Stakes, rebar and nails, oh my

Every year, discussions turn to what is the best way to anchor your camp. Rebar bent into candy canes is the officially approved staking material. Most people promote the rebar. That involves buying it in the lengths you need and then bending it. Some places have the bending tool where you buy the rebar. I heard that some Home Depots do. Otherwise, you just follow bending instructions you find on the Internet.  If you go with candy cane rebar, be sure to bring something to cover your rebar with to avoid injuries. People use tennis balls, stuffed animals, pop bottles, etc. And you will need a sledgehammer to put them in and vice grips to get them out.

candy-cane-rebar-burning-manThere are other options for staking down your camp. Tent nails are one option that you might want to try. There are the ones actually made for tents, that have little plastic pullers to get them back out, or you can get plain ones at the hardware store. You do want the steel ones, not aluminum. Ten inch length seems to be what is most available, but I did see a person mention 12 inch nails.

Update:  I tried the tent nails last year and they worked great for holding down my patio groundcloths. However, the little plastic thingies tend to bend when you are pulling the nails out. Nails fine. Plastic not.


I have a Springbar tent, which uses large, v-shaped stakes. That’s all I used at Burning Man last time. They are very strong, and the v-shape helps hold them in the ground. I actually bought a couple of extra long ones, called sand stakes, but they were too long for the playa. They began to bend when I drove them in. Not one of my shorter stakes had any problem, and I’ve read other comments from Springbar and Kodiak tent owners that all they ever need at Burning Man are the stakes that came with the tent. Again, they have to be steel, not plastic or aluminum.

4199-12tentstakestakeloop400I just got another suggestion from a reader (thanks Doug!) They are called playa staples. They look pretty damn cool.


Here is the website where they can be found.

I’m considering buying a dozen tent nails to try this year on the rest of my structure, since I don’t have quite enough v-stakes for my expanded shade structure. They aren’t very expensive, and probably last for years, so I’m most likely going to just invest in a few. Now that I’ve heard about the playa staples, I want to give them a try too. I don’t think I can afford them this year. I’m about out of supply money.

Given the hassle of rebar, I’m inclined to recommend a combination of v-stakes and tent nails. Whether that is enough for some of those crazy large structures, I don’t know. But for a small structure I’m betting they are more than adequate. I’m just not a fan of rebar.


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