User Review: Jetboil Personal Cooking System (PCS)
For my review, you should know that I do not have a NASA calibrated scale nor thermometer so don’t expect me to tell you that the stove will use 12.2 grams of fuel to heat 875.0374ml of water to a temperature of 102.7836 deg C after 98.401seconds at an altitude of 78.7253m above sea level with an atmospheric pressure of… you get the idea. I will give basic measurements and human related feedback that will be useful to the outdoors-type person.
o Manufacturer – Jetboil
o URL of top level manufacturer web site – www.jetboil.com
o 400g / 14oz
o Weight as delivered – I guess pretty close to what’s listed
o MSRP - $79
o Tested in Okinawa, Japan
o The initial review was conducted at my home in Okinawa
o Weather conditions were fair and air conditioned with a temperature of 22.7 deg C / 73deg F
Features from the website
• A revolutionary, all-in-one design combining an insulated cooking/drinking cup and a quick-starting burner into a single package for superior heat transfer! The Jetboil uses less than half the fuel required by a conventional stove, saving you weight, space, and money. Ideal for backpacking, climbing, snowshoeing, skiing, hunting, adventure racing, and rescue work.
• FluxRing™ technology directs heat into your food, rather than into the air as waste
• Lightweight burner with piezo electric igniter is housed in a wind-protective shroud and adjusts for low simmer to high boil
• Hard-anodized aluminum cooking cup with lid and drinking spout provides optimal heat transfer and is perfect for hot drinks, soups, freeze-dried foods, and pasta
• Cooking cup can hold one quart of water, but is designed to boil only 2 cups (16 fluid ounces) at a time
• Compact 7-ounce (3.5-fuid-ounce) propane/isobutane canister (sold separately) stows away in cooking cup when not in use; boils up to 12 liters
• Neoprene sleeve allows you to grip the cup while it insulates the contents to speed up boiling time
I received my Jetboil stove packed in a plain box with not a whole lot of interior padding. This leads me to believe that the manufacturers believe their product to be pretty rugged seeing how it traveled from New England all the way over here to Okinawa, Japan. The product’s box is nicely illustrated with informative graphics covering how it works, efficiency, and a general overall verbal description of its main features. If I had never heard of Jetboil before and had simply picked up the package to look it over, I’d want to buy it (and the Backpacker Editors’ Choice Award for 2004 helps that also).
Upon opening the box everything was all packed up, wrapped in plastic, with no visible instructions. Opening the lid revealed instructions and the burner portion of the stove inside. Both the Jetboil and the instructions are plastered with a myriad of warnings – covering all possible lawsuit angles. Truly a reflection of today’s society and a smart move on behalf of Jetboil – so when you use it to boil eggs with the stove overfilled at night inside a sleeping bag inside a tent on the back of a flatbed truck going down a bumpy road – and you burn yourself and then succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to extinguish your brightly burning sleeping bag -– you will have no one to blame but yourself.
The instructions are very detailed and organized in a common sense, straight forward approach. Nomenclature of the various parts of the Jetboil Personal Cooking System (JPCS) is covered 1st, along with pictures. Setup, lighting and heating liquids, what to do after the liquid is heated, storage and troubleshooting is then covered. Warranty information is also on the instruction sheet.
Putting the Jetboil together
Setup of the stove is very simple and after a quick review of the instructions I was able to setup my stove in less than a minute. The most difficult part of the setup was the removal of the plastic cover from the burner base. There is a very tight fit going on indeed. I thought at first there may be a locking mechanism or tabs holding it in place – but it was just old fashioned friction keeping everything together. Start, fill and ignition of the stove took just under a minute and a half on the 1st try, and I was not rushing.
NOTE – Jetboil says to only use their fuel with the system (again, the threat of lawsuits rears its ugly head) but being in Okinawa they were not able to send me the correct fuel. The book answer I received from the guys at Jetboil was this:
“The Jetboil PCS is equipped with a standard hiking canister valve fitting (EN417-style). We are not able to recommend the use of fuels canisters apart from the Jetboil Jetpower 100 gram fuel canister, due to our inability to verify full and safe compatibility with our product with other canisters. In addition, and for similar reasons, other fuel canister manufacturers will not allow us to recommend use of their canister with our product. Therefore, the user assumes responsibility for any lack of compatibility from using an alternative fuel canister.”
