The Jetboil Flash is new for 2009 and is a modern version of the Jetboil Personal Cooking System that has been on the market since 2004. Jetboil boasts that the Flash is a complete food and beverage multi-tool that is about the size of a one (1) litre water bottle and weights approximately one (1) pound. The Flash lights with a click of a button and boils two (2) cups of water within two minutes, thus never making you wait for your morning coffee or evening meal. The Flash comes with an adjustable burner, a push button igniter and a one (1) litre Flux Ring cooking cup, with an insulating Cargo Cozy and an insulating measuring cup. One of the changes for 2009, is that the insulated measuring cup and insulated drink through lid on the Flash are now translucent, allowing the user to see the contents and status of the cooking. The Flash also comes with a Thermochromatic Indicator on the side of the mug that changes color as the water boils, thus alerting the user. Due to the design of the Flash, the components, fuel and accessories can be packed together inside the cup for easy transport and storage. The Flash also comes in four bright new colors, Violet, Carbon, Blue and Gold.
Having tested and extensively used the Jetboil Personal Cooking System (PCS) in the past, I was excited about testing the new Jetboil Flash. Upon receiving the Flash, the first thing I noticed was the bright Violet color and immediately thought that I would have a hard time misplacing this stove. At first glance, the Flash did not seem to be a lot different from the PCS. The size, weight, shape and fuel all appeared to be the same. The Flash comes with very easy to read and understand directions, which explains how simply the system really is. The first thing I noticed that appeared to be different was the Thermochromatic Indicator on the side of the Flux Ring cooking cup. I also noticed that the insulated measuring cup that also protects the bottom of the stove and the insulated drink through lid were now translucent. This allowed the user to now have the opportunity to inspect the cooking process, where before you could not visually see inside these areas.
Several days later, I put the Jetboil Flash in use on a multi-day backpacking trip through the Ozark Mountains near the Buffalo National River in Arkansas. As with the Jetboil PCS, the Flash proved to be compact, as all the parts and accessories fit well into the Flux Ring cup. Once secured, the Flash was no bigger than a one (1) litre water bottle and was easily packed into my backpack. The Cargo Cozy of the Flash, just like the PCS, also has a place on the side to store eating utensils. After completing a long day of hiking, I unpacked the Flash and found it extremely easy to set up.
The Flash is equipped with a value to release the fuel and a push button ignition switch that provides a spark to start the flame. The Flash is so easy to use that you basically attach the fuel, open the value, hit the ignition switch and start cooking. I filled the Flux Ring cup with two (2) cups of water and was able to inspect the cooking process through the translucent drinking lid. The inside of the Flux Ring cup is marked to allow the user to know the exact amount of the contents and the translucent bottom of the stove also doubles as a measuring cup.
As the cooking process progressed, I noticed that the ThermoChromatic Indictor located on the side of the cup, began to change color, allowing me to keep track of the boiling process. With the PCS, I found that it was much more of a guessing game to determine when water was boiling. Most of the time, I would wait for steam to be released via the drink though lid and then inspect the contents to make sure the contents had reached boiling. This indicator on the side allowed me to know within a glance if the contents had reached boiling temperatures. When done using the Flash, it is just as easy to package and store, as all the items fit inside the Flux Ring Cup.
Over the next several months, I used the Jetboil Flash in a variety of weather conditions that included cold temperatures, snow, wind and rain. The Flash continued to impress, no matter what the weather or temperature. The Flash proved easy to start and maintained a flame even in heavy wind conditions and cold temperatures. I did notice that during below freezing temperatures the fuel canister was less efficient, but this has nothing to do with the stove versus the nature of compressed gases and cold temperatures. Once the canister warmed, or better yet, when kept in a warm sleeping bag overnight, the fuel and the stove worked well no matter what the temperature. While I was unable to test the Flash in very high elevation, I did use the Flash in elevation up to 9,000 feet and noticed no ill effects. While the boiling time of water varies with elevation, the stove itself performed well. After using the Jetboil Flash for several months, in a variety of weather conditions, and altitude levels, the Flash proved to be both reliable and durable.
The Flash showed no signs of wear, or defects and continued to work as new. The ignition switch and fuel value continued to perform as designed and the Flux Ring cup and stove showed no signs of wear, even after being used hundreds of times. Cleaning the Jetboil Flash proved to be both easy and quick. Immediately after using the Flash, I used a clean dry cloth to remove all the moisture from the various parts and accessories, including the fuel canister. If you do not remove the moisture from the fuel canister and then store the fuel canister inside the Flux Ring cup, rust can develop on the bottom of the fuel canister and the cup.
Since the Flash is self contained, it does not require a lot of excess cleaning. When not in use, I stored the Jetboil Flash in my gear closet with the remainder of my outdoor gear.
Throughout the several months of testing, the Jetboil Flash proved to be both reliable and durable. These characteristics are extremely important when it come to a stove, as it is normally unpractical to carry a spare. When relying on a stove for all or most of your meals, the reliability of a stove is crucial. The Flash proved to fit these needs perfectly. The Flash proved to be very fuel efficient, thus allowing the owner to carry less fuel and the built in igniter, means the Flash does not require an external flame source. The Flash is also very compact, as it fits inside itself, thus enabling easy storage and transport. Put these assets together with the overall ease of use and the Jetboil Flash may fit the mould as being a near perfect backcountry cooking system.