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.
Universal pros and cons
Across its line, all Jetboil stoves have the same advantages and liabilities:
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.
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.
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:
- Fast Boil,
- Precision Cooking, and,
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.
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
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/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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