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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > Jetboil Helios Cooking System > Test Report by Chuck Carnes
H E L I O S
Group Cooking System
Initial Report: January 6, 2009
Field Report: February 24, 2009
Long Term Report: April 22, 2009
I N I T I A L R E P O R T
January 6, 2009
Size: 4.5 in x 8.5 in (11.4 cm x 21.5 cm)
Included Pieces: 2.0 l (68 fl oz) pot, Pot supporting burner base, Fuel can stabilizer, Snap on wind screen, top lid and bottom cover.
Year of manufacture: 2008
Listed Weight: 28.0 oz (794 g)
Actual Weight: 29.0 oz (822 g)
MSRP: $149.95 (USD)
The burner has a wide base with three legs for stability. It has a flex fuel hose that connects to a propane/butane canister. The canister is placed upside down onto a base with three legs also. At the end of the fuel hose is an adjustable valve. The allows the user to adjust the flame and heat. Close to the valve is a push button igniter switch. Once the canister is screwed on and the fuel valve is slightly opened, one push of the igniter switch is all it takes to light the burner.
The clear wind screen is made of a semi stiff plastic and is kept enclosed by two snaps. The wind screen is held in place to the burner by a metal snap at each leg.
Now it was time to light it. This was the part I was looking forward to. I opened the fuel valve slightly and heard the hissing sound. I pressed the igniter switch and poof, a nice big flame shot up from the burner about 12 in (30 cm) above the burner base. The sound that came from that flame was definitely why they call it a Jetboil, it sounds just like a jet engine. What struck me was when I turned the fuel valve closed, the flame was still on as if the valve did not shut off. I turned it the other way thinking I had the on/off mixed up but I was correct in the way I was tuning it the first time. I did it again and turned the valve so that it was fairly tight and then it slowed down and went out. I realized that this is normal for stoves that have the on/off valves at the far end of the fuel hose from the burner. It's the left over fuel burning off after shutting it off. The burner base cooled off very quickly and I was able to pack it up within about 1 minute of turning it off.
One thing that I noticed about the pot was the handles did not want to stay folded up to the pot. They would swing freely if I tilted the pot a certain way while I was handling it on inspection. It would be nice if they would stay put up against the pot while being packed. Maybe I'm too picky but that stood out to me. The pot lid was easy to take off and put back on and everything packed very neatly back into the pot. I like the different functions that the pot lid and fin cover have when not being used for the pot. I look forward to cooking some great meals for groups in the upcoming trips I have planned.
Overall I am very pleased with the Jetboil Helios. It packs easy and I am looking forward to seeing how fast I can cook up a group meal with it.he coating inside the pot seems to be easy to clean and the wind screen is a unique addition to the burner base, very attractive yet functional.
F I E L D R E P O R T
February 24, 2009
COOKING IN THE FIELD
The Jetboil Helios has been a great cooking system out in the field. I was able to take it on a two night weekend that my son and I took to Jones Gap where we took a short jaunt to the camp site. It was only about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in from the parking lot. We decided to stay at this campsite for both nights as we worked on some Boy Scout related items. The temperature for the weekend was around 30 F to 40 F (-1 C to 4 C) at night. We did not experience any rain on this trip or much wind. The elevation was 1,215 ft. (370 m) according to my altimeter on my watch.
With the Helios being a 'group' cooking system I felt like the amount of food that I was going to prepare would suffice as a group. Although the campsite was close I still packed my bag as if I were going several miles. I have to say that the Helios is not the smallest cooking system to pack but it didn't take up too much room. I placed it down towards the bottom of my pack and it really took up very minimal space. But I knew that what was packed in the pot was all I needed for cooking.
Setting up the Helios was very easy and luckily we had flat ground at the site so there was no issue of unlevel ground or having to prop a corner up with a stick our anything. I am still impressed with how fast and hot the burner gets. It seems like as soon as I get it started, the pan is hot and I'm ready to cook.
GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES
We decided to have beef stew and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. I cooked the beef stew on a different cooking system and heated up the Helios pan for some good grilled cheese sandwiches. I turned the flame sort of low so the pan wouldn't get heated up too fast and burn the bread. I placed just a little bit of Olive Oil in the pan and swirled it a round a bit to fully cover the bottom of the pan. The way I make my grilled cheese sandwiches is smear butter (which I had a small container of since I was using it the first night) over one side of a piece of bread and lay that butter side down in the pan. It started sizzling so I knew the pan was hot. I then placed a couple pieces of cheese on the piece of bread to get the cheese to start melting. While that was heating up I smeared butter on another piece of bread and placed it on top of the cheese, butter side up. After checking the underside of the bread for for it to be brown and toasted, I flipped it with my Jetboil Spatula. I let it sit on the opposite for just a bit until that side was toasted brown. Done! Nice, grilled cheese sandwich ready to be eaten with beef stew, it was a beautiful thing.
