About a month ago, I was up in Crested Butte, Colorado waiting in line for a breakfast burrito at a place on Elk Avenue when I caught a whiff of conversation from two coffee drinkers contemplating the steaming French press their server had just brought them.
"One of the guys on my backcountry ski trip last year had this thing called a JetBoil stove," one said to the other. "It's got a French press adaptor that attaches to the pot. We could handle getting core shots in our skis, but it was like the end of the world when we lost the plunger for the French press."
It's true, the folks at JetBoil have taken the simple concept of heating water to the next level, putting out the most efficient stove ever made. (But how typical of well-heeled dirtbags to fixate on the coffee press adaptor.) The stove, fueled either by JetBoil's proprietary 80/20 isobutene/propane mix or any standard butane canister, creates a closed system between the burner and the neoprene-insulated, one-liter, aluminum cooking vessel. The net effect is that it takes about half the fueland timeto boil your water. Just now on my desk (and I'd appreciate it if you didn't mention this to HR), I did it in two minutes and twelve seconds.
When you're not using it, the JetBoil, including its fuel canister, packs neatly into the cooking vessel and seals inside the drink-through lid. No more backpacking with pots clanging around the outside of your pack. No need for a lighter either, the burner has a mechanical electric starter. At three ounces and the size of a small thermos, it's ideal for any sort of skiing, hiking, kayaking, biking, trekking, or climbing trip, where space and weight is an issue.
Out of the box you get one fuel canister (replacements are $4), the burner base which screws into the fuel canister, one cooking vessel (replacements are $30 ) with a plastic bottom cap that doubles as a measuring cup, and a drink-through lid. If you want the all-important coffee press, it's 20 bucks extra. The plunger comes in three pieces that fit together through the center of an additional drink-through lid (included). And, in answer to one of the early complaints that the JetBoil would not allow you to use any standard pan, they now have a universal pot-support and stabilizer combo that makes flapjacks a cinch. About the only accessory the JetBoil is missing is an egg coddler.
Keep an eye out for the Group Cooking System which hits shelves this year. It's same ideas as the PCS, but uses a two-liter vessel. $80, www.jetboil.com