A Layman's Guide to Takibi, Snow Peak’s Fire-Resistant Fabric
How Japan's bonfire-centric approach to camping inspired a legendary line of technical apparel made for the most non-tech activity—sitting fireside
Alex Rakestraw is a writer, strategist, and creative based in New York. He once had a nightmare about a lost coat.
Like moths to a flame, outdoorists gather at the campfire. A camp is not a camp without some lit-up logs (unless there’s a burn ban in effect, in which case, a headlamp and a nalgene will do). And like a moth, from time to time a camper can get a little too drawn in, leading to that all too familiar feeling that leads a camper to wonder, am I singed or actually on fire?
Niigata-based Snow Peak knows this all too well. Since 1958 the outdoor lifestyle brand has been outfitting campers, climbers, and general enthusiasts with the highest quality gear and apparel. While the campfire and its glowing tendencies draw campers across cultures, in Japan, camping is quite literally centered around the flames. A Japanese camping vacation might involve hours of just sitting by the “Takibi” (焚火), or bonfire, slowly cooking skewers or hot pot.
It’s a different vision of outdoors life than the activity-obsessed North American approach. And it’s the one that inspired Snow Peak’s famous Takibi Time collection of outdoor garments—a neo-rustic line that draws as much attention for its looks as its fire-resistant claims.
To quote the brand’s own website: “The Indigo TAKIBI Jacket features fire-resistant technology… [including] an acrylic flame-retardant material called Kanecaron.”
Most outdoors gear tries to resist water. But fire? That’s a whole different campsite.
Is Snow Peak making fireproof techwear? Is Kanecaron a sugar root or is it asking for the manager? WTF is Takibi?
Actually, it’s all rather pleasant.
The Takibi line of garments feature fire-retardant synthetic fibers. These fibers—aramid and Kanecaron, both very different but here serving a similar purpose—have significantly higher melting points than traditional synthetics like nylon, let alone quick-to-burn organics like cotton or wool. Though they are not, importantly, fireproof—they only resist heat. If placed into an open flame, they’ll burn. But next to a heat source, these fire-retardant synthetics remain cool to the touch, and in turn resisting the transfer of heat from garment to wearer much better than plain traditional fabrics, even when blended with them in complex textiles.
Translation: wearing jeans that are 54% cotton/ 46% Takibi fibers around the fire won’t give you that same burning sensation a pair of 100% cotton denim jeans definitely will. Instead, you’ll just feel gradually warmer, so long as you avoid direct contact, of course. Insert social distancing joke here.
If your outdoor culture centers around extended time by the bonfire, clothing that weaves in fire-resistant fabrics as a way to make fireside time more rosy might as well be cataloged as performance apparel. And considering the broad range of Takibi gear Snow Peak makes—from hats to vests, jeans to jackets (and jean jackets), even coveralls—it’s safe to say that performance is always within reach. Plus, should you want to go all in on the Takibi lifestyle, there’s also a portable grill, and a folding torch. Why get boat shoes without a boating license, ya know?
Snow Peak’s Takibi gear is a clever use of technical fabrics to enable a decidedly non-tech pursuit: long hours spent sitting fireside, surrounded by nature and friends. And who doesn’t want more of that in their life?