Camp Cooking System
Jetboil Joule Group Cooking System
$200, 1 lb. 12 oz. (not including soft stuff sack for storing burner unit inside the pot)
When I’m backpacking with my family, I look for several important qualities in my backcountry stove: speed, versatility, simplicity, fuel efficiency (so I carry less, not to mention burning less carbon), and modest weight and bulk. Too much to ask? I don’t think so, and apparently Jetboil agrees with me. My family used the Joule GCS to boil water for our breakfasts and cook our dinners on a five-day backpacking trip down Paria Canyon in Utah and Arizona in late March, and the Joule met all of my demands.
The Joule’s specialized heat regulator keeps burner output at a thermonuclear 10,000 BTUs, boiling a liter of water in an eye-blink few minutes; turn your back on it and you’ll hear steam erupting from the see-through lid’s built-in strainer. Most uniquely, the Joule’s fuel canister mounts upside-down, thus delivering fuel to the burner as a liquid rather than a gas. The benefit is that it performs more like a liquid-gas (i.e., white-gas) stove, maintaining a strong flame in below-freezing temperatures, where butane-gas stoves can experience condensation on the canister and diminished heat output. But unlike a liquid-gas stove, the Joule assembles quickly and without fuss and fires up with a push-button igniter—without the complicated, sometimes-temperamental assembly and priming of liquid-fuel stoves. Jetboil says the technology produces consistent heat from the burner down to 10° F/-12° C.
While simmering was not quite as good as the best butane burners, and a little tricky—you have to carefully dial the knob to the flame’s lowest level, shy of turning it off—it’s better than earlier Jetboil stoves and better than most liquid-fuel stoves. The 2.5-liter, insulated FluxRing vessel was large enough to cook a pound of pasta for the four of us. Like other Jetboil stoves, the Joule shines in fuel efficiency: We used one 230g fuel canister cooking seven meals for four people, with gas to spare. The pot handle folds over the top for storage, locking the lid securely atop it the pot, with the stove and one 230g canister inside. The Joule is compatible with any screw-mounted 100g or 230g butane fuel canisters made to the EN417 specification, a standard used by manufacturers worldwide, including Brunton, Gigapower, MSR, Primus, and Snow Peak. And for a group, the Joule GCS is a reasonably lightweight and compact, complete cooking system.
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NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for more than 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.