Building on their hugely successful Jetboil PCS design, Jetboil has stepped up to add additional features and improve an already great cooking system. Today, we take a look at the changes and see what else they’ve got up their sleeve!
I realized recently that I am somewhat cooking gear deficient. My primary cooking equipment for several decades has been a pair of canteen cups and whatever I could find to fuel a small fire. They have served me well and are plenty sufficient as a short term or expedient method, but I have been looking for something a bit more convenient. Jetboil came to my attention through a friend who carries a tiny stove in a sack which reminded me of a “Transformer” the first time he unfolded it and set it up. It seemed well made and it certainly did the job. The part that I had to get past was dependence upon fuel that I would have to buy, remember to pack it and to keep an eye on to ensure I did not run out. I decided that for the sake of cooking convenience in the field, I would endeavor to suffer this small logistical inconvenience and see how it worked out.
The Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System is a bit more sophisticated than my friend’s bare-bones stove, as it is a compact and lightweight arrangement of components that pack up conveniently and set up quickly. The burner, a folding tripod base, pot, lid and insulating cozy all fit together with the fuel canister to make a homogeneous and stable cooking setup. The particular system I laid my hands on is called the Java Kit, which is distinguished from the others by including a coffee press (which can also be bought separately) and a packet of Green Mountain coffee grounds. Since I’m a sucker for a hot cup of coffee, especially in a setting where I am comfortable (outside), I figured the coffee press was an excellent addition to a cookset. The coffee press adds only eight tenths of an ounce to the kit and there is plenty of room in the pot to store it.
Jetboil has built a reputation for their compact, lightweight and innovative cooking systems, but I wasn’t as interested in an ultralightweight or super compact solution as I was convenience and a way to enhance my comfort and enjoyment outdoors. Getting soft? Not really. Just getting smarter. That’s where the “innovative” part comes in. The Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System includes an anodized aluminum pot that will hold a quart of liquid, not to mention all the components of the system, which fit inside the pot with room to spare for a fuel canister. So, I have a pot large enough to do more with than boil a cup of water plus an entire cooking system that is only about 4” in diameter and 7” long – about the size of some of the insulated plastic travel mugs you see everywhere. The whole kit weighs only 16.4 ounces (with the coffee press) and has a convenient insulating cozy and a large loop nylon webbing handle so I can attach it to a pack instead of taking up room inside, which also makes it convenient to deploy quickly for a short break.
My idea of “deploying quickly for a short break” goes like this; stop, get the cooking system going, dig out a snack, do a sock check, get comfortable, and so on. Well, if you have similar ideas, you better be fast, because 16 ounces of water will reach a violently rolling boil in about two minutes. With cozy and lid in place, a burner that sounds like it should be accompanied with a count-down and the Flux Ring (more innovation) on the bottom of the pot, a lot of heat is going into the water very quickly. The Flux ring is a corrugated strip of aluminum welded around the outside edge of the pot’s bottom and adds about ten extra square inches of highly heat-conductive aluminum to get the heat from the burner into the water. Additionally, the system includes a self-ignition system which is easily actuated by pressing and “clicking” the piezo electric switch after the fuel has been turned on.
To use, all the pieces fit together to form a solid and stable unit, which enhances safety as well as convenience.
A translucent plastic cup attaches to the bottom of the pot for transport and serves to keep debris out of the flux ring. The cup is also graduated with one cup and half cup markings. The flexible lid is translucent which is a change from the original version, and appears to be made of vinyl. It snaps on securely and includes a no-dribble drinking hole, vent hole and a center hole for the stem of the coffee press. The insulated cozy fits snugly, has the big loop handle mentioned earlier and what I assume to be a retaining loop for a butane lighter in the event that the integral burner igniter gives out. Not that it would, but one must always be prepared. If I think I have a hot cup of coffee coming and don’t get it, things can get ugly – so, the burner MUST light.
Also, one of the most notable changes with the new Flash system is addition of the heat indicator strips on the side of the pot which are built into the cozy. As the liquid gets hotter in the pot, the heat indicator strips on the side start changing color, one at a time. Each time one of those “strips” change color, you can get a general idea of how hot the contents are. That’s helpful so you can tell when the contents are hot enough for coffee, soup, or if it’s hot enough to purify the water if that’s your intent. This is a great idea since you don’t have to guess and keep checking the pot to see if you’re just wanting it warm enough for a cup of cocoa. Just watch the heat indicator on the side!
Overall, the Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System is a great little package that I would trust for pleasure-type excursions as well as for emergencies, so I was disappointed to find that the burner would not work with a regular pot or salvaged coffee can. This little issue was immediately resolved when I figured out that I can get an accessory pot support to allow the use of a regular pot. In fact, Woods Monkey did a recent review on their acessory fry pan recently. Jetboil has a number of other accessory items available which are clearly marked on their site to indicate which accessory is compatible with what. As far as the Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System meeting my own needs, I believe it does so easily. I think it would be a great choice for outright survival or emergency preparedness situations as well as for the occasional hour-long stroll on a heavily-used trail, whether you are relaxing or hard at work.
The only down-side I could think of is that niggling little logistical issue of fuel. While it took me a couple weeks to locate some, I learned that it was something like a Lithium CR123A cell for a “tactical” flashlight – if you want it and it serves a purpose better than something else more easily acquired, you’re going to locate a source and keep a close eye on your supplies. That part will not become a problem now because the convenience and performance of the Jetboil makes it worth the effort to manage a small supply of fuel that I am not going to forget.
The Java Kit packaging states that it would make a great gift, just like anyone selling something might this time of year, but I have to agree with it because it should work well for outdoors-types with widely varying outdoor interests. At almost $100 retail, you may have to be a bit selective about who you might give one to, but you can also snoop around for some better prices, as I have seen them for as low as $85. I might just wrap one up and give it to myself for Christmas now that I think about it!