Best tent stakes for shooting mats?

Dobermann

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Just got a new Crosstac Recon mat in the mail, and super-stoked ...

What do y'all reckon are the best tent stakes to use for anchoring mats in the field?

My main parameters are:
  • Lightweight (this will be used for field shooting, so no large, steel stakes)
  • Don't require a hammer to put into ground - so either a design that works under a boot heel, or perhaps some of the 'screw-in' types I've seen ...
  • Actually will hold a mat down that has eyelets (many tent stakes are designed more for running guylines at an angle)
  • Would work on grass, hard dirt, and rocky ground
  • Can be removed without tools
  • Ideally, not a screaming bright color ... yeah, I know, less likely to lose it, but why have a tacticool camo shooting mat and go and use bright pink stakes?

Keen to hear some sensible recommendations - and why / what features you think make them superior to other choices. :)
 

shoobe01

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The only good stakes are MSR Groundhogs
I have purged all others, aside from very large stakes for stand-up canvas tents, antennas, and other very large things. Never broken one, never heard of one breaking, hold in all soils, easy install and removal, good notches, weigh so little a pile of them won't hold down a bag in too stiff a breeze, and the shape also lets them nest naturally so they take very little room.

There are a few sizes. If your mat needs staking (I never do) the most mini size will do fine.

Aside: Yes get red. Even everyone I know who goes out and sneaks around in enemy countries has some small things in bright colors. Red anodized isn't Da-Glow pink so won't give away anything, but you won't loose them at close range. Friends who have painted their stakes have lost 20% per outing. I am still sad I painted my one set of Felco pruners matte ODG, have never lost the replacement Bahcos with the orange plastic handles.


The Groundhogs don't seem to be patented, so there are respectable knockoffs, and dirt cheap ones as well. The cheap may appeal to you as they are cheap enough to buy lots, and come in many colors. Here's what I have bought lately, but I have sene other colors, know someone makes an anodized green for example as well:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01I0X9XL0/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
This set comes in black as well as bright colors. I think the silver ones are just bare metal, not anodized, so I'd avoid those.


By eyelet I assume you mean grommet type holes? I'd still stake with lines. Easier to adjust then, you can use the whole mat without rolling on a stake, and your install/removal is not going to risk damaging the mat. For longer lines I always do these cord adjusters:
But for short throw things like staking out ground sheets etc I just leave a loop of elastic tied through the grommet so it extends a few inches past the sheet when slack, lay out the sheet, stake just past the elastic distance the snap the elastic over the stake. Now held tight.
 

M8541Reaper

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    The only good stakes are MSR Groundhogs
    I have purged all others, aside from very large stakes for stand-up canvas tents, antennas, and other very large things. Never broken one, never heard of one breaking, hold in all soils, easy install and removal, good notches, weigh so little a pile of them won't hold down a bag in too stiff a breeze, and the shape also lets them nest naturally so they take very little room.

    There are a few sizes. If your mat needs staking (I never do) the most mini size will do
    These REI ones were exactly what he ones I came to recommend.

    if you’re in windy places, these are your best bet. I have a few in my kit but rarely need em. But when I do, they work.
     

    Dobermann

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    Thanks guys. Yes, the MSR Groundhogs were what I had in mind when I was first thinking nothing super-bright ... but maybe I'll get over myself and just go with them; they're what I use for tent guylines.

    However, I've found the Groundhogs can be tricky in hard ground. Here's an example of the screw-in types I found ... anyone had any experience with these?: https://www.amazon.com/Orange-Screw-Ultimate-Ground-Anchor/dp/B08FFC6BWC/
     

    M8541Reaper

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    Thanks guys. Yes, the MSR Groundhogs were what I had in mind when I was first thinking nothing super-bright ... but maybe I'll get over myself and just go with them; they're what I use for tent guylines.

    However, I've found the Groundhogs can be tricky in hard ground. Here's an example of the screw-in types I found ... anyone had any experience with these?: https://www.amazon.com/Orange-Screw-Ultimate-Ground-Anchor/dp/B08FFC6BWC/
    You aren’t setting up a hide site under observation...and if you are, you aren’t staking in a shooting mat. I get the hesitation but this falls under the category of those bros that buy tan or OD green recovery boards for off-roading instead of something easily recoverable. You want the bright stuff so it’s easier to locate when pulling out of the mud/dirt.

