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How to choose: Jetboil backpacking stoves || Zip v. Flash v. -Mo v. Joule

The FluxRing is one of several features that help make Jetboils fast and efficient.

Yesterday I attended a Jetboil press event in Boulder. It was an opportunity to examine the product line and to speak with Jetboil reps in a less time-crunched setting than Outdoor Retailer.

Stove system overview

To simplify decision-making for its dealers and customers, Jetboil seems to have worked hard to keep its product line tight. It sells just seven backpacking-worthy stove systems:

Fast Boil: for boil-only meals and hot drinks

  • Zip ($80, 12 oz, 0.8 liters, soloist): the most economical option; and,
  • Flash ($100, 13.1 oz, 1.0 liters, 1-2 people): the original Jetboil with signature speed and efficiency, and still the best-selling unit.

Precision Cooking (gas feed): for simmering and colder temperatures

  • MicroMo ($130, 12 oz, 0.8 liters, soloist): smallest and lightest system with a regulated burner;
  • MiniMo ($135, 14.6 oz, 1.0 liters, 1-2 people): identical to the MicroMo, but with a bigger pot;
  • SUMO ($140, 16.0 oz, 1.8 liters, 2-4 people): a MicroMo for groups;

Precision Cooking (liquid feed): the most winter-worthy

  • milliJoule ($180, 19.3 oz, 1.5 liters, winter soloist): smallest and lightest winter system; and,
  • Joule ($200, 28 oz, 2.5 liters, 2-3 winter campers): like the milliJoule, but with more volume.

With a single purchase, the Jetboil gives you nearly a complete stove system: pot, burner, and windscreen. Simply add a fuel canister and utensil.

Universal pros and cons

Across its line, all Jetboil stoves have the same advantages and liabilities:

Pro: Simplicity

With the purchase of a single Jetboil system, you get an effective and nearly complete kitchen setup. Just add a fuel canister, utensil, a lighter (as a backup, even if it has push-button ignition), and separate eating & drinking vessels for each person of the group (if applicable). In comparison, a la carte stove systems require more research and thought.

Pro: Speed & efficiency

A Jetboil system includes an integrated burner, pot, and windscreen. By designing these components to work together, Jetboil achieves excellent boil times and fuel efficiency.

Pro: Compactness

When not in use, the components of a Jetboil system nest together and become very compact. Inside the pot of the Flash and Zip, for example, you can neatly fit the burner, fuel canister stabilizer (which clips into the burner), optional pot/pan support, and a 240-gram fuel canister. The pot lid secures everything in place.

All Jetboil systems nest neatly together, minimizing space when not in use. Inside the MiniMo, you can fit the burner, canister stabilizer, and 240-gram canister.

Con: Weight

The lightest Jetboil system weighs 12 oz. In comparison, my go-to gas stove system weighs one-third less — just 8.1 oz — in a similar configuration: stove, pot, and coffee mug. The extra weight of a Jetboil is attributable to its materials (e.g. aluminum, not titanium) and to extra features that increase efficiency, such as the FluxRing and pot cozy.

Con: Canister gas

Since Jetboil first launched in 2004, its stoves have been compatible with canister gas only. It has never wandered into alcohol or liquid fuels, which are more widely available and more economical. It’s difficult to find gas canisters outside of outdoor retail stores, and you cannot mail or fly with them.


Jetboil Fast Boil vs. Precision Cooking Systems

Jetboil stoves fall into three categories:

  1. Fast Boil,
  2. Precision Cooking, and,
  3. Basecamp

The Basecamp systems are slick, but impractical for backpacking: the lightest model, the Halfgen, tips the scales at 3.5 pounds; and its propane gas canister (which must be made of steel, instead of lighter weight aluminum) adds even more weight.

Fast Boil and Precision Cooking stoves are differentiated in just one respect: fuel regulation. The Precision Cooking burners have a regulator, which governs the fuel pressure out of the canister, specifically to 12 psi. This component adds expense and marginal weight, but allows the stove to:

  • Simmer, and
  • Operate reliably in colder temperatures, down to a canister temperature of 20* F.

The Fast Boil stoves are unregulated. Simmering is difficult — if the stove is on, it’s basically a flame-thrower. And stove performance varies more with the canister pressure, which is a function of its temperature, fullness, altitude, and gas blend.

The regulated MightMo stove is available as a standalone stove, and is the centerpiece of the MiniMo, MicroMo, and SUMO systems.

Jetboil Zip vs Flash

The Zip and Flash use the same unregulated burner, making them most suitable for boil-only meals and drinks.

The Zip ($80, 12 oz) is barebones and best for soloists. The Flash ($100, 13.1 oz), with 25 percent more pot volume (1.0 liters versus 0.8 liters), can be more easily stretched to hungry soloists and 2-person groups. In addition, it has a push-button ignition, which is convenient so long as it works.

Jetboil MicroMo vs. MiniMo vs. SUMO

The centerpiece of the MicroMo ($130, 12 oz), MiniMo ($135, 14.6 oz), and SUMO ($140, 16.0 oz) is the MightyMo burner, which is regulated and available as a standalone product ($50, 3.3 oz).

These Mo-based systems vary only in their pot volumes and shapes. Differences in boil times and fuel efficiency are negligible or non-existent. The tall-and-skinny MicroMo is the lightest and most compact, but meals can be more easily eaten directly out of the wide-and-short MiniMo. The SUMO is suitable for groups.

Jetboil Joule vs -Mo stoves

The milliJoule ($180, 19.3 oz) and Joule ($200, 28 oz) are more winter-worthy than the -Mo stoves, due to the burner.