I picked up two different types of canisters at a local store here in Okinawa. One was an Iwatani-Primus 110g (3.88oz) Propane mix canister (PG-110) and the other was a 110g (3.88oz) Snowpeak Giga Power propane mix canister (GP-110). Both of these canisters mated up perfectly to the Jetboil without any leaks. Both fit perfectly inside the Jetboil stove and when packed together with the burner base, the lid closed just right and everything fit snugly inside. An important note here is the lack of noise produced when everything is packed up. For me, and my military brethren, silence is golden. The Jetboil is 100% silent when packed up and shaken providing you use the plastic cap on the canister.
Without it, there is just enough room inside the Jetboil to allow everything to move a bit and make noise when shaken. It’s the little things that make the big differences
The Jetboil is made up of 2 main component groups. They are….
• the Cooking cup group – this consists of the
o cooking cup – 1000ml / 32 fluid oz total capacity
o The Cozy – a neoprene cover (about 2mm thick) with a nylon webbing carrying handle sewn into it. Slips over the cooking cup, no snaps or fasteners needed.
o The Lid – with a drip free spout for sipping and pouring. Attaches to the cup via friction. Heat resistant.
• The Burner group – consisting of:
o The burner base, a thermoplastic molded base that holds all the burner parts.
o The burner head, an aluminum or steel cup with a brass grill assembly for the burning gas to pass through. This has what appears to be a woven steel center (rust problem? Time will tell).
o Steel base plate – this appears to help direct heat upwards and has inward facing nipples to allow it to lock into the cooking cup.
o The Valve assembly – the control valve allows adjustment from a low simmer to a rolling boil.
o The igniter head is a piezo electric igniter for 1 touch, match free lighting.
o The plastic cover – protects the Burner group when the stove is stowed. Graduated at measurements of ¼ , ½, ¾, and 1 cup. Makes a nice drinking cup also. Has a small mystery tab and hole on the lip of the rim, for a tether perhaps? Hmmm
Instructions for use from the enclosed paperwork
JETBOIL SETUP & IGNITION
1. Remove fuel canister and burner base from cooking cup. Make certain control valve on burner base is closed and check that O-ring is clean and not cracked, cut, or broken. Do not use Jetboil if O-ring is damaged. Fuel will leak
2. Remove fuel canister cap and store. While holding canister upright, screw it securely to burner base. Do not overtighten.
3. Set burner base and fuel canister on a firm, level surface.
4. Turn control valve 1/2 turn counterclockwise to open, and then immediately press igniter button repeatedly until flame is observed. Use control valve to adjust flame to low-to-medium setting.
COOKING & HEATING
1. Remove plastic cover from bottom of cooking cup. If plastic cover is too tight for easy removal, tabs on cover can be trimmed to achieve desired fit.
2. Orient cooking cup with lighted burner base by visually aligning slots in cup with projections in base. Then lower cup into base and turn cup clockwise until cup locks in place.
3. Rest lid loosely on top of cooking cup during heating
4. Do not fry or cook foods with low moisture content. Unit will overheat- you can be burned. Low flame settings only should be used when using cooking cup filled above the 2 CUPS fill line, as boil over may result.
AFTER COOKING OR HEATING
1. Turn off control valve (clockwise) and tighten to extinguish flame and to prevent gas leak.
2. Detach cooking cup from burner base by holding plastic portion of of burner base and rotating cup slightly counterclockwise. Do not touch exposed metal; it will be hot.
3. Replace plastic cover on base of cooking cup to prevent burns. If you plan to reuse Jetboil soon, leave burner base and fuel canister attached and on level surface.
1. After use, unscrew fuel canister, put on plastic fuel cap, and keep canister away from heat, direct sunlight, and sources of ignition.
2. Let cooking cup cool, then clean and dry it.
3. Place fuel canister in bottom of cooking cup. Place burner base with igniter up in cup on top of fuel canister.
4. Secure lid and plastic cover on cooking cup. Do not discard fuel canister until empty and then only in a safe place away from heat.
