Jetboil Flash: Tested
Lightweight hiking, bikepacking or paddling journeys often sound like a bit of a suffer-fest, especially if you’re a true adherent to the ‘light and fast’ philosophy. One thing, however, most lightweight solo/couple adventurers won’t compromise on is a reliable way in which to cook their food, with the ideal being an efficient (read: fast, with minimal fuel/gas usage), robust and reliable cooking system that may be slightly heavier than a tiny lightweight burner, will always win out. The Jetboil Flash is a cooking system that addresses both the lightweight question as well as the efficient and reliable one.
The Jetboil story
The Jetboil brand burst on the scene in 2001, when founders Dwight Aspinwall and Perry Dowst introduced the then-revolutionary Fluxring technology as part of the original Jetboil compact stove system. The ‘Fluxring’ in question is the folded aluminium ring affixed to the base of the Jetboil pot. Jetboil uses this to increase the surface area, and thus the amount, of metal that is heated up by the burner, while keeping the actual physical size of the pot/stove setup nice and compact (rather than using a totally flat surface of metal that would have to be wide and bulky flat of metal to attain a similar amount of heat). If you ‘stretched out’ the tightly crimped ring you’d see there is actually a large area of metal available for the flame to heat. It’s seriously clever and results in an efficient transfer of heat, with resulting fast boil times (Jetboil claims a 100-second boil-time for 500mL of water) and impressive fuel economy when out in the field.
How it works
The Jetboil Flash system is both compact (180mm x 104mm when packed up) and lightweight (371g), with all of its components packed neatly inside. There are six components in the system: the lid, the stove itself, a plastic cup (that covers the bottom of the packed unit and doubles as a measure cup, or coffee mug), a 100g Jetboil gas canister (bought separately), a canister support stand, and the 1-litre FLuxring cooking pot, shrouded in an insulating cozy. This cozy also incorporates a nifty heat thermochromatic color-change heat indicator that changes from the standard black/grey to orange to indicate the water has reached boiling temperature. It sounds like a gimmick but is actually very handy and increases safety levels, too; there’s no need to continually lift the lid off (and risk spilling hot water over yourself) to check when/if the water has boiled.
Connecting the canister, stove and Fluxring cooking pot together is a doddle; each component screws into the other and once connected it’s all very secure. Then, it’s just a matter of turning on the gas via the fold-out wire handle on the stove, pressing the piezo-electric ignitor in, and away it goes. The whole process of setting up (and, indeed packing away) is straightforward and very quick.
Jetboil Flash performance
Out in the field, the Jetboil Flash has been reliable and efficient every time. The enemies of canister-based stove systems re low temperatures, stability and wind. Jetboil’s four-season propane/isobutane fuel is claimed to work at a higher vapour pressure for optimum performance in colder conditions. During testing we had little to complain about even on cold mornings or evenings (around 4-8 degrees Celcius). The ability to control the flow subtly via the regulator helped here too; colder conditions did mean upping the gas flow a bit. Windy conditions were definitely a bit trickier; even though the Fluxring covers the stove flame to some degree, it is not obviously completely protected from wind. Still, we found it no worse than similar style stoves and it was just a case of moving it (easy, thanks to its compact size) to an area a bit more protected. The vertical style of this stove means it will always be inherently less stable than, say, a remote canister/fuel-based stove, but the canister stand supplied does make it far less likely to topple over. We had zero issues in this regard.
The Jetboil Flash’s heat indicator worked perfectly, making for a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ when it changed colour to indicate boiling. Speaking of which, the boiling speed claims of Jetboil seem to bear out in low-wind conditions – it really is impressively quick to heat up the H2O. This is good news for more than just those in a rush, too; a faster boil time means less fuel is needed or used. For testing, we had the 100g Jetboil canister and this is claimed to have enough fuel to boil 12 litres of water. That’s a considerable amount and we’d be confident in recommending only needing one of these 100g canisters for weekend/long weekend escapes for those going solo or even couples. The Fluxring pot also boils up things like rice and pasta quickly, so it is definitely more than just a ‘water-boiler’ stove. Indeed, Jetboil offers a number of other cookware accessories for the stove; a 1.5-litre pot, a skillet, and – yes! – a coffee press can all be used with the Flash system.
For those after a compact, lightweight and easy-to-use camp cooking system for solo or two-up hiking, bikepacking and paddle touring, the Jetboil Flash is a great option. The system’s robust construction and impressive performance – especially the fast boil times and fuel efficiency – were what stood out most during testing. It is also the ‘little’ things, such as the innovative cozy heat indicator, plus the ability to, if so desired, build on the system with handy accessories, that make the Jetboil Flash more than just that one-trick (read: boiling water) stove and well worth consideration both as the primary cooking setup for those light/fast forays, but also as a dependable back-up for when you’re in a larger group or off on a vehicle-based family camping adventure.
RRP: $220 Available at Anaconda stores