Enough things have arrived through China Post to go ahead and start a few quick reviews.
One one of the cheapos-from-China sites had an odd 11-11 sale on November 11th. Just about everything was discounted nearly a third. This made it pretty inviting for me to put together an order for a mixed lot of small camping stuff. My experience has been that the gear that I get almost always passes my 90% of the utility for 50% or less of the price guidelines. This lot certainly seems to qualify.
First up, in the front of the above photo was a package of five “Snow & Sand” stakes… Why five? No clue. It does seem like an odd number. But was perfectly fine for me, because what I intended to do was to take a hacksaw to one of the snow stakes and make a little cat hole shovel.
Five minutes work with the blade and a file, a mini’biner and a piece of cord, yielded me exactly what I wanted. 30 grams [or just over 1 oz.], easy to see if dropped, easy to hold, and since the package of five pegs was only just over $5 US, it cost me less than almost any other solution I could’ve found. Together with a pair of mil-spec toilet paper packages, and I’m good to go… a-yuh… pun intended.
The other pegs are just your standard 7″ Y-stake with a nice annodized coating. They are available in red, black, gold, silver,and can sometimes be found in blue. Most sites give you a random pick, but some allow you to specify a preference. I honestly don’t recall whether I chose or went random, but mine are fine by me in the bright red. Whatever, the price of $.50 apiece for what to all intents and purposes is an MSR Groundhog stake** [and those are usually priced at around $2.00 each] made them a good buy. These claim to made of the same 7001 grade aluminum as the more expensive ones, but since nobody sends their units out for professional metallurgy testing, who knows about either ones claim. All I care about is that at the Chinese price point I can bend quite a few and still have quite a few left… and I could not bend one with bare hands. [** the MSRs are actually 4/10″ longer, but also 6gm heavier each… 19gm vs. 13gm]
The more important part about these pegs is the little plastic dongle shown in the photo above. Earlier in the fall, at one of our NEHHA hammock hangs, my friend Alex showed me this trick. $o.93 cents down at the hardware store got me a T-connector for flexible piping like you use for yard sprinkler systems. I went ahead and put a couple pieces of tape on it for easy visibility, and I will also probably end up putting a piece of cord on it.
You just shove it over the top of your tarp stake as a handle, and use it to push the peg into the ground with a little wiggle to avoid rocks or roots. When you want to pull the peg out, you simply slip the vertical through the loop and give it a tug. Easy-peasy. The best part is since you are not using a rock or your foot to force the stake into the ground, you have almost completely removed the possibility of damaging it.
I am relatively happy with these purchases. I now have some redundancy in terms of pegs for my multiple setups, so that I don’t have to go pirating for some each time I want to use a different tarp. I also believe that the orange cord on the Y-pegs is going to turn out to be reflective, which is a nice little gimme when you’re stumbling around in the dark. The cat-hole shovel turned out so well that I may just vandalize the rest of the snow stakes to make some more as giveaways for my friends… gawd knows I’ve got tons of the MRE toilet paper packets down cellar to go with them. Since they are in that bright, anodized red color, they might make a really great stocking stuffer for the holiday season…