The complex question of tent pegs

There are a great many designs of tent peg on the market and it is almost certain that the pegs that came with the tent are not actually that much use. So what do you buy and what do you use when ?

Cheap wire pegs
+ Cheap, plentiful, relatively easy to get in (unless it is rocky)
- Bend, pull out of soft ground

Quality varies a lot and they are ok to get started and perfectly serviceable for moderate weather and ground conditions. If the weather turns bad (strong winds) or you have soft soil then they might not have enough hold, particularly on guy lines. In hard ground they will bend when they hit stones and eventually need replacing with rock pegs

Rock pegs
+ Strong and easy to drive in (even use a claw hammer or lump hammer)
- Can pull out of soft ground. Can be hard to get out again

Something like a "groundhog" is probably a useful first peg purchase - a chunky rock peg will drive better then cheap wire pegs, hold better and not bend easily. Often the main peg of choice unless it is soft. Some variation in designs, they are usually based on a straight nail design with either a plastic fitting (which seems to eventually bend or break) or a welded cross price. Have a claw hammer with you to put them in and get them out

V pegs
+ Good hold in softer ground
- Can still bend but usually better then wire. Once bent often harder to get straight again compared to wire pegs

If you expect soft ground then you need some of these, usually made from steel you can also get aluminium ones but they tend not to last as well on bigger tents. They can be a bit of a pain if it is wet as they hold lots of mud and take some cleaning

Sand pegs
+ About the only thing that works in sand (doh!) Can be used in soft ground also but harder to drive in
- No use if hard ground as they wont drive in without damage. Quite bulky and expensive

If you are camping on sand the choices are limited. Big versions of the V peg these work well but do not take kindly to rocks or roots. If you dont have any of these then (strong) bags filled with sand or large pebbles can be a workaround

+ Good hold in soft ground, pretty easy to drive in. Can be had in plastic or stainless steel

- Not quite easy to store and transport due to shape

A unique proprietary design that does work well in many circumstances. The shorter length and unique shape mean they are easier to get in and out than many pegs but hold really well, some people swear by them

Screw in pegs
+ Easy to drive (mostly) and strong hold
- Pricey and you need a cordless drill to put them in

A lot of Caravaners seem to like these for some reason but not so widely used by tent campers, but if you need a really strong hold and the ground will take them these are up there with the best. They come in steel and plastic variants

Plastic Pegs
+ A lot lighter than steel, tend to be good in softer ground
- Can become bent, broken or brittle with age. Most are not that strong

These vary a lot in quality, really cheap ones probably arent a sensible way to spend your money but the pricier ones and things Like Deltas can fill a niche in your tent peg bag

Most ground sheet pegs (look like big drawing pins with a flat head and short spike) tend to be plastic

Aluminium pegs
+ Like plastic, much lighter than steel, come in a variety of designs for different purposes

- Aluminium is weaker than steel and tends to fatigue, not ideal for larger tents because of that

Generally these are used by lightweight camping fans who have to carry their kit with them. Do your research as these can be pricey and there are lots of variants out there

Wooden pegs
+ Fairly light with good grip, especially in softer soils. Style
- Dont like rocky soils, not easy to keep clean, can be pricey

These are mostly available in 9" and 12" and not that expensive unless you need dozens, they have a certain style that you will think of as "must have" or you will probably stick with other pegs. In use the larger ones make good soft ground pegs for guy lines and the smaller ones are very adaptable. Need to be treated gently, so no claw hammer to put them in and can be awkward to get out too as a metal puller will mark the peg (a little rope loop can be effective)

How long is the ideal peg?

Easy answer is there isnt an ideal for all conditions. Shorter pegs are much easier to get into rocky ground, and with it being rocky will probably have sufficient hold. Longer pegs are ideal in soft/sandy ground as they will be more secure

Typically rock pegs for heavier Canvas tents are going to be 9" for most of the main pegging points though 6" will work fine on the inner tent. Similar sizes for V pegs would be a good starting point. For highly stressed pegging points (eg corner guys on a Frame tent) and soft soils then you might want to go up to 12" or longer pegs.

The biggest pegs in my kit bag are 18" long 2" wide ex army sand pegs, you could probably pitch a decent frame tent in a desert with these but they are terribly difficult to transport and way too long for use in soil as they cant be driven in far enough

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