg is no different. Both on the main shank where weight saving holes are punched, but also at the cut out near the head of the peg


The cut out near the head is possibly a little to aggressively cut and this has created a problem that should not be there

Even though the damage shown in some of the images here is a little (OK, a lot) excessive and unwelcome. It really is as a result of hard usage. But not what you want to experience on a longer hike. If this is a style of peg you like, yet possibly want a stronger variant, then the aluminium DAC J-stakes (or North Face J-Stakes et al) may meet your needs. These measure some 165mm and weigh 10g each. The extra strength is gained partly by avoiding the hole cut outs in the body of the stake. Again, the cordage loop in the top aids considerably in retrieving the peg from hard or frozen ground.


Alpkit have not just sat back, they have continued to consider and implement improvements to the pegs they sell. Decently priced, their products are definitely worth consideration not only by people watching their expenditure on an item that can easily be lost or damaged in the field, but also by those looking for decent savings in overall weight carried.


Hilleberg Viper

This is a hardened aluminium tent peg sold by Hilleberg with their Kerlon 1200 tents or as an optional accessory. The V profile, or perhaps more properly, a half-round U, lends itself best to soft to somewhat firm ground however I have found that they do not last over time. I think it a little surprising that Hilleberg actually sold this peg as they simply do not meet the exacting and high standard of the tents themselves. Hilleberg believe in quality and recognise that their high end, expensive products may be used far beyond a base camp site. They have been supplying products for some of the toughest expeditions for decades however these pegs somehow slipped through the net. Lightweight, yes. Adequate for a decent site, again yes. Take ’em into a tougher region and you are (were) asking for  trouble.

Pegs can bend in to an irretrievable shape if used unsympathetically

Pegs can bend in to an irretrievable shape if used unsympathetically

While I have found these perfectly serviceable in some peaty grounds in Scotland, other pitches in the same country, with stony ground lying beneath a shallow soil covering have proved too much for these pegs and I have destroyed a number of them as a result. It takes little below ground to force them out of shape. The supplied loop in the top of each peg is a necessity as once in, they hang onto the ground well.



Hilleberg Viper has a decent bi-coloured cord loop to aid removal


Hilleberg Pro peg


Hilleberg. Note how the red in the bi-coloured cord fades with age and requiring possible replacement

Hilleberg Stinger pin

Stinger Titanium. One of  the newer school of Hilleberg pegs that have replaced the Pro-peg

These earlier aluminium pegs, with aluminium heads, have thankfully been upgraded by Hilleberg to their Stinger Titanium (shown on the right) . It was the type shown that came with my Hilleberg however the earlier pins simply weren’t robust enough and despite their generous 9mm diameter will banana out of shape with ridiculous ease.


Hilleberg Pro peg. Bends with little persuasion

But, in good ground, often found on organised camp sites, these pegs gave me many years of service until the great majority succumbed as that on the left did. I have never had any issue with the caps coming adrift, and the cord loops, though faded from light exposure, are still there and doing their job

The newer pegs from Hilleberg are better but I feel the alternatives from other suppliers are superior. Rather than upgrade to other Hilleberg pegs I have continued to use the old ‘uns supplemented by pegs from other manufacturers. A couple of which are discussed below.


Hilleberg square pin


Hilleberg square peg

These small and lightweight pegs have very often found their way into my peg bag over the years. Despite faults in design and being a bit short for really good purchase, they are a lovely little product. Their shorter length and lightweight have made these an excellent addition to a peg bag to be pulled out for shallow soils with an underlying grit.


I am not too keen on those square edges when being used with guys


Chisel point drives into ground well

Together with the Viper pegs, these square solid aluminium pegs were sold by Hilleberg to accompany their Kerlon 1200 tents. Designed to be hammered into hard ground they are surprisingly strong and resistant to bending out of shape. Supplied with an integrated loop at the top to aid removal I still find myself using these pegs on occasion. They are great for the metal rings found on the Hilleberg tents but I am wary of using these on guys as I feel the hard corners of the square pegs will fray a guy over time. Possibly I am a  little over cautious, but that is my prerogative. These are quite similar to the MSR Needle stakes that used to be available but now seem to be unobtainable. There may be other versions that you can find, but I would not like to attest to their quality.


