This weekend, I had a chance to try out my recently purchased Snow Peak Medium Pack & Carry Fireplace. I wanted something that could be used as a charcoal grill, a portable firepit and was also easy to pack. The Snow Peak seemed ideal and overall I was very happy. I purchased the whole package which included the fireplace, a base plate, a cast-iron coal bed, a grill, a grill bridge and a canvas carrying bag. I got mine from Expedition Exchange (http://www.expeditionexchange.com
) and was able to pick it up in person. Ho Chung was very helpful and gave me a quick demo on how to set it all up.
Setting it up is easy, but when using the base plate, it didn't feel safe unless it was on very level ground. Here it is with my aFire folding charcoal chimney (on Amazon.com here
The chimney holds exactly one ammo can's worth of mesquite lump charcaol. It took about 15 minutes for the coals to be ready.
The grill and grill bridge attach easily and allow you to adjust the distance between the coals and the grill from about 3" to 1" in 1" increments. I was cooking 1" thick pieces of swordfish and moved it down one more level closer than what is pictured here. It took 5 minutes per side to cook the fish and I wished I had some way of covering the grill as I cooked.
I had split some grocery store wood into quarters and after dinner, I laid some pieces diagonally on top of the coals, blew on it a few times and had a nice little campfire. Pieces hanging over the edge had a tendency to break off and fall to the ground that didn't happen often. The length of the store-bought wood seems fine. We added 3-4 sticks at a time and had a great fire for about an hour and a half.
Putting out the fire was very easy. I doused the coals with a little water, then shoveled them into the ammo can I used to carry up the charcoal. With most of the coals out of the fireplace, I was able to pick it up (while wearing gloves) and dump the remaining pieces into the can. The remaining ashes only filled a third of the ammo can. I poured a little more water inside and sealed it up. I poured a little more water over the fireplace to cool it down and wash off the ashes.
Overall, I am happy with this item. Hopefully this helps someone in the future.
PROS: Compact, easy to use, works well as both a charcoal grill and a firepit.
CONS: Heavy, pricey, no grill cover, needs to be on level ground.
Steve in LA