Tent pegs are tricky blighters, ducking away into the undergrowth at the drop of a tent. Apart from carrying spares the best we can do to minimise losses is to nobble their roaming habits in some manner. We need a method that:
- keeps track of them when pitching and packing the tent, and
- makes them easier to locate when they go walkabout.
I contemplated ankle bracelets that get used on criminals on home detention and those devices that you attach to your keys that beep when pinged from your mobile phone; but too heavy – I do try for UL status and over the years, and many tent pegs later, I seem to have got on top of the problem. I have used these methods for a few years and it has done the job reducing losses by 95% (statistics are a form of lie).
Dealing with keeping track of the pegs:
- Keep your tent pegs in a separate bag. Apart from anything else, loose pegs a great for poking holes in your gear.
- As you pitch the tent at each staking point take out a peg and set it. This means there is only one potential escapee in play at any time.
- When finished attach the closed peg bag to the tent or put in your pack so that any remaining pegs don’t make a bid for freedom with the bag.
- Reverse the process when dropping the tent. Pull out each peg in turn, clean it and into the bag it goes.
It took me a while (slow learner and chronically disorganised) but this process is now automatic.
For locating miscreant pegs I paint the top portion of the peg. If you use pegs with holes for string then ultra bright cord can work.
I chose to use a bright orange but a bright mid blue can be also be very visible especially amongst autumn leaves. It also is good for clothing in fog.
Like all good paint jobs, preparation is the key. The pegs need to be wiped with acetone, metho etc to remove oils left over from their manufacture. A quick rub with steel wool to roughen the surface.c an help with paint adhesion.
To paint needle pegs it push the pegs into the end of corrugated cardboard leaving 40-50mm exposed. Place the peg laden piece of cardboard on something that will raise it above the ground. You will need to be able to pick the cardboard up to turn it over and hold it to get paint into awkward places. I must add a photo o show this step. It may be useful to use both orange and a mid blue on the pegs. this just requires a bit of masking and exposing more of the pegs out of the cardboard.
When finished leave the paint to fully set for a day. The paint often takes 24 hours to set reasonably hard, leave them a few day longer before use.
Even with all this preparation and process one managed to escape on my South Coast Track trip this January.