Read reviews for the Personal Cooking System by Jetboil as submitted by your fellow paddlers. All of the reviews are created and written by paddlers like you, so be sure to submit your own review and be part of the community!
However, if you are like me and want to backpack with minimal lightweight gear with only short stops for quick meal preparation from dehydrated meal packets, then you want to get this. This is the ticket for you! I can tell you that while this thing is lightweight and compact (the complete system fits inside the pot) it is very durable. There have been quite a few times where I was far from gentle with it and it has never failed me.
One thing, I would pass on the optional accessories. As I said before, where it reins supreme is in its ability to boil water super fast, either to make safe for drinking or for using in dehydrated meal packets. As for the coffee french press accessory, you will end up with coffee full of grounds. Here is what I do to make coffee with it. I put coffee grounds inside a large paper coffee filter, draw up the sides to where the coffee is all in a ball and then tie it shut with string. I make a bunch of these before leaving on my trip and put them in a large Ziploc bag.
So when you read the reviews, even here, the only real complaint is problems with the igniter. The Gen-1 igniter had problems. BUT, Jetboil would replace that igniter for free. I have the Gen-2 igniter and in all the years, it has failed exactly once.
People complain that the burner can only boil so the gen-3 burner actually has a simmer setting! Cooking in that tall-thin pot is still a problem but the mini-mo is shorter and wider to fix that and the Jetboil frypan works well.
If you have igniter problems, contact Jetboil and get the newer igniter, they are simple to replace with a small screwdriver and problem solved.
Later I bought the Sumo pot to boil enough water for a family.
Still later I bought the Frypan as no backpack pot has the size or shape to decently fry eggs.
Con: it does take longer for the Sumo to boil water. You need to get your meal ready before you start the Flash as it will probably boil the water before your meal is ready. You do need the tripod pot support under the fuel can. The thing is tall and narrow. Jetboil needs to make a cover for the Frypan so you can carry utensils inside.
Pro: It boils water well! the entire stove system fits into the pot and the Flash fits into the Sumo pot which makes hauling the set easy. Even the Sumo fits through any kayak hatch I have so packing is easy. The Frypan needs a larger hatch to fit but I manage. If you only boil water, clean-up is simple.
With all those add-water hiking meals out there and the numerous websites to give more add-water foods, the Jetboil is perfect!
I cut the plastic lid from a gallon ice-cream bucket into a disc which wraps around my Jetboil. I use this under the fuel can as a) an extra stabilizer on bad ground, b) a cutting board, c) early warning as when this thing heats up, I know the fuel can is about to explode. I got an old cloth wine-bag which holds the entire system and a large fuel can easily plus the bag is a pot-holder.
So here it is, years later and i am still using the Jetboil with no complaints.
Maria is a paddle-buddy and liked how every night and morning we made hot-chocolate so easily... so she mentioned it to her father who bought her one for herself.
The only improvement that I can think of is to get the Sumo pot. And yes, I tested it out, the same stove will fit every Jetboil pot they sell. So you can buy the Solo for your own needs, the titanium pot for ultralight camping or the Sumo for a couple or small family.
First, you CAN cook in it. I toss chopped bits of beef jerkey and dehydrated peas and carrots to help them soften while the water boils.
YES, on a couple occasions the ignitor failed to light. But that was an isolated incident and I used a lighter with entended wand to light the burner. and the next meal, the ignitor worked fine. I have no ideas on this.
I did melt the plastic around the burner while trying to time it over Veterans-Day. I wanted to see how long it took to boil a set amount of water compared to my Optimus stove. I admit that what happened was a) a fluke and b) my fault. I put the jetboil on my porch out of the wind and I guess the heat reflected and concentrated and melted the plastic around the burner.
As a lark, I wrote an e-mail to jetboil and got a reply within minutes. They gave me a repair number, I packed the thing off the next day and about 3 weeks later got the repaired burner back. Too late for my 4-day/3-night on the Colorado but hey, that is why I own an Optimus.
I find that I CAN cook on it using my normal cooking pots BUT there are rules.
1) never set the pot ON the burner. Hold it above the flame and
2) keep moving the pot to keep the heat even. Yes, it takes some time this way and my arm did get tired but it worked.
So the bottom line is that if you are careful, the jetboil can do a lot.
The Jet-Boil is a one-trick pony. BUT it does that trick very well. It boils water really fast! And since most of my camping and hiking foods are of the "add water and eat" variety, this is no problem for me at all. And left over boiling water goes into the wash-bucket for the dishes. BUT, for those of you who like to cook, it may cause some problems.
So JetBoil has invented a simmering pot and frying pan, which are great for car-camping but not so good for backpacking or kayak-camping where space counts. There is an option below.
Their website even gives a page on recipes you can make with your Jetboil. Believe it or not, while reading, one person actually posted Raman Noodles and another mac-&-cheese. But there are others listed. Shrimp, etc. They encourage you to experiment and post your own recipes. Good idea there.
