Adding Color To Ti Tent Stakes

Every since I received the Ti-Eye stakes from Lawson Kline I have wanted to add some color to them so that they would be less likely to become lost. However, I was never really sure how to successfully do this. Then on down the road I picked up some more of Lawson’s Shepherd Hook stakes. Shortly after picking these up I decided to do something about it…

I had heard of people using spray paint to simply spray paint the heads of the stakes, as well as people dipping them in paint cans. As well, I had heard of people using finger nail polish and painting the heads of the stakes, and then there were those that used Heat Shrink Tubing. So, at the time I didn’t want to find myself standing in the make-up aisle looking at finger nail polish, and I was not sure where to find the Heat Shrink Tubing, so I decided to paint them. At the time, spray paint seemed to be the most logical option considering cost and that it is simple to use. So I headed down to the local department store and picked up a can of Rust-Oleum in obnoxious yellow.

Once that was done, I came home and laid the stakes out across a cardboard box and then taped them down on the sharp end. The tape was to hold them in place as well as to make a nice even paint line. But let me just say, in the end…it was not as I had imagined.

The paint did not adhere to the stakes AT ALL. Numerous coats would have been required and that was something I didn’t want to do since I did not want to add a thick layer of paint that would be easy to peel off, and more importantly add a huge amount of weight to the light-weight stakes. So, I gave up. I grabbed some paint thinner and removed what paint did make it on the stakes. Then I put the stakes away and only pulled them out when I needed to use them with a tent/tarp.

Since then I can happily say I have yet to lose the first one, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t spent time searching for them. So, the want to color the stakes have been there in the back of my mind, but I never really acted upon that thought again, until today.

This morning while over at Brian’s Backpacking Blog I came across his most recent blog post, “Backpacking Stocking Stuffers“. I gotta say what drew me to the post the most was the picture on his home screen. It was a picture of Heat Shrink Tubing. I immediately knew what that was all about so I opened the post and read away. After reading, I knew what my goal for the day was…

I decided to run by Lowes to see if they carried the little boxes of Heat Shrink Tubing like in Brian’s picture, but all they had was black tubing. No good. Then we headed to Wal-Mart. After walking around the hardware section I headed into the automotive section…and it was here that I saw the light!

Right next to the wiring harnesses and the headlight bulbs were these little boxes, just like on Brian’s blog! I grabbed 3 of the boxes ($2.38/ea), but something else caught my eye to. It was some tail light tape. The tape came in red and yellow, so I grabbed some of the yellow.Once I got home I grabbed my tent stakes, some scissors and a hair dryer. Since each pack only had 5 small sections of tubing, each in a different diameter (1/8″, 3/16″ & 1/4″), I decided to cut the pieces in sections to make sure I had enough for all of my stakes.

At first I cut one of the 1/8″ pieces in quarters. The 1/8″ pieces fit almost perfectly over the stakes without even heat shrinking them, however, these smaller diameter pieces were a little difficult to get around the bends. But, I shoved a piece on the stake and turned the hair dryer on…and nothing. The hair dryer did not even phase the tubing.

After a little let down and some more debate, I grabbed a lighter. The lighter worked out great, but I found that the flame had to be almost an exact distance away. If the flame got too close, it would leave black burned looking spots on the Heat Shrink Tubing, but if not close enough it wouldn’t shrink the tubing down. So, I did what any level-headed backpacker would do…I grabbed an alcohol stove… 🙂

So, after outfitting all of my tent stakes with a bit of color I gotta say I am pretty happy with the end result. The best part of it all is that there was not even a weight difference as far as each stake was concerned, however, I have got to assume that when multiple stakes are together, there will probably be about a gram or 2 difference. But, I can live with that!

I ended up cutting the pieces in half so that they were approximately 1.5″ long before shrinking, although even after shrinking there is not much of a noticeable difference. I also found that for my 3 mm diameter stakes, both the 1/8″ and the 3/16″ shrink tubing worked great. Like I mentioned earlier though, the 1/8″ is a bit harder to get around bends. As well, after both sizes have been shrunk down over the stake, they feel like they are there for the long haul. They will not slide around or move any at all. But, the great thing is that the tubing is not melted to the stake, so if I ever need to remove the tubing for one reason or another, it will be as simple as sliding a knife blade across it. And even better, I won’t have to worry about using paint thinner to remove paint!