Clamcleats Y




Bent, bent, bent

These bright blue aluminium alloy CL622 pegs are a favourite of many. They come at a reasonable cost and are a good lightweight solution. I have used them for years and will continue to do so on occasion. They are a useful all-rounder, often being effective in hard as well as softer ground, though I have had these bend with ease on tree roots in the New Forest. Strike a piece of flint in the chalky ground of southern and eastern England and the peg is wrecked. The anodised colouring to the aluminium alloy peg shows up well if lost temporarily in long grass or leafy foliage. The red pull loop further aids visibility. While ‘reasonably’ robust, they will bend if not used with care. Buy a dozen and change out those that get knackered over time. But I would prefer something a little more sturdy for longer trips. That said, these have given me good anchorage for weeks on end in the Lake District, proving very suited to the mostly good soils of that region.

Each Y profile peg is 190mm long and while Clamcleats advertise these as being both 13g and 16g [each] on the same website, on my scales, pegs are just a shade under 14g. This ensures that a bunch of these is both acceptable and wont break the bank.


Clamcleats- a simple yet reasonably cheap and effective peg


Clamcleats Tornado

Titanium CL620 wide V profile peg that is especially suited to soft ground, including snow. The titanium construction means that it can also be hammered into pretty hard ground too but the large surface means that any below ground obstacle is going to prove problematic.


Clamcleats Tornado

The dull grey of titanium can be difficult to find on the ground, getting lost in the surface covering, to this end, the red pull cord is a boon, don’t lose it or you will lose the peg.


Clamcleats Tornado

Tornado and Alpkit

Tornado and Alpkit side by side. Despite being only five grams heavier, the Clamcleat offering is almost 50% wider in profile

These are not the longest of pegs but their wide V profile will provide a very good resistance to being pulled out. They look the type of simple product that any number of manufacturers would be churning out, but for some reason they are not. If you frequently pitch your shelter on soft ground, either sandy, friable  or waterlogged, one need look little further than this Clamcleat product. In the past these have seldom made their way into my peg bag. I am usually looking for pegs of greater length and more suitability for a variety of ground types. Particularly in winter, if I do need a wider profile peg, I would usually have an MSR Blizzard stake to hand to pull into use. Though possibly only at the windward end of the tent. If so, it could prove difficult to utilise the dual purpose that these pegs offer.


MSR Groundhog and Groundhog mini

MSR Groundhog

MSR Groundhog

While shorter pegs of around six inches will suffice for much of the time, it is also advisable to have at least a couple of longer pegs for use with ridgelines, really soft ground or when wind gusts etc are going to place increased or tugging strain on the peg. Shorter pegs can work loose in the middle of the night. What do you prefer- the additional weight of a few grams or getting up to replace errant pegs? I know which my preference is. 

MSR Groundhog

MSR Groundhog, deep notches cut beneath head, no signs of weakness at this point yet.

The MSR Groundhog and  Groundhog mini are the most popular stakes produced by MSR. The red anodised 7000-series aluminium of both the large and smaller cousins means they show up well if sent flying by a gust of wind. Though it would take a hell of a wind to pull these free. Both sizes of Groundhog come as standard with MSR’s range of tents. It is good to see a mainstream manufacturer actually supplying a decent set of pegs that don’t need to be swapped out almost immediately. These are a slightly beefed up and better thought out, if more expensive, version of the Clamcleats Y offering shown above.

If you are looking for an MSR stake specifically for loose, unconsolidated ground, then MSR’s twisted Cyclone stake may be the answer. At any rate, the additional length of the Cyclone stakes will prove advantageous. However, there are many that may feel the standard MSR Groundhog more than they actually require and may look to shave off a few grams by taking a set of the smaller MSR Groundhog mini

MSR Groundhog Mini

MSR Groundhog Mini above, larger Groundhog below

MSR Groundhog Mini

MSR Groundhog Mini, the curve to the vanes on both the mini and the full size peg are apparent, the purpose less so

One last point re these popular and efficient pegs. Beware the cheaper, substandard copied that are available. Though I have never knowingly encountered such an item myself, reading the forums, it would appear that many of the complaints regarding heads shearing or easily bending stakes, despite yielding soils, can be put down to the fake versions on the market.


