Cooking while on a backpacking trip can be pretty intimidating – only the truly dedicated are able to cook full-on pancake breakfasts deep in the wilderness, and I think those people are wasting weight and energy.
What I like better is a simple, ultra-fast, and lightweight cooking system; I like the Jetboil Flash Cooking System. It’s easily one of the best purchases I’ve ever made, and the hot meals it gave me were just incredible on those cold nights in North Cascades National Park.
Here’s my review of the Jetboil Flash Cooking System (heads-up: it’s very positive)!
Jetboil Flash: The Basics
I really like the Jetboil flash cooking system. I liked it so much I got one as a gift for a friend a couple of months after I first purchased mine. It’s probably the backpacking purchase I am most happy with; sure, it cost a lot, but it was worth every penny to have an effortless, hot meal whenever I needed one in the backcountry.
This cooking system uses isobutane fuel canisters to quickly boil water for cooking dehydrated meals.
Here’s what I Love Most:
- Boils water in under 100 seconds, perfect for quick backpacking meals
- All of the pieces fit inside the boiling pot for easy packing and carrying
- Wind cannot stop this thing; I cooked easily during 25 MPH gusts
- Because all you do is boil water, you never have to clean the pot!
Here’s What Comes in the Package
The Jetboil Flash is a cooking system, not just a backpacking stove. As such, it’s a little more pricey, but you get everything you need (minus fuel canisters) in one purchase.
- Cooking Pot: The cooking pot holds the water, is covered with a very effective heatproof cover, and has a convenient handle. The windscreen is also attached to the pot support.
- Burner: The burner is complex-looking, but all you really need to do is screw on the fuel canister, open the valve, and hit the button!
- Stabilizer: This orange plastic triangle has three low-to-the-ground legs to provide stability, even with a volatile, bubbling pot on a windy mountainside.
- Measuring Cup/Eating Bowl: I’ve never used it, but it is nice to have.
- Lid for Safe Boiling: Just like it sounds – place the lid over the pot so hot droplets don’t burn your hands when the water boils
Up-Close Photos of the Jetboil Flash Components
How the Jetboil Flash Cooking System Works in 9 Easy Steps
9 steps might seem like a lot, but none of these steps take more than 8 seconds to complete. I know this is technically a Jetboil flash review, not a tutorial, but for those who are inexperienced with backpacking stoves, the following steps will show you how:
- Take the lid off of the cooking system and unscrew the bottom portion.
- Open up the orange plastic base and place it on a flat, dry surface.
- Uncap your fuel canister and screw it onto the stove
- place the fuel canister/stove onto the orange plastic base.
- Fill up the reservoir/cooking pot BEFORE you put it on the stove.
- Place the cooking pot on the stove, making sure it slides into place.
- Turn the control valve (2) on the stove to allow the fuel to start flowing.
- Press the ignition button (1), and the flame will instantly appear.
- Dial in the intensity of the flame using the knob, boil your water, and get to eating!
Jetboil Flash Review: 6 Things I Like
Let it be known: I think the Jetboil flash is the best backpacking stove for just about anybody. It’s versatile, lightweight, and, most importantly, it boils water in a… well… flash.
The Jetboil flash cooking system does exactly what it promises to do, over and over and over. I recently used it for every single meal and every sip of coffee on a 4-night backpacking trip in the North Cascades.
Let’s break down my five favorite things about using this backpacking stove:
- It’s easy to use, damn-near idiot-proof
- It’s a complete, self-contained cooking system
- It’s easy to fit in even the smallest backpack
- It’s sturdy and dependable
- It stays surprisingly clean on multi-day backpacking trips
1. Jetboil Flash Cooking System: Easy to Use
Before my wife and I set out into North Cascades National Park, I had only used the Jetboil Flash for a grand total of 5 seconds, making sure the ignition button worked before we started hiking.
Cooking with the Jetboil flash proved surprisingly easy, and surprisingly fast. When it came to mealtimes, we could go from “backpacks on” to “first bite” in under 20 minutes! Just think about that – you’ve been on the trail all day long, your feet are aching and your stomach is screaming at you – and you can have a piping hot meal ready in 20 minutes!
By the way, most of that 20 minutes was cooking time – the amount of time the dehydrated meals needed before they were ready to eat. Setting up the Jetboil and boiling water took less than five minutes total.
All that to say: the Jetboil flash is extremely easy to use, and it provides hot, fresh meals way faster than you think.
2. It’s a Self-Contained Cooking System
When you buy a Jetboil Flash, you don’t have to worry about buying anything other than fuel canisters. With other backpacking stoves, you’ve got to buy a stand, a cooking pot, utensils, plates, and bowls just to have beans and rice for lunch. That is a convenience I don’t take for granted!
3. The Jetboil Flash is Easy to Pack
380 grams, roughly. That’s how much the entire cooking system weighs. If you’re struggling to balance your desire to be ultra-light with your desire to eat ultra-good, the Jetboil Flash is a decent compromise.
That’s weight, but what about volume? The Jetboil Flash, when packed, measures 4.1 inches by 7.1 inches, not that much bigger than a Nalgene. That’s right – you get a complete cooking system that only takes up the same amount of space as a water bottle! You’ll love that low-space design when trying to fit your whole backpacking gear arsenal into your pack!
There is also room to store a 100g fuel canister inside the system, making it even easier to fit this backpacking stove in any pack, no matter the size:
4. The Jetboil Flash is Sturdy and Dependable
Now, I haven’t been on backpacking trips longer than 3 or 4 days with this backpacking stove, but, at the same time, I’m notoriously rough on my equipment. I don’t try to be, but that’s just how things go.
