Welcome to AFAR Approved: a deep dive into the travel items that we’re totally obsessed with, never leave behind, and can’t stop telling our friends about.
For many, spending time outdoors is only part of the allure of camping. Yes, nature is the star of the show (especially once the actual stars come out), but it’s closely followed by the opportunity to gather with friends around a campfire to cook a delicious meal—without distractions, tasty beverage in hand. These have always been my most memorable moments outdoors, from childhood campouts listening to my dad tell scary stories while us kids roasted marshmallows, to more recent, food-focused shindigs with friends.
These moments of gathering in nature are exactly the kind that Japanese outdoor gear brand Snow Peak wants to cultivate with its stylish yet functional tents, outdoor furniture, apparel, and extensive line of camp kitchen items. “We’re the foodiest brand in the outdoor industry,” says Matt Liddle, COO of Snow Peak North America, noting that a large number of its products help campers create incredible meals outdoors.
Founded in 1958 by Japanese mountaineer Yukio Yamai, Snow Peak originally sold climbing products crafted by the metalwork experts of Yamai’s hometown of Tsubame Sanjo, in the Chūetsu region of Niigata. The brand, now led by his son, Tohru Yamai, has since shifted its focus to camping and outdoor gear that includes everything from tents to grills. These days, “We’re a gathering brand,” says Liddle. This year, it took its gathering ethos one step further by opening a restaurant and bar, Takibi, in the same building as its North American headquarters and flagship store in Portland, Oregon.
As someone who loves camping almost as much as I love food, Snow Peak is my go-to for camping kitchen gear. Here’s why.
Snow Peak Kitchen Gear Review
“When your reason to go outdoors is to be around others, there is always that question of ‘what are we going to eat?’” says Liddle. Of course, there’s also the question of “how are we going to cook it?” As a food-centric gear brand, Snow Peak answers this question with all the standard, essential gear anyone could need to cook outdoors (pots, pans, stoves, mugs, utensils), plus a variety of kitchen gear that can support even the most ambitious campout chef (cast iron pots, pans, and dutch ovens, and cooking utensils, plus a titanium sake flask and cup set). All of its gear is well-crafted, efficient, stylish in design, and built to last. (Everything comes with a lifetime guarantee.)
The Snow Peak items we always camp with are lightweight and (with the exception of the Takibi grill) work for both backpacking and car camping. Most of the items are made from a sturdy titanium or stainless steel and have a minimalist, timeless design that prioritizes functionality. “We put just what you need there and not a lot of bells and whistles,” says Liddle.
Our camp kitchen essentials from Snow Peak include:
- Stove: GigaPower Stove Manual Renewed, $40 (snowpeak.com, backcountry.com)
- Cutting board and knife: Cutting Board Set (M), $40 (snowpeak.com, rei.com)
- Mug: Ti-Double 450 Mug, $50 (snowpeak.com, rei.com)
- Grill: Takibi Grill, $320 (snowpeak.com, rei.com)
- Pot and pan: Trek 1400 Titanium Cookset, $60 (snowpeak.com, backcountry.com)
- Spork: Titanium Spork, $10 (snowpeak.com, rei.com)
- Chopsticks: Wabuki Chopsticks, $30 (snowpeak.com, rei.com)
- Coffee maker: Collapsible Coffee Drip, $30 (snowpeak.com, backcountry.com)
At just 2.64 ounces, the self-igniting GigaPower Stove Manual Renewed is a pocket-sized, gas-fueled stove you can bring just about anywhere. Although small, it’s strong enough to support a full pot of water and with a rating of 10,000 BTUs, about as powerful as your average kitchen stovetop.
The standout feature of the Cutting Board Set, which includes a cutting board and knife, is its design. The bottom of the board has a knife-shaped groove in which you can store the included knife, then fold the board in half, for compact storage and portability.
The titanium, double-walled Ti-Double 450 mug keeps hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold and looks like a standard cylindrical mug, but the handles can be folded flat against the body (one of my personal favorite features), which makes it easier to pack or place in a camp chair cup holder.
