Who cares about a tent peg?

A lot of folks do, judging from the often posed question, “What is the best peg?” Frequently, the better question is asked. “What kind of peg(s) do you recommend?”

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and, “The devil is in the details” point out the frivolity of any answer. Normally when asked this question I respond with questions.

What is most important to you? (Saving weight, ease of use, holding power)
What size and shape tent or tarp to secure? (Large flat surfaces or low wind shedding wedge or domes)
What degree of site exposure is expected? (Protected wooded draws or wind battered ridges)
What type of soil or ground is likely? (Forest loam, sandy, or hard pack and rocky, or even snow).

The answers are found in the range of options and the tradeoffs of each option.

The ubiquitous aluminum Sheppard’s Hook peg is the most common selection. It is the least costly averaging $ 0.50 to $1.00, weighs approximately 0.5 ounce, has reasonable holding power and generally woks in most non frozen conditions, though subject to bending in hard, rocky or rooted ground.

The often sought Titanium Ultra Light Sheppard’s Hook peg is popular. It is two to three times more costly at $2.00 to $3.00, weighs considerably less at approximately 0.2 ounce, but has mediocre to poor holding power. Its slender diameter is the beauty for just popping them in to loamy or loose soil. It is also the Achilles heel as its slender diameter has greatly reduced surface area when holding power is need.

The current class of “Y” shaped pegs, sometime referred to as “ground hog pegs” are a good compromise of cost and holding power at the expense of lightness. There cost in the mid range $1.75-$2.50, weight is generally 0.5- 0.6 ounce. The shape provides 3-6 times the surface area for increased holding power. A bonus is that as a straight peg design they hammer into harder ground with little to no bending risk. There side notches are minimal for those application where you want to use the on a ground pegged loop.

Specialty pegs often based on “V” shapes some with cut-out and sometimes in titanium seek a mid point in holding power and weight reduction. Again they are costly at approximately $3.00, weigh approximately 0.3-0.4 ounces. They suffer the side notch trade-off of the Y peg and are more prone to bending.

Plastic stake although often inexpensive, but not always, relative to simple shepherd hook aluminum pegs, are normally bulkier to pack and often slightly heavier. They vary in brittle nature and often worsen in brittleness in cold/freezing temperatures. A major plus is their broader size; for increased holding power and ease of use in sandy or beach conditions.

Bottom line, when asked,” What is the best peg?” ; my short answer is carry a mix of aluminum and ti Sheppard Hooks and sufficient aluminum “Y’” pegs for likely windward corner requirements. Thus you will optimize cost, weight, and holding power for a broad range of conditions.

Hope that pegs it for you.