PANCAKES AND EGGS
Nothing beats having pancakes and eggs in the morning when out in the backcountry. I brought the premix pancake mix that is mixed with water and I also brought a few eggs that I kept in a brown paper bag to keep them as cold as possible until ready to use. We were next to a stream so I was able to keep them in a plastic bag sunken in the stream over night. Again I used the Olive Oil to grease the pan to keep the pancakes from sticking. After mixing and pouring in the batter, I turned down the flame to where it was completely out. This kept the pan from heating to fast and burning the pancakes. I watched carefully as the bubbles started popping in the pancake mix and I knew it was time to flip. It was a little difficult getting the spatula flat up under the pancakes with the sides being a little high but it was not big deal, they turned out perfect and very tasty.
I wiped the pan clean with a rag and prepared the eggs for cooking. I like mine scrambled and that seemed the easiest. I turned up the flame just a bit to get the pan hot and poured the eggs in. I stirred them around a bit until they were done and scraped them out onto the black pot lid that I used as a plate. Wow, this was a great breakfast. I felt like I was at a road side diner, if I only would have brought some bacon.
FETTUCCINI NOODLES AND ALFREDO SAUCE
For dinner that night we had the 'Pasta Sides' made by Lipton. We had the fettuccini noodles with alfredo sauce. For me, this is usually done in a deeper cup form cooking system where I heat the water, pour the noodles in and continue boiling the water until the noodles are done and then pour in the sauce and stir for a while until done. Well this time I did use the deeper cup form cooking system to boil the water and let the noodles sit in it for them to get done. I didn't see that process going very well in the Helios pot. So after the noodles were done I poured them into a already heated Helios cooking pot. I then poured the powdered alfredo sauce over the noodles along with just a little bit of water and powdered milk. I stirred this together a brought that to a boil for about five minutes. I then turned off the burner, covered the pot with the black lid and let sit for a couple of minutes to cool off. This was a great meal and fairly easy to make for two people.
Overall I have to say that I really like the Jetboil Helios Group Cooking System. I have only taken it out this one time but the meals I cooked in them were great and I felt like it worked great for my son and I. The portions that I made were just enough for both of us and the ingredients filled up the pot, for the most part. I can't see this size pot making enough food for 3 or 4 people unless it was done in shifts. But for two people it was great.
The burner and pot heat up very quickly which makes getting food started and done, fast and easy. Clean up so far has been easy as well. As long as I use some sort of oil then I haven't had to worry about much food sticking to the bottom or sides.
L O N G T E R M R E P O R T
April 22, 2009
I can't say enough great things about the Jetboil Helios as a group cooking system. I took it with me on an annual Exporee with my son and his Boy Scout group. The Exporee was held in a big open field where several councils and troops come together for a weekend and work on scout advancements. The temperature for the weekend was 40 F to 50 F (4 C to 10 C) at night and 70 F to 80 F (21 C to 26 C) during the day. Beautiful clear skies for the whole weekend.
Without reiterating the process I went through, I made pancakes and eggs on the Saturday morning that we were there. I did exactly what I did in my field report but on a much bigger scale. I cooked for eight boys and ten adults. The good thing was that we had a cooler so I was able to keep the eggs fresh and had plenty of pancake mix. I cooked the pancakes first and then the eggs. The pancake cooking went great. I cooked close to twenty pancakes and only had to re-grease the pot once. I kept the heat on the lowest setting to keep from burning them. I have become a master at cooking pancakes with the Jetboil Helios. The kids and adults enjoyed them and commented on them all day.
The eggs were just as easy. After wiping the pot clean with a paper towel after the last pancake, I continued on with cooking the eggs. Some of the boys helped me by scrambling up the eggs for me before I put them on to cook. I cooked six to eight eggs at a time and ended up cooking two dozen eggs. I had the heat turned up slightly from the lowest setting the entire time of cooking the eggs. After a little salt and pepper to taste, everyone chowed down on them. I think the troop has made me full time breakfast maker and it's all thanks to the Helios.
The Helios, by far, to me, is one of the best group cooking systems out there. I had no trouble cooking with it or firing it up. Over this test period I have only gone through one and a half canisters of fuel, most of which was used at the Exporee. I can't say that it is the great little group cooking system that would be carried a lot on backpacking trips unless capacity doesn't matter; and by that I mean the room the system takes up in a pack. The contents that are used to cook with the Helios fits nicely in the pot but the pot does take up a good bit of room in a medium capacity pack.
For some people, the cooking ability of the Helios may outweigh the room it takes up in a pack which is great because it is a great cooking system for a group of two to four people on a backpacking trip. That way the cooking ingredients and the contents of the Helios can be split up for equal carrying. I really like everything about this system and the reliability it gave me on every meal I cooked. It fired up every time I went to light it and heated up very quickly. I have gotten used to the left over fuel that burns after I turn off the fuel valve. I'm not sure how this could be remedied but it is certainly not a show stopper.
This concludes this test series
Thank you Jetboil and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity.
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