Magnesium tent stakes?

Posted by: Zeroignite

Magnesium tent stakes? - 04/25/12 02:49 PM

Here's an idea that's been knocking around my brain for a while. Why not use magnesium for tent stakes? In many cases such as soft ground, the absolute strength of the stake doesn't seem to matter as much; they just need to be strong enough to not bend. Any time I bent a stake has been from trying to overforce it, not wind or "in-use" demands. Magnesium and its alloys are much lighter than both aluminum (2/3 the weight) and titanium. And, in a pinch, you could shave a bit off the stakes as firestarter material.

Sourcing Mg rod to play with does seem a bit tricky, since industrial suppliers expect you to order in larger quantities than you need. Also, you do need to be mindful of accidentally igniting dust/shaving while machining.
Posted by: Steadman

Re: Magnesium tent stakes? - 04/27/12 09:07 AM

It's the last sentence of your first paragraph and your second paragraph that worries me.

You should read the wiki article on Magnesium, and then consider if you want everyone around you to bear the risks you are proposing. I can see several vectors to accident and injury of yourself (which doesn't really bother me, so long as you are witting - and you seem to be) or to others (which does - I might be one of them).

For the benefit of others:


Peridodic table:

To clarify my concern, I have historically used tent stakes in applications involving fire (lifting a dutch oven lid, poking logs, manipulating pots, etc...) when I'm improvising; I can forsee a tragic accident if you built your stakes and they were used by an unwitting or unknowing person for an application other than what you intend (as just a tent stake).

Alternatively, is there a magnesium/aluminum alloy that might achieve the weight savings you are looking for and that is lighter/cheaper than titanium? That MIGHT reduce your fire risk and achieve what you are looking for.


Posted by: lori

Re: Magnesium tent stakes? - 04/27/12 09:39 AM


Just don't take any tent stakes at all, and tie off to rocks or roots or trees if you are that worried about weight. I have gone on trips where I did not even use the stakes I brought.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Magnesium tent stakes? - 04/27/12 11:26 AM

Tent stakes weigh nearly nothing. You can cut more weight simply by being more careful with your food weight. Or carry one cup less water.
Posted by: Gershon

Re: Magnesium tent stakes? - 04/27/12 02:55 PM

REI as yellow plastic stakes that are lighter than their aluminum ones. I don't like them, but they are only 75 cents apiece.

The frame on my external frame backpack is made from an aluminum magnesium alloy.

The Pareto Principle suggests 80% of the weight you can eliminate will be 20% of the cost and the other 80% of the cost will eliminate the last 20%.

Another way to put it is "Pounds are cheap, ounces are expensive."

Posted by: Glenn

Re: Magnesium tent stakes? - 04/28/12 10:37 PM

Or changing your cooking style from gourmet to freezer bag (saving the weight of food, packaging, and probably one or more pots, bowl, and cup.

Or replacing your 550 fill down (or synthetic) bag with an 800 fill bag. (And the cost differential may not be much?)

Or switching from a two-person tent for solo use to a genuine solo tent.

Or probably half a dozen other things I just can't think of now.
Posted by: Trailrunner

Re: Magnesium tent stakes? - 04/29/12 10:40 PM

Speaking as a certified gear junkie and gram weenie, I think most of you are missing the point. It's not just about saving weight. It's about innovation, creativity, and just plain fun.
Posted by: lori

Re: Magnesium tent stakes? - 04/30/12 12:09 AM

There comes a point where the amount of effort and cost exceed this gear junkie's willingness to tinker. Chipping pieces off a block of magnesium doesn't sound nearly as much fun as making a stove out of pop cans, or sewing a new tarp.
Posted by: Tikki-Tavi

Re: Magnesium tent stakes? - 05/12/12 12:48 PM

I think it is a rather clever idea. It is a reasonable metal for light-weight medium strength applications which is why it is used in engine blocks in lawn-mowers and VWs. It would have a clever dual use. Shavings could be cut from it to light a fire in a pinch. (Why not one stake be made of a magnesium rod and one made of ferrocerium?) As for flammability, I did a little test to confirm what I learned in school. I heated a small block of magnesium in a campfire until it was too hot to touch. I could not ignite it. Shavings and thin ribbons, on the other hand, ignite easily.
- Tikki
P.S. If you go to market, send me a prototype grin

Posted by: Milo

Re: Magnesium tent stakes? - 07/02/12 05:27 PM

Here's how to go lighter than magnesium: Make stakes out of plastic.

Only problem is, hard rocky ground. Seems it's always there where I pitch a tent. To punch through the hardest rockiest soil, bring one (1) 6-inch steel nail. Drill a stake hole with the nail, pull it back out, insert the super lightweight plastic stake. Pre-drilling the hole also keeps the plastic stake from breaking as it's being inserted and hits something.

Also, plastic is safer than Mg.
Posted by: backcountrybart

Re: Magnesium tent stakes? - 08/15/12 07:15 PM

thats a good idea for tent stakes. they would work rather well as long as you are not on a rocky soil or in a high weather type scenario. you do have a point thought with byeing the rods. the best bet would be to go to somewhere that uses magnesium, like a gun shop. and see if they have scrap pieces lying around. they may not be rods but if you have the machinery to tool them to a rod shape then it could work.
Posted by: Steadman

Re: Magnesium tent stakes? - 08/21/12 04:01 PM

Tikki Tavi

Thank you, you've relieved Darzee's worries.