MSR blizzard stake– dual use

This concave profiled peg is often carried by hikers looking for dual purpose, though I will come to the second later.

If you can accept the extra 32.4g weight these are a useful carry for a thru hiker. Every now and then you can come across a flooded meadow, soft sand or snow packed surface where, possibly with the additional complication of strong or gusting wind, any other peg you carry just wont cut it. Being pulled out either with ease or when most inconvenient (read: small hours of the morning in torrential rain or whiteout). The facility to use a blizzard stake on the windward side can be a boon. The 7000 series aluminium pegs are drilled along their length. Because of the greater bulk and integral strength of the Blizzard stake, unlike with smaller pegs, these save a little weight and have little effect on strength (it would really take something to bend one of these beasts), more useful is the potential to attach a guy to the mid-way point and bury it in sand or snow as a dead anchor.

MSR Blizzard stake

MSR Blizzard stake

Easily the longest peg I have looked at in this blog, the extra length is only a positive but will mean that it has to usually be stored separate from the other pegs. You may feel that the size of this monster peg is overkill, after all, you can often find a length of branch or similar, even use a walking pole or filled stuff sack, to achieve the same anchoring effect- if using as a dead anchor

MSR Blizzard stake

MSR Blizzard stake

And what of its other use? This peg functions very well as a toilet trowel, don’t leave home without one.


Clamcleats Spear Titanium tent peg

Vargo Titanium Nail

Clamcleats Titanium Nail

Vargo Titanium Nail

Clamcleats titanium spear

Vargo Titanium Nail

The clamcleats spear has a good point to it that aids greatly in forcing it into the ground. Just be sure to prevent it poking a hole in your pack or shelter

Titanium nails or ‘spears’ as Clamcleats likes to call them, are available from a number of manufacturers. The 6″ nail from Vargo has a large and appreciative following. Vargo also make a lighter weight of this peg. Both of those Vargo offerings are 152mm long, the standard peg is 5mm in diameter and weighs 14g, the ‘ultralight’ is 4mm diameter and weighs a paltry 8g. I think Clamcleats variant more useful having the longer 200mm length to be driven further into the ground, a 5mm diameter and still only weighs just under 18g each.

Vargo and Hilleberg nails

Clamcleats and Hilleberg nails

It is always advisable to carry one or two thinner titanium pins, if only when there is the need to make a pilot hole or test the ground before putting in a wider peg. 

You will find any number of YouTube films showing these and similar nails being hammered into wood pallets etc. How much a length of 2″ x 4″ is actually mimicking true ground conditions I shall leave you to decide. However few lightweight hikers are going to be carrying any form of hammer/mallet. Instead, you will need to find a handy piece of rock or something else to pound them in. The narrow head is too slim for pushing in with the sole of a trail shoe. I have even poked a hole through the bottom of an earlier incarnation of the Cascadia running shoes in the past. Something to bear in mind.


Easton Mountain Products Full Metal Jacket stakes

The Easton company was founded by Doug Easton in 1922 when he began producing wooden bows and arrows. When they decided to start producing tent pegs they probably thought it was a simple sideways step to make. After all, what is a tent peg if it is not an arrow head with a cap? Um, no… it is an entirely different product that undergoes very different circumstances and stresses. It took a few years for Easton to refine their product with a few, frankly sub-standard, pegs along the way. But they retained their reputation and instead of dropping out of the market, credit to them, have now largely exceeded what other manufacturers are producing.

If you are paying a lot of money for your shelter, possibly a product made of cuben or from a cottage industry supplier, then you may feel that extra expense can be justified for what is going to hold it to the ground effectively. If so, then a serious look at the Easton products is in order.

