For their smaller size (6”), these stakes are deceptively…
Source: Part of tent purchased
For their smaller size (6”), these stakes are deceptively strong and lightweight. While a dollar more expensive than other aluminum stakes, a few of these will go a long way holding down any tent, tarp, or even recreational equipment. I have encountered no problems in the slightly sandy/red clay/compact soil of central and western N.C.
- Great weight-to-strength
- Brightly colored (visible if misplaced)
- Easy to drive into ground
- Holds well to staked item
- More "expensive" than other stakes
- Dirt can easily stick once removed
I originally didn’t have any thought to review these MSR Mini Groundhog stakes as they were part of a tent I purchased. The Hubba Hubba NX comes with a pack of 6 stakes. I have never used the mini or regular size before buying this tent. I am used to the typical shepherd’s crook style aluminum stakes that come with a basic car camping tent. These stakes are actually available to be purchased individually, and this was the catalyst for me to review my experience for others.
To begin, I’ll touch on the con listed above; there is one caveat though in that I really don’t much if anything bad to say about the stakes at all. While each is maybe a dollar more expensive per stake (~$3) than others, you would definitely get your money’s worth. When you think about it, one tent's worth (four corners, two vestibules) is 6 x $3 = $18. If anything, this “con” is merely a note.
For those backpackers counting the ounces these stakes are advertised at 0.35 ounces each, I don’t have a digital scale though to confirm. For six stakes, you’d get 2.1 ounces.
How good is it? Here’s what’s at…stake.
How well it remains in the ground
I have used this on medium dense soil/packed dirt/red clay. No problems. It also handles well to being knocked into the ground by a rock. For the most part the soil in central N.C. doesn’t pose a problem, but every once in a while extra force is needed. I remember tapping the stake in and wondering if it would be bent when I removed it, didn’t notice a thing.
In the piedmont of N.C. there can also be slightly sandy soil, enough that the top inch or so can be sandy. My review of the Hubba Hubba NX was on this type of soil. Being that there was dirt below the one inch mark I didn’t have a problem. For this attribute with central and western NC it’s a 4.5/5.
I have not used them in snow or in purely sand locations. I imagine it would do as well as any stake this size without other forms bracing that may be required in snow or sand.
How well the attachment (vestibule door, tent corner) stays on the stake
I didn’t think about this until a time or two ago taking down my tent. I was removing the rainfly and each vestibule was staked out. After breaking down the rest of the tent and collecting my 5 stakes…wait, there should be 6! The other stake was still on the vestibule stake loop waiting to be packed up.
It really got me to appreciate the three-edged notch at the top of the stake. It’s not just about the stake being in the ground, but I don’t want my vestibule loop to come loose and vestibule entrance flop in the wind. For me 5/5.
I’d add a bit of rope to the loop hole at the end of each. Just makes it easier to pull out as there isn’t so much of a natural pull on the top. That notch which is there to catch your tethered item is a bit too uncomfortable for me to pull.
Also, if you are looking for something a bit longer, the regular Groundhog stakes are 7.5” long and about 50 cents less expensive…but when it comes to how well these (at 6”) work with my uses there doesn’t seem to be any reason that I’d get the larger size.
A good thing about the stakes is that they are brightly colored. It makes it easy to spot if you happen to misplace any.
Honestly, if I need anything staked down, be it a tent or even something as silly as a volleyball net at a cookout, I’d break out these Mini Groundhogs. Some folks may look at you strange when you buy these at $3 each, but you have to think about what and why you are buying. They work well at keeping your tent (investment!) on the ground. For $3 it’s easy piece of mind.
UPDATE: Came across some a pack of 6 Kelty Y-Stakes on sale for $9 (originally $12). They are 7 inches long and 0.5 ounces each. I didn't purchase, I only noted and included here if anyone was interested in the Groundhog's design with other brands. Interesting to see how these compare to the mini and regular sized Groundhogs.