Setup and ignition – As stated above – Simple, simple, simple, and quite fast – less than a minute to put it together and less than 1.5 minutes till fire was under water. Ignition is always fun as I somehow manage to create a small explosion every time I turn it on. I believe my technique is too blame, too much gas and not quick enough on the igniter. Fine by me – I like the baby boom
COOKING & HEATING – All I have cooked and heated is water. Even at a rolling boil the cozy insulates the cup so it is always comfortable to pick up. I have been able to boil 1 liter of water (the recommended “Max Fill Level” is 500ml) without a boil over – one just needs to pay attention to what’s going on. 800ml of water was brought to a rolling boil without over boiling. Worth noting are a few things ….1. The cup by itself pours better than my Nalgene bottle and with the sipper lid on it, the Jetboil pours great also. The cozy does a wonderful job of insulating the cup – keeping it cool enough to pick up with bare hands just seconds after boiling water. When carrying the Jetboil by the nylon strap carrying handle, the cozy will stretch and pull away from the top of the cup if it is more than ¾ full of liquid – not really a problem but not very stable.
For the volume of liquid I was able to boil - I was able to boil 14 liters / 3.7 gal of water with the 110g canister. To add a real world element to it, I switched between room temperature and cold tap water for my heating trials. I varied the amounts in the cup from the halfway mark (the manufacturer’s max safe fill level) to just under being filled to the brim. I did purposely let the stove boil over once – it did not self extinguish and was very interesting to shut off with boiling water cascading over the edges – ha ha.
AFTER COOKING OR HEATING / STOWING – The stove itself cools rapidly while the cozy does an excellent job of maintaining the cup’s temperature for quite a while – an hour and 15 minutes after boiling water it was still 45deg C / about 112deg F.
If all you heat is water storage is a breeze – after emptying the residual heat from the cup does a nice job of drying the interior out. Just be sure that the bottom of your propane canister is clean before putting it back inside your cup. If you heated something else – just rinse away and that should be it. Packing the stove takes just a little longer than unpacking it.
TROUBLESHOOTING – The instructions provided by Jetboil have a very extensive troubleshooting section, but I don’t think that will be put into use very often. It is such a simple design with so few moving parts that it should stand up to the rigors of use and the test of time nicely. I would carry an alternate ignition source just in case. Murphy has an ugly way of rearing his head at the worst possible moment.
OVERALL IMPRESSION – This stove is the heat (pun intended)! Simple to use, fast to set up and take down, more fuel efficient than a Toyota Hybrid car – I love it! Looks like it could take as much, if not more, abuse as any other stove on the market. It is easy to pack, quiet and dependable. If you eat like I do in the woods (mostly fluids and dehydrated foods) – this is the perfect stove. A couple small propane canisters ought to last you quite a while in the wilderness (12L / 3.17 gal of water per 100g canister is a great fuel to water ratio). Just remember – this is a personal stove. Don’t go making coffee for your 15 person expedition twice a day or your fuel won’t last long at all – but for 1 or 2 people, perfect!
As an added bonus – the Jetboil just fits inside my Kifaru Liter Pouch Plus Pocket (http://www.kifaru.net/MG_nalg.htm) which makes storing the stove on my pack ever so easy. They ought to be sold as a pair
Some changes I would like to see are
• Some sort of a base to attach to the bottom of the propane tank to increase the stability – right now this is a flat surface use only, top heavy stove.
• Titanium or hardened aluminum used instead of steel for the burner head and base plate. If that is too expensive, I’d like to see it in brass – some material that will not rust over time.
• Alternate cozy material – the cozy right now insulates great, but I can see it coming apart over time. No cozy = a bad thing indeed. Thermo-molded composite, carbon fiber or heat resistant plastic are all viable options, I believe.
• Some sort of an attachment to enable a frying pan or larger pot to be used. I’m happy with how it is, but I know lots of people that really like to show off their cooking skills in the woods.
This is a great stove and I highly recommend it, the guys at www.jetboil.com have a real winner on their hands.
Any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at javahedz at msn dot com