    It is easy to always lean towards the “tacticool” option as a rec shooter, but this is one area where it’s good to go bright. Same goes for your first aid and tool kits.
     
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    shoobe01

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    We often make fun of people digging holes in TV shows, like dig your own grave with an e-tool: "Do you have a week?" Where I live is all rocks and hard ground.

    Unlike every other stake, even in very rocky and hard soils, I have had good luck with the groundhogs wherever I need to put a stake. So far. Probably jinxing myself now!

    I've never seen a screw I liked. Have a few I end up using around the house, as they work in garden beds etc but I did fall for it again and have a little pack of the Arktis ones as they were suggested, but haven't had a chance to seriously use them yet:

    U690-1-2000x2500_1024x1024_825af3d0-a0ab-4987-b63f-4e0207655316_480x.jpg

    These also have huge T-heads so are optimized to go directly through loops and grommets. You may enjoy them for the originally stated purpose.

    Briefly, as they are OD Green! :)
     

    Dobermann

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    Can't forget opsec now, can we?

    Nah, or making fun of ourselves! :)

    And I do get the need for bright gear - my field knives are bright, have the screaming orange Swaro rangefinding binos, and so on ... if it's a high-dollar item, or there's some chance I'd overlook it, then bright it is.

    But my thinking about the tent stakes was slightly different: if I'm removing them, I'll have a stowsack/peg bag in hand, and they'll be going right in ... there'll be a system, so they're not likely to get lost in how I manage gear in that kind of context. (Whereas knives, binos, etc, often get passed around.)

    On the other hand, I have experienced sun glinting off shiny objects that are at the front of a shooting mat before. Depending on the shine, this can range from slightly distracting to temporarily dazzling.

    So, as obscure as it might sound, this was factoring into my thinking for some dull-finish stakes.

    Anyway, having used Groundhogs before, I'll give them a go and see if it's really an issue.

    And might source the MSR Core Stakes, as they look like they might have more purchase area on the head for pressing in with a boot; as well as the Arktis to experiment.

    Thanks all!

    Oh, and fun tip for pushing in tent stakes with a boot - don't face towards the tent stake and use your toes or the ball of your foot; face away from the stake and use your heel - it's more biomechanically efficient, as you're directing force straight down through your leg; it's more controlled, as you're basically just letting your bodyweight move down under controlled speed; and you're directing the force in a straight line, rather than the arc of the front of your foot pushing down/forwards/around. All of this adds up to far less likelihood of bending tent stakes.

    Probably haven't explained that as well as I could, and I know of a lot of old-timers know this trick, but it's a bit of an ah-ha moment if you've never done it before ... give it a try and see what you think.
     
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    Eustice

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    The MSR or tri-side stakes work well. But if they’re going through grommets then there’s nothing to keep the grommet from just lifting off from over top of them. Since we are on that type of stake, I used them for tie outs for the tarp I slept under. I used shock cord to tie it out flat and tight. Then rolled under with my tripod and used the collapsed tripod to lift up the center of the tarp. To put the stakes in I used a 3/4” PVC pipe cap over the stake and pounded it in using a 16 ounce Nalgene bottle full of water.

    for my shooting mat I went to Walmart and bought six of their bent hook stakes. They run about 50 cents each. Then I cut them down so they were about 5” long and resharpened the points. They’re long enough that they don’t come out but short enough that you don’t have to struggle getting them in. Also since they’re shorter they don’t bend so easily. There’s not as much lateral leverage possible when pushing them in the ground. To remove them I sewed a loop of 1” webbing with a metal ring on it. I can loop the webbing over my wrist and slip the ring under the hook of the stake. Then I can pull up on the webbing loop. I suppose the same could be done with paracord.

    I can post some pics later if anyone is interested to try it or confused by what I was trying to say.
     

    Bradu

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    They make these with the washer actually welded but a quick search didn't show them.
    Screenshot_20210401-010415_Samsung Internet.jpg