Easton FMJ

Easton Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)

An earlier version of tent peg from Easton were blue with a cap that many found a little loose with a tendency to come off. Not something you want to happen when it is stuck in frozen ground and you are attempting to extricate it. If you find these on offer, probably best to avoid unless you want to cart epoxy glue around with you too. They replaced these with a 7075-T9 aluminium 6” nano stake, or you could have one of the two longer lengths- (6”/yellow cap, 8.5”/blue cap, 12”/red cap). The newer stakes had a better anchored cap. Or if you really wanted to be sneaky beaky stealthy, you could search out the 8” black shafted military variant. Though why anyone in the military required a stake that had an inconspicuous black part that was buried below the ground and a lovely shiny silver cap above ground, is anyone’s guess. Again, all of these had a hole drilled through which a loop could be passed to enable them to be pulled out, if not with ease, certainly more easily than without.

Easton FMJ

Design extends to cut outs on the cap to lessen any fraying of the attached loop

Excellent as these were, their updated version, in just the one length to date- 6”, is truly amazing. The Easton Full Metal Jacket (FMJs) are probably at the pinnacle of tent peg design. A 7075 aluminium shaft (jacket) filled with carbon fibre. Cap and point are aluminium alloy. Caps are held on well and I have not heard of any issues with them coming adrift, certainly mine have yet to exhibit any problems.


Easton FMJ

Rounded tip

Not only this, but the pegs look the business too. If something of such utilitarian purpose can ever be described as an object of beauty, this is it!

Each peg weighs an incredible 5.5g. They are very strong. I have not had mine long enough to experience any problem of cracking, shaft bending or points splitting or bending. I do wonder if the core could shatter or crack with time. Certainly I would be very wary of any sideways tapping of the peg to loosen in frozen ground. As usual, driving in a bit further to break the grip and loosen before pulling out is always the better solution anyway.

With regard to the, frankly extreme, cost of these pegs, there is simply no way that this can be considered unless it can be justified. This is for the individual to decide upon. The only way to justify that cost is by their effectiveness and if you can afford to lose any. They are light, stupid light. But more important than that is if they do their job. They are only six inches long and do not offer much in the way of thickness to resist pulling through softer ground. But that is not what they are for. If you want to carry a couple, or even a half dozen pins for when you need to pound into hard ground and you want something that is going to take such punishment. Then the FMJ is a serious contender. Certainly they are an excellent compromise between length, strength, thickness, reliability and weight, if not cost. You pays your money…

Personally, I decided that despite the cost and excess weight penalty, four or more of these can find their way into my peg bag on a regular basis. I do hope that Easton eventually produces a longer version of the FMJ, possibly eight or nine inches would be pretty much the ideal.


Ti shepherds hooks, long and short

Heads of shepherds crooks come in a variety of forms. Some are more suited to a downward force for putting pegs in, others are more resistant to the guy slipping off while some are easiier to hok a finger under to remove them from the ground

Heads of shepherds crooks come in a variety of forms. Some are more suited to a downward force for putting pegs in, others are more resistant to the guy slipping off while some are easier to hook a finger under to remove them from the ground

Shepherds Hooks, or Crooks, so called because of the shape of their head, are a stalwart of the peg bag. They come in any variety of head shapes, lengths and ’roundwire pegs’ are often provided as a cheap alloy peg from mainstream tent manufacturers with their products.

Invariably the best thing to do with these supplied pegs is to put them in the nearest bin as they are too soft, will bend with ease and are close to useless. It is not at all difficult to source well-made shepherds hooks, preferably made of titanium. Thickness varies too, anything from a minuscule 2mm, through the popular 3mm to the less frequently encountered 4mm. There will no doubt be a correlation between how the strength, or more importantly, resistance to bending, increases between thickness. I would be interested to see how much of an increase it is.

Shepherds crooks

Shepherds crooks

Heat shrink sleeving on head of shepherds crook

Heat shrink sleeving on head of shepherds crook

These pegs are so thin that they are incredibly easy to lose in the undergrowth. Their muted colour means that if they go flying off the end of a guy in the wind in the middle of the night, you are going to be unlikely to find them again.