The JetBoil consists of three parts: The pot to hold water, The stove, The fuel can. They all nest into the water pot to be easily carried and to protect the stove.
I did a survey on-line and found out the following things Jetboil will NOT tell you (possibly a liability issue, probably to sell you their own gear:
*FUEL- JetBoil sells you their own special IsoButane-Propane fuel in two sizes: the smaller can to fit inside the pot and a larger one that does not. The smaller fuel-can can heat the canister 10-12 times which means 3-4 days of meals.
BUT, asking around, I find that any fuel that can screw in, will work. It just won’t work as well. I used a Coleman Propane-Butane can and it worked for me. There are a number of fuel mixes that will work, but be prepared for the 10-12 meals to reduce to 8-10. But the non Jet-boil cans are cheaper. You do the math.
NOTE: USE the plastic tripod stabilizer they give you. When full and assembled, it is tippy so use the tripod. It’s a bit difficult to put on so I got an extra one in case I break the first one.
*USE- screw the pot onto the stove (remember to unfold the fuel valve first, I forgot) then set the can onto the tripod. Turn the valve until you hear fuel leak and hit the striker-switch a couple times. The fuel will ignite THEN you put the pot of water onto the stove and wait. My Coleman can heated a full canister of cold water to a rolling boil in 4 minutes. I realized it was boiling when drops of hot water started to land on the book I was reading. Boil-overs are a problem if you try to fudge the instructions. Less or warmer water takes much shorter times.
Some people complain about the noise, I barely heard it hiss while cooking. I guess those people have super-hearing so if you 'sleep' with a 'friend', do it well away from those people with sensitive hearing.
BUT, if you are going to cook in the pot, you MUST watch it. No, "set it up and walk to the tent for a drink" STAY there! Or you will bake the food to the pot before you know it.
NOTE: if I want to use my own camping pots, it was recommended to me that I buy a "Heat Diffuser" that goes on a stove ($5 at ACE). Or make one. Then put this over the stove (buy the Jet-boil Pot Support) and I am told you can use your camping pots safely. I made one but didn’t have the lifter-thing to keep the diffuser off the stove so never had a chance to test it. IF you buy that Pot-Support lifter and a diffuser, you can use your own pots to cook in.
One strange thing I found is that the pot has a neoprene sleeve around the pot and it NEVER melted! The lid is plastic and it NEVER melted either. There is some serious safety engineering going on there. And the sleeve and handle lets me pick the pot and pour boiling water safely! I still don’t know what the little sleeve on the neoprene sleeve is for. A spoon holder???
DOWNSIDE- I decided to leave my Coleman single-burner stove behind because I had all these half-empty fuel cans and didn’t know "is it almost full or almost empty?" And so I'd carry a new can and a bunch of used cans… which means I carry them ALL out again.
Thus I returned to my Optimus Hiker. I KNOW how much fuel is in my fuel tank and how much is in my small fuel bottle and exactly how long that will last.
NOW, with the Jet-boil, I am back to the fuel can problem. It will take a few trips before I get the timing down again. How many meals will a full can do? Will I forever take one new can and one used can for every weekend trip? How many used cans will I collect before I haul them ALL into the field to drain? That’s why I stopped carrying gallons of water and bought a couple katadyn water filters. To reduce load.
Also, the second series had some problems with the striker. That was fixed and the First-Gen and the current-generation are safe. If you have the Second-Gen Jet-Boil, they will send you the replacement parts to fix it for free.
HINT: If you don’t like the idea of carrying the pot (and gear and all those fuel cans) and all the other stuff, be a girl!
Ok, that wasn't an insult. Men are competitive. When Harry and Brian and I are cooking, Harry pulls out his MSR, I pull out my Optimus and Brian pulls out his Jetboil! Then we all sit there, cooking separate meals and bragging over what we did to make the stove better and stealing each others ideas. We can offer our stove to the other guys, but we all reply, "thanks, I’m using mine."
Women are socializers. When three girls cook, one pulls out the stove, another pulls out the pots, another pulls out the flatware & cutlery and they share the load and experience.
So if you are camping in a group, divide the gear. Do you really need three stoves? Three sets of pots-&-pans? If you like the JetBoil, one guy carries that, another the nesting cook-set, another the heat diffuser and spoons, etc.
Of course, being a guy, I’ll ignore that last suggestion.
The only complaint I have is that if you aren't careful when you nest everything for storage you will bend and eventually break the electrode. I've had to replace one so far, it's easy to replace and costs only $6-$7 but if you don't have a spare and you're way in the boondocks you'll have to use a match or cigarette lighter to light your stove. Because I use both stoves together I would light the one burner first then use it to light the second burner for about a week till I found a store that sold the replacement igniter set.
I definitely rate this a 10 for the total experience. And, if you're boiling oatmeal or soup you have to stir it often to keep it from sticking to the bottom.