If you’ve been reading this blog as I evaluate my choices, you know that I have yet to get a top grade for any item I carried. Today I’ll finally earn an “A.”
I couldn’t have been happier with my JetBoil Sol. At 10.5 ounces (without the canister), this little guy boiled two cups of water in about two minutes, taking sips of fuel as tiny as a Baptist debutante with her first wine-spritzer. If you would like to shave two more ounces off (at a mere $15 per ounce), there is also a titanium version that comes in at 8.5 ounces.
Man, I loved this stove. First, it takes up very little space; the few component parts fit nicely inside the cup itself. (I could never get everything PLUS the fuel canister in the cup, although I could come so close that I think it’s probably possible if you know what you’re doing.)
Second, the igniter at the base actually works, 100% of the time. I never once had to light it with a match or lighter.
Third, it comes with just about everything you need. There is a tiny stabilizer that fits on the bottom of the canister (which you might not need, but I carried since the fire danger was so high in the Sierra). It has its own cozy, which does a great job, and it even comes with an adapter so you can use a regular pan on it (although I left that at home).
I used the stove once or twice a day to reconstitute freeze-dried meals. I carried two brands: Mountain House (which were tasty, tasty, tasty) and Wise Company (which were not, not, not). I know there are lots of other freeze-dried and dehydrated alternatives out there, and I’ll be interested in hearing about people’s favorites in the comments.
A couple of other lessons I learned along the way: first, instead of carrying all your meals in the foil cooking bags, consider carrying just one cooking bag and reusing it every meal. (You can replace it at every resupply point.) Take the other meals out of their bags and store each in a small paper bag. Then, as you use the portion, either burn the bag or fold it up small and carry it out.
Second, have you ever noticed that little hiss of gas that occurs when you screw the canister on or off the burner? One might be tempted to leave the canister connected, between meals, in order to avoid losing any gas. That turns out to be a bad idea. I met a very experienced and savvy hiker who tried leaving the stove assembled, and it drained his canister completely. Go ahead and remove the canister each time you use it.
Weight savings: none. My JetBoil Sol is a terrific choice, although, if I can get a decent price for it used, I may upgrade to the titanium version. After all, two ounces is two ounces!
Grade for my choice this trip: A.
Good hiking, Ray