How to Choose and Use Tent Stakes for Sand

Tent Stakes: A view from inside a tent with a beach backdrop during sunset

In this post, we'll take a look at:

In this post, we’ll check out some important tips and tricks for choosing and using the right tent stakes to keep your tent secure on sandy ground, especially when it’s windy.

Whether you’re a novice camper or a seasoned adventurer, understanding how to tackle this challenge is crucial for a safe and enjoyable camping trip. Let’s begin.

Camping in a Sandy Environment

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of tent stakes, it’s crucial to grasp the unique characteristics of sandy camping environments.

  • Sand is notoriously difficult to anchor tents in because it lacks the firmness of soil or rocky ground.
  • With wind, tents on sandy terrain are at risk of blowing away or collapsing.

Thus camping on sandy terrain requires some creative techniques to keep your tent firmly in place. Here, are two methods for anchoring your tent in the shifting sands:

1. Rock Stacking

What it is: Rock stacking involves using rocks to anchor your tent stakes securely. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Foundation Rock: Look for a large, flat rock, similar to a cowpie or pancake, which acts as a foundation.
  2. Guyline Placement: Run your tent’s guyline over the foundation rock.
  3. Secure Staking: Insert your tent stake into the ground behind the foundation rock and stack additional rocks on top of it.

2. Deadman Anchors

What it is: When rocks aren’t around, you can use deadman anchors (or deadmen) to secure your tent. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Digging a Hole: Dig a hole about 12 inches deep in the sand.
  2. Guyline Attachment: Wrap your tent’s guyline around a stick, stake, or rock.
  3. Burying the Anchor: Bury the wrapped anchor in the hole you’ve dug.
  4. Additional Rocks: For added security, stack rocks on top of the buried anchor.

Selecting the Best Tent Stakes for Sand

Tent Stakes: Best overall option for sand (if you only want one set): MSR Groundhog

Select the best tent stakes for sand by taking these key factors into consideration:

  1. Consider the Environment: Different types of sand, such as fine beach sand or coarser desert sand, require different approaches to anchoring.
  2. Weight and Design: Look for lightweight stake construction with a Y-shaped design that excels in sandy or loose soil. It’s crucial to note that while there are stakes designed for sandy terrain, such as screw-in stakes and special designs (e.g., MSR Blizzard, MSR Cyclone), they can be heavier and may not be the best choice for ultralight backpackers.
  3. Length Matters: Longer tent stakes are often more effective in sandy environments. They penetrate deeper into the sand, providing better stability. Aim for stakes that are at least 7.5 inches long.
  4. Durability: Sandy terrain can be abrasive, so prioritize stakes made from durable materials. Look for materials like aluminum or high-strength plastics to prevent bending or breaking during use.
  5. Packability: Consider the size and weight of the stakes. If you’re backpacking or have limited storage space, choose lightweight and compact stakes.

Expand Your Know-How: Sandy Campsite Selection

Tent Stakes: A tarp on the beach secured in sand with tent stakes and sand pitching methods

Choosing the right campsite is paramount when camping on sandy terrain. Here are some essential tips for selecting an ideal campsite in sandy environments:

  1. Look for Rocks: Whenever possible, choose a campsite that has rocks nearby. Rocks can be used for both tent anchoring and protection from the elements.
  2. Consider Wind Direction: Assess the prevailing wind direction in the area. Ideally, set up your campsite with the tent door facing away from the prevailing winds to minimize sand blowing into your shelter.
  3. High Ground vs. Low Ground: Sandy campsites often offer high and low ground options. High ground may provide better views and drainage, but low ground might have more stable sand for anchoring. Balance these factors based on your specific needs.
  4. Distance from Water: Camp at a safe distance from water sources to avoid potential hazards like tides or flash floods, depending on your location.
  5. Sand Dunes: While sand dunes might look picturesque, they are often not ideal for camping due to shifting sand. Camp at the base of dunes or on stable, flat ground nearby.

Setting up a tent on sandy terrain can take longer than on solid ground. Arrive at your chosen campsite with sufficient daylight to gather rocks, bury deadmen, and secure your tent before nightfall.


Camping in sandy places, like beaches and deserts, is an amazing adventure. However, it comes with the unique challenge of keeping your tent securely anchored, especially in windy conditions.

In this post, we’ve explored essential tips for selecting the right tent stakes and techniques for anchoring your tent in sandy terrain.

Understanding the sandy environment, mastering techniques like rock stacking and deadman anchors, and choosing the best tent stakes are key to a successful sandy camping experience.

So, gear up and embrace the sandy wilderness for a memorable adventure.

Not interested in sand stakes and looking for the lightest tent stakes on the planet? Check out our TOP 5 Guide on ultralight tent stakes.


Do tent stakes work in sand?

Tent stakes can be effective in sand, provided you select the right type and employ proper anchoring techniques. In sandy environments, it’s essential to opt for stakes designed for this specific terrain, like those with a Y-shaped design for better grip. Longer stakes, typically 7.5 inches or more, penetrate deeper into the sand, offering increased stability. Additionally, anchoring techniques such as rock stacking or using deadman anchors are often more reliable in sandy conditions compared to traditional methods. Moreover, using guylines attached to rocks or sandbags can further enhance your tent’s stability in the sand.

Are metal pegs better than plastic?

Metal pegs are often preferred over plastic for tent anchoring due to their superior durability and strength. Metal stakes, commonly made from materials like aluminum or steel, can withstand greater tension and are less likely to bend or break, making them suitable for various terrains, including rocky or hard-packed soil. Plastic pegs, while lightweight, may not hold up well in challenging conditions and can be prone to snapping.

Spread the word →

Search Insights

Have any questions?

Follow us

More Insights

Suscribe to Our Newsletter

Follow us

hikinglite logo white
©2023 HikingLite - All rights reserved

Start your ultralight journey!

Subscribe now to stay ahead of the pack with the most up-to-date ultralight gear content.