Backpacking Stoves for Melting Snow, Part 2: What About the Jetboil?

An interesting side show from my boil-water-from-snow time/fuel economy test was the performance of the Jetboil Stove.

The Jetboil required 54 minutes to boil 2L of water from snow but used only 1.5 oz of fuel (compare to 20 minutes or so with an MSR XGK-II @ 2.8 oz, Simmerlite @ 3.2 oz, or Coleman Xtreme @ 2.2 oz).

Of course, with the Jetboil, you’d be half hypothermic by the time your soup would be ready, but at least you can drag the Jetboil in the tent with you to get out of the storm.

The performance of the Jetboil in this test doesn’t validate some of the Testimonials for the Jetboil stove found at http://www.Jetboil.com:

"…I poured in just a cup of water and filled the rest of the liter cooking cup with snow…and it boiled a little more than 2 cups in less than 3 minutes while set out in the open in a 5-10 mph wind!" (ref.)

I repeated this test, sort of. The temperature was 19 °F, wind was 1-2 mph, starting water temp of the first 4 ounces of liquid water was 140 °F (!), and I boiled snow to make 2 cups of boiled water. Time to boil: 14 minutes, 40 seconds. Unfortunately, back-of-the-napkin thermodynamics calculations don’t afford the ability to extrapolate a three minute boil time using even 8 oz of 140 °F water…

This testimonial is even more precarious:

"…just returned from attempting Rainier’s Liberty Ridge. We had two Jetboil stoves with the 100g cartridges…melting snow more rapidly than an equivalent MSR white gas stove would…" (ref.)

I can’t imagine how you spin the numbers to get that result.

Bottom line: the Jetboil has its advantages: it’s a fuel miser, a piece of cake to set up and use, and great in a tent. But before you put your faith in its ability to serve duty as a winter stove, run your own boil-water-from-snow tests side by side with the liquid fuel stoves you may be used to and see if you have the patience for it.