archival and resource material for human powered recumbent tricycles

MSR Tent Stake Hammer for Overland Trike Journeys

This is my view from the sleeping bag inside tent, with 50 MPH winds still blowing outside!

I park the trike for the night, typically in some secluded unpaved area devoid of humans and other woes. I’m tired from pedaling all day long, and need some shut-eye, knowing that tomorrow will bring yet another day of adventuring on nothing more than a human-powered recumbent tricycle. Time to pitch the tent, and I look around my improvised camping area for a fist-sized rock, just in case the ground is too hard to drive in tent stakes with the sole of my SIDI Dominator-5 MTB cycling shoe. Rocks often work, but not always, leaving the tent and fly vulnerable to high winds and driving rain during the night. I don’t like midnight surprises of the unpleasant kind.

Rocks don’t always work. They are also hard on one’s hands, leaving me to wish for comfort in setting up my little fabric house and bed. An event in 2015 led me to an epiphany. I had set up my REI Arete’ ASL 2 tent, and a fellow camper let me use his tent stake hammer from his SUV. I then drove in the full compliment of stakes to secure my tent fly, into ground that I would not have been very successful with the stakes if I had used a rock. You know the kind – reminds you of concrete! As it turned out, that night around 2:00 AM, monsoonal rains and 75 mile per hour winds slammed our tents. One group of four had their tent collapse, and had to climb into their car for protection from the extreme weather. My tent held secure. I had no car into which I could escape, only a tiny tricycle that was also being battered by the unrelenting elements of nature.

If you want to learn more about the rough events that led to this post, click HERE.

The winds had died down to 45-50 MPH by morning. Proper staking kept this tent up!

Exposure to extreme wind and rain requires proper tent staking. Here is the crazy movie:

So anyway, that mess taught me that not every night while camping on a trike can be full of fun and merriment. I realized then and there that I needed a hammer, something that is comfortable to hold, fits nicely in my panniers, is very durable no matter how hard it is used, and does not add too much weight to my cargo load, but still has sufficient heft to drive a high-end aluminum tent stake into really solid and very unforgiving ground. The search began. It is now complete, and this post today reveals the results, which you may find useful for your trike adventuring. Yes, this new piece of equipment does add weight to my vehicle, but the trade-off is worth it to me: sleeping in comfort regardless of what the weather is doing outside is a wonderful thing! NO MORE HARD AND ROUGH OLD ROCKS! TIME TO DO THINGS RIGHT!

Some photos to show what I’ve done:

This hammer, available HERE, weighs 11 ounces as shown. It’s pretty, costs $29.95, but it needed some modification for my personal needs. The handle is slippery, and if really swinging away, it could all just fly out of my hand. I hated to hack it up, being it was so pretty and all, but utility won the day – handle had to go (part of it anyway). Below is the perfectly good new hammer with my implemented ideas:

To begin with, I had to have a comfortable handle that would not slip from my hand, and would not wear callouses on my lovely satin skin. Too far removed from my primitive ancestral past, I’m afraid my ancient survival skills and abilities are not what the cave men had. So, I walked down to the local bicycle shop (no trike shop here), and bought the pair of grips shown below:

So, here’s what evolved after hacking, filing, deburring, and all the grunt work (by the way, sliding that bicycle handle on was a real test of strength and endurance – no, I didn’t use soap or any lubrication in this endeavor – just slid the protective rubber onto the shaft with raw unrestrained hand power):

Now, this is VERY comfortable, won’t slip, is compact, and will drive stakes into any ground! The handle is lightweight aluminum, and the head is tough stainless steel – a great new tool. The hind end of this hammer is designed to pull stakes out of exceptionally hard ground if necessary:

Mountain Safety Research makes high quality outdoor equipment. But I made it even better! For me, this brand new little addition to my trike camping cargo is worth the prices paid, and if I ever do find myself in a nasty situation where I’m being attacked, this could be used as a defensive weapon as a last resort. Below is the size of the MSR tent stake hammer relative to my ICE Full Fat trike. Heavy trikes stay put in high winds!

Overland trike adventures are fun and exciting, yet they are indeed quite demanding. We spend a lot of time each 24-hour period on the ground in our tents. On my adventures so far, I have been compromising my enjoyment of the camping portion of my treks by getting the stakes in any way I could, often a chore I learned to hate. Now, by adding about 10 ounces of weight, I can set up the tent properly, and be fully prepared for any weather eventuality. No more wind and wet rain water worries equate to a deeper and more peaceful sleep! See ya’ …



6 responses

  1. Rodger


    That is one “Modification” that I would like use.

    Thank You for sharing this.

    April 19, 2017 at 4:58 pm

  2. Rodger


    You have a good set of Shoes too.

    April 19, 2017 at 5:10 pm

  3. myarseiskillingme

    Cool. Put some thick heatshrink sleeve on nail puller just in case. Hollow handle can be used as storage as well (sewing kit?), just a plug and job done.

    April 20, 2017 at 3:33 am

  4. I think you defeated the purpose of the stake hammer by sawing down the handle, as the swing of the weighted end, or head of the hammer’s force is increased by the length of it’s handle… Archimedes…! I mean I don’t want to burst your bubble but you just doubled the working load needed to hammer the tent stake into the ground, and in foul weather that could be a life threatening situation.. But if your going by looks, it does look far out…! and as for myarseiskillingme’s suggestion, that is a great idea, and wish I thought of it…!

    April 20, 2017 at 5:00 am

  5. trike hobo

    Actually Zach, I did consider that aspect prior to my chop job. I placed my hand where the new handle grip would be, and found that there was still considerable heft in that heavy stainless steel head to easily drive a stake into solid ground. Sure, a longer handle makes things easier, of that there is no doubt, yet for a nomad triker in the outback, whose cargo bays are limited on a tricycle, compromises must be made. Even with this shortened handle, it requires less effort to drive stakes into solid dirt ground than my old fashioned and inefficient methods of pounding with rocks like a caveman and pushing with my cycling shoes. This hammer may seem too light to do the job, but so far, I’ve not met any dirt up to the task of defeating it. There is yet one more small modification I would like to do with this hammer, and that is to round off the outer pulling edges on the rear of the head so that they don’t cause wear and tear inside my pannier setup. If I do this, I’ll take a photo and report back at a later date with the results (of course, that will make the hammer even lighter, haha). See ya’

    April 20, 2017 at 8:06 am

  6. It has crossed my mind last night when out in my shed puttering around, that you could also find some plumbers lead, melt it down, and pour into the handle, and then they sell this stuff, they call dippit, and is why I got the idea in my shed as you can use it when the lead has solidified to cover the intrusive end by dipping it into the can, and add a none slip base coat before the handle grip….! Best of luck to you all the same…!
    Armadillo Zack

    April 21, 2017 at 3:19 pm