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Reviews > Cook Gear > Stoves > Jetboil Personal Cooking System > Owner Review by Peter Spiller

Jetboil Personal Cooking System (PCS) with coffee press
December 28, 2007

Owner Review By: Peter Spiller

BiographyConditions
Product Information
Field Report
Field LocationsConclusion


Personal Biography:
Name:Peter SpillerPeter Spiller
Age: 37
Gender:Male
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83m)
Weight:190 lb (86 kg)
Email address:phspiller@cox.net
City, State, Country:La Mesa, CA U.S.
Backpacking Background: I have been camping and hiking avidly since childhood.  In the last several years I have become more passionate about backpacking and kayaking, and have become a Chapter Outing Leader for the Sierra Club. I am also the Car-Camp Coordinator for the "Wilderness Basics" course held annually in San Diego.  I day hike locally most every weekend both alone, with other adults, and with my children.  I also plan and execute several longer-term trips each year, including many multi-day trips to the Anza-Borrego Dessert, the Grand Canyon,  Snowshoeing in the Sierra Nevada's, and a father-daughter trip to Yosemite.

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  Product information:
Manufacturer:JetboilJetboil PCS-from the Jetboil Website
photo courtesy of Jetboil
Manufacturers Website: http://www.jetboil.com
Listed Weight:15 oz (425 g)
Delivered Weight:15 oz (425 g)/ 17 oz (482 g)  (with coffee press)
Manufacturers Description: (from the website) The original Jetboil has sparked a revolution in outdoor cooking. Boiling two cups in two minutes at 75-80% efficiency, the PCS is twice as fast and uses half as much fuel as conventional stoves. The PCS boils up to 50 cups (12 Liters) of water from only one Jetpower isobutane/propane micro-canister. Such outstanding performance results from the patent-pending FluxRing(tm) heat exchanger, which captures and focuses the burner's heat.
PCS

The PCS integrates a 1 liter (32 oz) insulated hard-anodized aluminum cooking cup, high-performance burner base with built-in piezoelectric igniter, drink-through plastic lid, and protective bottom cover that doubles as a measuring cup. With all components, including fuel, packed comfortably within the cooking cup, the entire PCS is smaller than a Nalgene bottle. Stow it in your pack, saddlebag, kayak, fanny pack, or side pocket - take it anywhere. At 15 ounces (425 g), Jetboil PCS rivals the very lightest titanium cooksets and micro-canister stoves.
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Field information:


Field Locations:

 The Jetboil I have tested has primarily been used in three different geographic locations.  The first being San Diego County, including the Anza-Borrego Desert, and the Laguna Mountain range. I also used it in the Sierra Nevadas in central California, as well as an overnight hike into the Grand Canyon

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Conditions:

 I have used the Jetboil during all four seasons including summer trips in the Sierras in mild weather, hot San Diego fall trips, a scorching trip into the Grand Canyon where the temperature topped 104 F (40 c), winter snow camping above 9,000 ft (2800 m) in the Sierras to mild spring weather in the Laguna Mountains.  

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Field Report:

     I received the Jetboil personal cooking system with a the accessory coffee press as a gift from my children for Christmas 2006, and it has been used on more than a dozen trips in the last year.  It has been my primary backpacking stove, and has been used in a variety of conditions.  Its principal use has been boiling water to prepare meals, make evening tea, and brewing my morning coffee.  The unit has performed flawlessly in mild and hot conditions, and has performed admirably in cold conditions.

    The Jetboil Personal Cooking System is a self-contained stove, which uses iso-butane canisters as fuel.  It comes with a burner unit that locks into a proprietary cooking vessel with a lid that has a corrugated aluminum ring permanently attached the base that fits over the burner unit.  This ring is advertised as increasing the heat retention of the burner, making the stove more efficient than other models.  All the parts of the stove (including the iso-butane canister) nest into the cooking vessel, and a plastic measuring cup clips onto the base to protect the corrugated ring.  The outside of the cooking vessel is covered in a removable neoprene sleeve with a webbing strap attached to one side that works as a handle.  The lid is soft plastic, with a hole near the edge for pouring or sipping, and another opposite which functions as a vent.  The unit I received also had a small hole in the middle of the lid to fit the coffee press attachment that was part of the kit that I ordered.  The cooking vessel is manufactured of aluminum that is light, but appears to be very robust.  The dimensions of the unit are as follows:

