If you are looking for a backpacking stove the odds are that you want to boil water. Anywhere. Anytime. And you want the water to boil fast. The Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System takes you from sleeping bag to hot coffee in two minutes. That’s fast. Sure, there are other features you value, and we will explore them in this Jetboil stove review, but at the end of the day speed is important in a stove and that is what the Flash is all about.
- Jetboil FluxRing technology – less heat is lost during cooking.
- Fast boil time. Boils 2 cups of water in only 2 min.
- Built-in windscreen. Provides efficient perfomance in bad weather.
- Neoprene lining of the cooking cup – food stays warm longer.
- Compact & lightweight design. The entire system can be stowed inside the cooking cup.
There are other reasons to buy a backpacking stove. You want something lightweight and durable. A stove that accepts universal fuel cartridges. One touch ignition. An integrated vessel with lid. Neoprene cozy for insulation and a tough handle for drinking soup right out of the cup. Well, the Flash has all of these things and more. It is a perfect solution to backcountry meal prep.
But the best part is the design allows for the various parts and pieces to pack into one kit, everything is exactly where you need it. With the stove. You can even store the fuel canister inside. Then, when you need it, you assemble the stove in seconds and two minutes later you have boiling water. No priming, no matches and no waiting forever to see if the water is ready. Did I mention the Jetboil Flash has an easy to read temperature indicator on the side of the pot? Well, it does. Like I said, you literally go from tent to cocoa in two minutes.
When you receive the Jetboil Flash you should find the following in the box:
- Multi-Language Instruction Manual
- Cooking Vessel with Neoprene Sleeve
- Measuring Cup
- Jetboil FluxRing (Heat Dispersal Fins)
- Heating Element/Burner with Valve and Ignition
- Base/Stand with Rubberized Feet
Unboxing the Flash is quick and easy. The stove comes in a small package, sealed inside a clear plastic shell. The product is designed to nest and it ships that way, saving on space and letting you know right away that this stove actually does what it says. The plastic is enough to protect against scratches and allows you to check for any noticeable dents careless handlers may have inflicted. The Flash basically comes the same way from the manufacturer as it will be carried on the trail so the rigors of shipping are a good test of durability.
Inside the plastic is a card stock insert printed with a list of available accessories and information about the stove’s features. Once the plastic is removed you are left with the stove assembled as if you were about to throw it in your pack. Except for one thing. There is no fuel canister. The Flash does not come with a fuel canister so if you are expecting to leave on a trek immediately after receiving the stove you better have a canister already.
After removing the lid, you discover each component in layers, packed neatly inside the cooking vessel. A cardboard tube takes the place of the canister you will soon be storing in the Flash and prevents the other components from banging around in the absence of the fuel. This tube can be discarded. An instruction manual wraps around the interior of the pot.
The directions are easy to understand and include pictures for added clarification. Once all of the components are out of the vessel, assembling the stove takes less than a minute, but without a fuel canister you will not be able to fully assemble the Flash as the unit rests on top of the canister and is stabilized by plastic legs which snap onto the fuel cell’s base.
Design and Durability
The Jetboil Flash is marketed as a personal cooking system and as such it is designed to be a fully integrated unit. Each component has been meticulously crafted to match the rest of the stove perfectly giving a finished look to the product.
Careful consideration has been given to the materials and construction of the stove. The stove is lightweight, .88 pounds, and has a small profile, 7.09 inches by 4.09 inches, making it portable enough for even ultralight hiking.
The neoprene sleeve provides a comfortable grip. It is thick and double stitched to prevent seams from splitting. The handle is sewn in and reinforced, up to the task of hoisting the vessel when it contains a liter of water. The plastic components are durable. The lid is flexible enough to provide a good seal yet thick enough to prevent breakage as is the measuring cup.
The burner is made of stainless steel and is of good quality. The cooking cup is insulated hand-anodized aluminum, exactly the material you would expect to find in a quality stove. The vessel holds a full liter of fluid, a good size for boiling drinking water. For a backpacking stove, where weight is important, Jetboil has given each component a substantial amount of material. Nothing is flimsy. The durability of the product lies mostly in the nesting design. Using the cooking vessel as protection for the more fragile items during transport will go far in preventing damage to the Flash.
Accepts Standard Fuel Canisters
Jetboil sells its own isobutane/propane fuel canisters but the Flash accepts most brands of threaded canisters with Lindal valves. The valve allows for detachment of the fuel cell without leaking. One selling point of the Flash is the ability to store the fuel inside the cooking cup for transport. This is a great feature but be warned. Only the small size will fit. The larger sizes from Jetboil and other manufacturers will not pack neatly away. Jetboil did include a second set of clips on the base to accommodate the larger canister sizes, so the unit will still be stable with the larger cell.
