Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Compact, light, fast boil time, stable, insulated pot.
Cons: Small pot size, not versatile.
Best Uses: The Jetboil Flash is best suited for fast and light activities where you’ll be cooking dehydrated meals for two less. It excels at alpine climbing and lightweight backpacking.
The JetBoil Flash takes fast, light, and efficient to a whole new level in this updated version of a revolutionary camping stove. Whether you're melting snow in Alaska, making coffee on a big wall, or boiling water for dehydrated food on a backpacking trip, this stove will be your smallest and warmest back country friend. Key features include a one-liter insulated pot, piezo auto ignition, water temperature indicator, and a lock that secures the stove and pot in one stable unit. Small, stylish, and loaded with features found nowhere else, the JetBoil Flash is hands down our favorite small stove. If you're going fast and light, you'll only need to bring along the Flash and a spoon.
This stove is less versatile, slower, and not as storm-proof as the MSR Reactor ($60 more). If choosing between the two, get the Flash if size is the most important consideration. Otherwise, the Reactor is better for groups of two or more and functions significantly better in the harshest conditions. For a more durable, versatile, cheaper, but heavier stove consider the MSR Whisperlite ($20 less). The main difference between the two is versatility. The Flash is best at boiling water for two or less, while the Whisperlite creates culinary delights for larger groups. For lightweight backpacking also consider the Soto OD-1R, a tiny, hyper-light canister stove that be used with any type of cookware.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This is one of the best stoves we tested. It's small, light, speedy, easy to set up, and stable. Many useful features make this our top pick for minimalist activities.
Our favorite feature on the Flash is its neoprene covered one-liter pot. This has a webbing handle, clip-in point, and coffee-mug-style lid. Slip your hand in and use the pot as a mug. Clip in a carabiner and you can cook on a big wall. Regardless of how and where you cook, the pot and the burner lock together, forming a one-piece unit that's secure and stable. We found the pot to be incredibly well insulated – almost too insulated. The coolest feature on the Flash: the large flame logo is also a water temperature indicator. As the water approaches a boil, the flame turns bright yellow. This helps you save fuel, especially if you are heating water for tea or coffee and don't need water to reach a total boil.
Beneath the pot is a color coordinated and revised burner assembly. In our tests, the stove boiled two cups of water, the maximum amount JetBoil recommends, in an average of 1:35. The burner is capable of maintaining a reasonably good simmer in low wind conditions, something most canister stoves cannot do. A conveniently long control valve is easy to use and tucks away under the stove when not in use. All Jetboil stoves include a built-in igniter, which we believe is wonderfully convenient but not to be trusted in the long term (we've heard so many many stories of them breaking).
The burner assembly, pot support, and a 100g fuel canister all fit neatly inside the pot. Yes, that means your entire kitchen fits in a 4" x 7" package.
Colors anyone? The stove comes in black, blue, purple, and yellow and you can also get a Jetboil coffee press, hanging kit, fry pan, and 1.5L pot.
Note: the Flash is an updated version of the Jetboil Classic. With the Flash you get an improved auto ignition, an easier-to-use control valve, and a better burner. The Classic is still sold for the same price as the Flash. We can't think of any reason to buy the Classic.
While the neoprene covered pot is pretty and fun, it's most assuredly not versatile. The deep and narrow design make the stove best suited for boiling water. With a great deal of additional stirring we were able to successfully make a pasta meal for two. This, however, was painfully laborious. It's also challenging to boil safely more than .75 liters of water.
We appreciate Jetboil's stylish and snappy approach to stove design, but we also value durability. In the long haul, after five years of extended use and abuse, we predict the igniter will have long ceased functioning, the colored neoprene cozy will be brownish and tattered, and the plastic burner housing may have broken. The Flash is a fast and light stove. We recommend using it only for your more extreme exploits and trusting a more durable workhorse for casual camping and expeditions. A friend who has had two of these stoves has had both plastic igniters break after a few months. It is not a big deal, it just means that you then need to light the stove manually with a lighter. Our friend does not like the stove any less; a broken igniter just comes with the territory.
Alpine climbing, backpacking, solo trips.
The Flash is a very worthwhile buy. We couldn't ask for a smaller, lighter, and more compact system.
The Jetboil Sol ($119, 10.5 oz, 0.8 L) uses a smaller 0.8 L cup and a new "Thermo Regulate" burner. According to JetBoil, this burner is more precise but only boils water a little faster. Considering the Sol costs $20 more than the Flash and is smaller, we don't think its the best buy unless you think you will notice saving 3.5 oz. Also, the Jetboil Flash can usually be found on sale and replacing the cup is much less expensive. What is the better system to buy if you don't mind dropping cash to shave weight is the Jetboil Sol Ti ($149, 8.5 oz, 0.8 L). This system is 40 percent lighter than the Flash, 50 percent more expensive with 20 percent less capacity. The Jetboil Zip, $80, is compact and lightweight.
There are many extra companion cups you can buy. The Jetboil Sol Aluminum Cup ($49, 7.7 oz, 0.8 L). It is only a few ounces lighter than the standard Flash cup but most if not all of that weight savings is from making the cup 20% smaller. We find the current Jetboil cup plenty small, and would hesitate to use anything smaller.
The Jetboil Sol Ti Cup ($69, 6.3 oz, 0.8 L) shaves another 1.5 ounces of the Sol Aluminum Cup by using titanium.
The Jetboil Sumo Cup ($49, 12.5 oz, 1.8 L) is nearly double the size of the standard Jetboil Flash Cup. It is just the right size to store an entire Sol or Zip system inside. You can also check out the Jetboil Sumo Cooking System, $145.
This stove is compatible with the light and compact Jetboil Hanging Kit ($30 extra), which turns this into a hanging stove. The kit also works with other Jetboil stoves, including the Jetboil Group Cooking System. It also works with the Jetboil 1.5L Cooking Pot and Jetboil Coffee Press, which is a $20 accessory that turns your Jetboil Flash or Jetboil Classic into a reasonable effective French press. There is also the Jetboil Pot Support and Stabilizer that gives more stability to the setup while making it compatible with other camping pots.
You can also stock up on Jetboil Fuel, in various sizes.
Chris McNamara's Recommendation
The Flash is my favorite stove for big wall climbing. I used the Flash on El Capitan once without the hanging kit and once with. It is definitely a lot better with the hanging kit in a big wall situation…but also works without it. The stove was light, compact, and did everything we needed it to. I can't imagine a better stove for big walls where space, ease of setup, and takedown are so important. The MSR Reactor would have been a little over-kill, especially since it is a little harder to handle in a hanging situation. Today, if I had unlimited funds, I would get the Jetboil Sol Ti just because it is so much lighter and I pretty much only boil water in small bursts.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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Most recent review: January 8, 2012
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