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’ …
HAD I NOT PROPERLY STAKED THIS TENT WITH A HAMMER, IT WOULD NOT HAVE SURVIVED UNTIL MORNING. THE GROUND WAS FAR TOO HARD TO DRIVE STAKES WITH ANYTHING OTHER THAN A HAMMER OR A LARGE HEAVY ROCK.
This is a quick follow-up report about the MSR tent stake hammer. Realizing that the rear of the hammer head could cause material wear and tear when in a bag and panniers due to squared-off ends, yesterday I filed the stainless steel pulling ends down into more benign curves. Now, the hammer is not likely to tear or rip something else in my panniers. I first used a medium-course hand file to achieve the overall shape, and then a finer file to smooth it. Here are the images: