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Origin Story: The Tiny but Mighty Camping Stove

Written by: Savanna Frimoth

November 2nd , 2019

Origin Story: The Tiny but Mighty Camping Stove

A reliable stove is arguably one of the most important gear items in a camper's kit. Snow Peak's foray into the world of camp stoves changed the trajectory of the brand by introducing it to a new audience of outdoor enthusiasts in the United States. The petite GigaPower Stove made its first appearance in 1998, and at the time of its launch, the stove was lauded as the smallest and lightest stove in the world.

Snow Peak CEO Tohru Yamai conceptualized the product, bringing Snow Peak into a new gear category: camp stoves. Tohru wanted to create something revolutionary, a stove so small and light it could fit in his chest pocket. The development process for the stove was slow. Only three people at the company knew about the new product (including Tohru), and the designer would come in after hours to experiment on the prototype. Typically, stoves ignite by combining gas and air in a tube. Initially, Snow Peak designers shortened the tube to take up less space, but the elements weren't mixing properly and the stove would not light. After many tests, the developers found a solution. They designed a small cup at the end of the tube which allows the gas to mix before it's deployed and ignited. 

The Snow Peak team knew that for the stove to be successful, it needed to be introduced to the US outdoor market. At the last minute, Tohru secured a booth at the 1998 Summer Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

As he tells the story,

“We registered late for the Summer 1998 Outdoor Retailer and ended up sharing a booth with another company. All we had was one small table and the only product we featured was the GigaPower Stove. The GigaPower Stove had a significant impact at Outdoor Retailer show and ended up winning the Editors Choice Award from Backpacker Magazine in 1999. Within a year, GigaPower Stoves were being distributed in 300 retailers across the US.”

The buyers, editors and other attendees of the trade show were impressed by the stove, but assumed it was a miniature sample. They were at a loss for words when the stove was lit. The GigaPower Stove exemplifies Snow Peak’s combined values of functionality and beautiful Japanese design. While incredibly compact, it's 10,000 BTUs enables a rapid boiling time for easier cooking in the outdoors. The GigaPower Stove is one of the few, if not the only, ultralight stoves on the market that has four prongs for greater stability during use.  

Looking to build on the early buzz of the GigaPower Stove, Snow Peak began an eye-catching campaign to further awareness of the innovative stove. A series of photos depicting the stove emerging from an egg creatively illustrated the GigaPower Stove’s pocket-sized qualities.

Twenty years later, the GigaPower Stove is still an iconic Snow Peak product. It has served as a brand introduction for countless customers and powered thousands of outdoor experiences. 

Shop the GigaPower Stove now.