Vargo Ti Tent Stakes – Quick Hi-Vis Mod

Vargo Ti Tent Stakes

I’ve decided I’m not going to lose any more of my titanium tent stakes! Despite taking care and doing a sweep of my campsite after taking everything down, I still manage to lose a tent stake every now and then – argh! They’re just too darn expensive to keep replacing, so I’m transforming the dull, grey, satin-finish little buggers into high-visibility, bright yellow tent stakes similar to the prototypes I already have from Gossamer Gear. The ones show here are six new Vargo Outdoor Ti tent stakes in their natural form.

First step was to give them a good rub with fine wire wool to provide a key for the paint to bite into and then clean them thoroughly with denatured alcohol to remove any grease and dirt. Next, I used an old cardboard box as my stand to hold the tent stakes while I sprayed them and shoved them into it evenly spaced apart.

Vargo Ti Tent Stakes - Hi-Vis

Painting metal can be a little tricky because it’s such a hard surface and paint tents to flake off very easily.  To combat I gave them all a coat of self-etching metal primer. The primer chemically etches the surface of the titanium and provides a matte surface for the paint layer to adhere to.

Tent stakes tend to take a heck of a beating, so rather than use regular paint that might chip easily I chose to use Valspar Tractor Enamel which is a premium quality, heavy duty anti-rust enamel designed for use on farm equipment and machinery. I used the spray can version to make it easier.

Vargo Ti Tent Stakes - Hi-Vis

I applied three or four even coats of the enamel until the stakes looked heavily coated and glossy. I wasn’t worried about the bottom half of the stakes because they’ll be in the ground and taking a lot of abrasion anyway. All in all it took a couple of hours to complete this simple modification, most of which time was spent waiting between coats of paint drying. I’m really pleased with the end result and plan on testing the durability of the tractor enamel coating over the coming weeks. I just hope this will make the tent stakes bright enough to be more easily spotted on the trail floor! What do you think?

Disclosure: The author owns this product and paid for it using their own funds.

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  • Jolly Green Giant

    Cool idea.  I’ve been using nail polish which is a bit challenging for me to purchase comfortably at a store without getting some looks…

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      What even in bright yellow? Too funny. I had been using nail polish too, but found that it flaked off too easily. So far this combo of self-etching primer and machinery grade enamel is holding strong. Not the most riveting blog post wanted to share anyway.

  • Jolly Green Giant

    Cool idea.  I’ve been using nail polish which is a bit challenging for me to purchase comfortably at a store without getting some looks…

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    What even in bright yellow? Too funny. I had been using nail polish too, but found that it flaked of too easily. So far this combo of self-etching primer and machinery grade enamel is holding strong. Not the most riveting blog post wanted to share anyway.

  • Joey Dawson

    I like. I will be doing this soon.

  • Joey Dawson

    I like. I will be doing this soon.

  • Dave

    I actually painted mine blue to contrast fallen autumn leaves.  Thanks to Shug and others on the Hammock Forums for the color suggestion.

  • Dave

    I actually painted mine blue to contrast fallen autumn leaves.  Thanks to Shug and others on the Hammock Forums for the color suggestion.

  • Robin

    More durable is shrink wrap plastic sleeving: http://www.backpackinglight.co.uk/product219.asp?PageID=106

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Robin, that’s excellent and much more durable. Somehow I’ve never come across that on BPL over the years. Thanks for sharing. Depending on the durability of my solution I might give the shrink wrap a try. I appreciate your feedback, that’s what makes this so much fun.

  • Robin

    More durable is shrink wrap plastic sleeving: http://www.backpackinglight.co.uk/product219.asp?PageID=106

  • http://www.briangreen.net/ Brian Green

    Robin, that’s excellent and much more durable. Somehow I’ve never come across that on BPL over the years. Thanks for sharing. Depending on the durability of my solution I might give the shrink wrap a try. I appreciate your feedback, that’s what makes this so much fun.

  • JJ_Mathes

    Brian- I painted my Ti stakes bright blue last fall, so far the color has been perfect, now when I drop one it’s easy to spot.

    http://jjmatheshikes.blogspot.com/2010/10/thin-greys.html

  • JERMM

    Brian- I painted my Ti stakes bright blue last fall, so far the color has been perfect, now when I drop one it’s easy to spot.

    http://jjmatheshikes.blogspot.com/2010/10/thin-greys.html

  • Fabio

    Good idea

  • Josh Rubin

    I tried to follow this idea with my set of stakes, but unfortunately I could not find metal etching primer in my local area… I heard recently that you could anodize titanium with diet coke; I tried this and it worked great and is very easily visible in blue.

    • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

      Josh, can you share any photos of how the stakes turned out after anodizing with coke?

      • Guest

        They had been a very dull grey. This blue is easily picked out of grass or leaves

      • Josh Rubin

        This image does not do them justice… they are easily picked out of the grass/ leaves, etc….

      • Josh Rubin

        This image does not do them justice… they are easily picked out of the grass/ leaves, etc….

        • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

          WOW! I’d say that the image does do them justice and if you say they are better in person,then double WOW! I’m not familiar with the technique you used. Would you be interested in doing a short write up for my blog with a few photos and step-by-step how to guide? I can help you write it up if need be. This is so cool!

          • Josh Rubin

            I would be glad to put together a short writeup… I will need to figure something out for the photos as I did not take any during shots.