DENVER, Colo. — Camping season is around the corner, and a Colorado startup is building an essential piece of equipment to make a campfire in a safe, sustainable way. You're In Good Company with LavaBox.
With a spark of ingenuity, Joshua Thurmond is out to preserve the iconic campfire in a way that protects the land.
"We're not going to be able to have stick fires," said Thurmond, who founded LavaBox in 2020. "This year may be the first year we see it for more than six months, and we just can't have fires in a lot of counties."
Drought conditions in Western U.S. states have made traditional campfires too dangerous. So, Thurmond, being a former raft guide, is rebuilding ammo cans into portable fire pits.
"You've seen fire pits before, but they all have a little tiny flame," Thurmond said. "They're not very hot. They have a really big footprint. So, we wanted to create something that was small, compact, but with a big fire."
The ammo cans are durable, water proof and long-lasting, so they stay out of landfills. Reusable ceramic rocks and a propane-fueled burner then give it the picture-perfect flame.
"It's just a steel burner with a special little fitting that allows enough air to come in to create a yellow flame rather than a blue flame," Thurmond said.
Even diehard camping enthusiasts are converting from traditional stick fires in droves. Thurmond sold his first 40 LavaBox units in one day.
"We were a finalist at the innovation awards for the Outdoor Retailer show here in Denver," Thurmond said. "It made us superstars like overnight!"
He said the popularity has made it difficult to keep up with demand.
"I'm back in preorder sales. I can't get enough boxes," Thurmond said.
LavaBox complies with all the requirements of Stage 2 fire restrictions from the U.S. Forest Service. Thurmond says first responders, rangers and state officials are praising the work.
"They don't want to miss out on a fire," Thurmond said. "They want to go camping. They want a fire. They want to make s'mores."
So, you can still stay warm and swap stories for the most memorable adventure without the scars other burns leave behind.
"Of course, when we have a fire, it's costly to Coloradans," Thurmond said." It's costly to the world every time we have a massive wildfire season. I'm really hoping we can get that part out."
LavaBox also donates $1 of every box sold to Team River Runner, a nonprofit helping veterans through paddle sports.