Picture a tent peg. Yes, a tent peg. That metal, malleable, 25-ish-centimetre rod with a kink at the top, tapped into the earth through the eyelet of a tent, swag, or shelter for added security. That description was under 30 words – but in this episode of the Snowys Camping Show, Ben and Lauren discuss tent pegs for 30 minutes.
Yep, it’s possible.
From standard styles to angle iron, our outdoor experts talk the types that best suit your campsite set-up, for the ultimate security in outback serenity.
Listen to the full episode here:
Or watch the video version here:
00:00 – Intro
00:29 – Talkin’ Tent Pegs
02:58 – Do I Need to Upgrade My Tent Pegs?
07:50 – Hammers and Mallets
10:00 – Standard Tent Pegs
13:48 – Steel Vs Galvanised Steel
15:33 – Drillable Pegs
21:09 – Sand Pegs
23:08 – Angle Iron Pegs
27:12 – Lauren and Ben’s Peg Kit
Mentioned in this Episode:
Talkin’ Tent Pegs
Launching an episode on a singular set-up component like a tent peg may seem like we’re clutching at the guy ropes – but in fact, determining which tent pegs work best in which set-up situation is one of our most frequently asked questions. After all, the peg is a significant element of a tent’s apparatus, not excluding those of swags, gazebos, shelters, and windbreaks – so choosing the most appropriate peg will increase the chance of ultimate stability. Speaking of choosing the right peg – let us pitch one of Ben’s previous blogs detailing the range of pegs available, ‘8 Tent Pegs to See You Through Every Season’.
There is a peg designed for almost every surface, be it soft and sandy, hard and rocky, muddy, or loamy. While most suppliers will provide the relevant pegs with their camping equipment, eventually they require replacing. Just like an included mattress in a swag, Lauren queries why quality, durable, and heavy-duty tent pegs can’t be supplied with a tent, swag, or shelter from the get-go.
Nonetheless, for those who camp in caravan parks on maintained lawn more frequently than they do off-track, the pegs provided are often sufficient. For the go-getters who like to galivant off the grid however, Ben and Lauren recommend upgrading to more durable designs.
Do I Need to Upgrade My Tent Pegs?
Good segue. Ben suggests having at a handful of additional tent pegs on every trip away. That said, the question Lauren asks is… what exactly is considered a ‘handful’?
Essentially, considering the main guy rope and peg points of your tent gives a fair idea as to how many added heavy-duty pegs should be incorporated into camp tackle. That said, these aren’t needed for every eyelet or loop that lines the tent’s inner or fly – more so for each corner (depending on the size of the tent), guy rope, and awning point to prevent limp fabric from flapping about. When buying a tent online, considering the number of additional pegs needed is as simple as aligning with the number of corners and awning poles featured in the design.
Ben suggests that the bare minimum requirement for a four-person tent is a peg for each guy rope (four) and the awning peg points (two) – ultimately, at least six heavy-duty pegs in addition to those provided to ensure adequate stability. In particularly windy weather, Lauren recommends an additional two pegs for the awning guy ropes – and on that, including additional guy ropes in with your set-up provides further means of increasing stability. In sum, depending on the size of the tent, the ideal number of pegs for good solidity is between 15 and 20.
Despite the above, Ben reminds us that not all tent brands supply low-quality pegs. For example, Oztent provides decent designs with a thicker, more robust steel shaft. Nonetheless, most will require an upgrade, where separately available pegs range from between 20 and 35 centimetres in length. Lauren uses 30-centimetre pegs for virtually all her campsite set-ups, though muddier, softer ground calls for a specifically designed sand peg.
Hammers and Mallets
While a camping peg mallet often suffices, Lauren tends to resort to a standard hammer. The former are more lightweight, safer for those camping with children, and suitable for well-maintained caravan park terrain. On the other hand, Ben recommends a 1.25-kilogram mash hammer or short mallet with a blockhead for harder, rockier surfaces. While a mallet and additional tent pegs add more weight to your load, the efficiency is worth it. As the cornerstone of camping, an inadequate hammer or mallet means an inability to secure your pegs – and by extension, your tent!
Ben has trialed a dual-sided plastic and rubber mallet, but notes they’re more efficient for hitting bricks and pavers, taking twice as long to sink a tent peg into the ground than a standard hammer or mallet.
Standard Tent Pegs
A standard tent peg can be described as a steel rod with a straight shaft and a bent tip, like the number seven (7). These are best used when camping on turf, or grounds that aren’t riddled with rocks and rubble.
Most of the time though, Lauren uses galvanised steel key-head pegs by SuperPeg, confidently describing them as the ‘God of pegs’. These models have a bent top that aligns with their shaft, enabling the direction of force from the hammer or mallet to travel straight through the peg into various consistencies of soils and surfaces. On the other hand, standard pegs are designed so that the force is directed off to one side, consequently causing distortion and bending.
