Backcountry Forum
Backpacking & Hiking Gear

Backcountry Forum
Our long-time Sponsor - the leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear
Backpacking Forums
---- Our Gear Store ----
The Lightweight Gear Store

Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen


Avalanche Gear
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters


Ultralight Backpacks
Ultralight Bivy Sacks
Ultralight Shelters
Ultralight Tarps
Ultralight Tents
Ultralight Raingear
Ultralight Stoves & Cookware
Ultralight Down Sleeping Bags
Ultralight Synthetic Sleep Bags
Ultralight Apparel

the Titanium Page
WM Extremelite Sleeping Bags


Sleeping Bags


Ropes & Cordage
Protection & Hardware
Carabiners & Quickdraws
Climbing Packs & Bags
Big Wall
Rescue & Industrial






Men's Footwear
Women's Footwear


Mens Apparel
Womens Apparel


Black Diamond
Granite Gear
La Sportiva


Top Brands
All Brands

 Backpacking Equipment 

Sleeping Bags
Water Treatment

 Backcountry Gear Clearance

Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#165316 - 04/25/12 02:49 PM Magnesium tent stakes?
Zeroignite Offline

Registered: 04/25/12
Posts: 3
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.

#165376 - 04/27/12 09:07 AM Re: Magnesium tent stakes? [Re: Zeroignite]
Steadman Offline

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 513
Loc: Virginia
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.


#165377 - 04/27/12 09:39 AM Re: Magnesium tent stakes? [Re: Zeroignite]
lori Offline

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801

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.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

#165381 - 04/27/12 11:26 AM Re: Magnesium tent stakes? [Re: Zeroignite]
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
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.

#165395 - 04/27/12 02:55 PM Re: Magnesium tent stakes? [Re: wandering_daisy]
Gershon Offline

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
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."


#165449 - 04/28/12 10:37 PM Re: Magnesium tent stakes? [Re: wandering_daisy]
Glenn Offline

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
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.

#165483 - 04/29/12 10:40 PM Re: Magnesium tent stakes? [Re: Zeroignite]
Trailrunner Offline

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
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.
If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

#165487 - 04/30/12 12:09 AM Re: Magnesium tent stakes? [Re: Trailrunner]
lori Offline

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
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.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

#165840 - 05/12/12 12:48 PM Re: Magnesium tent stakes? [Re: Zeroignite]
Tikki-Tavi Offline

Registered: 06/01/11
Posts: 1
Loc: Washington
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

#167487 - 07/02/12 05:27 PM Re: Magnesium tent stakes? [Re: Zeroignite]
Milo Offline

Registered: 07/02/12
Posts: 2
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.

#168509 - 08/15/12 07:15 PM Re: Magnesium tent stakes? [Re: Zeroignite]
backcountrybart Offline

Registered: 08/15/12
Posts: 2
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.

#168636 - 08/21/12 04:01 PM Re: Magnesium tent stakes? [Re: Tikki-Tavi]
Steadman Offline

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 513
Loc: Virginia
Tikki Tavi

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



Shout Box

Highest Quality Lightweight Down Sleeping Bags
Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags
Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
Budget tea cup
by 4evrplan
05/29/20 12:30 PM
Tent footprint question
by PerryMK
05/24/20 04:52 PM
MSR ELIXIR 2-Person tent First Impressions Review
by walkingnatur
05/23/20 08:14 AM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
Opening our parks
by balzaccom
05/18/20 10:25 PM
How Do You Cope During Long Periods of No Hiking?
by JerrySC13
02/11/20 06:33 PM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
Silnylon 2nds
by Bill Kennedy
05/09/20 05:35 AM
Featured Photos
Breakneck Ridge, New York
May 2012 Eclipse, Lassen Park
New Years Eve 2011
Trip Report with Photos
Seven Devils, Idaho
Oat Hill Mine Trail 2012
Dark Canyon - Utah
Who's Online
0 registered (), 49 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
NameRedacted, a_gunslinger, Digital, Zomby Woof, Tom7654
12855 Registered Users
Forum Links
Site Links
Lightweight Gear Store
Backpacking Book Store
Lightweight Zone
Hiking Essentials

Our long-time Sponsor, - The leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear:

Backcountry Forum

Since 1996 - the Original Backcountry Forum
Copyright © The Lightweight Backpacker & BackcountryForum