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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > JetBoil Flash Stove > Test Report by Greg McDonald

JETBOIL FLASH STOVE
TEST SERIES BY GREG MCDONALD
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - October 01, 2009
FIELD REPORT - December 08, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - February 09, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Greg McDonald
EMAIL: gdm320 AT yahoo DOT com
AGE: 22
LOCATION: Boynton Beach, Florida
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 0" (1.83 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)

I have been camping for 17 years, 12 of them have been spent hiking in the backcountry. My hikes are almost exclusively in Florida and generally range between one and three nights. My all-time favorite hike was a 10 day expedition in the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. I consider myself a lightweight but comfortably equipped hiker, with a pack averaging between 25 and 30 lb (11 and 14 kg).


Jetboil

INITIAL REPORT

Product Information & Specifications

Jetboil Flash
Image Courtesy of Jetboil
Manufacturer: Jetboil
Model: Flash
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.jetboil.com
MSRP: US $99.95
Listed Weight: Not Available
Measured Weight (Total): 15.2 oz (431 g)
Listed Vessel Capacity: 1 Liter
Listed Fuel Consumption: 100 g per hour
Color Tested: Carbon (Also available in Gold, Violet, and Sapphire)

Measured Weight Breakdown:
1L Vessel with Insulating Sleeve: 7.3 oz (207 g)
Lid: 1.0 oz (28.35 g)
Bottom Cover:1.0 oz (28.35 g)
Burner: 4.9 oz (139 g)
Canister Stabilizer: 1.0 oz (28.35 g)

Initial Impressions

Right out of the box the Flash struck me as a cool piece of equipment, although it was a little larger than I was originally expecting. However, once I got it opened up and realized how all the different components fit together in this one package I was more than pleased with it.

The first thing I did was open up the instructions and had a read. My dad always taught me that "when all else fails, then read the directions" but I've modified that rule in recent years to permit reading them before hand when it comes to things that could potentially explode in my face or set me on fire. These particular instructions were rather straight forward, but nevertheless very helpful. I am skipping the "operating instructions" portion of the directions in this section because it will be covered further on in the report.

Jetboil has easily diagramed many aspects of the setup, assembly, and storage of the Flash that I found very helpful in learning my way around the rig.

I sort of made up my own assembly instructions that seemed a bit more natural to me than Jetboil's process. I clipped the fuel canister onto the canister stabilizer (also referred to as the "base" throughout this report), then flipped the bale (knobby thing that controls the fuel valve) and screwed the burner onto the canister. Then I removed the base cup from the bottom of the cooking vessel and attached the vessel to the burner. Pretty simple I suppose . . . certainly not rocket science.

One cool thing I stumbled across in the instructions is an explanation of the color changing heat indicator on the insulating sleeve. According to Jetboil, the Jetboil logo on the sleeve will turn from black to orange at approximately 140F (60 C). This is a feature that strikes me as being potentially very useful at keeping my foot or drink at the right temperature while simultaneously keeping me from burning myself.

Also included at the end of the instructions are storage and cleaning instructions as well as basic troubleshooting and maintenance which I will cover later on in my Field and Long Term reports.

Three... two... one... Ignition!

It is true that I cheated a little bit and read the instructions before trying the Flash out for the first time. Still, it's a fairly standard process. Turn on the fuel by turning the control valve, and then press the igniter button. If all goes according to plan, we have ignition. Sure enough the first attempt went off without a hitch and I was off and running. I filled the vessel to the 2 cup recommended fill line and sat back to enjoy the scorching Florida heat wondering to myself why in the world hot tea would seem like a good idea for the first test run on my new stove.

I did get to make a few observations about the Flash while I was waiting for my water to come to a rolling boil. With a brand new 100 g Jetboil Jetpower fuel canister I was pretty happy with the amount of heat being generated by the burner. I didn't really toy around with the heat control all that much the first time out - I just cranked it to full and let it power its way towards a boil. I'm not really expecting a whole lot in terms of flame and heat control since the Flash appears to primarily be a boiling machine and boiling water is about as difficult as my meals get to prepare but I will still be paying close attention to this over the course of the testing period.

The insulating cozy proved to be useful as I was still able to handle the pot even at the boiling temperatures. Even with the slightly smaller fuel canister (the 100 g canister as opposed to the 300 g option) I was not at all worried about the stability thanks to the canister stabilizer and even on a slightly tilted patch or grass I had no wobbling to contend with.

