In a never ending quest to lower my base weight, I subscribe to the mentality that every ounce counts, and upgrading my tent stakes provided an opportunity to shave off a few ounces. But with campsites along my local trails often sandy or snow covered, the shepherds-hook style won’t cut it when wind starts squalling against my non-freestanding tent. I need tent stakes with holding power.
That's why I was excited to try out the Titanium Ascent Stakes by Vargo. These V-shaped ultralight bad boys are designed for sand and snow. They weigh only 0.3 oz apiece and come equipped with a highly reflective pull cord. The 6.2-inch length offers plenty of surface area to help them cling tightly to a multitude of environments.
I paired six Ascents with my Z-Packs Plexamid and challenged them with a range of differing surfaces. I sunk the Ascents into the ground on snowy mountains in Oregon, rock studded campsites in Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness, and even on the beaches of Southern California.
What I Loved About the Ascent Stakes
Materials - in addition to being corrosion resistant, titanium has a high strength-to-density ratio. This makes them very strong for very little weight. The holes punched throughout cut even more weight and add to their staying power.
Packability - The Ascent Tent Stakes nest nicely within one another taking up minimal room.
Visible - The reflective cord shows up well at dusk and shines brightly in the light of a headlamp. It also makes for super easy retrieval from the ground.
They Stay Put - These stakes stayed stuck in sand, snow, and high winds. Yes, extremely loose sand will still require some help from heavy rocks and snow will still need to be hard packed before the stakes are hammered in, but pour some water on top to freeze around the stakes and they aren’t going to budge. The Ascents performed beautifully in all kinds of weather conditions and terrain.
What I Didn’t Love
They Can Bend - The Ascents have their limits. They need to be carefully placed in rocky ground and are not suitable for hard packed soil. They will bend. A densely packed car camping site did a few of mine in. Save them for backcountry expeditions where the earth is softer and the exceptionally low weight is worth the risk of bending a stake or two.
There are lighter options out there and there are stronger ones too, but few straddle the line between ultralight and fully functional as well as the Titanium Ascent Tent Stake by Vargo Outdoors. It is as light as you can get without sacrificing holding power. Correspondingly, it has a strong grip that will keep your home away from home upright without weighing a ton in your pack. Just be sure to choose your terrain wisely and these stakes will not fail you.
Mandy Esch is an international pro skater turned avid outdoorswoman who enjoys backpacking, camping, fly fishing, cliff diving and passing on what she learns along the way. In her backpacking blog, Mandy shares video trail reviews and trip planning guides. Follow her adventures at www.backcountrydirtbag.com.