Usually they'll just push in with a bit of effort. Otherwise, use a rock. Too big a rock, though, and the stake may bend or break. I actually broke one of those MSR Groundhog stakes that way last summer. Apparently, there was a large rock at the other end of the stake, too.
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Here in the Ozarks you'd need a hammer drill and sledge in most places. Dirt deep enough to push in all the stakes for a tent is pretty rare. I've got buddies that spend lots of time getting their tent in just the right spot so they can use all their stakes and when they're finished their tents look like they're ready for a photo shoot. They all use rocks. I converted mine to a free standing tent.
Loc: The State of Jefferson
Note: When using a rock as a hammer pay careful attention to the placement of you fingers to prevent them coming between the rock and the stake. Well unless you like dancing around clutching your hand and screaming.
Here in the Ozarks you'd need a hammer drill and sledge in most places.
That's the truth. I usually spend a little time fishing around in the dirt before I find a place where my stake will go most of the way in. I rarely ever put my stakes where I really want them <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />. Anyway, I use rocks when I feel the need to pound anything. There's plenty of them here.
I have just resumed camping after a long absence. Out of the 2 camping weekends I have gone to I have not found any rocks large enough to pound a difficult stake in. Luckily the Boyscout tents use the thin metal pegs which are easily pushed in. And both campsites suffered from soil that was way too soft (pegs tended to pull out).
And all the wood was quite rotten or soft, no good for pounding.
When you find a good pounding rock you can put it in you pack and take it along with you. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
Can I do the same if I find a good bunch of rocks to make a fire ring? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.
Maybe for a traditional backpacker. Ultralighters might consider some of the freeze dried or rock mixes on the market to save weight. http://www.quikrete.com/ProductLines/ConcreteMix.asp You could set your stakes in your new 'camp-made' rocks, and carry them with you when you move on. Leave no trace, ya know.
<img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> silly me.....i was only kidding about setting stakes in the rocks....they'd be really hard to pull out when you get home.
Local rock. Large stick. Both double as "camp trowels" as well.
Please tell me that if that favorite found stick doubles as both a a hammer and is used in lieu -- or should I say, "in loo" of a hand trowel, that you're not taking it with you on a multi-day hike. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
Loc: Portland, OR
I start out trying to push the stake in by hand. If that fails, I move the stake a few inches and try again. If I need to use a rock, I rarely use it to pound. I use it to push as much as possible. The rock just saves my hand from bruising by spreading out the pressure point on my hand.
Pounding only seems to work in material that is packed hard together, but not solid, such as close-packed gravel. If your stake has met a solid rock or a big root, pounding it will only bend or break it.
You cannot always get stakes into the ground (shallow rock slabs). So be sure to carry some extra tent cord so you can tie the corner down to a big rock or log. I just leave about 3 feet of thin tent cord tied to each corner. I also manage to loose at least one tent peg each long trip so it is wise to practice setting up the tent with fewer stakes! With a bit of creativity, I have always managed.
Oh, in a serious note <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> you can place tent pegs as you would a golf tee and pushing it gently into the ground with your palm. If you meet resistance, rock, ledge, etc; then remove and try a few inches in another direction. Now if you're trying to place stakes in known hardpack then carry one of the large Ti stakes that look like a nail and make the hole with that then use your tent stake. I was in a hardware store the other day and saw some HUGE nail spikes on the order of 60D <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> like 10" long and 1/4" diameter! All the way down to 16 penny nails which in my youth I thought were for Paul Bunyan's cabin <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
When using a rock or tool to load stakes be careful to be out of the line of strike so as not to recieve the 'blow back' if the tool richocets <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> and or chips <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> a rock chip in the eye can be serious <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" /> and a hatchet blade in the forehead is, well, a hillbilly libodomy <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!
I figured a few of you would catch the humor in that <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" /> Especially the one's that need to laugh most like MNS <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> You work too much!
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!
That's pretty heavy just to pound in tent stakes (I know, you mayy use it for other things, but this is a lightweight backpacking site). And where would your tent be if your buddy had slipped using an axe to pound in tent stakes?
Be realistic. I use my hiking partners sledge hammer. Before each trip I give him a list of the 'essential' tools.....shedge, chain saw, cordless drill, sawzall, generator.... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
I never leave home without one of these. It's not nearly as heavy as it looks. The struts are carbon fiber and the whole thing fits into a 4"x9" silnylon stuff sack. Works great on everything from Easton aluminum to Ti needles. For lightweight fastpacking I cut the crew back to 3 or 4.
Using short lengths of guy line may allow for changing your placement. I almost never beat them in because that could make them hard to retrieve. I use short lengths of guy line and start poking holes until the stake goes in. Then I use a knot, or here recently I have been using line tightners, and pull her tight. If i just can't get the stake in, I find a log, rock or combination of both to tie to. Here is yesterdays setup. Note the log to the right. Actually I tied to the trees around there as well.