Jetboil claims each 3.5-ounce canister will boil 100 cups of water, seemingly plenty for a weekend trip. Multiple reviewers have experienced fuel consumption at or near the manufacturer’s estimate. Canisters are inexpensive and readily available at outdoor stores. Purchasing fuel online is subject to hazardous materials regulations and often includes extra shipping costs as a result.
Push Button Ignition and Foldaway Valve Key
The beauty of a canister stove is the ease of operation. There is no priming or preheating needed. Simply attach the canister firmly, open the valve with the convenient foldaway key, and push the igniter button. The stove lights easily at normal operating temperatures. After some complaints about the ignition in earlier Jetboil models, the Flash has improved filaments and a more durable button for longer life.
It is still wise to bring matches or a lighter along just in case. Even the best stove ignition systems sometimes struggle in extreme cold, high winds, or increased elevations. Jetboil has included an integrated windscreen to help get the fire lit and keep it going once burning. If you are camping in very cold weather, I would still recommend buying four-season fuel and keeping your canister inside the tent overnight. These are universal issues with canister fuel, not design flaws on the part of Jetboil.
One issue with the Jetboil flash is the all or nothing design of the burner. Jetboil does not do well with simmering, the burner lacks true adjustment capability. In essence, the flame is either on or off. Because of the shape of the cooking vessel and the types of food and drink most backpackers plan on consuming, this limitation does not usually come into play. However, it should be noted in case you are the rare exception who requires a range of heat options from their backpacking stove.
Included Neoprene Sleeve for Comfort and Insulation
I have to admit, I was surprised to see the included neoprene sleeve enveloping the cooking vessel on the Flash. Something about rubberized material so close to a flame made me raise an eyebrow. But after combing through hundreds of buyer reviews and YouTube videos I have not discovered a single case of the sleeve being damaged by the heat source.
With that concern addressed, I find the included sleeve to be a nice feature. There is nothing worse than taking the time to make coffee in the bitter cold and then having the brew be cold once you go to drink it. The thick sleeve gives an amount of protection from the heat for your hands and is easy to grip, even while wearing gloves.
I especially like the oversized handle sewn in to the sleeve. The design provides a natural feeling hand placement and makes drinking out of the vessel easy. Jetboil included a small drinking/pouring hole in the lid so you won’t have to pry it off before sipping. Keeping the lid on also preserves more heat, an extra layer of protection for the already well insulated vessel.
Value for Money and Guarantee
The Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking system sells for $99 approx. making it a medium to high priced entry in the world of integrated canister stoves. At this price point it is appropriate to expect quality materials, solid craftsmanship, and extra features which enhance the user experience. The Flash delivers in every way.
Sure, there are far cheaper options available but most are not truly integrated systems and none boil water in two minutes. Jetboil has established a reputation in the outdoor industry for quality and reliability. The stoves Jetboil produces last season after season, eliminating the cost of replacing a stove every year from your hiking budget.
Jetboil stoves come with a limited 1 year manufacturer’s warranty covering parts and labor for the repair of defective units. Your stove can be registered after purchase on the Jetboil website. The warranty is standard and does not include failures associated with abuse or misuse of the product.
There are many competitors in the backpacking stove market but Jetboil has put some distance between themselves and their competition by including a few unique features that the other brands simply do not have. Jetboil has anticipated what their stove owners want and taken care to provide a stove which fulfills every need while remaining easy to use.
The key to Jetboil’s success is the ability to boil water quickly. This is accomplished by the development of the Jetboil Fluxring. Your Flash cooking system includes a metal ring which looks like a heat exchanger composed of many small fins. These fins spread the heat from the stove evenly over the entire cooking surface of the vessel and create boiling times unmatched in the industry.
Another unique feature is Jetboil’s solution to knowing when it’s time to eat. The neoprene sleeve includes a color-changing temperature indicator to let you know when the water is boiling. The indicator is not some small gauge, it is almost five inches tall and is imbedded in the logo on the side of the neoprene sleeve. Once the water is ready, this logo changes color and can easily be seen from several feet away. Very convenient.
The Flash thoughtfully includes some design elements not commonly seen in other backpacking stoves. The vessel itself is coated with a non-stick surface to help with cleaning around camp. Jetboil also provided an easy to read maximum fill line to take the guesswork out of filling the pot. In case you want less liquid, the protective cap on the bottom of the stove doubles as a marked measuring cup for precise amounts of liquid when rehydrating food.
If the Flash is not a perfect fit for you, here are a few products very close in performance. Each offers its own strengths, weaknesses, and value.
For those on a budget or looking for a slightly smaller and lighter alternative to the Flash, the Jetboil Zip Personal Cooking System might be the choice for you. The Zip has many of the same features of its big brother, the Flash, and is constructed with the same great materials and quality craftsmanship Jetboil is known for.
The Zip comes with a smaller cooking vessel, .8 liters compared to a full liter. The zip also lacks the automatic ignition system so you will need to carry some matches if you plan on cooking. These design changes give the Zip a slightly smaller height, 6.5 inches, and weight, 12 ounces. For some, that is a big difference. The smaller model also loses the color-changing temperature indicator.
All of the other features of the Flash are present. The ability to store the stove in the vessel when transporting, the neoprene sleeve, the Jetboil Fluxring technology, and the drink-through lid all make the Zip a quality stove for hikers on the move. The included cap/measuring cup still sits at the base of the stove and the unit comes with rubberized feet for support when in use.
The Zip is a nice option to have if the premium features of the Flash are not that important and saving a few dollars makes purchasing a stove possible.
As great as the Flash is, some users found a few imperfections. Jetboil took notice and introduced the Jetboil MiniMo Personal Cooking System to address these issues head on. The Mini-Mo is designed to cook food first and boil water second, the opposite of the Flash.
The vessel has been redesigned and is now shorter (6 inches) and wider (5 inches) to more closely resemble a pot. Jetboil says this improves something called the spoon angle, which I guess is important when eating the last of a meal out of the bottom of the vessel. The MiniMo was also given a new valve design to make true simmering possible, an area in which the Flash struggles. Metal handles replaced the neoprene version to give a backcountry cook something firm to hold onto while stirring the evening meal.
The changes to the vessel came with a slight increase in boiling time, adding fifteen seconds to the lightning quick 2-minute time of the Flash. Most of the Flash’s other features are well represented in the MiniMo system. The same hand anodized aluminum, Fluxring technology, neoprene cozy, and universal adaptability to threaded fuel canisters are all backed by the Jetboil manufacturer’s warranty and quality guarantee.
The MiniMo is for the serious backpacker who wants to actually cook instead of boiling water and rehydrating food. The MiniMo is not cheap, the extra features move the price up more than $30 dollars approx. But for someone who knows exactly what they want, the MiniMo is a solid investment. It will last for years and make cooking on the trail fast and easy.
If you are experiencing a little sticker shock from the Jetboil stoves, the Cooking and Rapid Boiling System from APG might be a good choice. Priced far lower than similar products from Jetboil, this system provides a solid cooking option for backpackers, campers, and outdoorspeople without breaking the bank.
APG bills this stove as a generic version of the Flash. The APG features a 1 liter cooking vessel virtually identical in size and shape to the Jetboil version. With a neoprene sleeve, a push button ignition, and a drink-through top, the rest of the stove is identical as well.
APG claims their version boils water in two minutes, matching one of the main attributes of the Flash. Reviewers found the boiling times to be a bit slower, but not horribly so. The APG is made of anodized aluminum and includes a finned heat exchanger as found in the Jetboil Fluxring.
APG represents itself as a company which manufacturers camping stoves for a variety of larger brands. As such, the majority of the design elements in their cooking system are identical to the Flash. With the limited information available it is difficult to tell if the quality of materials and construction are as high as the standards set by Jetboil. There is no mention of a warranty nor an option for product registration.
Almost one-third less than the current listed price of the Flash, the APG stove could be a bargain if it consistently performs well over time. To date there is not enough information to tell. The handful of reviewers did not see any problems with quality beyond a finicky push button ignition. If you need a stove and cannot justify the cost of a Jetboil, the APG version might be worth the gamble. It would not be the first generic version of a product on the market to be offered at a great discount while offering comparable quality.
At the end of the day, your choice in backpacking and camping stoves needs to reflect something about you. How you live when in the outdoors and what comforts you are willing to leave behind and what extras you are willing to carry with you. The Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System allows you to be comfortable around camp, without toting several pounds of extra gear up the hill.
There is something to be said about a product that knows what it does best and does it better than anyone else. When it comes to boiling water, the Flash is top dog. The entire stove is designed around this one function, and each element has been thoughtfully created to enhance the process of boiling water.
But the Flash is not perfect. Here is a list of pros and cons we discovered during the review.
- Full 1 liter capacity
- 2-Minute boiling time with fluxring technology
- Push button ignition
- Accepts all threaded fuel canisters
- Neoprene sleeve for comfort and insulation
- Integrated temperature indicator
- Foldaway valve control
- System self-stores all components
- Tall and narrow cooking vessel
- Cannot store large-sized fuel canisters in unit
- Moderately expensive
- Does not simmer well
If you are a backpacker who primarily uses a stove to boil water and the majority of your food is dehydrated the Flash is for you. If you look forward to a steaming cup of coffee and tea moments after rolling out of your sleeping bag, the Flash will be your best friend. You will not find another stove that meets your needs as well and offers the same value and quality.
Jetboil Flash Cooking System
Overall, the Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System is a solid choice for a primary backpacking stove. The innovative design, quality materials used in manufacturing, and the addition of unique features to enhance the user experience make the Flash a good choice for your cooking needs around the campsite.
User Review( votes)
Featured Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/light_seeker/7505351426