I have been using Jetboil stoves for over 12 years. During this time, I have used most of the common models starting with the Zip, Flash, MinoMo, Joule, Sol Ti and most recently the MicroMo. As a member of the New Zealand Alpine Team I am lucky enough to get the latest models as part of our sponsorship agreement with Jetboil. Jetboil is the stove I have chosen to use long before we had any form of sponsorship from Jetboil and it would still be my first choice of stove if I had to go and buy a new one in the future.
For those who are looking for a full on technical spec review with boil times temps and other info you might get a little disappointed. For that kind of info I suggest taking a look at Jetboil’s website www.jetboilnz.co.nz all the technical info you need can be found there. What I plan to do with this review is to share some real world experiences using the Jetboil stove in some harsh environments, from the Himalaya, the Southern and European Alps down to Patagonia.
I'll start with some of the features that I like about a Jetboil . Most of these are based around functionality and the various ways I use them while climbing.
- Integrated cup and burner. Jetboil were one of the first companies to introduce this concept. The integrated cup and burner is perfect for climbers as it allows you to cook while sitting on a ledge, inside a small alpine tent or hanging on a portaledge without the need to place the stove on the ground.
- Hanging kit. Mostly I use this accessory when big wall climbing. It is an excellent add on to buy if your planning on doing any cooking on the side of a big rock face.
- Packability. I really like how a Jetboil stove packs. The ability to store your gas, stove and cup all in one simple robust package is a huge advantage when trying to fit all your climbing / camping gear into a small pack.
- Ease of assembly and operating when wearing gloves.
- Regulated burner. This is an excellent feature, as I use the Jetboil mostly in cold environments I find the extra power and performance that the regulated burner provides a major advantage when melting snow fast or boiling water for a meal. If you are looking for a Jetboil for more general camping / cooking I would also choose one with the regulated burner as the simmer ability that the regulator provides is excellent for cooking and not burning your meal.
For me there are two key Jetboil models. The MicroMo for alpine climbing, where essentially you want to melt snow and boil water. Then the MiniMo for times where you prefer to cook a meal in the cup and have the wider surface area. Both models have the regulated burner providing efficient and fast cooking. I find them suitable for one – three person teams.
What would I like to see improved.
Weight is always an issue when it comes to alpine equipment. I was a little bit sad when Jetboil removed the Sol Ti from the range. Especially when initially they did not come out with a light weight high performance option. However ……..The MicroMo with its regulated burner does fill the spot that the Sol Ti used to hold. There is a trade off though where you have the increased performance with the new regulate burner but a slight increase in weight due to the more robust cup. Going forward I hope Jetboil can find a solution where they can produce a regulated burner stove with a true light weight cup that helps bring the overall stove weight down.
For me they could remove the piezo ignition lighter from the stove. While the concept is great, over time I have never had much luck with my piezo ignition. As such I always carry a back up flint or lighter. I also usually break my plastic cup on the bottom of the Jetboil. Typically, when trying to dig snow out with it (Not its intended design use I know). A change to a silicon cup or something similar that doesn’t crack could also be an improvement. However, I fully acknowledge that if I was just a bit more careful the current cup functions fine.
The simple facts.
When I am planning for a big alpine climb where the performance of my clothing and equipment can impact my ability to survive and successfully complete the objective the fact you can get one product for free and another you need to pay for is actually irrelevant. Put simply I take the best product for the job. A stove is one of the most crucial items in the pack. Without the ability to melt snow for water or to brew up a hot tea, prepare a meal you find yourself in a very serious situation. I have used my Jetboil MicroMo in temps as low as -30 at altitude over multiple days. The first trip I took it on was to Nepal where we climbed the North Face of Cholatse. This was a climb devoid of sunshine. Temps never rose above -10 in the “heat of the day” and often hovered between -20 to -30. The performance of the Micro Mo in these cold environments was excellent. The regulated burner provided much more power and efficiency over previous models I had used. See a video of that ascent here Cholatse 6440m via the North Face
More recently I had the MicroMo on a one month trip to Patagonia. Not quite as cold as the trip to Nepal but still a cold and windy environment. Again, the MicroMo was my first choice of stove for the trip. You can see it in action here during an ascent of Punta Herron. Climbing Punta Herron Patagonia
I choose to take JetBoil stoves for these ascents. Simply they are the best preforming cooking device on the market today.
Overall the Jetboil MicroMo is an excellent stove for anyone needing a high performance, light weight cooker that functions well in cold and windy environments. It is currently the best compact cooking system for alpine climbing on the market today.