$125, 13.1 oz./371g
On chilly, windy, early-April mornings and evenings in camp in Arizona’s Aravaipa Canyon and calmer but still cool mealtimes on a section of the Arizona Trail along the Gila River, plus a seven-day, nearly 70-mile backpacking trip in September in Glacier National Park, the Jetboil Flash did everything you want a backpacking stove to do: assembled quickly and easily, fired up immediately every time, and boiled water so fast that even our group of five hungry backpackers were content sharing just that one stove.
Jetboil’s fastest stove, the 9,000 BTU Flash boils a liter of water in under three-and-a-half minutes in a controlled environment, according to Jetboil. However, the pot’s fill line permits boiling just two cups/0.47 liter to avoid it boiling over the top. On windy mornings in the 30s and 40s Fahrenheit in Arizona in early April, at elevations under 4,000 feet/1200m, we found the Flash boiling water fast enough that the insulated FluxRing cooking pot’s one-liter capacity—enough to basically cook for one person at a time—worked fine even for our group of five people in Aravaipa Canyon, as it did for three of us sharing it on a seven-day, nearly 70-mile hike in Glacier National Park in September. (On both trips, everyone just boiled water for breakfast and freeze-dried dinners.)
The stove’s burner flame control dials it down well enough for simmering, but this stove’s superpower isn’t gourmet cooking—it’s raw power generating fast boil times. For Ramen or other noodles, I often simply bring the water to a boil, dump the noodles in, turn off the stove and leave it with the lid on for maybe five minutes until the noodles are ready to eat. That works just as well pouring the boiling water and noodles into an eating cup or bowl that has a lid.
The protected burner delivers high fuel efficiency, which translates to less fuel weight in your pack: Planning our fuel needs based on Jetboil’s estimate that the Flash will boil 10 liters per 100g JetPower fuel canister, we hiked out of Aravaipa with a little unused fuel (a perfect outcome because who wants to pack in an unnecessary surplus of fuel?).
Coolest feature: Jetboil’s thermochromatic color-change heat indicator on one side of the pot shows you how close the water is to boiling—and always works. So does the push-button igniter to light the stove.
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The stove parts assemble quite easily and all pack inside the FluxRing pot, including the stove burner and a 100g fuel canister. The Flash comes with a fuel canister stabilizer—folding leg supports that easily snap onto the bottom of a fuel canister, making it much less tippy on rocky or soft ground like the sand at our desert campsites in Arizona—and the bottom cup is a measuring cup (calibrated only in U.S./British units, not metric). The lid is designed for easy pouring with it on the pot—though take care to ensure the lid is securely attached before tipping it to pour boiling water.
One complaint: The piezo auto-igniter stopped lighting the burner on just my fourth trip with it. I’ve seen the piezo auto-igniter fail on other backpacking stoves from other brands, too. I carry a butane lighter as a backup.
Compact at 7.1×4.1 inches/18×10.4cm and 14 ounces/397g for the entire unit (including lid, fuel canister stabilizer, and bottom cup), it fits easily either upright or on its side even in smaller backpacks. Those metrics and the fact that it can function as the only stove for a small group (like our five people in Aravaipa Canyon) makes a difference when similar cooking systems designed for groups can weigh upwards of a half-pound/227 grams more and take up significantly more space in a backpack.Plan your next great backpacking trip on the Teton Crest Trail, Wonderland Trail, in Yosemite or other parks using my expert e-guides.
Plan your next great backpacking trip on the Teton Crest Trail, Wonderland Trail, in Yosemite or other parks using my expert e-guides.
Fast to boil water even in windy conditions, simple to operate, and reasonably light and compact, the Jetboil Flash works very well for one, two, or even several backpackers who just want to boil water.
Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” “A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking,” and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of those three stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Backpacking Trip,” the lightweight and ultralight backpacking guide, and “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be.”
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.