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Our History

Few companies thrive for more than 60 years, and even fewer are led by three generations of the same family. Snow Peak’s rich family heritage keeps us connected to our origins and inspires innovation. Through more than six decades, we’ve remained centered on the healing power of nature and the rejuvenation it offers. With this belief and our customers’ happiness as our North Star, the future is bright. 

Snow Peak Origins  

In 1958, Snow Peak was founded by Yukio Yamai in the Niigata Prefecture of Japan. After returning to his hometown after World War II, Yukio found solace in climbing Mt. Tanigawa, known for its treacherous and rugged terrain. He repeatedly challenged himself on its mountainside and was rejuvenated by the pure experience under the open sky. He wrote in his journal:

“We link our lives together by a single rope, and it gives us such a beautiful sense of trust in each other. It is such a pure thing. If we could capture the feeling and harness it for the good of society, certainly everything bad or evil would fall away.” 

Yamai was dissatisfied with the climbing gear available. So, he founded a climbing equipment company that would become Snow Peak, creating his own line of mountaineering products leveraging the skilled metal craftsman in his hometown of Tsubame-Sanjo. To this day, the dramatic landscape of Niigata inspires Snow Peak products and serves as home to Snow Peak’s Global Headquarters.  

From Climbing to Car Camping & Outdoor Apparel

Over the next few decades, Snow Peak continued its successful evolution, and Yukio’s family grew as well. His son, Tohru Yamai, completed his degree and began working for a large financial company in Tokyo.  But, as he commuted to his office day in and day out, he began to feel trapped within the confines of modern monotonies. 

He decided to leave his job and return to Niigata, where he worked for his father at Snow Peak and was also able to spend more time in nature, fishing and camping. Tohru studied in the United States during college and spent a summer road-tripping and camping around the West. His experiences inspired him to lead Snow Peak’s evolution into a car camping brand.  

In 1980, Tohru succeeded his father as Snow Peak CEO. He continued to expand Snow Peak’s product offerings, developing the first Amenity Dome tent design, the Multi Kitchen Stand (a precursor to the Iron Grill Table), and the iconic Takibi Fire & Grill.  

Tohru realized that camping offered a reprieve to the dissatisfaction and disconnection he experienced while living and working in Tokyo. Time outside offered a healing kind of rejuvenation. As he often says:

“I started a camping brand because I enjoyed camping with my friends, but along the way, I realized we were healing humanity.”

For several decades, Japan experienced a significant car camping boom. Then in the mid-1990s, Snow Peak sales started to decline. They sank for six years straight as the demand for camping gear dissipated. Then, one day during a leadership meeting, a young employee suggested hosting a camping event with customers to understand their point of view. His idea led to the first, Snow Peak Way, which was a significant turning point in Snow Peak’s trajectory.  

Based on feedback from Snow Peak customers, Tohru led a complete reorganization of the company, to create a better customer experience. Snow Peak Way still serves as a centerpiece of the Snow Peak community. The event allows customers to meet and talk with each other, fostering close-knit connections between outdoor enthusiasts, while also encouraging candid conversations between users and Snow Peak staff.  

In 2014, Tohru’s daughter Lisa joined Snow Peak. Like her father, Lisa also worked in Tokyo, and she found herself regularly commuting back to Niigata to spend the weekend camping. As a result, she was inspired to start an apparel line that merged her passions for the outdoors and fashion. Lisa brought her vision to life by launching Snow Peak apparel, designing technical garments that allow the wearer to easily move between urban and natural environments.  

Experiencing Noasobi & Snow Peak USA  

Snow Peak established a presence in the USA in 1999 and began wholesale distribution out of a garage in Gresham, Oregon. In the two decades since, Snow Peak USA has evolved from its humble beginnings into an influential national presence with a deepening focus on hospitality and experiences. Today Snow Peak has retail stores in Portland, Oregon, and New York City, an innovative restaurant, and a forthcoming campfield.  

In 2020, Snow Peak opened HQ4, its North American Headquarters in Portland, Oregon. Located on NW 23rd Avenue, HQ4 encompasses our Flagship Retail Store, event space, corporate offices, and restaurant, Takibi. In 2021, Snow Peak announced its first U.S. campfield in Long Beach, Washington, scheduled to open in 2023. Nestled on 25 wooded acres on the scenic peninsula, the Long Beach Campfield will bring the Snow Peak brand to life like never before and offer a reimagined camping experience.  

In the years ahead, Snow Peak is furthering its footprint in the USA with new retail, food and beverage, and hospitality expansions- all with the shared mission of creating restorative outdoor experiences that alleviate the stresses of modern life and reconnect us to the rhythms of nature. 

A Message from Tohru Yamai

Through its more than 60-year history, the core values and mission of Snow Peak have not wavered. We embrace our customers’ perspective as our own and prioritize rigorous internal testing to create truly innovative equipment. Today, the rapid evolution of technology has accelerated the convenience of our daily lives but has led us to sacrifice precious human-to-human interactions. Snow Peak products and experiences create opportunities to reconnect with each other and the natural world, ultimately restoring part of our human spirit. 

Our Mission: The Snow Peak Way

At Snow Peak, we treasure every individual’s initiative. By joining forces in absolute trust, we work to achieve global leadership, elevating the essential life values inspired by being with nature. 

We are always evolving, always innovating, always creating new approaches. 

Our philosophy is that we are all users, so we provide customers with rich experiences that inspire us all. 

We are committed to having a positive impact on the planet.