Living the Snow Peak Way

Snow Peak is self-described as a gathering brand; its products are designed to facilitate an appreciation and connection with nature for the sake of it—nothing more.

Established as a climbing company in Japan in 1958 by Yukio Yamai, Snow Peak’s evolution quickly moved to car camping products, followed by their entry into outdoor apparel. After a decline in car camping in Japan in the 1990s, Snow Peak Way was born as a way for the company to connect with customers, gathering feedback and inspiration from the people who mattered most. The event changed the company’s direction, and a move was made to bypass wholesalers, reorganizing to direct supply, and Snow Peak flourished. Three generations have carried the Snow Peak flag in the Niigata Prefecture, and the business remains in the family today, continuing the commitment to craftsmanship begun by Yukio over 60 years ago.

In Japan, there are 15 Snow Peak Ways per year, in contrast to the single yearly event that began in the US in 2018. Invitations are sent to the brand’s top customers, and the exclusive celebration sells out within hours in both countries.

Take Me to the River

Approximately 400 kindred spirits communed this September in Oregon’s Tygh Valley alongside the White River. With a fitting nod to those that came before, Snow Peak Way’s opening ceremony acknowledged the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and a deep appreciation for the land. Connections to time and place, geography, and culture are at the heart of both the company’s products and the partners they choose to work with.

The sense of die-hard brand allegiance felt familiar, like that found in Toyota (Tacoma or Land Cruiser) or Land Rover owners. And similar to other overlanding events, smiles graced the visage of every attendee. The camaraderie was evident everywhere I looked, and I found myself drawn foremost to the people in attendance rather than the products that brought them together, though the two go hand in hand in creating the community.

The treasured pastime of tailgating is a concept Snow Peak embraces and was distinctly present at the event; it’s relatable, encourages outdoor participation past the parking lot, and appeals to multiple generations. Structured activities or tasks are no longer required to find a larger connection to the outdoors, particularly with the younger set. It’s gathering for the sake of it, for the enjoyment of it, for the togetherness factor.

Each camp grouping had its own feel, and each setup was unique, akin to how every overlanding rig reflects its owner. A pocket of overlanders here, a cluster of vanlifers there, Subarus everywhere—with car campers being the majority. It’s an event to see and be seen, but without pretension or ego. There is a tangible excitement that permeates the air, and it was clear people were just happy to be present.

Local Oregon partners were chosen with care to host various workshops to affirm the brand’s ethos. Mizuba Tea Company illuminated the bonds of friendship formed at Japanese tea ceremonies (typically lasting 4-8 hours) and the beauty of a perfectly whisked cup of matcha. And Deadstock Coffee helped attendees find their zen while roasting beans over an open flame, transformation in motion over 22 minutes, a perfect diversion to be practiced round the campfire. Elevated consciousness and reciprocal relationships, an appeal to the senses, and simplicity were themes that repeated and resonated with guests.

Night Time is the Right Time

Takibi Time is not to be missed at Snow Peak Way, when old and young bundle up and curl around fire pits in the crisp fall temperatures. Laughter and chit-chat were as plentiful as the shooting stars above, and the resounding conclusion I reached was that connecting to others is as important as connecting to self. Facilitating those exchanges is key and is as simple as lighting the fire.

Revered Gear

We put loads of items through their paces at Snow Peak Way, but these are some of my favorites.

Amenity 2-Person Tent

The Amenity is the best-selling item of the brand and comes in three sizes (small/2-person, medium/4 person, and large/6 person). My home away from home for the weekend served me well, with an inviting vestibule that converts into an awning on the fly or provides side-door access when closed. It was perfect for me and my gear, though the vestibule would come in handy as a holding place when sheltering two occupants—without it, I think space would be a little tight. The two-person version is 46.8 inches tall, typical for this size tent. It weighs in at 10 pounds and provides an excellent option for car camping, with the promise of a quick setup due to color-coded poles. With a minimum water pressure resistance of 18,000 mm, the Amenity is suitable for use in heavy rain and wet snow, and its waterproof rainfly and floor should keep you dry as toast. The ivory color maintains the Snow Peak aesthetic in a soothing tone designed to not detract from the nature around you.


Renewed Single Action Table, Medium

I have a Single Action table myself and was not surprised to see it being used in abundance at Snow Peak Way since its versatility is paramount. The solid laminated bamboo surface is a thing of beauty, elegance, and function melding together in the best of two worlds. Our group picnicked with them on the banks of the Deschutes, and someone commented that it looked like someone was fixing to propose—the perfect presentation with these tables being the core of the display. We also watched the expert mixologist and winner of the James Beard Award, Jim Meehan, sling masterful creations such as Toki Bout it Punch in style behind several of these tables during his workshops and happy hours. Covered in soda water and color when used for the tie-dye workstation hosted by Shibori, one had to wonder if the tables would recover, but clean-up was always a cinch. The Single Action’s ample work surface (36 x 28 inches) stands on top of sturdy aluminum legs. At home no matter where you take it, you’ll find you take it everywhere. It’s slightly heavy for me to tote at 22 pounds, but I’m willing to manage the workaround.


Folding Chair

I have a pair of the red polyester version at home that has seen several years of use with only minor fading but became smitten by the Gray canvas models I tried out at Snow Peak Way. The fabric had a higher comfort level, real or perceived, likely driven by my preference for more natural materials. The chairs weigh under 8 pounds and quickly fold flat for easy carry and transport. The aluminum tubing and cast zinc joints round out the quality construction, and the fabric is sturdy and made to last. The 18-inch sitting height accommodates most frames well, and the comfort factor is such that one of our hostesses relayed that she uses it as the sole desk chair in her office. These chairs pair perfectly with the Single Action Table but are perfect for any time you need to take a load off.