It took about two minutes and ten seconds (give or take a few seconds) for the water came to a boil, at which point I shut the stove down and added my tea bags to let it brew. The directions indicate to go ahead and remove the vessel from the burner and replace the bottom cup onto the bottom to protect me from burning myself on the bottom and to retain heat. I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous about this because the last thing I wanted to do was melt the bottom cup on my first run. So I let it cool for a few minutes first, and then put the bottom cup back on. I snapped the lid on and let my tea brew for a while. Once the tea was ready I enjoyed it straight from the vessel with the included lid. I really enjoyed being able to prepare and drink my tea in the same mug - the fewer dishes to clean the better in my opinion.

Once I was finished with my morning tea I rinsed the vessel with a bit of water and packed the burner, canister stabilizer, and canister back inside and was ready to go.

Down the Trail

The test run and my early impressions of the Flash have all been very positive. I am excited about the opportunity to get the Flash out into the field for an extended period of time to see how it performs.

One of the things I like most up-front about the Flash is the versatility. I like that the entire vessel is one large drinking mug so I don't have to change between my boiling vessel and my cup. I like how the cozy makes the vessel bearable even fresh off the burner. I like how the bottom cup serves as an additional measure or drinking cup if I need it to. The built in igniter is nice because it makes a lighter less of a necessity since I always pack emergency matches anyway. Most of all I really like how all the components pack down into one package of reasonable size and weight.

Now the performance aspect of the Flash must be put to the test. I am interested to see how quite a few things will pan out during the testing period. Of course, Jetboil's boil time of "less than two minutes" for 2 cups (.5 L) of water will be put to the test. I'm also going to make an attempt to track the fuel consumption of the Flash to see how close it is to Jetboil's claim of 100 g per hour. Then obviously I'll be looking to see how the entire rig stands up to the rough and tumble of the outdoors, especially that igniter.


FIELD REPORT

Field Locations and Conditions

During the field reporting period I have used the Flash on five trips totaling seven nights. I have had the Galactic on the trail at Lake Okeechobee (twice), Croom, Myakka River State Park, and the Ocala National Forest.. The Croom overnight trip saw overnight lows of only about 70 F (21.1 C), the overnighter in Myakka dipped down to 48 F (8.9 C)., and my latest November trip in Ocala made it down around 55 F (12.8 C). My late September Okeechobee two-nighter only got down to around 72 F (22.2 C) and was very humid thanks to a considerable amount of rain, while my November Okeechobee two-nighter bottomed right around 60 F (15.6 C).

Field Performance

My food and drink is pretty straight forward when I go hiking. I use instant coffee for my morning caffine fix, simple tea bags for an evening drink, and eat "just add boiling water" meals right from the pouch. All in all, pretty easy cooking style. This cooking style comes from a realization that I just plain burn everything so I find this style far less stressful and more filling (since I'm actually able to eat what I "cook"). This simple style seems to play right into the strength of the Flash.

My findings of roughly two minutes and ten seconds to boil water from slightly below room temperature have been pretty consistent for me across the test period. Obviously boil times were slightly longer when the water was colder and shorter when the water was warmer - which is just logical. These boil times were still a pretty noticeable improvement compared to my other stove/pot rig of the SnowPeak GigaPower and 1L pot.

I personally like the experience of using the Flash as my "do it all" vessel. Its just easier for me to be able to boil my water, add my coffee or tea, then snap on the lid and enjoy. I used to boil water in a pot, add my coffee or tea and cover it to allow it to brew, transfer to a drinking cup... the whole process led to more dishes to clean at the end of the meal. The fewer dishes that are left piled up at the end of a long day the better in my opinion. I have no problems drinking from the Flash as a mug nor have I had any problems eating directly from the pot on the one occassion I made Ramen noodles instead of my usual pouch meal.

As I said, the do-it-all vessel of the Flash has made cleaning easier. On the subject of cleaning, I haven't had to do much of anything at all. At the end of a meal where I put anything other than water inside the pot I have cleaned it by boiling more water, adding a drop of camp suds, give the inside of the pot a quick scrub with a small sponge, and rinse with clean water. All in all, quick and painless with no real special care required.

The cozy is another piece of the Flash puzzle that has performed better than I had expected to date. I was very surprised at how well it insulates the pot, especially how well it protects my hands from the heat even when the stove is running. As soon as I shut the stove down I immediately grab the pot, detach it from the burner, and snap on the bottom cup. Even fresh off the burner I can hold the vessel with no discomfort at all. I like the fact that I can use the color changing Jetboil logo to help gauge when my hot coffee and tea has cooled down to a more comfortable drinking temperature.