The milliJoule/Joule can operate on a liquid feed (i.e. an inverted canister), which makes them more reliable on cold, wintertime outings. The burner’s distinguishing feature is the pre-heat tube, in which the liquid fuel emerging from the canister is vaporized before reaching the burner jets.

Questions about Jetboil stoves, including how they compare to each other and to stoves from other brands? Leave a comment.


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13 Responses to How to choose: Jetboil backpacking stoves || Zip v. Flash v. -Mo v. Joule

  1. Paul B November 16, 2018 at 1:02 pm #

    The Jetboil Sol Titanium Stove is still my favorite. Lose the cup and it comes in at a fairly light 9.1oz. So incredibly efficient that one of the small canisters would last me three weeks on the PCT with both a breakfast and dinner. And after five years and ~250 days, it is still working great. For winter camping, it can be a bit tricky, but you can easily throw the canister in your sleeping bag to help keep it warm for breakfast.

    • Andrew Skurka November 16, 2018 at 1:21 pm #

      Sadly, this is no longer in their line, because the weight difference between it and a hand-picked system is so small that you could more easily overlook it.

      I didn’t ask why they dropped it. It would not surprise me if they chopped it in the interest of tightening their product line. I have worked with enough brands to see terrible examples of line architecture, with too many models that sit on top of each other in terms of price and performance. Jetboil does a pretty good job of avoiding this.

      • Mike November 16, 2018 at 4:24 pm #

        IIRC they dropped the ti line because if you didn’t cook with it properly you would melt the weldings. Too many people ignored the warnings and so they cut it all together.

        • Paul B November 16, 2018 at 4:36 pm #

          That’s what I heard as well, Mike. People trying to cook low moisture foods in it or starting it without water inside. Given how fast it boils (coffee in < 2 minutes!) and how it simply sips fuel, it is probably one of my favorite gear purchases ever.

        • Andrew Skurka November 17, 2018 at 10:17 am #

          Yeah, that would be a problem and a reason to drop a product.

        • Andrew Skurka November 19, 2018 at 7:59 am #

          Per Jetboil:

          “We discontinued the Sol due to quality/performance issues. The Sol Ti featured a Titanium vessel with aluminum FluxRing welded on. These 2 metals (aluminum and titanium) have very different heat tolerances we found when overheated or not used properly the aluminum FluxRing would pop off the vessel or even in some cases melt. Definitely not the quality of product we want in the market, therefore we decided to discontinue.”

          • Sally November 20, 2018 at 1:02 pm #

            Hi Andrew, who at Jetboil gave you that information?

          • Andrew Skurka November 20, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

            A person with authority there.

  2. Drew Murphy November 16, 2018 at 4:47 pm #

    That’s what happened to my two Sol Ti’s. Finally, just went to the aluminum Sol with no further trouble. Actually, REI refused to replace them after a while.

  3. Edward November 17, 2018 at 6:38 pm #

    Have the Sol Titanium as well, and if all you need is to boil water for tea and freeze-dried meals, it’s an extremely convenient solution.

    Back in the day, people that tried cooking in the Sol Titanium has the flux ring welds break, so JetBoil printed an advisory on their later editions of the Sol Titanium stating that the Titanium was for ONLY boiling water (no cooking) and later phased them out entirely.

    While it’s not as light as my SnowPeak 600 system, don’t have to be as careful about burning myself with the Sol Titanium, the insulation sleeve and lid work great.

  4. Randy November 18, 2018 at 10:25 am #

    I have a range of stoves from the uber light and simple cat can stove up to the JetBoil MiniMo. In certain contexts I appreciate the overall design and fuel efficiency of the MiniMo. The wider pot design & fuel efficiency matches well with the ability to simmer, since if I’m willing to take the heavier MiniMo in the first place I may also be doing some actual cooking. The neoprene sleeve, lid design and insulated handles are nice small luxuries. It’s a great fit for short backpacking trips or kayak/canoe trips. As the days or mileage increase, lighter and simpler cooking options win out.

  5. j cart November 29, 2018 at 1:01 pm #

    How do the jet boil stove systems compare to the primus prime tech stove systems?

    • Sean December 4, 2018 at 5:17 pm #

      I actually have the primus eta express set, which is an older version of that pot. I don’t have a jetboil however so I can’t do an A/B comparison.

      I tossed (or pack-ratted) the original Primus burner and replaced it with the Soto Amicus which is a lovely burner. . If nothing else, that is the benefit of the system- mix and match your favorite burner. I chose the Amicus because it was on a dirty cheap sale at the time and it has superior wind resistance compared to the jetboils and other burners, which can be temperamental. However, because the Primus pot is so burner agnostic, it doesn’t maximize the use of the heat exchange fins.

      I haven’t done a side by side comparison with my amicus and my evernew TI pot & the Primus Eta, but in using the Eta I did notice that water seemed to boil faster. I also was able to simmer pasta sauce pretty well with a more spread out heat profile. Then again If I expect to simmer I carry in my Ti pot a laboratory bunson burner wire gauze diffuser and that works great and weighs like half an ounce.

      I carry the Eta right now, but if I was going on more than weekend trips I’d probably switch back down to my evernew Titanium. The Prime Tech might be a little more stable, it’s an updated version, but it’ll land you somewhere between a regular pot and the jetboil.

      If you’re going to use an integrated heat exchange solution in a windy environment, I would actually at this point suggest the MSR Windburner. It’s a little more expensive and a smidge more heavy but it’ll boil water in conditions that Jetboil would flat out fail in.

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