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Tent pegs … what do we know? They stop your shelter blowing away and always come in packs of a certain number which means you need to buy 2 lots!

However, I believe if you look deep enough and delve into the deep, dark places of the mind, you’ll soon discover that even the least outwardly geeky bikepacker has an almost spiritual relationship with the humble tent peg. When you erect a tarp your pegs are the link between heaven and earth … tarps generally place a far greater strain on pegs (than tents do) and the consequences of failure on a wet winters night aren’t the things of sweet dreams.


So, in the interests of not getting wet I decided to conduct a little (semi) scientific experiment to help determine what type of peg would offer the best compromise between size, holding power and the ever important issue of weight. I selected 5 pegs, all very different and all in common use. I’m not naming any names with regard to manufacture as the peg styles are fairly generic to many manufactures.



All the same and all different. Lines indicate length in inches.

From left to right we have:

• Aluminium spike – 34g
• Aluminium Shepard’s crook – 16g
• Titanium nail – 8g
• Aluminium V – 12g
• Steel wire – 3g

Each peg was placed in the ground just as they’d be in use … at 45 degrees to the ground, with just enough of the top showing to allow a line to be hooked over. Each was pushed in by hand without resorting to a rock, hammer or sole of shoe. The ground was grazing land with short grass and the soil has quite a high fine gravel content.

Next a short line was placed over the peg and a spring balance added to the other end. The balance was pulled steadily (making sure the angle between the line / peg was maintained at 90 degrees). I was looking to record 2 different figures … the first was the ‘yield point’ where the peg starts to move in the ground but still hold fast. The second figure was for the point where the peg finally gave up and pulled out (and your tarp falls over).

• Aluminium spike – Started to move @ 42lb. Failure @ 58lb
• Aluminium Shepard’s hook – Started to move @ 25lb. Failure @ 38lb
• Ti nail – Started to move @ 22lb. Failure @ 32lb
• Aluminium V – Started to move @ 26lb. Failure @ 28lb
• Steel wire – Started to move @ 10lb. Failure @ 16lb … peg also destroyed.

Each peg was tested 3 times and the results averaged out.


So there you have it … nothing earth shattering and possibly what you’d expect but it’s still provides fuel for the inner geek. A couple of things it is making me consider more, is trying to anticipate the different loads that will inevitably be applied to different points of the shelter and also the load effects different tarp set-ups will produce … So, maybe a selection of pegs that you can pick and choose from, tailoring each peg to the specific load it’s likely to encounter in any given set-up? 

Or maybe that’s taking things a little too far!

We had a casualty … not really unexpected.

One Comment

  1. Unknown says:

    Useful. Geekness would benefit from an 'ability to find quickly in scrubland grass' test 😉

Comments are closed.

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