A standard tent peg can be described as a steel rod with a straight shaft and a bent tip, like the number seven (7). Credit: Shutterstock
Having now owned a set for easily five years without issues, Lauren claims the key-head pegs are indestructible. While they are typically more expensive, their high quality and more efficient design have them cheaper than standard pegs over time. Oztent pegs have a similar shape and concept, with an S-shaped top providing a central impact point for the hammer. It’s worth noting though that the thicker the peg, the harder it is to knock into the ground.
While upgrading tent pegs is a clever idea, Ben and Lauren flag that it’s not necessary to do so all at once. Instead, start by investing in five at a time ahead of each camping trip. Ultimately, holding four high-quality pegs instead of six that are only half-decent bodes better for long term set-up stability.
Steel Vs Galvanised Steel
After roughly a week in the ground, steel pegs without a zinc coating can often start to show pitting corrosion on the shaft. While galvanised steel pegs are more expensive, their increased longevity has them worth the dollars. That said, their level of performance in the moment is just as adequate.
When a steel peg rusts, this creates a rougher shaft and therefore greater difficulty in removing the peg from the ground. Those who typically camp on soft ground tend not to need galvenised steel pegs, where it may only be wise to simply upgrade to 25-centimetre awning pegs.
Initially introduced on the television series Shark Tank, Hex Pegs are a commonly known brand of drillable tent pegs. Similar designs are also found in Bunnings, where a coach screw demonstrates a similar concept. Varieties specifically labelled as ‘drillable pegs’ can cost up eight dollars, though their benefits are mostly for those struggling mobility issues.
Available in various lengths and designs, and suitable for harder, rockier grounds – Lauren can’t recall anyone who owns drillable pegs and doesn’t like them. Plastic designs are available for softer surfaces too – but with a greater tendency to break, and without any positive feedback to base her opinion on, Lauren suggests that these are an individual use case.
The downside of drillable pegs is the additional equipment required: a drill, and in that a battery pack and socket set. As well as adding more weight to your load, this set-up means monitoring battery levels and fitting the right sockets to the pegs before drilling, suggesting more tedious than pegs secured with a standard mallet or hammer. That said, drillable pegs have proven useful during market stalls and events alike in securing gazeboes and marquees into the compact surfaces of carparks.
RV Daily, an online magazine featuring the latest news, reviews, and how-to’s in caravanning and camping, house an article that details the differences between screw-in and traditional tent pegs. Check it out here!
Sand pegs are wider and longer than traditional models, designed with a greater surface area for pulling against softer sand to prevent coming loose from the ground. Unlike most standard pegs, sand pegs are constructed with either polypropylene or polycarbonate. While the latter is more brittle, it offers a level of rigidity that can be beneficial. That said, polypropylene is a universally used plastic with greater flexibility that Ben deems as somewhat indestructible.
Angle Iron Pegs
Along with sandy conditions and beach set-ups, angle iron pegs are also beneficial for use on wet, muddy terrain, as well as the sludge and snow of the Victorian high country. An angle iron peg appears as a long, metal stake shaped to 90 degrees with a pointed end, flat top, and hook welded into the groove. A heavy-duty option, Lauren assures us that they’ve never failed her, where the only surface that proved difficult to penetrate was limestone. On the beach amid strong gusts and gales, her shelter has remained steadfast in the sand. That said, they mimic a star-dropper – so removing them can be difficult, taking more of a pull-and-wiggle approach.
Angle iron pegs are ideal for use at the main peg points of a shelter, and combined with trace springs enable a rock-solid set-up. SuperPeg stock a galvanised steel angle peg variety, while Hampton sell both a curved and angle aluminium peg. Aluminium boasts a lighter construction, ideal for campers with weight restrictions and setting up on softer ground. It’s worth noting that while this material doesn’t rust, it is capable of corroding. With this in mind, aluminium pegs may better suit a seaside set-up – though it’s still ideal to rinse away any salt water to further prevent corrosion.
Hampton’s aluminium curved and sand/snow pegs cross the bridge between lightweight camping and heavy-duty hiking equipment – though it’s wise to note that too much force with a mallet can destroy their shape completely.
Lauren and Ben’s Peg Kit
For Ben, he aims to replace some of those he currently has with SupaPeg’s key-head pegs, but maintains that keeping standard ‘7’-shaped pegs and those from Oztent with an S-shaped bend on top are still functional after a number of years. Ultimately, he keeps a collection of various peg models in his kit, including a collection of small polypropylene tent pegs.
Pegs aside, achieving a stable set-up at the campsite can be done by securing guy ropes to rocks, where the rocks act as an anchor. This method can be more beneficial for lightweight hiking tents, whereas applying to camping tents amid strong winds can turn those rocks into projectiles!
From soft, grassy grounds to the rock, rubble and sand – what do you keep in your tent tackle?
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About the writer...
When it comes to camping, hiking, travel and adventure – the Snowys team have all the expert advice, guides, and tips on everything outdoors.