Dwight Aspinwall & Perry Dowst

Gear Savants

What do you get when two New Hampshire engineers train their Ivy League brains on the lowly camp stove? Say hello to the Jetboil, a snazzy, all-in-one portable kitchen that—in 11 months on the market—has revolutionized backcountry cooking. It began as a brainstorm back in the nineties, when software engineer Dwight Aspinwall, now 43, was trekking Tasmania's rain- and wind-pummeled South Coast Track. Every day, he'd watch his Aussie friends root around in their packs for their stoves, their pots, and their matches to make afternoon tea. Gotta be a better way, he thought. In 2001, Aspinwall teamed up with his second cousin, engineer Perry Dowst, 44. Three years and a few accidental fires later, the $80 Jetboil Personal Cooking System was born—an integrated fuel burner/pot/mug combo with a Star Trek–looking "FluxRing" heat exchanger that gives it double the heat-transfer efficiency of most other backpacking stoves. All you really need to know, though, is that, with infomercial-worthy ease and a flick of a knob (no lighter required!), it boils a cup of water in 60 seconds and uses 50 percent less fuel than a standard camp stove to do it. Since arriving in outdoor stores last January, Jetboil has become the buzz of bivy ledges and surf breaks nationwide—with everyone from firefighters to alpinists preaching the gospel of a fast cup of joe on the go. "A monkey could put this thing together and start boiling water within a minute," says mountain guide Steven Tickle, who packed Jetboils for his clients' fast-and-light assault on Nepal's 22,494-foot Ama Dablam this fall. "You can always rely on it."

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