Height of unit when packed: 7.5 in (19.05 cm)
Height of the unit when assembled (including attached iso-butane canister): 11.5 in (29.21 cm)
Diameter of the cooking vessel (exterior): 4 in (10.16 cm)

    The first set of trips I used my Jetboil in was during a series of overnight backpacking trips to the Anza-Borrego Desert, in which the weather never got below freezing, and no precipitation.   The unit worked as advertised, boiling water rapidly, lighting, and adjusting perfectly.  I did find during these trips, I needed to pay careful attention to the unit, as the narrow dimensions of the cup allowed me to boil water right out of the top. There is a 1-liter (32 oz) mark approximately halfway up the inside of the cup, and this is the maximum amount of water it can boil without overflowing.   I also found that using fine ground coffee with the press will allow the grounds to escape, leaving a crunchy residue to your morning brew. Be sure to grind your coffee coarse to avoid this problem. I also found that the canister could leave a rust ring on the inside of the cup if you pack it right side up when residual moisture is present. I began to pack the canister in an open plastic baggie to prevent this problem.   Jetboil suggests on their website that packing the canister upside down in the cup will also prevent this problem. I have decided to keep using my method, as it provides a convenient place to store a spare plastic baggie.

    The second set of conditions was during an overnight winter snowshoe trip in the Sierras, with the weather being fairly cold, and the overnight temps dropping below freezing.  I used the Jetboil as a means for melting snow for drinking and cooking.  The cold and/or altitude drastically lengthened the time it took to boil water.  Although, the time was still comparable to the time it took white gas stoves to boil water in the same conditions. The difference being the white gas stove was heating a larger volume of water.  I did keep my gas canisters warm by keeping them inside my coat during hiking, and at the foot of my sleeping bag overnight.   I also  found it important to "prime" the pot of snow with a little water to get it melting.   

    The third set of relevant conditions occurred during a 4-day trip with my 6-year old daughter in Yosemite National Park in August.   We used the Jetboil as the only method of cooking.   Fortunately, we are both moderate in our culinary needs while camping, and the Jetboil PCS worked well for both of us.  The weather was very mild during our trek, but we were in altitude including a night over 8,000 ft (2400m). The altitude did not seem to affect the units ability to boil water quickly, and I was able to satisfy the my personal morning coffee needs, as well as my daughters hot-chocolate needs is short time.

The fourth set of conditions involved the blazing heat of the Grand Canyon during an overnight trip down the South Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch, and then back up to the rim via the Bright Angel trail.  The Jetboil was only required to heat up water on two occasions during this trip, and it worked as expected with no adverse effect from the hot temperatures.  The Jetboil was also light enough, and compact enough that I did not feel overly burdened carrying it on a trail gaining 4,400 ft (1340 m) in less than 10 mi (16 km).

After 12-months of moderate to hard use, my Jetboil is still in good condition.  It does show some cosmetic wear, such as stains on the neoprene cover, and the warning labels printed on the web handle being worn off and illegible, but is still as functionally sound as the day I took it out of the box.  I have not needed to do any mechanical maintenance on the unit in the last twelve months, and it has not malfunctioned on me during any use.

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Conclusion:

The Jetboil Personal Cooking System is an outstanding unit for a backpacker requiring a basic food preparation stove that is very easy to use, fairly light, packs up compactly, and boils water quickly.  If you have only one stove, the Jetboil would be hard to beat for its strong combination of features.   What follow is a pro and con list of the Jetboil as I experienced them over the last 12-months:

Pros:

- Very easy to use
- Self-contained fuel canisters
- Boils water extremely fast
- Packs down into one self contained unit
- Built in ignition (no matches or lighters needed)
- Heat output easily adjusted from rolling boil to simmer


Cons:
- not very stable as equipped (you need to purchase a support separately to make it stable)
- Small capacity cooking vessel 32oz (1L)
- Plastic measuring cup/flux ring protector comes off very easily when in pack or transporting.
- Reduced performance in cold weather
- No easy method for determining the amount of fuel left in a fuel cannister

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