By Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley From Men’s Journal
One of the keys to a long and healthy life is being able to relax. Ironically, with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 from health to economic worries, extra downtime spent adhering to social distancing best practices doesn’t necessarily equate to more relaxation. Once you tire of watching Netflix, we recommend something more primitive and unplugged to find some rejuvenation and restoration: a bonfire. For now, it’ll have to be with your closed circle of family members and roommates only. Which is fine, you can still reap the benefits of open flame and take the opportunity to perfect what some would say is a dying art: the ability to truly hang out, sans technology, and make conversation. Allow us to introduce you to the idea of takibi time—with some guidance and a few gear goodies to hone your campfire etiquette.
First off, “takibi” means “bonfire” in Japanese. Takibi time is quite simply the act of gathering together around a good fire. Like most of life’s greater indulgences, there’s a bit of a ritual involved (think: ground and brewed coffee, or a hand-crafted Manhattan). And as you know, the finer things in life all start with quality ingredients. A quality bonfire is no different. That said, there’s more to just making a fire and hanging out by one. There’s also a good bit of responsibility that goes into building a campfire. Here are our top tips on campfire etiquette.
Obey a Burn Ban
For starters, if there’s a burn ban in effect, do not start a fire. Period. It doesn’t matter how much experience you have nor how much water you have on hand. When a burn ban is in effect, it is meant to be obeyed for everyone’s safety. Don’t be responsible for a forest fire. We can’t stress this one enough.
Stay With Your Fire
Of almost equal importance to obeying a burn ban is making sure that you never leave your campfire unattended. Don’t expect your campsite neighbor to keep an eye out on your campfire while you run to the shower. Don’t expect your 8-year-old child to manage your fire. If you build it, take responsibility for it, monitor it and make sure it’s completely out by the time you go to bed or leave your site.
Keep Your Fire Clean
One of the most common newbie camper mistakes is thinking of a campfire like a trash can. It’s not. Refrain from throwing food waste, beer bottles or cans, plastic, etc., into your fire. Not only will throwing things into your fire potentially attract wildlife, but the ensuing smell and smoke may ruin the experience of other nearby campers.
Keep Wood Local
Almost every campsite that allows campfires will have wood for sale. Buy it on-site rather than bringing your own. Doing so reduces the risk of introducing new insects and disease and helps keep forests healthy.
Now that you’ve got some of the basics of campfire etiquette in mind, let’s move on to gear. This is where it gets fun. While a lot of public campsites have their own fire pits, some don’t. And if you’re like us, sometimes you may want the ability to build a campfire at home, in your backyard, in a friend’s field, or at a remote spot on public lands. It’s always best to check whether or not a fire is permissible before building one, but if you get the green light, we recommend some of the following Snow Peak gear, all lifetime guaranteed to help you relax into takibi time. After all, takibi time is both an art and a science—a skill worth honing.
Takibi Fire and Grill
For starters, you’re going to need the Takibi Fire and Grill. It’s portable, comes with its own canvas carrying bag, packs down flat for easy storage and can be set up in a couple of minutes. It’s made with 1.5 mm–thick chrome coated steel which makes it durable and long-lasting. Plus the Fireplace Grill Bridge can easily be raised and lowered to meet your culinary needs. Sure it’ll cook up a hot dog, but set your sights a little higher and bring something from the local butcher. We have firsthand knowledge that you can grill an incredible pork chop on this setup.
This little device by Snow Peak is a great accessory to the Takibi Fire and Grill because it packs down small, is super powerful (it’ll dry a piece of wet firewood in less than 10 seconds) and is fun to use. Plus it’s functional. Once you light a fire with this, you won’t want to go back to any other method.
Fire Tool Set
This set includes a shovel (you’ll need this to help you properly extinguish a fire), poker and fire tongs. The carrying case is sturdy and keeps everything organized rather than rattling around in the back of your truck. The tools themselves are of the highest quality and are a good match for the robust fire pit you’ll be using them on.
Jikaro Firering Table
This table is for the Takibi time enthusiast who wants to increase their communal space around the campfire. The table is light enough and portable enough that it makes sense to bring it to any car camping adventure. It’s also good-looking enough to be kept on display at home on your back porch or patio. We think it makes a handsome addition to any campfire experience. The only thing missing is a hand-crafted cocktail to set upon it and a few of your closest friends.