Sometimes there is more than one way to approach lightening your gear. When it comes to cooking, you can go with the lightest stove, the lightest pot, etc… Or, you can go with an efficient system which allows you to save weight in other ways, such as using fuel much more efficiently. If you’re using canister type stoves, carrying less fuel canisters not only means less weight, it also means less room is taken up in your pack. If you’re looking to replace your backpacking stove, this is worthy of consideration.
The Jetboil Personal Cooking System (PCS) is a combination of a pot and stove which twist lock together. The Jetboil PCS is super efficient and accomplishes this by using a FluxRing on the bottom of the pot which yields fuel efficiencies of over 80%, compared with the 30-40% typical of standard stoves and cookware. The FluxRing is basically a heat exchanger which captures the heat from the area between the bottom of the pot and the stove burner. Not losing this heat equates to shorter boiling times, thus fuel savings.
Screw the fuel canister on to the stove, twist and lock the pot into place on top of the stove and you’re done with assembly. A slight twist of the fuel valve and pressing the piezo igniter and the Jetboil PCS comes to life. In two minutes you’ll have two cups of boiling water. The piezo push button starter was something I was definitely very interested in. I’ve found that most piezo starters don’t work well at the higher elevations. So far, the piezo starter has proven to light first-time every-time. When I received the Jetboil PSC I immediately started using it to make coffee each morning at home with the French Press. I’ve been using it now for 6 weeks and I’m still using the original fuel canister!
A few words about canister stove fuels. The most common canister stove fuels found are propane, butane and isobutane. Some of these fuels work better in the cold while other fuels work better at higher altitudes. Pure propane works well down to 0°F. However, pure propane requires thick walled canisters and therefore is not economical for backcountry use. Butane will not work below 32°F. Another fuel, Isobutane, is used in cigarette lighters and is commonly used as a propellant for hair spray and breath fresheners. While Isobutane doesn’t burn as hot as blended fuels, it does burn well as the fuel quantity dissipates. While no single fuel sticks out as the best for backcountry use, a blend of fuels is therefore the ideal solution. The Jetboil PCS uses a blend of 80% isobutane and 20% propane providing good cold weather operation at high altitude down to the last drop of fuel.
Accessories for the Jetboil PCS include additional pots, called companion cups, along with a French Press – Yes, even rugged backcountry hunters can have his/her high octane coffee every morning. Also available are a pot support and stabilizer. The pot support attaches to the top of the stove and allows you to use any pot with your Jetboil PCS. The stabilizer attaches to the bottom of the fuel canister providing a wider base and a stable platform for cooking. Weighing in at just 15 oz. with a size of 4.1” x 7.1”, the Jetboil PCS has replaced my standalone stove and pot.
I’ll see you on the mountain.