If the head twists and the guy slips off, then there is even less left visible to relocate. Some like to dip the heads in a bright paint but this can chip with the peg flexing unless paint of some ‘rubberised’ variety is used. I have found a bit of heat shrinkable sleeving a better option.

It is questionable which type of shaped head is most effective for driving a peg into the ground, though anything is preferable to a simply 'snipped off' profile

It is questionable which type of shaped head is most effective for driving a peg into the ground, though anything is preferable to a simply ‘snipped off straight’ profile

Shepherds hook wires are an ideal way of ‘helping out’ a large peg. Some stakes, such as the Alpkit example above have holes in their length through which you can pass a shepherds crook at an angle of some 60-90 degrees to the other peg, providing a much firmer anchor.

The shortest variants of these pegs are probably not worth including in a peg bag unless just for use when holding back a door or for holding up a drying line of similar, there simply isn’t usually enough below ground resistance and holding power supplied from a 4″ (101mm) long peg of only 1/8″ (3mm) thickness.


Titanium Sidewinder Stove peg

Cascade Designs titanium peg

Cascade Designs titanium peg for use with Sidewinder Stove

Side winder stove In wood burning configuration

Sidewinder stove with two titanium stakes used to support pan when in wood burning configuration

Titanium Shepherds hook inserted into Sidwinder stove, two of these pegs are required

Titanium Shepherds hook inserted into Sidewinder stove, two of these pegs are required

It is worth noting that if I am out for multi-days and am using my favoured alcohol stove then I will frequently be carrying an additional two pegs as part of this kit. These are the 160mm titanium pegs used with the Cascade Designs Sidewinder stove to support the pot. Of course they need not be confined to this use and can just as easily be used either to hold a guy, or be pushed in as additional secondary help to a primary peg in times of high winds etc. The two pegs, and two have to be used with the stove,  weigh 12.5g together. For planning purposes, I include the weight of these in with my overall cook kit rather than shelter weight.


Plastic and wooden pegs

Plastic pegs will shatter in very cold conditions or if given much in the way of sideways force when in the ground. Kick one of these to free it off in frozen ground, or even trip over it in the middle of the night, and you will live to regret it. Wooden pegs are far too heavy and bulky to consider carting around with you but are surprisingly efficient. Their use for decades by various circuses and with marquees is testament to that fact. However you are much more likely to see heavy steel pins or angle iron being driven into the ground these days. If you have a decent knife with you and the materials are there to be used, there is always the option of whittling a tent peg from a piece of wood if you find yourself short due to one or more being lost in the heather having gone flying off into the undergrowth never to be seen again. On that note, one tip is put a mini karabiner through the hole on a peg and attach to the guy. If it gets pulled out in the night in high winds and the peg is sent flying, it remains attached to the guy.

As alluded to above, another word of warning if buying online. Beware of cheap ‘knock-offs’ purporting to be a well known brand. Most of these will look very much like the real thing but will not perform when put to stress. Just because a manufacturers name appears on the side, does not mean that it hasn’t been counterfeited, caveat emptor!

If push comes to shove, in an emergency another option may be to dismantle a walking pole into separate sections and use these, pushed into the ground, as tent anchors. However, being hollow, the lengths will fill up with earth. Also, don’t forget your toilet trowel if you have one, this is a ready made stake for soft ground.

