Because we purchased freeze-dried meals as a part of our preparedness planning, we had to decide how we were going to boil the water without electricity. Sure lighting a good old camp fire would work but building it up to the point where our pot would be usable although do-able, is not ideal. I decided to look into the camp stove option. I was thinking that I would have to purchase something bulky and heavy. Not so! (I am going to go ahead and put in a plug for REI because quite frankly their sales people cannot be beat. They know everything about everything. They are true wizards. They have consistently given me amazing customer service.) So I go in for what I think will be the traditional Coleman camping stove, I came out with the Jetboil Flash Personal Cooking System.
I love it. It is pricey to be sure. I won’t sugar coat that. It ran me just under $100.00. However, I think the reason why it seems so expensive is because of its size. You would expect to pay that much for a large camp stove, not something as small as this. It is only 4″x7″ and it weighs just under 1 lb. (without fuel). Essentially the system is an integrated cooking cup and burner all in one. There is even a measuring cup that comes attached to the bottom that serves as a dual use protector for the igniter system when not in use. The burner portion detaches and stores inside the cup when not in use. The cup capacity for this model (there are other models available from Jetboil) is two cups. Another positive feature is the push button ignition to light your fuel. (Canister fuel sold separately.) The cooking cup actually clips to the burner when assembled which in combination with the included tripod helps to stabilize the unit to prevent it from turning over. And as if all that wasn’t enough, it comes wrapped in an insulated neoprene cover that has a color-change window to indicate when the contents are hot. The system will boil two cups of water in two minutes.
I have found this system easy to use, understand, light (the first time, it may take some effort, but after that, no worries) and clean. It is lightweight and compact for an easy fit into our go-kit. Most of all, for our plans (freeze-dried and dehydrated foods that need boiling water) this a fast and effective product. It is also useful for water purification (see previous post “Water, water everywhere, but which drop can you drink”).
Lastly, if you need to cook in something larger than the cup, or if you have already purchased a portable cooking pot for your go-kit (as we had), there is an optional accessory that allows the system to support cooking pots as well. We bought this too and have been equally pleased.
I’m sure there are other wonderful products out there, but this was the best choice for our family and I have been pleased with its test performances. I highly recommend this for your go-kit or even shelter in place kit. No matter what brand you consider, be sure to think of alternative ways to cooking in an emergency beyond the basic campfire.