Andrew Skurka, pro backpacking guide, author, distance runner, possible FKT holder of impossibly long trails (honestly don’t know if he holds the FKT for anything, but he almost holds the Only Known Time for plenty of routes) said something very smart about backpacking styles once, and it went something like this: There are two kinds of backpackers—hikers and campers.
Hikers are backpacking specifically to hike a whole bunch really really fast, with the hiking and the ground covering being the crucial elements of the trip. Campers are backpacking to camp in beautiful places away from other people, and while the hiking can be fun-ish, it’s mostly a means to get to the awesomeness.
These approaches usually mean totally different approaches to gear. Extreme lightness with the barest functionality for the fast hikers and convenience and luxury for the camp-focused, though without being too heavy.
The new Jetboil Stash ($130) though can split that difference, at least, to some degree.
If you’re a dedicated cat can stove user, may as well quit reading here, ’cause nothing this stove does will wow you to the point of carting around 6 extra ounces of cookset, plus a canister of iso-butane fuel.
But if you’re an ultralight enthusiast who nevertheless values the sake of cooking ease enough to carry a few more ounces, or a convenience backpacker who is looking to shed weight without resorting to slow-boiling, dirtbag-engineered pet food stoves, or taking the time to research cottage brand options, and putting together a piecemeal setup, the Jetboil Stash might be for you.
Unlike the rest of Jetboil’s lineup, the Stash is not an insulated, wind protected setup with the pot nestling into the heating surface. This is a traditional camp stove setup with a pocket rocket type burner and an aluminum pot that sits on the burner. The aluminum pot has a heat exchanger at the bottom (Jetboil’s marketing team calls it the FluxRing), but that’s about it for anything that can enhance boil time.
Unlike the Jetboil Flash, or something like the MSR Windburner, which features a burner with a much wider area and very little loss of heat because the pot is insulated and the flame in entirely contained within the bottom of the pot, this pot boils water quickly, but not eye-poppingly so. For instance, the Jetboil Flash can boil a pot of water in a minute and half. It’s been awhile since I timed my MSR Windburner, but it can’t be that far behind.
The Stash boils its pot (0.8L) in about 2.5 minutes. Because of that heat exchanger, it’s definitely faster than a pot with a flat bottom, but not nearly as fast as the standard Jetboil if that’s what you’re used to. You will absolutely notice a difference.
But, it’s pretty light for an all-in-one system that you don’t have to think much about.
The titanium burner and aluminum pot combo (barely) tip the scales at 7.1 ounces. That includes the lid and the little triangle dealie to hold the fuel canister, though I’ve never in my life actually used one of those things. Everything nests tightly together in the pot, as it should, and they’ve even included little tabs on the bottom of the lid that can secure a small canister of fuel, so you can lock it in place, which is kinda cool, if the clanking of a metal fuel can against a metal pot in your pack bothers you.
If you’ve ever used a backpacking stove, you’ve basically used the Jetboil Stash. Standard heat control wand, standard leg extensions to prop up a pot. The flame is nice, wide, and the wand does a very good job of adjusting the boil. It’s a nice, premium feeling burner that works great, though if you’re not used to titanium burners, it may feel a little slight in your hand — but that’s good!
So, who’s this setup for?
I’d say the beginning-ish backpacker who knows they want to keep weight down, but doesn’t want to fuss with putting together their own kit yet. They know the time will come when they’ll have opinions about types of stoves, flame size, the hot point of pots, titanium versus aluminum, but that time is not yet. For now, they want to get out there, with a quality kit that will allow them to think more about the scenery and where they’re camping than their gear. The system nestles down nice and compact and doesn’t weigh very much and that’s pretty much the two most important parts of a piece of backpacking kit.
If you even know what a cat can stove is, this probably isn’t for you. But if you’re starting to lean a little more toward convenience than gram counting, or if you’re using older, heavier kit and want to lighten your game, AND aren’t interested in researching how to put together your own system, this is a solid choice. You can easily find a titanium pot that weighs less than the 5 ounce Stash pot, and a lightweight titanium burner that together will cost and weigh less than the Jetboil Stash. But that takes a little time, and for lots of people, they’d rather just buy something they know will work, rather than spend time geeking out on the little details of assembling a kit. Plop down your money, get a super light cookset that all nest together into something smaller than the cappuccino mug from So I Married an Axe Murderer? That holds plenty of appeal for lots of backpackers.
But the camping ones, not the hiking ones.
If you already have a good working setup, you won’t notice an upgrade with this unit. If you’re just getting into backpacking, or for some other reason need a high quality, lightweight cook system that you know will work, work great, and you won’t have to think about it, boom, this is a solid choice. For many, that’s plenty.
You can order here, they start shipping next month.