Common Tent Staking Mistakes to Avoid
Properly-staking a tent is not as complicated as it seems, and avoiding some common mistakes can eliminate most problems altogether. Let's take look a few things to keep in mind the next time you're setting up camp, and chances are that you can avoid the annoyance and frustration of trying to keep your tent secure.
Not Staking at All
By far the biggest mistake that people make is they don't bother staking their tent in the first place. Whether it's because they're lazy, or they think their body weight or the strategic placement of items inside of the tent will keep it in place. Perhaps they think there is not enough wind to pick the tent up. No matter the reason, it doesn't take long to realize this is a bad idea.
A small gust of wind can flip a tent or carry it long distances. Not staking causes sagging and the tent to bunch or roll against occupants as they sleep. Tents that are not staked when it rains can deform and cause water to pool or to leak inside. These are just a few reasons why you should always stake your tent, no matter where you are camping or what conditions you expect to face.
Using Your Foot
Driving the stake into the ground with your foot may seem like a logical alternative to pounding it with a blunt object. However, this is the leading cause of bent stakes, and soles of boots get damaged more often than people think as well.
Angling the Stakes
It's a common misconception that placing the stakes at an angle that extends outward from the direction of the guy line will make them more secure. In reality, the best position for the stakes is straight up, at a 90 degree angle. Stakes that are angled outward are more-likely to bend back, causing the guy line to recoil, and stakes can also become projectiles if there is too much tension on the line when this happens.
If there is so much tension on the line that you need to stake outward, move everything in a few inches to add a little bit more slack. This will reduce stress on the line and tent, and you will also reduce the chances of damaging the tent or becoming injured if that stake flies off.
Facing the Hook
A lot of guy lines snap off of the stake because the hooks are facing the tent instead of outward. All it takes is a little tension or some wind to cause the line to move around the curve of the stake until it falls off the end. If the curve and end is facing outward, the guy line will be pulled in the opposite direction instead.
Staking in Soft Soil
Soft soil significantly reduces the amount of tension that the stake can support. Even if you pound it deep into the ground, chances are that it will just slide out in a short amount of time. If you can't avoid staking in these conditions, consider using special sand or snow stakes that are designed to provide better anchoring. You can also brace and partially-cover the stakes with a heavy rock in order to better-secure it in place as well.
Of course, you can avoid the problem of staking altogether by getting a camping hammock instead. However, for the tent-camping lovers among us, taking the time to learn how to properly-stake your tent will increase the chances of getting set-up in less time, and with fewer hassles.