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This Fancy Camp Gear Is Nearly Idiot-Proof (According to an Idiot)

Seeking solace from the pandemic, I arranged to test a truly glorious collection of Snow Peak products. Despite my worst efforts, the stuff rocked.

snow peak
Snow Peak

The gist of what you're about to read is that Snow Peak camping gear is gorgeous, highly functional, fun to use and impressive to look at even in the hands of a complete idiot. I should know: I am that idiot.

As you probably do, I constantly yearn for an escape from the omnipresent perils and stress of COVID. Earlier in the fall, my friend pod decided to go camping. For weeks beforehand the anticipation was tough to ignore, particularly because I had arranged to test out a wonderful collection of Snow Peak camping gear.

In theory, this was going to be a perfectly epic off-grid adventure — we'd be set up with more square footage of shelter and furniture options than many Brooklyn apartments, a rustic yet gourmet cooking situation and enough ambience to astonish Wes Anderson. In practice... nothing went as planned. For all my excitement, I had failed to pursue preparations such as "knowing how to set up the tent" and "remembering my sleeping bag."

(Before continuing, I want to point out that I have been camping many times and have used, tested or owned a boatload of this sort of gear over the years. While this instance of me being wildly stupid was by no means an isolated incident, it's not for lack of knowledge or experience that everything went wrong. That makes all of this worse.)

I set out with the smug nonchalance of a law student slacker confidently wandering into the bar exam after only having watched My Cousin Vinny a couple times.

The gear list was indeed extensive: a Land Lock Tent and Takibi Tarp Octa, several Red Folding Chairs, a Single Action Table, a Home & Camp Burner, 10 Hozuki Lanterns, and the phenomenal Takibi Fire & Grill. There was enough to literally fill the back of my Cherokee.

When the day came, I set out in the early afternoon with a decadent amount of provisions and the smug nonchalance of a law student slacker confidently wandering into the bar exam after only having watched My Cousin Vinny a couple times. The two- and-a-half-hour road trip was a breeze, and I was happily humming along to yacht rock (probably) until almost exactly 10 minutes out from the campsite, when for no reason whatsoever I realized that I'd left a very crucial crate behind.

In it, my sleeping bag and pad, pillow, camp towel, hammock, flashlight and tools, all the insulated clothing I'd packed and even a Helinox camp bench I was reviewing. In other words, the things I needed most.

Faced with adding a roughly five hours of driving to my day, I made a series of very embarrassing calls. The only chance I had was a friend who might not have left yet, the Marisa Tomei to my Joe Pesci, if you will. She graciously nabbed my gear, completely saving the weekend. Soon, however, I realized that this godsend had merely cleared the way for me to be a complete dumbass in myriad other respects.

Snow Peak Landlock Tent

snow peak
Snow Peak

Price: $1,599.95

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I turned my attention to the task of erecting the resplendent and absolutely gargantuan Land Lock. Another friend lent a hand, thankfully, but as I had neglected to procure any diagrams or instructions and because we had zero cell service, setup overwhelmed us. In retrospect, the solution was not only starkly obvious, but also extremely simple: Snow Peak's tent poles are discreetly color-coded to their respective straps.

Once we made this discovery at roughly the two-hour mark, the entire thing was done in 20 minutes. Then, when the last stake was hammered down, it became obvious that we hadn't left enough room to put up the awning, which remained in its bag the entire weekend right next to the tent floor, still neatly folded in the Jeep. Inexplicably, I never once even tried to look for the latter, and only when I was packing up everything did I see it.

Anyhow, the result was that the weatherproof canopied luxury I'd promised everyone never materialized, and at night I was the sole inhabitant of a 260-plus square-foot palace, sleeping on a dirt floor.

Snow Peak Takibi Fire & Grill

snow peak
Snow Peak

Price: $319.95

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A fun science fact is that, as time goes by there is less and less natural light. This is due to astrophysics. To combat that issue, humans have a) mastered the creation of fire and b) invented battery-powered, portable light bulbs. There was, curiously, no actual fire pit to be found at our site, but with the Takibi Fire & Grill there was no need and I quickly demonstrated that I was as capable as a refined neanderthal.

Indeed, the F&G is even more intuitive and elegant than the tent, even for absolute morons: I unpacked, unfolded and set up in no time, and it worked beyond flawlessly throughout the weekend. We warmed ourselves by a constant fire and cooked all of our meals using its mesh grill surface. (I actively chose to not even unpack the Home & Camp burner, as it felt unwise for someone on this kind of roll to even touch a canister of explosive gas.)

Snow Peak Mini Hozuki

snow peak
Snow Peak

Price: $42.95

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The large box full of ultimately effective and very pretty hanging lanterns, however, threw me for a loop. I learned that it's impossible to turn them on if you accidentally leave one battery out of each — an epiphany that came well after dark.

It turns out that light is really helpful at a campsite, especially if you want to see tent cords instead of tripping (stone sober) over one and face-planting directly into another. This, perhaps obviously, happened to me. The upshot: a three-inch rope burn under my right eye which has ever so lightly scarred. A nice, permanent reminder of how wonderful 2020 has been.

Snow Peak Red Folding Chairs

snow peak
Snow Peak

Price: $109.95

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Snow Peak Renewed Single Action Table

snow peak
Snow Peak

Price: $399.95

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Two items that worked wonderfully start-to-finish, despite my blundering buffoonery, were the four exquisitely comfortable and featherweight folding chairs and Single Action folding table. I think every one of us exclaimed at least once, unprompted, that the chairs were perfect. The table unfolds in the most mesmerizing origami ballet and is the perfect height and size for group dining and/or outdoor cooking prep and serving.

In fact, everything was perfect. I can't emphasize that enough. If I'd been just two percent more prepared, the entire glamping (almost avoided the term) setup would have been ready to go in under an hour and functioning above and beyond its call to COVID-escape duty. The irony of my whole misadventure is undeniable, and I can't help but think that perhaps my dirt floor was karmic retribution for rushing to relax.

All the same, know that in our stressful, weird times and beyond, whenever we want a fresh-air home away from home without sacrificing creature comforts, Snow Peak will be ready with sublime solutions. Just read the instructions first.

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