While at the WWTA presenting Sound 2 Sea, I was asked more then a few times on what type of gear I’d recommend for kayak/camping trips. So, I’ve decided to start a series of reviews on gear that I’ve field tested and found exceptional. Note, these are strictly my experiences with this gear; if you’ve had something somewhat different I’d love to hear your comments.
On a multi-day trip a stove is an indispensable piece of gear. The type of stove to use, whether canister or gas, will depend on the type of menu one brings along. While leading trips as a commercial guide I depend heavily on the gas type as it’s a bit easier to use for larger groups and the elaborate meals we plan and cook for them. However, a couple of years ago, while planning a self supported trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands, where I’d be relying heavily on freeze dried meals, I decided to try a Jetboil which intrigued me.
Reading the literature, the concept seems simple and elegant; funnel the heat with baffles into a vertical tube of liquid to provide maximum heat. I’m sure the science is a bit more involved but that’s the principle in a nutshell. My only hesitation was the small canisters which are just about half of a standard sized bottle. So, wanting to error on the side of caution, I purchased an arm full of the pint sized bottles, and set out on the trip.
My first surprise came with just how long the bottles actually lasted. The water heats up so quickly that the little bottles seem to last forever. For my trip to the Queen Charlottes, I was heating water in the morning for a couple cups of coffee and oatmeal, afternoon soup, and in the evening a couple cups of tea as well as a freeze dried dinner. One bottle typically lasted five days!
Ever since then, it’s been with me on every trip; private or commercial. When I’m on a private trip, I’m usually sitting near the water enjoying my coffee and breakfast while my partners are still waiting for their water to boil. On commercial trips I find it a great way to sneak in a cup-of-joe before I have to attend to the clients. Then I use it to keep the java-hounds at bay while brewing coffee in the larger press.
When I purchased mine there weren’t any accessories available, but that’s change with a whole bag of tricks now on the market. I did purchase and try the coffee press attachment, and although it works flawlessly, I really don’t like ‘tying’ my Jetboil up as a press; I want to keep the water boiling as needed. Still it’s worth considering.
I have had mine a couple of years now with no issues, jets are still clear, and the igniter is sparking away. In really cold weather I found that warming the canister before igniting helps to keep the performance up, but you’d find that with any canister stove. Until just recently there wasn’t anything on the market to compare with the Jetboil but that’s changed with the MSR Reactor. I looked at the Reactor in the store and it looks like it might give the Jetboil a run for the money, but the Reactor is missing the neoprene cozy which I think might make a difference. It also has a wire lock mechanism that I’m just a bit leery of in a salt water marine environment.
If I can get my on a Reactor I’ll do a side-by-side test and post a follow up report.