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NZ Alpine Team, Pete Harris, Jetboil Flash Review

NZ Alpine Team, Pete Harris, Jetboil Flash Review

In 2012, I lost my Jetboil virginity whilst walking the 30+ kilometres down the Dobson River in torrential rain, wearing plastic boots. Reaching Kennedy Hut, two hunters took pity on us and boiled up some water for a tea. The virtually instant hot water blew my mind; a stark contrast to the rigmarole associated with getting my liquid fuel stove up and cranking.

Not long after, I acquired myself a Jetboil Flash, and I’ve never looked back. The vast array of features on the Flash do justice to the double entendre of its name. As with all Jetboils, it has the classic features like the neoprene cosy with handle, the lid with its sneaky opening for pouring liquid from, and Jetboil’s classic heat exchanging coils underneath the pot. But the Flash has a few more tricks up its sleeve. The pot insulator comes with a clear window, which by some form of sorcery, turns bright orange just before the water boils. There is also the added bonus of a Piezo ignition built into the Flash.

The author and his Jetboil on Denali

In regards to weight and performance, the Jetboil outstrips its competitors. Even the Flash, at 400 grams for everything except gas, is still lighter than its closest competitor; the MSR Reactor, but if you’re truly single-minded in the pursuit of cutting down weight, the Jetboil Sol Titanium tips the scales at a feather-light 245 grams. The boil time on the Flash is 2 minutes 30 seconds for ½ Litre. The practical effect of this is that your Backcountry Dehy meal is ready approximately 50% faster than if you were to use a classic liquid fuel burner. In terms of actual life spans for the gas (beyond the often hard to believe manufacturer’s specs), my best record so far stands at 8 backcountry meals and about 20 hot drinks on one 100g Jetboil gas canister. This was truly stupendous performance, but I wouldn’t be game enough to risk just taking one canister for four days, and would instead allow one small canister for 3 days, for two people.

Jetboil brew-up at a bivvy in Patagonia

As infatuated as I am with my first love, I’m not blinded to its faults. In essence, Jetboil claim that the Flash is exceptionally safe, and virtually idiot proof. I’m not going to go so far as to say myself and my climbing partners aren’t idiots, but would like to think we have the skills to operate a cooker. The facts would suggest otherwise though. A loose reading of the instructions on our Jetboils has resulted in a number of accidents. From entirely melting the plastic around the burner from cooking on it without the pot support, to melting the pot itself as a result of attempting the thaw ice, our Jetboils have had a hard life. Overfilling the Jetboils above the advisory “Do not fill above this line” line, has caused multiple scalded hands from boiling water vigorously ejecting from the top. Finally, the “safest cooking solution out there” with “overall stability” has one primary flaw, in that when shaken whilst cooking, it flares, burning your hand, the neoprene cosy, and potentially your tent if you’re not careful. In fairness to Jetboil, this probably reaches the standard of idiocy, given the same would have happened with any butane burner!
All in all, the Flash is a truly excellent cooking system, with ample capacity to cook for two. It’s designed primarily for boiling water at speed, and it achieves this faultlessly. My only true gripe could be the redundancy of the Piezo ignition, given all these spark-ignition systems on every burner I’ve encountered, fail to work after the first few uses.

If you want more versatility out of the Flash, or similar Jetboil products, there’s a plethora of accessories, like the pot supports, which enable you to cook with a normal pot on the Jetboil burner. If you’re serious about lightening your load, and wanting the fastest, most efficient stove system on the market, look no further than the Jetboil Flash: It’s almost idiot proof!

Blog Post: Pete Harris, 19 March 2015