Anyways, the Jetboil Flash is more than sturdy enough to accompany even the roughest of backpackers on the roughest of trails. The components are made from either hard plastic or metal, and they can take a beating and still work fine (trust me, I dropped it more than a couple of times during my last backpacking trip).
One more thing: this cooking system is stable. Like, almost dummy-proof stable. The orange stabilizer piece provides a wide base that can’t be bothered by light-moderate winds. It’s peace of mind, knowing your cooking system won’t fall over in the wind and pour burning hot water on everything!
5. It Stays Clean on Backpacking Trips
The Jetboil flash is made to do one thing perfectly: boil water in under 2 minutes, and it does that perfectly. A side-benefit of that is that the cooking system never really gets dirty, since you never use it to cook the actual food, only to heat the water. You can use it with other cooking pots to make more traditional meals, but you can avoid a TON of cleaning by just boiling water for dehydrated meal pouches.
6. Cooking Is Legitimately Easy with the Flash Cooking System
Speaking of dehydrated meal pouches, cooking with the jetboil flash and a dehydrated meal is a breeze. You can go from hiking to eating hot pad Thai in under 25 minutes – and most of that is just waiting for the boiling water to do its work.
If it weren’t for the Jetboil Flash cooking system, I doubt I would have enjoyed my most recent backpacking trip as much as I did. It was rainy, a bit cold, and I was already exhausted from life when I reached the trailhead. Hot meals, whenever I wanted them, along with fresh coffee? That made it possible to enjoy every wet, muddy, chilly moment on the trail!
Jetboil Flash Review: Three Things I Don’t Like
While I do believe that the Jetboil Flash is the absolute best choice of backpacking stove for most people, it would be disingenuous to avoid talking about its drawbacks. While these drawbacks are, admittedly, a bit nit-picky (it really is a good product), they’re still worth talking about:
1. Cooking Options Are Limited
Unless you want to buy more cooking dishes and utensils, or clean your cooking pot thoroughly after every meal, your food options are going to be semi-limited.
What I mean by that is this: this cooking system is mostly intended to heat water for dehydrated meals, coffee, and other drinks. If you’re thinking about making scrambled eggs and sausage from scratch, this might not be the camping stove you need.
2. It’s Too Expensive for Budget-Minded Backpackers
If hitting the trail at the lowest possible cost is something you are interested in (or have no choice but to be interested in), the Jetboil Flash might not be for you, either. The system retails for $115, according to Jetboil’s website.
That’s not out of reach for a lot of people, but it’s not exactly cheap – especially when you can get a simple stove/burner for less than $50. If you already have some backpacking kitchen equipment, you may not need an entire cooking system, and you can save a good bit of money by only buying what you need.
3. No Fuel Regulator
What’s a fuel regulator? It’s a component that helps conserve fuel and guarantees fast boiling at very cold temperatures. If you’re backpacking at a very high altitude, you might want to get a different cooking system, like MSR’s WindBurner Cooking System.
Jetboil Flash Cooking System Specs
Need more detailed info about the Jetboil Flash? Here it is:
- Color: Black/Grey
- Weight: 0.819 lb/0.371 kg (excluding fuel)
- Power: 9000 BTU/h / 2.6 kW
- Volume: 1,000 Ml
- Fuel Regulator: No
- Good For: 1-2 People
- Boiling Time: 100 seconds for 0.5 liters of water
- Efficiency: 10 liters per 100g JetPower Fuel Can
- Ignition Type: Push-Button Ignition
- Dimensions (When Packed): 4.1 in x 7.1 in (10.16 cm x 18.03 cm)
What Fuel Canister Should I Use With My Jetboil Flash Cooking System?
Looking for fuel to pair with your Jetboil Flash? Below, I’ve provided a quick rundown of the three brands I’ve used in the past. That’s not to say there are only 3 brands you can choose from – in fact, these cans are pretty much universal for most people’s concerns – it’s just that these are the ones I’ve got hands-on experience with:
3. JetPower Fuel
Buy it at REI (pickup/in-store only)
Jetboil’s “house” fuel. Nothing special about it, it costs the same as other brands, and it works the same, too. If you believe in brand loyalty, or you just like the color, or it’s the only thing available, go a head and buy it.
2. MSR IsoPro Fuel
Buy it at REI (pickup/in-store only)
MSR makes some of the best outdoor equipment in the world, and IsoPro is their fuel offering for backpacking stoves. True to the brand, it works perfectly.
3. Snow Peak GigaPower Fuel Canisters (pictured above)
Buy it at REI (pickup/in-store only)
GigaPower purports itself to the the best fuel for cold weather cooking and snow melting. I’ve not used it in the snow, but, hey, let’s take their word for it! It costs a few cents more than other brands from my experience, but the difference is pretty small. And, if it truly is the best backpacking fuel for cold weather applications, it’s more than worth the 40-60 cents you’ll spend to get it.
Wrapping Up: Is the Jetboil Flash Cooking System a Good Buy?
JetBoil’s flash cooking system isn’t for everybody, but it is the perfect cooking system for most everyday backpackers in terms of price, size, and ease-of-use. Unless you’re a “wilderness chef” who needs a complete kitchen in the backcountry, or a winter backpacker who’d be better off with a liquid fuel system, buy yourself a JetBoil Flash and enjoy a hot meal on the trail!
Buy your own Jetboil Flash right here!
How we test backpacking gear
Every piece of gear we test is evaluated on one thing: how much it adds to or reduces the quality of a backpacking, camping, or hiking trip. We only review products that we actually own or have expertise using, and we create a 25-point evaluation for each product to ensure that our reviews are consistent and fair. Learn about how we test.