One concern that I had in my Initial Report was the bottom cup/insulator. I was concerned that the plastic might melt or disform from the heat. This concern seems to have been unfounded, because I have not had any issues with it at all during the test period. The ignitor has also held up well and I can't remember ever having to hit the ignitor more than once in order to light the stove except for the one time I forgot to turn the gas on (it had been a long day).

Down the Trail

I'm really digging the Jetboil Flash. It suits my cooking style perfectly and the hardware has performed exceptionally to this point. I love the compact packed size, the built-in ignitor, and the excellent cozy. I really can't think of anything that disappoints me at this point in my testing.


LONG-TERM REPORT

Field Testing Locations and Conditions

The Jetboil Flash has seen more action as my cooking gear on four trips totaling five nights during the second portion of the testing period. The Flash served on two overnight trips to Myakka River State Park and two trips (one overnight and one multi-night) on the Florida Trail in the Lake Okeechobee region. I also carried the Flash on a colder dayhike on a spur trail around Lake OKeechobee.

The last two and a half months or so have seen some absolutely wonderful temperatures that have been a welcome relief from the summer heat. I had the opportunity to get out for a handful of nights that saw lows in the 30s F (-1 C) and a few others that enjoyed lows in the mid 40s F (4.5 C). I had to cook in the rain on one occassion with the Flash when I did not have a dining fly on one of my Myakka trips.

Performance and Observations

While I'm sure that it makes for a pretty boring final installment to my report, I really don't have a great deal of information to add. The performance of the Flash has been very consistent and up to my satisfaction. I think it's safe to say that as a personal cooking unit, I'm hooked on the Flash.

Before the Flash, as I've mentioned before, I pretty much exclusively used a SnowPeak GigaPower stove with a titanium SnowPeak cookset (a 1L pot and a small drinking cup). Any hesitation that I had over switching to a single-vessel system has been put to rest over the last several months. It took using a single vessel for a while to realize that the drinking cup wasn't really something I was ever using, and even when I did have the need for one I was able to use the bottom cover as the cup. The biggest advantage: less dishwashing!

The cozy is something that I have really come to love. It insulates the hot metal from my hands so I can grab it straight off the burner and not have to worry about scorching my hand, then keeps my coffee (or tea or cocoa) nice and hot for a very long time while sitting around the campfire talking with my hiking buddies. The indicator on the side has been very helpful in quickly being able to gauge the temperature of the Flash's contents to avoid any nasty accidental burns.

Having an integrated ignitor has been a nice feature. I can never seem to find my lighter when it comes time to get dinner rolling and it's been nice not to have to fumble through my pack searching for it. I haven't had any issues with it and have enjoyed first-strike success pretty much everytime I've gone to use it.

The stabilizer is something that I find myself wishing I'd had all along! It has really been great to have because I can be quite a bit less picky about stomping out my cooking area and the extra security against tipping that it offers. I'm not nearly as nervous with people walking about the cooking area with the enhanced stability when compared to my previous cook systems.

Even at the lower temperatures I encountered recently I did not notice much of an increase in the boil times. They have hovered consistently at the two minute and ten second mark. At the lowest temperatures I didn't have a problem getting the stove started or running smoothly, although I wasn't running the stove once the temperature dipped down to just below freezing. I also had to cook in the rain at one point when I was huddled underneath my hammock's tarp in camp one evening. The rain didn't seem to effect the Flash's performance at all.

Regarding the fuel consumption, I'll say that I've been very pleased with it. Although I had hoped to keep a log documenting my fuel consumption, that plan fell by the wayside when I flat out forgot to record my figures for a couple of trips. In my opinion, the Flash is light on the fuel and I'd feel very confident taking it on extended trips without a great deal of extra fuel. For a personal-use stove, it is on par with my expectations.

The Flash has proven itself to be up to my durability standards. I haven't really had to do any out-of-the-ordinary maintainence, and the cozy is still in like-new condition and the bottom of the 1L vessel is free of any real scorching from the burner itself. I haven't had any scratching or scuffing issues on the inside of the vessel from my lexan spork. The burner also still looks more or less new cosmetically. The only real signs of wear are on the bottom of the pot stabilizer where the plastic has been scuffed up a bit on some rock.

Final Thoughts

I really like the Flash, and genuinely feel like Jetboil has an excellent little product here. It has performed very well over the course of my testing period and has earned the cookset spot in my pack for pretty much everything outside of large group hikes. It brings water to a boil very quickly, is compact, light, and very easy to use.

This concludes my test series on the Jetboil Flash stove. I'd like to thank Jetboil and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to participate in this series!

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.


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