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Meet the raft guide, turned chef, turned the outdoor industry’s newest award-winning portable firepit: LavaBox

Meet the raft guide, turned chef, turned the outdoor industry’s newest award-winning portable firepit: LavaBox

The LavaBox back story and the spark that lit the—fire ban compliant—flame


After initially dropping out of college he made his way around the globe as a guide. Snowboard instructor, raft guide, caving explorer, you name it. Josh is your classic outdoor-obsessed stoke chaser.


Enter the myriad of career paths that Josh has embarked on. 

While still guiding, he began working as a cook in order to pursue a more financially stable path. This turned into a love for the culinary arts which led him to pursue a culinary degree and become a chef—a career that he actually found a lot of success and fulfillment in. But change was in the air again—actually, nope, that’s love. Love was in the air this time. Josh met his now-wife, Sylvia (Chief Fire Officer and manager of the LavaBox financial end). As a DNA Analyst, Sylvia worked a stable 9-5. Josh decided it was time to settle down from the unpredictable life of guiding and the long hours and late nights of working in restaurants in order to find a schedule that better aligned with married life. 

This ultimately led Josh on a crazy journey of unique life paths including:

  • Heading back to school with the idea of becoming an attorney (what says stable more than a successful attorney?!) 

  • Changing his mind last minute about the attorney thing and, instead, attaining a Masters in Public Affairs with the hope of being able to help more people with his education

Since receiving that Masters in Public Affairs, Josh has:

  • Been a key player in helping families work through the logistics of establishing roadside memorials and services to commemorate lost loved ones

  • Worked in the District Attorneys' Office in the Special Programs Unit helping victims of heinous crimes

  • Left the DA’s office to work at the National Sports Center for the Disabled prior to LavaBox’s conception; where he. . . 

  • Worked with wounded veterans and folks living with physical and Intellectual disabilities, guiding them on rafting trips, climbing trips, and even helping to create the first accessible Ninja Warrior obstacle course for the adaptive community


Throughout this whole wild journey, Josh still sits on the board for the Colorado Whitewater Association as the Director of Instruction. That’s where all the pieces of this puzzle begin to come together. 

Whitewater and campfire: Two great things that should go great together

The idea for LavaBox was sparked in October 2020. Josh was prepping for a rafting trip with other members of the Colorado Whitewater Association. The catalyst? Attempting to haul a full-size propane fire pit along on a rafting trip. Yep, it was exactly what you’re imagining—the heavy metal hunk that sits as a permanent fixture for drinking beers around in your backyard. They tried to haul one of those bad boys onto a raft in the midst of Colorado fire bans that knocked out the option to build a traditional campfire. While taking on the (somewhat ridiculous. . . Okay, maybe very ridiculous) task of lugging that behemoth onto their boat, a lightbulb clicked and they decided there’s got to be a better way. Josh, being the tinkerer of the group, was assigned the task of bringing that better way to life. 

And, thus they had. . . FIRE! 

Or, more so, a rough-in-tough, portable propane fire pit inside an ammo can that satisfies stage 1 and stage 2 fire ban regulations and can take a whitewater beating time and time again. BOOM! 


Ammo cans are kinda a big deal in the rafting world. They’re sturdy, watertight, and packable—good for everything, really. So, somehow, putting a propane campfire inside an ammo can was the obvious goal. It was the how that made things tricky and, ultimately, required all of Josh’s tinkering efforts. 

But, come hell or high water, it was gonna’ happen. . . And after creating 7 different iterations of LavaBox in his home, Josh finally arrived at the LavaBox Portable Campfire you see today. The same product that just received recognition as an Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards Finalist at the 2022 Outdoor Retailer Snow Show.  A waterproof, portable propane campfire—but make it inclusive and sustainable

The real reason Josh’s personal history is so relevant here is the impact it’s played on the LavaBox business model and values.While it’s great to have succeeded in creating a portable propane fire pit that meets the high standards of Colorado Whitewater Association members, Josh had a larger vision for LavaBox. 

If he was going to transition into being a “big corporate boss”—he said with a spark of satire—”it was going to be for good.” As in for the good of the natural world, our open spaces, and the people who live and recreate here. 

Things that matter: Pt. 1 Environmental altruism—don’t be the guy that starts a wildfire

The first and most obvious move was toward environmental sustainability. LavaBox, inherently, was built with sustainability in mind. It’s a self-contained, gas campfire that, again, passes stage 1 and 2 fire bans in most states. Coincidentally, around the same time Josh was tinkering away with the initial LavaBox design, his old friend’s company, and all of their belongings, burnt to the ground in an Oregon wildfire. As a former Upland Firefighter and Red Card holder, Josh has seen up close the devastation that wildfires cause to our land, wildlife, and communities every year. A sense of environmental altruism was absolutely a driving force behind the creation of LavaBox. Providing a safe, effective, reliable, and FUN alternative to traditional campfires is something that we feel damn good about here at LavaBox. LavaBox is also packaged 100% in upcycled, recycled, or reusable materials. Most of which we’ve salvaged from the manufacturing process and passed down to you (feel free to regift your LavaBox packaging next holiday season). There’s no point in making a product that helps combat wildfires while simultaneously adding to our planet’s single-use packaging crisis. 

Things that matter: Pt. 2 The adaptive community

Josh’s history working at the National Sports Center for the Disabled has also played a key role in driving the LavaBox vision and code of ethics. As an owner-operated company, Josh has been able to work individually with customers in the adaptive community to custom design LavaBox models that accommodate folks who have limited use of their hands—which can make lighting a traditional LavaBox or gas fire difficult. The vision of inclusivity, accessibility, and positive impact doesn’t stop there. Josh’s goal as the company grows is to build and maintain a completely adaptive manufacturing process, enabling him to direct the LavaBox focus towards helping to employ the disabled community. The end goal is running a 100% adaptive operation that employs disabled veterans and folks living with disabilities both intellectual and physical that have made it difficult for them to maintain stable employment. 


Things that matter: Pt. 3 Impeccable quality

The vision is vast and the LavaBox brand is growing. But our roots are humble and our Chief Eruption Officer can still be found in the warehouse tinkering away, building and shipping out orders. It’s important to Josh that every component of LavaBox is assembled and inspected by his crew in Denver, Colorado. That way he can rest assured that the working conditions for the LavaBox team are fair and safe and that every unit and component meets his sparkling standards of quality. Josh hopes to source the ammo cans themselves from a manufacturer within the US in the near future, with the ultimate goal to manufacture everything in the states. Josh says, “Who knows, maybe we can move into a struggling town in Colorado and help the local economy with a production factory. I’d love to provide more jobs.”  For now, you can be sure that when you get your hands on a product from LavaBox, our “Big Corporate Boss-man” himself has custom inspected that bad boy and built it with a little extra hunk of burning love. 


Ignite the Portable Campfire Revolution!

Now you know the man behind the brand—the LavaBox story and mission. If you’re one of the eruption super fans or deep digging gearheads that’s been popping into our DM’s on social media asking to learn more about Josh, we hope this story satisfied your curiosity. If you’re new to LavaBox and our story has sparked your interest, go follow us on the Gram, @fireanytime. We’re here to blaze a trail in the outdoor industry and leave nothing but good things in our wake. If you’ve gotten your hands on LavaBox of your own and have a story to share about your experience, we’d love to hear it! Send us a DM (you might end up featured on our uber-high-profile IG account) or email us about your experience at

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