The Trek 1400 Titanium Cookset, which consists of one pot and one pan, has a similar design, also made from titanium with collapsible handles.
For cutlery, the Titanium Spork is a straightforward, won’t-melt-in-the-fire utensil (I have 100 percent used it to flip vegetables over a hot charcoal grill). Meanwhile, the bamboo and stainless steel Wabuki Chopsticks are compact, even for chopsticks: They detach into two pieces and pack away at half their full length for easy transportation.
The Collapsible Coffee Drip, also made of a lightweight titanium, collapses into a flat, easy-to-pack shape and when opened, sits atop just about any mug, ready to hold your freshly ground coffee beans and start brewing.
I also want to give the Takibi grill, designed to function as both a grill and firepit, an honorable mention since a grill like this can be the literal centerpiece of a great campfire cookout. Made of a durable stainless steel and weighing only 32 pounds, this grill folds down into a tidy rectangle when not in use, and it’s much more portable than the hibachi grill I often drag into the woods while car camping.
Price and value
Although Snow Peak tends to be on the more expensive end, its gear is worth the cost for anyone who camps and cooks frequently. The products come with a lifetime guarantee in case anything goes wrong, but because they’re well-crafted and built to last, you probably won’t need it.
Although I’ve yet to live a lifetime, all of the gear that I’ve personally owned from Snow Peak has held up very well so far. After 10 years, the GigaPower stove (an older model) still works as well as when it was new, while the Ti-Double 450 Mug and sporks have survived dozens of camping and bike adventures without a dent or break. Though the colors may have faded a tad, they have far outlived my previous (and cheaper) plastic cookware, which melted after a too-close encounter with a fire.
Snow Peak gear in action at Takibi
Whether you’re a newcomer to the brand or a long-time fan, one of the most exciting announcements from Snow Peak this year was the opening of its campout-inspired restaurant and bar, Takibi, at its North American headquarters in Portland.
Takibi, which means “open air fire” in Japanese, was inspired by the idea of gathering around a warm blaze with friends. The tiles are made of repurposed kiln shelves from San Francisco’s Heath Ceramics, and the menu incorporates Pacific Northwest ingredients into Japanese-inspired flame-cooked dishes, like black cod marinated with miso from a local Portland manufacturer and grilled over the hearth.
Gearheads, rejoice: A visit to Takibi is also an excellent opportunity to see Snow Peak in action. Not only is the restaurant in the same building as the Portland store, but you’ll also get to try several products throughout the meal. Icy cocktails are served in the brand’s double-walled mugs and Wabuki chopsticks are the de facto utensil given to diners.
Putting it all together: A Japanese-inspired camp meal recipe
Even if you can’t make it to Portland to try Takibi’s food in person, Snow Peak shares plenty of unique, foodie camping meal ideas on its website. On your next camping trip, try this Takibi Yakitori recipe to make your own Japanese-style grilled chicken.
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (454 g; at room temperature)
- 9 small leeks or Tokyo leeks
- Neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola, etc.)
- Small skewers
Yakitori Sauce (Tare)
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup mirin
- ¼ cup sake
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tsp. brown sugar
Instructions for tare sauce
- In a small pan, combine all sauce ingredients. Then bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 12–15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced in half. Be careful not to boil! The sauce should thicken and have a slight shine on the surface.
- Allow it to cool to room temperature and set 1/3 aside for use after cooking.
Instructions for yakitori
- Place your skewers in water to soak.
- Prepare the rest of the ingredients on a cutting board. Cut the leeks into one-inch chunks. Only use the white and light green sections. Set aside in a bowl.
- Cut the chicken thighs into one-inch cubes.
- Prepare the skewers by alternating between leeks and chicken chunks. When skewering the chicken, push the skewer through one end, then fold the chicken over and skewer through the other end.
- When the skewers are ready, brush on both sides with the tare sauce.
- With a towel or brush, lightly oil the Takibi Grill Net, then place the skewers on the grill and cook for about 6–8 minutes, alternating sides.
- Brush leftover sauce onto the skewers each time you flip. Then serve and enjoy!