The Southwest is both a beautiful and ruthless place to camp. This especially applies to gear. With fields of cacti, thorny plants, razor sharp rocks and hard packed clay; gear gets worn out fast or more often fails. After spending hundreds of nights staking down tents and tarps I have found what works and what doesn't. For the last few years I gave been using titanium or aluminum shepard stakes. Most times they work but it only takes one firm whack with a rock and the stake is bent. A few months back I saw MSR was releasing a new aluminum shepard stake called the Hook Tent Stake. After a frustrating trip of breaking two stakes one evening I opted to buy a set to give them a test in the rock garden we call Arizona.
-Tested on 10 recent trips including sand banks, hard back low desert floor, and pine forest.
-One night of testing included anchoring a tent in windy conditions.
-Each stake ways .46 oz on my home scale and 6.75" long.
-Made of 7075 Aluminum which is a high quality aluminum with high strength.
-Set of 8 stakes weighs in at 3.64 oz.
-Stakes cost $1.75 per stake.
The Short Story-
The MSR Hook Stake has lived up to my expectations thus far. On the windy nights in the Grand Canyon the stakes have managed to hold the tent taut in soft, sandy ground. Although they aren't as secure as a dedicated sand stake, they weigh considerably less and are more versatile. The biggest issue I had with other stakes was when hammering them into the ground they would hit a rock and bend. Most times this would render them useless for the rest of the trip. With the MSR Hook Stake I have hit multiple rocks when attempting to drive them. Because they are considerably thicker they resist bending. I am sure it is possible to bend them, but it takes more force then I normally apply when driving them. Additionally the squared design of the MSR Hook Stake manages to resist rotation once in the ground. The shepard stakes are often circular, allowing for rotation of the hook, which can be frustrating. When removing the stakes the hook is large enough to wrap a finger through which allows for easy removal. Occasionally with cold hands I find it easier to loop one of the other stake's hook into the grounded stake and pull up.
With multiple styles and materials available for tent stakes I find that the MSR Hook Style Stakes are now my go-to choice. The low price, durability and ultimate low cost per use make the decision easy. That being said if you find yourself camping in areas with soft ground more often (Pacific Northwest for instance) you maybe able to save some weight and go with a titanium or smaller aluminum tent stake. If though your camping ground varies it would be more cost effective to own one set of the MSR Hook Style stakes as they will most likely outlast other stakes on the market.
I would definitely recommend the MSR Hook Style stakes to anyone who camps in the Southwest or on hard, rocky ground. The durability observed leads me to believe that these stakes will out perform most others on the market, without penalizing your pocketbook or 'Gear Weights' spreadsheet. You can find out more about the stakes on MSRs website.
*These tent stakes were purchased for testing.