Last Updated on 17/06/2022
What To Do With Bent Tent Pegs
Bent tent pegs are a pain in the backside but an all too common problem you face as a camper. In this guide, we share our advice on straightening a bent tent peg without injuring yourself or snapping it. A bent tent stake can still work but a snapped one won’t.
If your tent peg isn’t bent too badly you can usually straighten them out enough to use again if you’re careful. Different types of pegs have different thresholds of how much you can bend them before they snap. Before you attempt to bend your tent peg back to a straight profile then you need to be aware of the type of metal your stakes are made from.
The most common type of tent peg to get bent is the stainless steel type which comes with most lower-mid range tents and can be identified by their weight. They are the heaviest type of tent peg but also the most forgiving when trying to straighten it. Aluminum and titanium tent stakes are ultralightweight and so will bend fairly often but do not straighten out so well.
How to Straighten a Bent Tent Peg the Easy Way
The standard method for straightening a bent tent peg is to use your hand or your knee to apply a steady pressure until the bend is decreased. This works if you are strong enough and the bend is somewhere in the middle of the peg. If the bend occurs closer to the ends of the peg it is harder to get a grip and provide enough pressure. There is a better way.
The best way to straighten a bent tent peg when camping is to find some kind of crack in the rocks or between some paving or a picnic bench and use it like a vice. What we mean by this is to trap the end closest to the bend in a fixed position so you can put all your force into bending it back into a straight position. If there are no rocks around maybe you can find a tree with a tight gap or use your boot against the ground,
Different Types of Tent Stakes
Depending on what kind of metal your tent peg is made from, you should hopefully be able to straighten it enough to use it until you can replace it. There are three main types of metal that are used for camping tent pegs which include steel, aluminum, and titanium and they all react differently to being bent and being straightened under pressure.
How to Straighten a Bent Steel Tent Peg
Steel tent pegs are the most forgiving type of tent peg when it comes to bending and straightening. So long as you work slowly and efficiently, the steel should not become too soft and can be used many times again once it has been straightened back to position. They are the cheapest type of tent stake and also the heaviest.
You can often get away with just using your hands to simply apply enough gradual pressure that the bend straightens out and the peg looks almost as good as new. If you can’t use your hands then try and find something hard to push against and lever your weight to correct the bend. It is better to do this gradually with lots of checks than to go too far in one movement and then have to bend it back again which ultimately weakens it much more.
How to Straighten a Bent Aluminum Tent Peg
Aluminum tent stakes are lightweight and more rigid than steel. Because they don’t have as much give or flex as steel they are much harder to bend. You can often sense the stress in the tent peg as you are driving it into the ground before any damage happens. If you do end up with a bent aluminum tent peg it’s not the end of the world.
To straighten an aluminum tent peg back into position you need to be extra careful not to go too far. If an aluminum tent peg bends beyond 90 degrees I would say there is no point in even trying to bend it back. You will rarely be able to bend the stake back to 100% or even 80% as the risk of snapping is too high. You will have to straighten it as much as possible when it happens and then replace it before your next camping trip.
Titanium is similar to aluminum however it is slightly better at being straightened once bent. Even though titanium is much more expensive than steel or aluminum I don’t feel the same level of fear when bending it back to position that I do when working with aluminum. With titanium, I actually try and warm the bend up a little before flexing it back as far as I feel comfortable. Again, you should straighten it as much as possible and then replace it at the next opportunity.
How to Straighten a Bent Plastic Tent Peg
Plastic tent stakes will rarely ever bend and stay bent. They have a kind of memory that brings them back into position on their own eventually although bending plastic tent pegs does significantly weaken them. You can be rougher with plastic than you are with steel as the type of plastic that is used isn’t brittle at all. Simply bend it back into position and make sure it’s straight. Job done.
How To Prevent Tent Pegs From Bending
The best way to stop bent tent pegs is to come it at a slight angle and use a hammer instead of your foot. As well as this, if the ground feels hard or rocky then just proceed with caution and go a bit slower so that if you hit an unexpected rock it doesn’t instantly bend your peg in half.
Come in at a 45 Degree Angle
There are two reasons to do this and the first is so that it is actually more secure. A tent peg that is staked in at a 45-degree angle towards the tent will provide the most grip and tension to keep your tent securely in position in high winds. The second reason to do it is that you are less likely to encounter any rocks if you only penetrate the top few inches of the ground. The only time it is appropriate to go straight down into the ground is if you are using your foot and there isn’t a strong wind.
Use a Hammer
One of the biggest reasons tent pegs get bent is from people using their feet to tread a stake into the ground. The problem is that once you put all your weight down one leg and onto a tent peg, it is hard to stop before it is too late. Using a camping hammer gives you the most control so that you can drive the peg into the ground at the correct angle and become instantly aware of any obstructions underground.
Go All The Way In
It is better to hammer your tent pegs all the way into the ground so that you don’t accidentally trip or stand on the exposed tent peg. A tent peg that is sticking out of the ground could also be bet in strong winds if the tent pulls it hard enough. If the tent is all the way into the ground there is no way it will get bent whilst packed tightly into the dirt.
How To Tell If Your Tent Peg Is Bent Beyond Repair
If your tent peg is bent beyond 90 degrees we would say there is a good chance that if you try and straighten it back that it will break. This happens because the metal is stretched as it bends and so is less dense which makes it weak. If when you start to straighten it, it feels like it is about to come apart in your hands then this is a sign your tent peg is beyond repair.
Why Do Tent Pegs Get Bent?
There are two main reasons why tent pegs get bent and one of them is avoidable. Hard ground often gets the blame when a tent stake is bent but this isn’t really fair as it often comes down to not knowing the proper technique to hammering in a stake. The two real reasons tent pegs get bent are hidden rocks underground and coming in at the wrong angle with reckless abandon. There is a skill to keeping a full set of tent stakes without having to replace them all the time.
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