Not Just for Vampires Any Longer - Staking for the Average Man

No, we aren’t talking about drinking blood or avoid sunlight and delicious garlic. Staking, the act of putting metal stakes into the ground, is the most important part of any tent installation. No matter how much pre-engineering is incorporated into a tent’s design, improper staking can cause it all to come crashing down on your head (literally).

Staking takes more than a few attributes into account, including: 

  1. Soil Conditions
  2. Tent Size and Style

  3. Weather

Soil Conditions

Each tent installation requires a site check before any pieces are even laid in the location. Ground types, such as the amount of rocks, sand, clay, dirt, or gravel all have a different amount of holding power when using the same stake or anchoring method.


  • Ground with many rocks may cause problems during installation, causing stakes to veer to odd angles while being driven. No stake can tilt more than 10 degrees from vertical without suffering in holding power, making rocky locations a pain when trying to maintain vertical stakes. 

  • Sand and gravel is a poor anchoring medium due to its ability to shift easily. For sites with this sort of loose ground, specialty stakes like auger stakes with blades should be used to give each stake advanced grip.
  • If a staking location is wet, the soil will have a reduced amount of hold as well. Locations with a large amount of ground water should use the maximum amount of staking.

Tent Size and Style

I think we can all agree that larger tents need more stakes. With closer inspection, the amount and placement of stakes differs between styles as well, mostly between the two main styles of Frame Tent and Pole Tent. A frame tent can be staked fairly regularly no matter the tent top fabric design, since the hardware being connected to the ground is the frame itself. The consistency in the frame strength means that there is little change across a single tent.

Staking for a pole tent is much more particular, since the staking and anchoring lines create the tension that holds the poles up during the installation. As the tents get larger, crucial staking locations like corners require increased staking to the point where gang staking becomes the standard. The tent top fabric also begins to have more and more seams, where independent pieces of top are connected to form the full fabric piece. Since these places have added stresses, the side pole locations that correspond with each end of the seam received extra staking to compensate.

Weather

Now we come to the hardest aspect to plan for. Yes, you can read up on the forecast for a week out each side of your event, but even then changes can wreak havoc on the whole setup. In this case you should always plan for the season.

  • Tenting earlier in the season? Wind is a major factor in spring weather, so extra staking is recommended.

  • Mid-summer in a historically dry area? Make sure to bring your stake driver instead of a sledge hammer, but standard staking will be sufficient.

When you get right down to it, preparedness means knowing what to look for according to your location and knowing what to do in the event that bad weather arrives.

This is A LOT to go over, but with so much riding on your installation there really is no room for error. As with any tent event, if a tent’s staking starts to look shaky the tent needs to be evacuated and the anchoring checked for the proper amount of hold. Check out our Knowledge Center for more on staking procedures, or check out these video playlists for basic staking layouts (Classic Series Frame, Classic Series Pole).