It’s been said that to reduce weight backpacking, you should “count the ounces and the pounds take care of themselves.” With this credo in mind, I took the Vargo Outdoors – Titanium Ascent Tent Stakes out on a couple of recent backpacking trips. Here are my findings.
Titanium is corrosion-resistant and has the highest strength-to-density ratio of any metal. Many ultra-light backpackers rely on titanium gear to shave ounces off their base weight.
Vargo Outdoors specializes in lightweight backpacking gear and has a range of titanium tent stakes to suit different conditions. Their Titanium Ascent Tent Stakes are 6.25″ long and listed at 0.35 ounces apiece. They are designed especially for sandy soil and snow, and include a reflective cord for visibility and easy retrieval.
I paired these tent stakes with my Mountain Hardwear LitePath 2 tent — a non-freestanding, two-person tent that I’ve used for the the past four years — and tried the stakes on two recent backpacking trips. The first trip was at High Creek Camp en route to San Gorgonio, and the second in the Sierras hiking over Bishop Pass and into Le Conte Canyon.
The Ascent stakes are listed as 0.35 ounces, but came in at 0.42 ounces on my scale. If I removed the reflective cord, it weighed in at 0.36 ounces. In comparison, the standard aluminum tent stakes that came with my LitePath weighed in at 0.5 ounces.
The LitePath 2 uses 12 tent stakes. Here’s the weight savings with the Vargo stakes:
- Stock aluminum stakes: 12 x 0.5 = 6 oz. total stake weight
- Vargo Titanium Ascent stakes: 12 x 0.42 = 5.04 oz. total stake weight — a savings of .96 ounces.
If I used the claimed 0.35 oz. weight, the total is a mere 4.2 ounces — a savings of 1.8 ounces. Ultimately you’ll need to weigh your tent stakes to determine how much weight savings you can gain. Your mileage may vary.
I liked how the v-shaped stakes nest snugly together for compact packing. That being said, they did not work well in the terrain where I was backpacking. In hard-packed, rocky soil these stakes are easily bent. Of course, hard, rocky soil is not what these stakes are made for, but it was where I was heading. A better choice for these conditions would’ve been the Vargo Titanium Nail Peg.
This Ascent stake would’ve been perfect on our backpacking trip on the Lost Coast Trail, or for snow or desert camping.
TIP: When snow camping, stomp down the snow as well as you can, press in the stakes, then pour some water over the snow. The water will freeze and help anchor the stake firmly. The surface area and grooves of the Vargo Titanium Ascent stakes give it better gripping power in those conditions.
The Bottom Line
If you’re new to lightweight backpacking, it may seem like a minor weight savings to upgrade your tent stakes, but you really need to weigh all your equipment and look for opportunities to shave ounces. Ounces add up to pounds, and a lighter load makes for a more pleasurable experience. Vargo makes great titanium tent stakes but be sure you pick the right ones for the conditions where you’ll be backpacking.
Vargo Titanium Ascent Tent Stakes
- 0.35 ounces
- 6.25″ long
- $3.95 each
- Vargo web site
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Titanium Ascent Tent Stakes for free from Vargo Outdoors as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication.