The Jetboil Flash is one of the most striking looking stoves. Its undoubtedly the prettiest stove in my collection, but does it offer any significant increase in performance compared to other gas stoves?
I really wanted to like this stove, after all I'd just spent good money on it – even if I did get it cheap on Ebay! According to the manufacturer 'Flash adds more enjoyment to your favorite outdoor adventure. Like all of Jetboil’s innovative systems, Flash is an all-in-one design, combining burner and cooking vessel in one compact unit. Everything you need is stacked and stored inside the 1.0 litre cooking cup. The system lights with the click of a button and within two minutes provides two cups of boiling water for cocoa, coffee, instant soup or a gourmet freeze-dried meal. The newly designed burner secures the igniter, protecting it from bumps along the road.
Flash is designed to be one of the safest cooking solutions out there. The cooking cup clips onto the burner, preventing accidental spills, and the fuel canister tripod ensures overall stability. The insulating cozy has a colour-changing heat indicator that signals when contents are hot.
- 1.0 Litre FluxRing® cooking cup with insulating cozy, featuring Flash color-change heat indicator
- Adjustable stainless steel burner with push-button "through-cup" igniter
- Drink-through lid and insulating bottom cover/measuring cup
- Tripod base for added stability
- Available in Gold (orange), Violet (purple), Sapphire (blue) and Carbon (black)'
Somehow this didn't seem to be my experience. It didn't seem to boil as fast as my other heat exchanger stove the Primus ETA Express and I found it slightly awkward to detach the pan from the burner. I decided to test it against my other canister mounted gas stoves – the Primus ETA Express which like the Jetboil has a heat exchanger for fast boiling and fuel economy and the superlight Snowpeak Gigapower 'Starter Kit' which includes a titanium mug which can be used both to boil the water and to drink out of. It is possible to drink from the Jetboil pan but it is a bit like drinking from a bucket. The small plastic measuring cup that protects the heat exchanger can also be used as a drinking cup but it does feel too wide and shallow. The Jetboil and Primus both have Piezo igniters, the Gigapower needs matches.
I started by weighing all 3 stoves on my kitchen scales. The jetboil does not come with a windshield but as the others do (altho the Snowpeak one is a bit of a Heath Robinson creation) I included them in the figures. I did not include the weight of the gas cartridge.
- Jetboil 475g
- Primus ETA 450g
- Snowpeak Gigapower 300g
No surprises there. The Gigapower is designed to be ultra lightweight and the 25g between the other two is not significant. So far so good. The real test however is how long they take to boil. I filled each with 250ml of water – the size of an average mug. This was done in my kitchen, it would presumably take longer outside but it was the comparative times that I was most interested in. I timed how long it took to reach a good rolling boil.
As expected the Gigapower took longest – 2 mins 21 secs. The Jetboil was much faster at 1 min 34 secs but the Primus raced to boiling in just 1 min 6 secs – a clear winner. I couldn't get anywhere close to the 2mins for 500ml that the manufacturers claim for the Jetboil, it took mine 3 mins 10 secs in a warm kitchen. It did turn a very pretty yellow when it heated up!
So there we have it. I had the right gear in the first place! The Primus ETA Express is faster, slightly lighter and will hold the larger, and proportionately much cheaper, 250ml gas cartridges. The burner can be used with any pan which makes it more versatile than the Jetboil which needs an adapter to work with any other type of pan. The ETA lid can be used as a frying pan which is just about big enough for an egg or a couple of sausages (veggie of course!). It works fine for 1 or 2 people. The Jetboil is a solo stove. It is much faster than my Gigapower but the latter's light weight and compact size mean it will remain my choice for solo brews, especially as the Jetboil really needs a separate mug.
I'm afraid the Jetboil Flash has only its looks to commend it. I'm not saying that its a bad stove, just that others are faster or lighter.