When you have a vehicle hauling the weight of your gear, no matter if it’s an old janky Subaru, a modified Jeep, or a Volkswagen Vanagon, you’re able to be a little bit more free-spirited with what you’ll consider essential camping gear. A firepit isn’t exactly something you’d consider essential—ever, (provided there aren’t any fire restrictions that require a contained fire). Usually a few rocks and a bit of ground is all that’s needed—but Snow Peak’s Pack and Carry Fireplace is going to make you rethink that.
Warmth, entertainment, and the utility of cooking are covered in a unique fold-flat shape that seems to share more in common with origami art than a fire place. Available with an optional grill, we spent three months sitting around, being warmed by, and cooking on it during our off-road adventure around Australia. Each night began with the ritual of gathering firewood to ‘light up the Snow Peak’ in time to get dinner ready. Gas stoves were rarely used, and we relied on the Pack and Carry day-in-and-day-out. It was during the cold winter nights of the Simpson Desert where we learned perhaps the best advantage of having an contained, raised fireplace, it’s easy to warm your feet by placing your boots carefully underneath the pit.
Cooking over a hot fire is damn-near primal, perhaps that’s why I have such a strong connection to this completely unnecessary item. There’s something about blowing on hot coals to make your steak sizzle—something about stoking a fire in the morning to make a cup of coffee. (Coincidentally we used the Snow Peak Titanium French Press.) Maybe it’s the fusion of man’s primal love of fire and grilled meat with damn-near industrial art that makes me love it. All I know is that I won’t go anywhere without it, which isn’t exactly true because it didn’t fit in my carry-on back from Australia, so I sit here, wondering how long I can suffer without my Snow Peak Pack and Carry. But let’s get down to the important bits—we’ve talked about what was great, now what could be better?
Had I been smart, I would have drilled a few holes towards the bottom of the origami-shaped firepit to promote better airflow. In our use, the hot coals had a tendency to die out prematurely due to the lack of airflow. The more wood you put on, the more they suffocated. It was a bit tedious to get the perfect bed of coals to turn the unit into an effective grill that wouldn’t leave your meat covered in ash. Snow Peak does sell an add on to raise the coals higher up and promote airflow, but it’s another thing to carry for an item that’s already an extravagance.
You’d think that after a fire this thing would be an absolute mess—and while it can be if you don’t give it a good bang, I was actually impressed with how well it cleaned up. Greasy mean drippings didn’t seem to stick, nor did anything that accidentally found its way into the fire. With the occasional washing, this thing would last a lifetime. We kept it in a canvas bag that Snow Peak designed for the grill, which I’d consider nearly essential as it kept the clanking and rattling down to a minimum.
For the gourmands in us, the small woven barbecue grate was perfect for cooking all sorts of options. It might seem a bit odd a first—sort of like you’re cooking on a big screen, but it’s perfect for vegetables of all sorts, along with any kind of meat you can throw at it. I honestly prefer it to the larger slat style grills you get at home; leave it to the Japanese to innovate something you never thought you’d care about.
If you don’t have all day long, starting the Snow Peak Pack and Carry Fireplace can be a bit of a challenge without the proper tools, and snow peak makes their lust-worthy GigaTorch just for that reason. At the time they weren’t legal in Australia, so we used a butane torch, but either way I suggest gearing up to get this guy going.
The final word:
If you’re looking to add a sense of occasion to your backwoods campfires, it’s hard to beat the Pack and Carry. It’s probably the only camping firepit that has a running chance of finding it’s way into MoMA, and that isn’t to say that it isn’t functional. It’s your source of warmth, entertainment, and a warm meal.