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Monday, October 05, 2020

Review: Jetboil Flash Camping and Backpacking Stove

 For many years, I've been using the cheapest stove I could find on Amazon. The $12 specials are nothing special, but they're light and do the job. What I noticed, however, is that they're insanely bad at fuel consumption. Our overnight trip in Hetch-Hetchy(4 mountain house meals, 3 packets of oatmeal, and some apple cider and coffee) took a single canister from 210g to 130g. For a 2 night trip like I was anticipating, I'd have to carry 2 canisters. That got me to look into a more efficient system.

The JetBoil has a good reputation, despite it's expense, but the integrated mug/cozy promised a much reduced fuel consumption rate. Arturo told me that it would be 5g of fuel per boil, instead of what I was getting. It would also most likely not leak very much when attaching or detaching from the fuel canister, which would provide more weight savings.

At sea level, the Jetboil does indeed do a boil at 100s or less. What most reviewers won't tell you is that the max fill line is actually 2 cups (473ml), which is just right for a single packet of mountain house freeze dried food, so for a family of 4, you're actually going to activate the stove once per person. At 10000', it would actually take almost 3 minutes per boil, and the boil indicator (the sides of the cozy change colors and rise as it approaches boiling) is also excellent for saving fuel: when you're using filtered water, you don't need a full boil for apple cider, hot chocolate, or coffee. We also saved more fuel by realizing that our Costco packets were smaller than the Mountain Houses I used to buy, so we didn't fill to the 2 cup limit after our first couple of meals turned out soggy.

The fuel canister stabilizer/stand is a mess. I used it a couple of times and after that decided not to bother with it any more. It was a bear to get the canister to fit in it. Everything (canister, burner) fits into the cozy, while there's a cap to protect the heat exchanger at the bottom) The piezo lighter was much more reliable than my $12 special, but the cap for the heat exchanger also has room for a box of matches as a backup (which I would always have anyway!).

Because our trip was aborted, we didn't do as much cooking as I thought we would need to, so over conserved. Over our 2 days, we did 7 mountain house meals (lunch - 2, dinner - 4, breakfast - 1), 3 packets of oatmeal + coffee (2 cups), 2 rounds of apple cider (2 cups each). When I returned home and weighed the canister it came up to 164g (and started at 215g). That's an impressively efficient fuel consumption by any standards, and way better than my cheapo stove. The weight of the entire setup is 388g (rather than the claimed 371), but if I were you I'd ditch the lousy stabilizer/stand and save 24g. That's significantly lighter than my cheap amazon stove (112g) and Snowpeak Ti pot (279g) special, not counting the fuel savings.


1 comment:

Scott said...

The 1L cup is much better for groups since it's 2x as much. When I'm out with two sons, we'll do a boil to start the bag meals, then another to top them off and handle cider. It's also a bit more forgiving of overfilling. 230g canisters fit in the cup versus 110g for the smaller unit. I only take the 2-cup version when I'm hiking solo.

I find that the stabilizer works better for actual Jetboil canisters than for random canisters. I mean like "pops right on" versus "it's always a fight". I also find that the stove itself sometimes doesn't work right with certain canisters, to the point where I always test new canisters at home. I think the pin is too short to engage. I think they tweak their standards-adherence to benefit themselves. I have no proof of this.

The cheap Amazon stove of choice is BRS 3000T, $17 and 25g. I mostly don't bother with it, because for short trips the Jetboil's convenience wins.