August 16, 2021
Are you looking for the ultimate cooking system for your biking excursions? We have been on the hunt for the perfect cooking set-up for bikepacking: something that is light, efficient, and fits in a frame bag. Oh, we also don't want to carry a pot.
Enter the Jetboil Flash Cooking System. The ultimate minimal cooking system that fits all of our criteria and then some. Designed for backpackers, this compact stove of sorts is an excellent choice for cyclists as well. The Jetboil Flash comes with everything you need to enjoy delicious meals after a day of hammering the trails or road.
The Jetboil Flash Cooking System is totally self-contained and packs in a stabilizer, a 4oz fuel canister, and a bottom cup that can be used as a bowl. Weighing in at 13.1 oz. this stove is light enough to bike with and comes with attached cookware, thereby reducing bulk.
We tested the limits of the Jetboil Flash for ourselves on a 500 km bikepack trip on northern Vancouver Island, Canada. First things first, let's talk about the Jetboil fuel system.
The Jetboil Flash uses its own brand of fuel, a blend of propane and iso-butane called Jetpower. The company states Jetpower has been designed to negate the effects of cold weather, but you can also safely substitute fuel from Brunton, Gigapower, MSR, Primus, and Snowpeak.
The Jetboil Flash is extremely fuel efficient, which means you can take less fuel with you, saving on weight and space. Because it is (up to) twice as efficient as conventional stoves, we ended up only needing two 4oz fuel canisters—1 Jetpower and 1 MSR IsoPro. We brewed coffee, cooked oatmeal, instant Japanese curry (yum) and pasta with it everyday for 9 days, and had fuel left over when we returned home. We noticed very little difference between the branded Jetpower and the MSR fuel in terms of performance.
It's no secret that cyclists love their coffee. A shot of caffeine gets the legs and mind moving. It promotes fat burning and can clear up any feelings of pain and fatigue. What an elixir! If you love brewing your own coffee on your bike trips, the Jetboil Flash is an absolute must. The Jetboil Flash is highly skilled at one thing—boiling water. In fact, it does it faster than most kettles we have used: 1 liter of water from standing to rolling boil in under 2 minutes. On our trip, we packed a half pound of coffee with a GSI pour over filter. Being able to hop off the bike, boil water close to instantly and have a fresh cup quickly was a godsend.
Because the Jetboil can boil water so fast, it makes it ideal for freeze-dried backpacking meals and anything that only requires hot water. But what we wanted to know was could the Jetboil Flash cook, or was it strictly for boiling? After a few hundred kilometers, we were craving something that didn't taste like it came from a machine. We wanted comfort food to the fullest— pasta!
We learned that the Jetboil is not a one-trick pony. While it took some practice, getting the Jetboil to simmer is possible. To cook our pasta, we brought a half full Jetboil of water to a full boil. We then added our pasta and turned the burner down as low as possible. It took us a few times to find that simmer point; but if you nail this, you can, in theory, cook pretty much anything that requires simmering.
We really appreciate all the Jetboil Flash has to offer, and it has definitely changed the way we eat on the road.
Any con we encountered during our trip was easily corrected with simple solutions like carrying a lighter. As far as the noise, since the Jetboil Flash boils water in minutes, it was hardly a con at all. Overall, as long as you keep it clean, dry, and have a lighter handy, you're ready for top chef bikepacking.
Check out the sizzle reel of the Jetboil Flash in action. It's easy to see why we love this cooking system.
The pros outweigh the cons by a long shot. We thoroughly enjoyed using the Jetboil Flash and were extremely impressed with the versatility it provided. The Jetboil Flash is fast, durable, and—this may sound lame, but it's fun! It might not be as small as a foldable MSR, but you also don't need to wait 5 minutes to boil water for that speedy (and much needed) cup of joe on the road.
Barry has been cycling and creating digital products around the world for 20+ years. He was a design leader at IDEO, IDEO.org and Nike’s Innovation Lab.