Earlier this year I decided to plan a June trip to Tasmania, to walk the Overland Track solo in winter.

Up until then I’d always hiked with friends. We’d either cooked with my old faithful Trangia, or one of my mates various stoves. Whilst great for a group of 3 or more, the Trangia was just not going to be the ideal stove for Tassie. So I started considering an alternative. [Note: this is an independant & ‘un-sponsored’ review and the stove reviewed was personally purchased by the author].

What I wanted?

A lightweight cooking solution that could bring my selection of dehydrated meals, cous-cous, quick-oats porridge and morning instant-coffee to life.

Beyond using it in Tasmania, I wanted something that could be used for local overnight hikes – as well as future hiking, climbing and mountaineering trips in Australia, NZ and beyond.

What are the options?

Hiking stoves today come in many different flavours, but here are the main three categories I was considering:

  • Alcohol/Sprit Burners –  Simple, cheap to run and lightweight, but too slow for my needs.  I want to spend more time on the trail and less time in front of the stove.
  • Multi-fuel Stoves –  Whilst multi-fuel stoves (from the likes of MSR and Optimus) are powerful and great for certain applications. I deemed these too fiddly, loud, and really just overkill for this trip.
  • Gas Canister Stoves – Simple and Easy to use. Plenty of lightweight options available. Fuel source (Isobutane canisters) is readily available and cheap. Winner!

My Choice: The Jetboil SOL-AL

After deciding to go with a gas canister stove I weighed up my options and narrowed the field down to two choices: The Optimus Crux and the Jetboil System.

The Crux is cheaper and a very well regarded stove. However, in the end the boiling speed and stability of the Jetboil won me over. It’s also more ‘techy’ and I simply love gadgets.

Within the Jetboil line-up there are a few options. I chose the SOL-AL (Aluminum) over the cheaper FLASH for a couple reasons. It’s lighter. It’s smaller (Tip: Both the SOL and the FLASH have the same water boiling capacity – 500ml). It’s also better suited to colder climates with more cold weather/high altitude adjust-ability. Lastly, the SOL also includes both a canister stabilising tripod (the little folding orange legs).

Additional accessories are available, including: A pot support – for using the Jetboil with other pots and pans, A Java Press for your morning brew, a 1.8L Sumo Cup for group cooking, a fry-pan and more.

Combined, these features were enough to convince me to shell out the extra coin. There is also a Titanium version of the SOL, for those looking save even more weight.

Jetboil dypdich

The Jetboil SOL AL System: Cup/pot with insulating cover, lid with pouring hole and strainer, burner with Peizo igniter, measuring cup/pot cover, canister tripod (plus a pot support &  100g Canister – Sold separately). Alongside is everything packed neatly inside the cup.

Using it on the trail

Beyond a quick test boil in the kitchen at home, my first use of the Jetboil was upon arriving at the Waterfall Valley Hut after Day 1 of walking the Overland Track. A late start and excessive photo stops, made for a rather dark and late arrival at the hut. I was cold, tired and famished! Lucky for me, Jetboil had me tucking into a steaming hot bowl of Backcountry Cusine Spaghetti Bolognaise in no time at all. We were off to a good start.

For the rest of the Overland walk I cooked using the Jetboil for three meals everyday, and it performed brilliantly! With an average of 4 boils per day, a standard 100g Jetboil branded canister lasted 6 days/5 nights. I only had to use my back-up canister for breakfast on my final (7th) day of the hike. Did I mention it’s also very quiet? On one particularly chilly evening, at a rather crowded New Pellion Hut – I was comfortably cooking inside whilst those who’s brought noisy MSR multi-fuel stoves were relegated to cooking outside on the verandah. Another win for the Jetboil.

Jetboil dypdich2

L: Re-hydrating dinner on Mount Barney. R: Cooking porridge for three hungry hikers.

Since the Overland I’ve taken the Jetboil on several other local QLD hiking trips, including an overnight up Mount Barney as well as a couple nights of back-country exploring in Girraween National Park. The included pot support has been great for cooking larger meals for two or more people. For cooking in exposed windy conditions the Jetboil works a treat. At a very exposed campsite on top of South Bald Rock, Girraween – we had no need for any external wind shields. I’m yet to test the stove under extreme cold conditions, but at close to freezing in Tassie everything functioned fine.

Final Word:

It’s still early days, but I can safely say that after several months together – I foresee a long and happy friendship between myself and the Jetboil. Bonus, owning a Jetboil is also guaranteed to generate envious stares from other hikers and make you friends wish they had one. BUY

For me the Pros definitely outweighed a few insignificant Cons. For anyone who’d keen to supercharge their cooking experience and cut down on unneeded bulk and weight, the SOL AL is a great option. Happy Trails!

Jetboil Girraween-2

Boiling water at sunrise on the summit of South Bald Rock, Girraween NP.

 

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About The Author

Lachlan Gardiner

Lachlan works as a freelance photographer, writer and videographer. He loves spending time in the outdoors whenever possible - be it hiking, mountaineering, climbing, or just being on the road - He'll take any excuse to get into the mountains! He also works in our Paddy Pallin store in Fortitude valley, Brisbane. Drop in and say hi!

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