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207 Backcountry Stoves 2010-03-26

start of the stove test

ready to start the test

I was talking to a friend the other day who asked about stoves. He is a real gearhead and knows plenty about stoves, but he is always fishing for new ideas.

He was asking about the MSR Reactor. I told him I had not used it, but we used the Jetboil, a similar stove, last summer.

While in Colorado we used both the Jetboil and the Snow Peak Giga stoves. It took us a while to decide which we wanted to exclusively use.

The Giga is about ten years old. It has served us well. The stove, a titanium pot, and a small 110g canister - made for a sweet, compact, light set up of 14.25 ounces.

The Jetboil stove comes with a pot and lid. When coupled with a 100g canister, the stove weighed in at a whopping 22.05 ounces.

The Giga was eight ounces less in weight, there was no contest. We chose the Giga for our first overnight trip. It was an easy decision which saved us a half of pound. However, as we sat around the flickering stove waiting for our small pot of water to get warm we began to question our reasoning. By the time we returned to the trailhead we decided that we would either carry the Jetboil or just try to rub two sticks together.

stoves packed

stoves packed, SnowPeak is more compact

We needed a stove that would heat water fast. We were not into cooking. We were not into simmering. We just needed hot water for drinks and those yummy freeze dried meals.

On our next overnighter we took the Jetboil. The only problem we had with the Jetboil was time management. We would start our water to boil and go about our chores. In a short time we would catch a glance of the stove and it was boiling and spewing water like a volcano. It literally boiled the water faster than we were ready.

We carried the Jetboil on the rest of the overnight trips, except for the last one to Snowmass Lake. We were so tired of the freeze dried meals that we did not carry a stove at all. I only carried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. On our hike we were caught in a cold afternoon rain. Shivering we sat in the tent eating peanut butter sandwiches and wishing we had brought the stove.

stoves winner

but the winner is - Jetboil, it wasn’t even close!

A few notes ...

  • Do not fill water in the Jetboil stove over the fill line. It will boil over!
  • Too bad no one has invented an easy way to refill or top off the canisters. We do crush and recycle ours, but a reuse process would even be better.
  • It is hard to cook with the Jetboil. It only does one thing well, boiling water.
  • The REI website is a great place to compare stoves.
  • The Jetboil Group Cooking System is not nearly as efficient as their Flash or regular system.
  • For the test, it was 41 degrees outside and just barely a breeze. I had to use the larger canisters of fuel, because I did not have two unused smaller ones. I filled both pots with two cups of tap water. Started the stoves. Put the pots on the stove and started the timer.
  • The Jetboil was simmering in 2 minutes and 30 seconds and was at a roiling boil in 2 minutes and 45 seconds.
  • The SnowPeak was simmering in 5 minutes and 35 seconds and was at a roiling boil in 6 minutes.

Looking at the REI comparison charts and our tests, I think I will stick with the Jetboil for boiling water. The Jetboil is heavier and bulkier, but the performance negates all the other stats.

So maybe my friend can talk his partner into carrying the stove, then he would have the better performing stove and the weight and the bulk would no longer matter.

Happy boiling trails.


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