JetBoil Flash: Personal Cooking System review

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jetboil

 

Ever found yourself backpacking in the wilderness with a buddy or yourself, and once you stop to take a breather you pull out a chalky and stiff granola bar to swallow down with an accompanying bottle of water to smooth the transition? Then, you realize that you’ve only packed granola and dried grains for the rest of your three day trek because as a rule  of heavy hiking or backpacking, you can’t hike up your cooler- its content, your stove, or your kitchen utencils – all to to make yourself a power lunch or a mellow “backcoutnry dinner.” But what if you could make a morning ‘Cup of Joe,’ at the first quarter of your backpacking hike, then sit down for a midday lunch of re-hyrated vegtables, and then to some stirfry rice with hot tuna for dinner. Does it sound too good to be true for a backpacking trip? JetBoil begs to differ. That’s why they invented the JetBoil Flash. ParkVisitor had the pleasure to review the JetBoil Flash – Personal Cooking System. Below is our extensive gear review.

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A view from the trail mid-hike as we climb and descend down into the depths of the Angeles National Forest carrying with us our JetBoil, coffee press, and the hope that once we reach the trail’s end, the JetBoil Flash will doo all it claims to do.

 

 

the JetBoil set

The JetBoil set

Compact Mobility*

Weight: 14 oz (400 g) [Doesn't include pot support & fuel stabilizer]

Volume: 32 oz (1 liter)

Boil Time: 16 oz (0.5 Liter)

Water Boiled: 12 Liters per 100g Jetpower canister

Dimensions: 4.1″ (diameter) x 7.1″ (tall) [ 104mm x 180mm]

*According to the JetBoil company specs provided on their website

 

Mechanics

The Pot:

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View of the FlexRing

1.) Sheath – The insulated “cozy” of the JetBoil is it’s most stunning feature. Aside from choosing fun colors (we chose ‘Tomato’ – what can we say…Peety likes veggies) the sheath is a heat resistant foam pad (think scuba suit fabric) that allows for you to grab the pot right off of the stove when it’s done cooking. Probably the coolest feature of the sheath is that there is a ‘heat-indicator’ imbedded within the cozy – changing to the color yellow when tempratures reach boiling point!

2.) Pot - The pot itself is a solid, lightweight anodized aluminum that fits all the parts of the Jetboil within. The real technology isn’t up top though – it’s found below!

3.) Pot-base - The JetBoil is a great backpacker’s pot, but what sets it apart from others? One word: FlexRing. The accordian shaped coils that make up the ring that runs around the diameter of the pot’s bottom, is a heat-convection technology that will, and already has started to, redfine the outdoor cooking industry. The FlexRing allows for a “jet” fast transfer of heat between flame and pot. Read the “Cooking” section below to find out just how fast.

Jetboil packed

The Jetboil packed with the lid that holds a sipping hole, and the heat ready indicator sheath

4.) Lid – The lid of the JetBoil isn’t just a cap to keep everything snug. Well, it does that too, but so much more. The lid is made of a silicon rubber that can be handled even as the pot is boiling. But, say you made the mistake of forgetting your cup back at basecamp. No worries. The JetBoil’s lid has a ‘sipping spout’ for just that reason – so you don’t have to lug around spoon and bowl to drink your soup, or a mug to drink coffee. But assuming that you do like to drink from a bowl, JetBoil has you covered there as well.

4.) Base cap – Like the lid, the base cap might seem like it’s just there to keep all material snug ( and again like the lid, it does). But JetBoil has also made the cap double as a cup and bowl for coffee or soup…whatever you want. It even has a quantity limit indicated on the lip for one-cup, so you can measure out your portions!

 5.) Polyester/Nylon handle – The handle allows for flexability, and strength (imagine a smooth, narrow and comfortable handle made from the same thing a seat-belt is made of). No chance to bend, break or erode – and it’s light to boot!

 

The Burner

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The burner with a reliable ignitor

This backpacker’s stove top includes some features from JetBoil that are just as unique as the lid and basecap mentioned above.

1.) Interlock - the base of the pot has male grooves on the side that lock with the female grooves on the stove. This makes for a secure lock between both the pot and burner, ensuring that the flames emitted from the burner hit directly onto the accordian coils of the FluxRing. This allows for an even transfer of heat – everytime!

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The base of the burner with a threaded port for the attachable fuel can

2.) Ignitor - the ignitor here is your standard BBQ grill ignitor. We didn’t find anything different to it. It’s solide and simple, and takes one click to add a spark – just like as all ignitors should be

3.) The fuel valve - the knob of the valve that feeds the burner with fuel was the only part of this piece that we didn’t like. It was a flimsy wire that bent almost too easily. It sure is lightweight, but in the event that a hard-wrong turn bends or snaps the rod…you would be out of luck in turning on or off your burner

 

Propane Can* 

1.) Fuel* – The fuel that the JetBoil uses is the company’s own ‘JetPower’ fuel can. It’s a mix of propane, and iso-butane that make for an efficient and long lasting burn.

* Propane can is not included with the JetBoil that you order, but the compact sized fuel cannister can be found at most major outdoor retailers or online

2.) Tripod - the hard plastic folding tripod that comes with the JetBoil is to hold their compact fuel cannister. Their JetPower cannister fits perfectly into the locks of the tripod. Most other fuel cannisters are compatible with the tripod.

The only thing about the JetBoil Flash was that the propane can that fits snug into the pot for compact mobility has to be the smaller size sold, and not the larger one available. Given that this is a backpacker’s pot, we don’t see it as a problem at all. And if the can itself didn’t fit into the pot and was a burden on our pack, we would mark off points…but luckily the JetBoil Flash is built to be compact and pack in all the things you need for a meal – so, no problems here.

