The Jet Boil line of portable stoves is the single most efficient, adaptable stove I have ever used in the back country. The design is simply outmatches any other cooking system on the market!
This stove will perform well in sub-zero temperatures, high winds, high altitudes, wet weather; I have put this stove to the test in the most extreme conditions on the planet and it has always met or exceeded my expectations.
I first began using a Jet Boil stove while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. The sheer efficiency of the stove made it worth carrying, even though most of my companions were cooking while using an alcohol-burning stove to keep their pack weight as low as possible. I could cook using a minimum amount of fuel and always enjoyed a hot cup of tea or coffee anytime I felt like it!
Jet Boil makes an extensive line of stoves and accessories to cover any situation. In this article I will be reviewing some of these products and discussing where I have used them, and also where they are best suited for use. For example, if you plan on bagging 14er’s over one summer, as opposed to hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway, there are different stoves and burners Jet Boil recommends to ensure you always have a great stove, no matter what the circumstance.
WHAT IS A JET BOIL?
The basic Jet Boil personal cooking system consists of titanium cooking pot insulated with a neoprene cozy, lid, tripod base for stability while cooking (not included in all models), lid for sipping or straining, and cover for the bottom of the cooking pot that doubles as a cup or bowl. The system packs seamlessly into itself (with the fuel canister as well) and takes up about as much space as a water bottle. There are many accessories available for the system, including a French press for amazing coffee, no matter where you are in the world! Pound for pound this is the most efficient cook system on the market today!
INSIDER TIP: When in cold weather or snow, be sure to take breaks for a hot drink with your Jet Boil. When your stove takes about 30 seconds to set up and around two minutes to boil water, you can do this easily! However, one SUPER cool tip is to wrap your fingers around the pot while warming the water. BE CAREFUL not to position your fingers too low and warm your hands while you make your tea or hot cocoa!
WHAT JET BOIL PERSONAL COOKING SYSTEM IS RIGHT FOR ME?
There are many Jet Boil Personal Cooking Systems available on the market today. The first part of your decision should be based on the technical aspects of the stove.
Ask yourself a few questions:
- Will I be using this personal cooking system at high altitude or below freezing temperatures?
- Is weight an issue? Should I opt for a titanium pot or can I live with aluminum?
- How many people will I be using this stove to cook for?
- Will I need enough volume to melt snow for water use in wintertime?
- What accessories do I want to use with my personal cooking system?
Once you have answered these questions, it is time to start looking at your options!
The Jet Boil Personal Cooking System
THE SOL® BURNER
The SOL® Burner by Jet Boil was created to work in the toughest conditions on Planet Earth. I have personally melted ice for water and brewed a cup of tea at 6,000+ m.s.m (19,600+’)! Jet Boil now includes this amazing technology in all of their stoves, but what makes a Jet Boil so spectacular? What is the real secret behind this amazing piece of gear?
THE FLUX RING®
Yes, this does sound a lot like something from Back to the Future, right? The Flux Ring® is what gives the Jet boil it’s power. A highly concentrated jet burner is focused on the middle of the pot; surrounding this is a rippling ridged reflector system that pours the heat back into the bottom of your pot. It is nothing short of amazing!
The question to answer now is which Jet Boil Personal Cooking System is right for you?
THE JET BOIL FLASH
The Jet Boil Flash is a great all-round stove for 1-2 people, or for a hiking group that wants to be able to make some coffee or tea during breaks. All the great Jet Boil technology with some extra great options I have personally enjoyed on more than one occasion!
The Flash comes with a 1L pot and can boil two cups of water in just two minutes!
I was in the Wind River Range climbing with a French buddy named Ironman and we decided to shoot up and over Knapsack Col to exit to the north of the range and catch a glimpse of some vertical granite. After crossing a glacier and moving up to the Col, we found ourselves in a spectacular area, with a flat rock above the snow perfectly planed for a couple of seats. I pulled out my Jet Boil and asked if he would like a cup of coffee.
“Ah, I wish,” he replied, smiling. “You Americans do not know good coffee, and I can not drink this terrible powder they sell here.”
I laughed and filled the cup with snow (INSIDER TIP AND VERY IMPORTANT: When melting snow with the Jet Boil, be SURE to push the snow down constantly; this is one of the most powerful burners on the market and will melt a layer of snow, evaporate the water, and burn your pot in a moment!) and began preparing our coffee.
One accessory I always bring along is the Jet Boil French Press!
It packs into the stove and I forget about it until moments like this. I had picked up a small bag of Starbucks Breakfast Blend and proceeded to boil the water, added my coffee, waited the allotted time (I leave it for a long moment, strong coffee in the back country is always welcome) and poured us each out a cup.
The expression of pure bliss on Ironman’s face was something I will never forget!
- 1.0L insulated pot
- Color change indicator on the pot to know when you are boiling (it happens so fast I can not count the times I boiled over with the previous models lacking this awesome option)
- Designer camo options and various colors
- Adjustable flame can simmer or boil accordingly!
- Does not include the pot stabilizer; be careful when on uneven ground or full capacity, it will tip!
- Piezo lighter can break easily; always bring a lighter
THE JET BOIL MINI-MO
The Jet Boil Mini-Mo is the solution to those people who try for more gourmet cooking, when a frying surface or wider pot is needed, or who like to eat directly from the pot. The Mini-Mo still comes with all the great options the Flash does, but a wider, shorter pot makes cooking easier. I like to carry a few cloves of garlic and some slices onions to spice up my freeze dried meals and so I fry them in the Jet Boil, add the water and bring it to a boil, then add the mix to my freeze-dried baggie. The freshness really makes a difference on a long haul hike!
- Great accessibility for the pot; wider mouth
- Lower height means easier to eat!
- Included metal handle makes cooking a breeze
- Advanced Simmer control
- As with the Flash, this does not include a pot support
- Burner is stored sideways and can rattle in your pack if you don’t include a towel or something to keep it steady
THE JET BOIL SUMO
The Jet Boil Sumo. I can not express in words how much this stove has aided in my expeditions around the world (Check out my hands-on review and photos here). This stove is simply the finest mountaineering stove I have ever used. With a 1.8L capacity I had no issue melting enough snow and ice for two people to drink, and cooking enough for the massive appetites climbing brings. On summit days I would carry this stove and make a cup of tea at altitudes above 6000m (more than 19,600’!).
I will say good fuel in high altitude situations is a must, low quality fuel will not work. The flame will not be as strong (less oxygen) and if it is windy, find a place in rocks or build a snow wall to keep it going.
You just can not go wrong with this stove!
- 1.8L capacity can cook HUGE meals
- Sol® burner is rated for high altitudes
- Able to store the larger (230g) fuel canister inside the pot
- Bottom doubles as a large bowl and when placed on the bottom of the pot will keep your food warm!
- Bulkier than other models
- Automatic lighter can fail, be sure to bring a lighter!
OK, now that you have picked your perfect Jet Boil Stove, be sure to take it to some amazing places! Happy Trails!