Peg Profile Length Width Weight Material Pull: Y/N
MSR Blizzard stake  ( 246mm 29mm 32.4g  Aluminium N
MSR Groundhog  Vaned Y 191mm 13mm 14.3g  Aluminium Y
MSR Mini Groundhog  Vaned Y 150mm 9.5mm 10.2g  Aluminium Y
Clamcleats  Y 190mm 13mm 13.6g  Aluminium Y
Alpkit  V 160mm 14.5mm 12.8g Titanium Y
Clamcleats Tornado  V 163mm 19mm 17.5mm Titanium Y
Hilleberg Viper  V 154mm 13mm 10.4g Aluminium Y
Hilleberg Pro peg  O 200mm 9mm 17.3g  Aluminium Y
Hilleberg square pin  ̻̻̻̻□ 160mm 4mm 10g  Aluminium Y
Clamcleats Spear  O 200mm 5mm 17.7g Titanium Y
Easton nail  O 153mm 7mm 5.5g Titanium/ carbon N- later added by myself
Shepherds crook  O 163mm 3.5mm 6.7g Titanium shrink covering to head
Shepherds crook  O 151mm 3mm 6g Titanium shrink covering to head
Shepherds crook  O 101mm 3mm 3.9g Titanium shrink covering to head
Cascade Designs  O 160mm 3mm 5.5g Titanium N


Peg bags

Peg bags

Most peg bags are a classic case of weighty overkill


Why carry a peg bag…

As an ideal example of where fairly simple savings in weight can be made, the peg, or stake, is perfect. It is by looking, occasionally, at those items that sneak into the pack on a regular basis, ‘because they always have’ , and looking for weight saving advantage while still retaining functionality, that a few grams here, a few grams there can be knocked off.

Peg bags should be considered as a necessity not only to keep all the pegs together, but also to stop them spreading mud, dirt and grit around the tent or pack and its contents when packed. Care should also be taken when packing a tent to ensure that pegs do not poke a hole through expensive side walls. A peg bag need not be heavy, condura for example is an incredibly strong material resistant to puncturing but is far too heavy to consider. Even a plastic zip lock bag can be perfectly up to the job if necessary.

The peg bag shown below came from Lightwave. Made of cuben fibre with a toughened ripstop dyneema bottom and lightweight pull cord closure, it weighs just 1g, yet will easily hold an assortment of any of those pegs above with the exception of the Blizzard peg which is too long.

Lightning peg bag

Cuben fibre Lightning peg bag. Weighing 1g, it measures 223mm x 70mm

A final note on peg bags- you may like to consider shoving in a pair of surgical or nitrile gloves. Weighing very little, these are useful when extracting pegs in the morning, keeping mud and cold from the fingers that can take some time to warm up once chilled.

In conclusion-

So, what is the perfect peg? As I said at the beginning, there is no such thing. What is needed is a selection of the best quality pegs you can afford, or afford to lose. Remembering that the handful of grams saved here could either be foolish loss, providing ineffective anchors when you need them most, or, just as easily saved by reducing weight elsewhere in the pack. Obviously the number of pegs required will depend on the tie out points and guys that your shelter is provisioned with. On occasion, if taking one of my old Hilleberg tunnel tents out, which have a multitude of peg down points. I need to carry six rather than four of my now default Easton FMJs and an additional handful of Y pegs, either MSR or Clamcleats.

As I have stated before. The idea is to replace backpacking gear with more efficient and lighter options as and when you can. Pegs are simply one place where progress can be made. My refined peg bag weighs 110g, which may be high for many other hikers but suits my needs.

10 pegs

Peg provision for a basic shelter. The number of Easton FMJs are increased as required

For most hikes, Three Points of the Compass now has a peg bag that contains a variety of pegs. It is quite likely that this may be refined further in the future, or altered according to tent, trip, terrain or season.

However the contents as they are allow for a variety of conditions on any hike but particularly for longer hikes over a variation of terrain. The default stakes are the terrific Easton Nails to which I added bright red pull cords. The four in this set up are simply added to as required if a different shelter is carried.

However there are occasions where something slightly longer is required or there is a need to really pound into hard and rocky ground, that is where the two titanium spears really come into play. Accepting that none of these are fantastically efficient in softer, more yielding ground, I have included a couple of wider anchors. Also, for the occasion where it is difficult to work one of the pins through rocky ground, one of the two titanium shepherds crooks can often be wiggled through between the grit and the stones and can prove useful. Alternatively these can be used for additional guys or tie points. This selection can be supplemented with the two titanium pegs included with the cook kit or even the toilet trowel.