Strangely, several campsites near me recently (well 10 years ago now) added a layer of gravel over most of the individual sites. Several inches thick.

I guess there was a good reason for this, like preventing vans getting bogged or improving drainage. However it makes tent camping challenging.

If a peg hits a larger stone, it will not go down stuck (and may bend). On the other hand, if I get lucky, it will go down just fine.

I am looking for a method to either:

  • Preclear the tentpeg area of large stones.
    • I've had some success using an axe on the area before, but it destroyed the edge.
  • Discover a valid point before beating in the peg
    • Perhaps a fine knitting needle? (I think probing would take too long)
  • An alternative to using pegs at all
    • Sandbags would be one option, but filling them would be annoying (I doubt the park rangers would like me digging up part of the site)

Or some other lifehack solution that circumvents/overcomes this problem.

1 Answer 1


Stop fighting the nature

Stop fighting the nature, and let it work for you: Use the large stones to lock down your tent.

Either by directly placing them on top of the edges of the tent, if possible. Or by using a variant of the sand bags you're talking about, but using rocks from the campsite instead of the sand. Depending on type of tent and weather conditions, you don't always need to use every webbing/stake/tent loop there is.

Pegs in gravel is simply not a good way to go, so you should look into alternatives like the ones above, or go to a better campsite. In most gravel the pegs will not provide good hold anyway.

Edit: Added next section based on comments

Using stones to secure tent

The four main methods for using stones to secure a tent can be summarised as follows:

a) Put a stone on the corner/side of the tent roof, which could lower (or require lowering) the height a bit, and possibly bend the pole of tunnel tent. This does work for some manufacturers/designs

b) Put a stone in the inner tent in the corners, or possibly on the straps connecting inner and out tent

c) Put a twig/branch through a tent loop, and put stones on both ends

d) The big rock/little rock trick, as shown in this video where one ties a rope/string/guideline to a little rock, tightens it and secures the little rock with a big rock on top of the line.

Image describing how to use stones to secure a tent

  • In what way can you place stones on the edge of a tent, without it either falling off (or being on the inside, making a mess), Putting them in sand bags, could work. May 31, 2015 at 14:20
  • It depends on type of tent, and how large it is. On some tents you can simply put the stone on the corner of the tent, thusly reducing the effective floor size of the tent, but securing it. Another option would be to tie a bit of string around a stone, and into a tent loop. You could even put a twig/peg through a loop, and placing stones on both ends.
    – holroy
    May 31, 2015 at 14:25
  • In all tents I've seen, the tent wall is either attached to the floor of the tent, or it isn't. If it is attached then it would fall off when erected (or it will be on the inside of the tent), if it is not attached, then this has only solved the problem of how to hold down the groundsheet. Am i misunderstanding? Perhaps a diagram would help. May 31, 2015 at 14:34
  • On both a tunnel type tent, a lavvo kind of tent, a triangular tent, you can easily place stones on the roof part of the tent. This could lower the tent height a little bit, but is indeed used to secure tents in different environments where pegging is not an option (i.e. some snowy environments, on solid ground, or gravel). You could, as you almost suggests, also place stones in the corner on the inside of some tents.
    – holroy
    May 31, 2015 at 14:39
  • Ahh, I see how it could work on a triangular tent or a lavvo tent, by reducing the height. Still no idea how it could work on a tunnel tent, since the height isn't adjustable, so the tense parabolic top/sides would make any stone fall off. May 31, 2015 at 14:43

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