$170/gray, $120/red

Campfield Futon Starter Set

Although we did not have a Campfield at our setup, I took the time to admire it at another campsite. Not only does the Campfield look like it should be in a living room, but it also brings the living room to your outdoor gathering, practically begging you to have a seat and start a conversation. Its modular components come with three convertible methods of use: it resembles a settee in its upright futon position, can be used as a two-chair configuration with an accent table, or opt for the three stacking shelves when storage takes priority. Its adaptability, tool-free setup, adjustable back, and included cushions are just some of the features to love. It’s 38 pounds total, and if you have room and weight to spare in your vehicle, this is the item I would not leave home without.


SS Single Sleeping Bag

Designed in Japan, this attractive 4-pound sleeping bag in gray-flecked polyester is a basic staple best suited for the spring and summer seasons. It has a 41-degree rating and kept me warm when temps dipped into the 40s at night. Zip it to another to allow for a two-person bag, and use it as a chair cushion when folded and stored in its 19- x 15- inch stuff sack—an atypical feature that sets it apart from its counterparts.


Takibi Tarp Hexa Set M

The Hexa Set operated as the meeting place at our base camp, providing welcome shade during the day, fostering conversation and laughter under its wings. With the addition of string lights at night, the space transformed into a festive and cozy atmosphere, despite the absence of a campfire. With fire restrictions in place, we were unable to test the flame-resistant inner roof made of Aramid, a kissing cousin to Kevlar, but the idea of not having to worry about sparks under an awning is certainly appealing. The exterior tarp is waterproof and treated with a PU coating and Teflon. Solid construction and an appealing aesthetic make this a win-win for any campsite.


Extension Iron Grill Table (IGT)

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Also adorning our base camp was the IGT, a two-unit expandable grill table whose metamorphosis from coffee table to grill station is nothing short of magical. No tools or extension pieces are required in its nearly flawless design, and it can be used with the Double Burner stove or two Flat Burner stoves. Simply slide open or closed, depending upon whether you are in entertaining mode or cooking for a crew—or both. The surface is again laminated bamboo (as with many Snow Peak tables), supported by an aluminum alloy stand. This chic setup is 24 pounds solid and folds compactly after use.


Low Beach Chair

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These canvas chairs bring an easygoing vibe to any outdoor setting, and we practically lived in them when we weren’t gallivanting from workshop to workshop around camp. Don’t let their unpretentiousness fool you, though—they’re meant to withstand the abuses of the elements and wear well with time. Natural wood armrests are featured on many Snow Peak chairs but seem to suit the Low Beach model particularly well. The sitting height is 12 inches on both this model and the Luxury Low, but the back is 7 inches taller on the regular Low for extra support. The aluminum alloy frame keeps things light with an 8-pound weight, and the chair folds down to fit in a durable carrying case.


Takibi Fire and Grill

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The Takibi fire pits were outfitted with lava rocks and gas fuel to observe Oregon’s fire restrictions but still allow for s’more fun and conversation around the fire on the chilly nights. We also collected around the grill at Son of Man, a cider company using traditional Basque methods, as owner Jasper Smith cooked up a feast fit for the Kingdon of Navarre. The stainless steel is collapsible and easily portable (though the set does weigh 32 pounds) with its carrying case and should last you a good way toward forever.


Take Renewed Bamboo Chair

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The Japanese-designed Take chairs hovered around the Takibi fire pits like moths to the flame, flitting from pit to pit as groups waxed and waned. This chair is as uncomplicated as they come, quickly unfolding for instant seating pleasure. The bamboo legs with aluminum supports are stylishly simple, and the canvas seat lightly folds around your body for cocoon-like comfort.

$190, $230/long

Ti-Double 450 Mug

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In a process perfected by Japanese metalworkers in Yukio’s hometown of Tsubame-Sanjo, Snow Peak’s titanium products are both durable and ultralight, as well as flavor neutral. I used my mug often, moving from tea to an Old Fashioned to a few divine sips of Kubota Seppou Snow Peak White sake within the space of a few hours in a seamless transition devoid of residual aftertaste. The double-wall insulation does its job well, keeping up to 15 ounces of your favorite beverage at its perfect (or starting) temperature. The mug handles can be flipped out or left tucked in for ideal two-handed cocoa or tea blowing.


Titanium Fork and Spoon Set w/Case

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The brand’s titanium line includes tableware of all kinds, right down to flasks and sake bottles, plates and bowls, and chopsticks. My silverware set was put to good use at Snow Peak Way, kept in a back pocket at the ready for what seemed like constant use, or hooked in my bag for easy access. The separately sold spork also saw plenty of action, and all withstood the rigors of camp life without a scratch.


Hard Rock Cooler

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As mentioned, there was no shortage of food and drink to be had at our camp HQ, and the Hard Rocks in tow held it all. Designed and made in the USA in conjunction with Grizzly Coolers, this certified bear-resistant cold box is built to last. Offered in 40-quart and 75-quart capacities with pressure-injected insulation and RotoTough Molded construction, it has a 2-inch drain plug for expedient emptying. The ice lasted four days straight with very little melt, and I am confident it could have kept things cold for far longer.

$600/40 quart, $696/75 quart

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A steadfast believer in the power of words, Tena can usually be found with her eyes turned toward some source of written knowledge, be it for pleasure, information, or planning her next adventure. Recognizing the value of the spoken word as well (unless it is coming from her GPS, in which case, she is perfectly capable of getting lost on her own), Tena finds there is no substitute for confabulation. Refuge from the monotony of the everyday is found by immersing herself in her surroundings—whether in an exotic locale or her backyard—and disconnecting from technology and seeking solace in the great outdoors is a cure well taken. While vehicles are a component for overlanding, she finds enthusiasm provides the only fuel required to get you there.