 

Additional Pieces

Coffee Press

1.) Collapsable rod – The 6.5″ rod is made of milled aluminum, making it very light and strong. The collapsable feature works by unscrewing two pieces from the filter screen.

2.) Filter screen - The coffee filtration system via the coffee press screen is everything you’d expect from an outdoor’s French Press. It’s light, compact, and simple. The screen of the press doesn’t look very durable, but we had no problems while making  multiple cups of coffee and hand washing it in the river.

 

Cooking

I think it’s proper for me to remind the readers that this is a backpackers pot. The most compatitable things to cook in the pot are dehydrated foods that just need water added to them during the heating/cooking process (clean snow, or filtered stream water if you didn’t pack in a lot of water). You could always take your own fresh ingredients on a short hike, as we did – but just remember that for backpacker’s pots like this, you need to be preparred with the proper ingredients if you want to enjoy hearty meals. These can include: Dehyrdated foods, dry grains, canned food, and powered mixes. 

Here is our menu for the day

Breakfast: Coffee

We had some fresh coffee beans we had roasted in the morning and taken along with us for the trip. Once the water started to boil within 2-3 minutes, we turned off the fuel line and added our Arabica. As the instructions said on the coffee-press, we waited three minutes until we pressed it.

The rod was assembled quickly and attached smoothly to the filter. The filter fit snug in the inside dimensions of the pot and when we started to press down on the rod, the press transitioned down to the bottom of the pot with no friction or difficulty.

We over estimated the water content, and filled above the 2 cup limit to about 2.5 to 2.75 cups. This might have been the reason that some coffee spilled over the whole sheath, roasted beans and all – but it’s nothing that practice can’t fix. Maybe we just really wanted coffee and rushed ourselves.

Cleaning the filter and packing it up was very effortless. This is a great addition to the JetBoil.

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Our Editor pours our backpacker’s soup into a hiker’s mug.

Lunch: Backpacker’s soup

After our 3 mile trek down to the valley floor, we decided that it was time for some nutritous, and energy boosting ‘Backpacker’s Soup.’ What the recipe essentially called for was some veggies that were high in potassium, iron, fiber and Vitamin A – always a great boost for a hiker.We added a vegtable stock cube for extra flavor as well

The actual recipe calls for dehyrdrated mushrooms and an assortment of vegtables, but since we were hiking just for the day, we wrapped up our fresh veggies and ingredients and headed down the mountain.

We didn’t experience the power behind the name ‘JetBoil,’ until we heated up the 2 cups of water for the soup. Within less than two minutes, the water was bubbling and less than three, it was boiling. It was so much faster than we had expected that we had to turn off the burner to give ourselves more time in chopping the mushroom and parsley. Once we were ready, we fired up the burner, and again it impressed us by reaching boiling point within minutes.

After adding all the ingredients and stirring for five minutes, the vegtables were soft and cooked, and the steam had a potent scent of goodness ready for consumption. THe only problem was the vegtable stock cube which hadn’t fully disolved. This was again a mistake on our end since the saturation consentration of the water had absorbed as much of the cube as it possibly could. We broke it up anyway, and ate some of the smaller pieces (we were famished) but you could always fish it out, dry it and save it for your second dinner on an overnight hike.

Can you handle it?

The JetBoil is a backpacker’s stove…or pot…or coffee press – and it does all that well. But what about getting it to do those things after an instense hike where you might lose your balance once in a while and fall into your pack where the JetBoil is nestled in. What if while you are washing the JetBoil, your hand slips from the grip and the pot is taken down river by the current, bouncing off of every rock, log and sandbar it can find. You may be agreeing with our stream of questioning and wondering about the JetBoil: Can it handle the abuse?

After stuffing the jetboil into our pack and hiking nearly 4 miles down 2,000 ft of rocky, dry, wet and slippery terrain down the side of a mountain into the depths of the Angeles National Forest, we had to test out the ruggedness. At first, we would make periodic stops on the trail for a break or water. At this point, I would throw my pack down – which was already weighed down with supplies, with no concern for the Jetboil. After about a handful of these stops, we descended some more. After cooking lunch upon arrival, we thought it best to wash the jetboil in the river. As we did, I let the pot “slip” from my hands into the current. Luckily there was a small pool in the stream that was closed off, so the pot wasn’t going far, but it did take a few ringing blows to the lip  and base (where the pot isn’t protected by the sheath. After picking it up, I saw no dings or dents that would indicate that the unit had been compromised

In fact, once we got back to the car, I was packing it back into the trunk when I “accidently” dropped it from nearly five feet onto the asphalt: oops. Suffice it to say, the JetBoil dusted off its shoulders with ease. In fact we ventured for another cup of coffee at that moment, and even then with fresh eyes, I saw nothing remotely compromising  to the Jetboil per  our abuse.

 

Summary

In all, The JetBoil Flash does all that it claims – and for our Gear Reviews Department at ParkVisitor, no company product could do more to impress us. The Jetboil Flash is a compact backpacker’s pot that is great for an individual outdoorsman – maximum two. There were some frowns with the fuel valve, but nothing that take away from the value of having this tool on a backpacking trip.

ParkVisitor sees the JetBoil Flash as perhaps not an essential tool, but a necessary tool if one wants to enjoy the comforts of a hot meal (or drink) and cooked food on their outdoor hike or overnight treks. Yet, being an outdoorsman (or woman) you are already a romantic. “Out in the woods” means to walk in the midst of anchient giants and glimpse their whispering language of pine needles and oak leaves. So, yes, we would say that in this romanticizing of nature, you will appreciate enjoying a hot soup, or conveniently fast meal that nourishes the body as your eyes nourish your soul. Jetboil Flash, brings the outdoor experience more to home, albeit compactly. 

 

Score: 5/5