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Reviews > Shelters > Shelter Accessories > MSR Mini-Groundhog Stake > Owner Review by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes


MSR Mini-Groundhog Stake 

Dec 4, 2021

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
Age: 56
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 203 lb (92 kg)


I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I am currently getting into condition to summit some of the higher peaks in Washington, Oregon, and California. I normally use a tarp/tent or hammock for shelter. My current base weight is around 17 lb (8 kg), not including consumables.

Product Information

Manufacturer: Cascade Designs, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: (I don't recall when I purchase these)
Manufacturer’s Website:
MSRP: $19.95 US (set of 6 stakes)
Dimensions: Listed and Measured: 6" X 0.4" (15.25 cm X 1 cm)
 Weight: Listed and Measured:  0.35 oz (10 g) each stake.
Product Image

Product Description:

The MSR mini-Groundhog stakes are a smaller version of the popular MSR Groundhog, using the same 7000-series aluminum and Y shape. They are intended as a lighter weight option for a strong stake with good holding power in the ground. They come as a set of 6 and each comes with a shall loop of cord threaded through a small hole at the top. There are also small notches in the flukes near the top of the stake which help to prevent guy lines from slipping up or down the stake.
Note in the above photo I have replaced two of the mini stakes with the full-size Groundhog stakes for size comparison and because that is what I normally carry.


Use:Stakes in use
  • I have used these stakes countless times for my tents and tarps mostly in the Washington Central Cascades and their foothills for the last few years. Conditions have ranged from packed rocky soil, to pine duff, to soft dirt/sand, and includes withstanding some moderate to gusty winds.
I purchased these stakes in an attempt to strike a balance between minimizing weight, and still keeping my shelter (tent and/or tarp) firmly anchored in the various types of conditions I tend to encounter. I often have to set up in soil and/or pine duff that can be rather loose and so I need stakes with good holding power. I also often encounter hard packed soil as well as rocks and roots so I wanted stakes that were strong enough that they were not likely to break should I be careless...and I have been careless more than a few times.

In softer ground I simply use my hand/foot to push the stake into the ground, and have found these stakes to hold quite well in all but the softest of earth. Note the image below where I used rocks in addition to the stakes because I was expecting wind. I have also used rocks to pound these stakes into harder ground with no ill effect. And the occasions when I have encountered buried rocks while attempting to pound the stakes into the ground and these stakes have withstood the abuse rather than bending or breaking as I have experienced with some other stakes. These stakes have surprised me a few times remaining firmly in the ground despite some unexpected strong winds. To be expected, with a stake that grips as well as these do, I have experienced occasional difficulty extracting them from the ground. If a first pull does not work, I simply slide stick or another stake through the attached cord to use as a handle for additional pulling power.

One would think the bright red color of the stakes would make them hard to lose, but I have found times when they were quite difficult to see among the debris on a forest floor. To keep my stakes together and help prevent me from losing them in my kit I clip a mini carabiner through the loops of cord. I have also found clipping the stakes to the outside of my pack offers an alternative as 'bear bells' because they make a rather pleasant wind chime sound when they clink together.soft ground

If there are any down sides to these stakes I would say the edges can be a bit sharp making it painful to push into the ground with my bare hands. But since they are so strong I just use my foot, a piece of wood, or a rock, so this is a very minor thing. Second is that since the space between the Y flukes is relatively narrow the stakes can retain mud when pulled out of the ground, as can be seen in the above image.


Opportunities for improvement

Light, strong, holds well in various soils


Read more reviews of Cascade Designs gear
Read more gear reviews by David Wilkes

Reviews > Shelters > Shelter Accessories > MSR Mini-Groundhog Stake > Owner Review by David Wilkes

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