I have found that the yellow and the red stand out better than the blue and that the yellow stands out the best (in my opinion). Although, I will admit that none of them stand out quite like I had hoped. This may be partly due to the fact that I cut the pieces in half and that they would do better if they were left whole. I am not sure though. If I ever need to do it again though, I will do my best to find some bright yellow, preferably in the 3/16″ size. And if I could find it by the foot, that would be even better!

Also, I did wrap some one of the stakes with the yellow tail light tape. It does not seem to be as bright as the Heat Shrink Tubing, but it is brighter than it was before. I feel like the tape will not last as long as the Heat Shrink Tubing though as I am afraid that the tape will eventually begin to peel away from itself. As well, I am curios as to whether or not the tape will leave that gooey residue once the tape has been on for a while and then removed. Only time will tell, but at this point, I like the Heat Shrink Tubing better.

So, thanks for reading and watching. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. As well, if you have a different method of coloring your stakes, please leave that info below too so that I (and others) can give these methods a try. And I also want to say thanks to Brian for his awesome blog, and for giving me something to do today!

~Stick~

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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16 Responses to Adding Color To Ti Tent Stakes

  1. Stick says:

    Excellent idea. So much better than using the spray-cans.

    Like

  2. Jester says:

    I couldn’t find the weight of your stakes. I have Gossamer’s and 10 of them weigh in at 2.5 oz. http://gossamergear.com/shelters/tite-lite-hiviz-long-stake-long.html

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Jester,

      When I weighed them (without the heat shrink tubing) they all weighed in at either 7 or 8 gm each, or 0.2 oz. I hate saying 0.2 oz each though because if that were the case then 10 should weigh 2 oz, but I found that 10 of the stakes would actually weigh in at 2.5 oz. Now, after I put the heat shrink on I get 2.6 oz for 10. Hope this helps.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  3. My blaze orange finger nail polish is still going strong!

    Like

  4. Jason says:

    Hi Stick,

    some suggestion, you can use Plasticdip its from USA i cannot get this in Hong Kong need to air mail to HK

    it is good stuff and like the rubber grip on the tools handle!

    cheers
    Jason

    Like

    • Jason says:

      correction it should be plastidip

      Like

    • Stick says:

      Jason,

      Thanks for the tip. I will look into that stuff. Do you have to use any kind of bonder first, or sand the stake down before applying it?

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting,

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Jason says:

      I haven’t apply on metal before but i apply it on carbon tube it dose hold well, that plastidip just a like a water rubber before it dry up, so it will like the heat shrink tube too, due to the stake curve i believe it will hold it pretty well!
      You also can see some of the stakes did come with orange top i think he use the same method too!

      Like

  5. Mockingbird says:

    Hi Stick! This is a great post, I was looking to color my Ti shepherd hooks!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks Mockingbird, but the credit goes to Brian Green at Brian’s Backpacking Blog. I gotta admit though that I am happy with it though. Plus it was fun to do! If you do yours let us know how it turns out.

      Like

  6. Keith says:

    Sorry Brian, I saw Green and my mind slipped.

    Like

  7. Keith says:

    Hey Stick,
    Great idea Jolly. I have some packs of precut yellow heatshrink around. Maybe I’ll put them to use. I think I got them from an auto electrical supply house. Most of what you see is black, and sometimes white from electronics suppliers. I just looked and Partsexpress.com has 4′ pieces of yellow and white. It’s usually $1.50 but is currently on sale for $0.49.

    Like

  8. Brian Green says:

    Nicely done, glad you found where to buy the heat shrink tubing. I’m also pleased to see you were as easily geeked about such a small thing as I was 🙂 Great post!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Brian,

      Thanks man for stopping by and commenting. And like I said, thanks for giving me something to do today!

      After my attempts at coloring the stakes with spray paint I was a little discouraged. Then when I saw your post today, I really liked how simple it presented itself to be, and I decided to give it a go again.

      Funny thing too, as I was standing in Lowe’s today, bummed that all they had was the black Heat Shrink Tubing I pulled my phone out and searched for another of your post’s about painting your stakes. I headed to the paint aisle, but before I gave in and tried any of that again, I decided to try Wal-Mart, and there it was… Sweet!

      And yea, this stuff is awesome!

      Thanks again,

      ~Stick~

      Like

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