Pitching a tent as newlyweds can probably be seen as the first test of marriage.
You’re fresh off hours in the car. There are flies. You are hot and hungry; itching to ditch all the unpacking and go for a swim and rip open the bag of peanut butter pretzels you allow yourself (because it’s vacation, darn it). But you can’t, because your swimsuit is packed at the bottom of the car, underneath mountains of stuff. Even if you could manage to sacrifice your arm to wriggle it out, where would you change? And what about the sweaty food that is sitting in the car waiting for a fresh bag of ice? No… it is best to unpack and set up camp. Now.
I still remember that first time we pitched a tent together, my parents watching knowingly and chuckling to themselves in the background. A new married couple in a dance of hesitant communication, laced with, “Oh I got it sweeties,” and, “Oh, okay, um you take that side babes,” working hard to avoid kicking the trip off with a fight in front of the entire campground. I myself wanting to prove that I was a good partner; cool as a cucumber and knew how to pitch a tent… no prob… as long as you zip it after you leave and take your shoes off before you go inside, dear.
Almost five years later, things have changed a little since we had kids.
Our two year old claws herself out of the car and hits the ground running. While I start grabbing things to unpack, my intent to help with the tent turns into empty gestures and my husband insisting that he’s got it and me yelling, “Are you sure?!” as he enlists another family member and I run off into the distance and work to keep Little Fish from drowning herself in the lake or sprinting downhill and cutting her head open on the rocks.
In the years where I am able to help with the actually pitching of said tent, I usually stop when it is time for the tent pegs, because I just can’t. I hate it.
Most tent pegs I have met are awkward and annoying.
They are skinny, with either no grip at all, or a sad excuse for an unforgiving plastic grip top that screams that they will gladly impale my toddler if she trips. They are pretty simple to trip over too, because many of them have small metal hooks that stick out of the earth and aren’t easy to spot.
Besides, we camp ON the lake bed:The dirt is dry, hard and covered with rocks and pebbles. Not for everyone, but we love it. And yet, I have seen many a tent peg bend or break clear in half upon staking the tent or when trying to remove the little suckers. Quite sad.
Now some of you may be thinking, why bother at all? Once you put all your stuff inside the tent, it will weigh it down and you are good. Nope. Not true. I have seen some pretty strong winds on vacay’s past flip tents FULL of belongings into the side of the nearest tree… even into the lake! Such fun!
No, I may have a love-hate relationship with tent pegs, but they do have their place. And not to disrespect the people who craft tent pegs, as I am sure there are environments that their pegs get the job done many times over. But, if you are looking for something different…
Here is what we do:
We use screwdrivers.
Strong steel that is easy to drive in with a mallet (like this one), and cushioned rubber handle grip that makes it SO much easier to pull from the earth. Oh, and yes, they can still be a tripping hazard, but they are not quite as stab-worthy as some of the stakes I have seen. Also to me, they are easier to see then a skinny hook of metal. Bonus.
I did not come up with this idea. I actually got it from my parents, and I am sure there are other seasoned campers out there who use this method. I also feel the need to tell you that we have not been endorsed in any way to advertise these screwdrivers as tent pegs. This is just how we use them, and it is a pretty cool camping hack if you ask me. Try it out for yourself and see what you think!
At first I was concerned because I thought it would be expensive to buy so many screwdrivers, but it turns out you can buy a pack of them for pretty cheap. It doesn’t matter if they are Phillips, Flathead, Standard, or whatever you call them (again, I’m not an expert, you guys.) We buy Stanley Screwdrivers, as seen here.
So whether you are a newlywed looking for your first camping trip to go smoothly, or a parent who just needs an easier and possibly safer way to stake their tent, this trick may just help you. I hope it does.
Thanks for reading! Follow me for more camping tricks and tips with toddlers in tow.
– Open Air Mom
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