Jetboil Personal Cooking System (PCS) review

Click here for great prices on the full range of Jetboil stoves and accessories
Introduction

Jetboil stove

Jetboil stove



You may have seen the Jetboil PCS (Personal Cooking System) over the last couple of years as it picked up a number of awards from outdoor publications. Well, here at Camping Cooking we are huge fans of this innovative gas stove. In fact, all the pictures in this article are of our own personal Jetboil as it accompanies us everywhere these days. From a post-surf brew at the beach to a mountain biking camp in the hills, the Jetboil has proved its worth over the last two years.


What’s in the box?
The photo above shows the Jetboil in its fully-packed state. All the components including the gas canister are stored inside the insulated cooking cup. This is one of the key advantages against other stoves – you don’t need to carry anything else to prepare and eat your meal. For the weight conscious the whole thing (including gas canister) comes to 600 grams.

This photo shows the Jetboil in its component form so bit-by-bit you get:

Jetboil components

Jetboil components



Insulated cooking cup – Used for cooking and eating/drinking. Tough aluminium construction with a washable neoprene insulating jacket. Includes a loop to hold cutlery (or your Spork). The clever part of the cup is at the bottom. It features a heat-baffle arrangement that both captures heat and deflects wind. This is the primary reason for the Jetboil’s fast boil time

Rubber lid – Flexible rubber lid with a small vent hole and a larger drinking hole

Plastic cover for base – This clips to the bottom of the cup, allowing you to hold it straight off the burner unit. It also provides useful storage space in the base for your lighter or teabags.

Burner unit- Rugged construction in thick plastic and aluminium. Includes a press-button igniter and an on-off valve that can be turned for simmer control.


What else do you need?
Gas!- The Jetboil does not come with gas. The cup has been designed to store a Coleman C100 gas canister. This is a 70/30 butane/propane mix for good cold weather performance. This is also cheap at less than three quid from any outdoor shop. However the beauty of this system is that the self-sealing screw connector is the standard EN417 fitting, so you can buy larger canisters if needed. This is great for fixed camping as you can last a long time on the larger C500 canister (but these won’t fit inside the Jetboil so buy the C100 cans if you want ultimate portability).

Cutlery- Buy a Spork and cover the knife, spoon and fork in one implement!

Here it is fully assembled and ready to go

Jetboil stove

Jetboil stove



Jetboil in use
The max fill line is clearly marked on the inside of the cup at 500ml (or 2 cups of coffee). When boiling water it is vital to keep to this limit or the water can spill from the top, blocking access to the control valve to turn down the heat! In our experience you can go fuller with thicker,non-boiling food like soup because it doesn’t boil over so quickly.

The burner lights with its own press-button igniter. The flame’s ferocity can be controlled easily and you soon realise that the Jetboil name comes from the noise-very purposeful.

The cup locks to the burner with a simple ‘turn and lock’ action. At this point the whole unit is pretty stable and cooking away.

Due to the insulation on the cup you can hold it in your bare hands even when full of boiling fluid. In fact this is lovely on a cold day. The plastic base should be refitted when you remove the cup from the flame so you don’t burn yourself.


What can a Jetboil cook?
As supplied it is perfect for drinks and any food with a high fluid content in its preparation (beans, soups, noodles etc). This is due to the shape of the cup making it difficult to fry sausages! However the Jetboil accessory kits available offer the same highly efficient cooking for fry and saucepan meals, making this an all-in-one solution for outside eating.


Jetboil Performance
If convenience is one selling point, then the other biggie is the sheer performance of the Jetboil. Camping last week we were able to brew up, drink our coffee and brew up again before our neighbours could boil a single cuppa on their traditional stove. Jetboil has made the faithful flask redundant as it is simply so quick to get a nice fresh boil.

The design of the heat-baffle really seems to work in cutting wind and maximising heat-transfer. This will obviously reduce gas usage. In outside conditions we saw a full boil time of around 2 and a half minutes (and in real-world conditions you can generally ignore all the times quoted by manufacturers). This definitely caught the attention of fellow campers.

Since you can drink or eat straight from the insulated cup there is one other huge advantage – less washing up! However this leads to one warning. The insulation is really very good. If you boil a drink then please be careful. It will be too hot to drink for quite a few minutes. Because of the rubber lid it would be easy to simply gulp it down while still scorching. You have been warned!


Any problems?
In nearly two years, we have experienced one problem and from other people’s experience it does seem to be a weak point. We dropped the Jetboil burner face down and the small igniter broke. These are readily available in the servicing pack (about £12) but we prefer to simply keep a lighter tucked in the base (we would carry it anyway). Most stoves don’t feature an igniter at all, so this seems a minor niggle.


What else is in the Jetboil range?
The basic Jetboil PCS (Personal Cooking System) reviewed here is augmented by a number of accessories which capitalise on the efficient burner design. This includes stabilisers for bigger pots, frying pans, cooking pots and even a coffee press. Click here to read more in-depth reviews of these great Jetboil accessories.

Jetboil has also moved up a gear by catering for larger groups with their Helios Cooking System and their Group Cooking System. Camping Cooking will be examining these products as soon as we can.

Conclusion
On the plus side, the Jetboil PCS is a really compact, tough and efficient cooking set perfect for any outside use from trekking to fixed camp cooking. We have adopted it for everyday use rather than taking a flask. The fuel is easy to buy and carry, and the ability to use large canisters increases its versatility for car-based camping.

On the minus side, not much! Carry a lighter just in case you break the self-igniter and watch out that the insulation doesn’t trick you into drinking still-scalding fluids.Click here to see great prices on the full range of Jetboil stoves and accessories

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