This review was carried out in accordance with Scotland's lockdown guidance on travel for work, and for outdoor exercise within the appropriate local authority area. Please abide by the restrictions in your area.
Jetboil's new Stash offers a decently fast boil time in a lightweight and compact package, and should appeal to anyone looking to save weight without sacrificing the performance and convenience of an all-in-one tower-style gas stove. Thanks to its neat nesting design, the burner, plastic base support and a 100g gas canister fit inside the cooking pot, making this one of the smaller and more packable systems on the market. It also has to be among the lightest, being 40% lighter than Jetboil's next lightest stoves, the Zip and the MicroMo, both of which have pots of the same capacity.
The Stash will be out in the UK late February, and along with a few others in the outdoor media we were sent one to review in advance. So far I've used it for real on one winter camp, and also checked its performance in a more controlled environment at home, indoors and out. I'll have to add any thoughts on reliability at a later date. Initial impressions are very positive.
What you get
In essence the Stash is somewhere between a conventional folding screw-in canister-top stove and the tower-style systems that have become popular over the last couple of decades. It has a lower, more squat shape than tall thin designs such as the JetBoil Flash, and this makes it less top-heavy and topply in use - an advantage when you're camping on rough ground.
Included in the set is:
- 0.8L pot made of anodised aluminium, with a heat exchanger on the base. JetBoil's 'FluxRing Technology' is series of ribs that increases the surface area to help spread the heat for greater efficiency, and offers some (limited) wind resistance. The pot has an insulated handle that folds over the top for packing.
- Pop-on plastic lid with a hole for draining. Cleverly, a 100g gas canister can clip onto the inside of the lid for neat nesting without a rattle, and there's space in the hollow under the canister for a mini lighter.
- Screw-in titanium burner with an output of 4,500 BTU/h (1.52 kW) and a wide head for efficiently spreading the heat across the bottom of the pan. The folding pan supports have a notch to securely fit the matching pot, but unlike most other stove systems the burner can also be used with any cookware, making the Stash quite versatile. There's no inbuilt ignition, but since these can be unreliable most people will be used to carrying spare lighters anyway.
- Folding canister support: sturdy plastic legs that add stability on rough ground. I've found it quite a struggle to fit and detach from a wee 100g canister, but the stove is fairly stable even without.
What it's for
With a non-regulated output, the gas is either off or on; there's not much subtle control on offer here. The idea is to boil water, fast, so while the Stash is great for hot drinks, re-hydrating a dried meal or boshing out your pot noodles, it's of limited use for any kind of elaborate camp cookery involving actual food preparation (for that, look at models in JetBoil's range such as the MiniMo - other makes are available).
Whether you're backpacking, bikepacking, or mountaineering, if you're looking to save weight, and keeping the catering simple, then the Stash would be an excellent option. The 800ml pot may be on the small side for two people, but I think this stove is spot on for a solo mission in the hills - which pretty much sums up my outdoor life so far this lockdown.
JetBoil's quoted weight for the set is spot on at 200g - this includes burner, pot and lid, but it's worth noting that it doesn't include the support stand or the little stuff sack that the burner comes supplied in. On my kitchen scales the breakdown is as follows:
- Burner: 59g
- Pot and lid: 141g
- Stand: 26g
- Stuff sack: 7g
An all-in weight of around 200g (not including fuel) is really light for this sort of gas stove system. By comparison the bigger, more elaborate Flash weighs 371g according to JetBoil (we made it 405g in a 2019 review). The weight saving has been achieved by making the Stash a simpler affair, without features of the Flash such as the bulky plastic housing around the burner, the inbuilt spark, and the neoprene insulating cover.
Alone, the burner is reminiscent of other simple screw-in folding stoves, a similar size when folded to MSR's Pocket Rocket 2, for instance, and fractionally lighter. While you could pair the Stash burner with any cookware, and have a setup similar to a Pocket Rocket, you've got to cook in something, and the pot provided is both lightweight and beneficial to the stove's performance. Since this has been designed as a system it doesn't really make sense to consider the burner alone. But in case it's useful, here's a picture of the Pocket Rocket beside the business end of the Stash:
The quoted boiling time for the Stash with 0.5L of water is just 2 minutes 30 seconds. This isn't quite up there with the 1:40 of the Flash, but it's in the same ballpark as JetBoil stoves like the Zip and the Minimo, and for a model this small and simple it looks really respectable.
In the great outdoors boiling times are hard to pin down, since they are subject to variables such as water temperature, breeze, altitude and gas pressure (a near-empty canister gives you less output than a new one). The figures given by manufacturers are clearly achieved in ideal conditions, so to get as close to this as possible I did a home test indoors. I timed the Stash against two well-known alternatives, the MSR Pocket Rocket as representative of a simple screw-on burner, and the MSR Reactor as one of the more powerful stove systems.
Using a quarter-full 450g canister of standard isobutane/propane gas, this is how long each took to bring 0.5L of water from room temperature to a good rolling boil:
MSR Pocket Rocket 2:15
MSR Reactor 1:50
JetBoil Stash 3:25
Not quite the win for the Stash that I had expected, versus the Pocket Rocket. On the strength of this test alone I would have said that JetBoil did well to get 2:30, but in the interests of fairness I repeated the procedure with a brand new gas canister, outdoors at a few degrees above zero and in a very light breeze, and this time the Stash came to a boil at 2:37. That's impressively close to the ideal figure!
Among the many factors at play, my different results no doubt demonstrate the influence of canister pressure - a reminder that a stove's performance will drop as the gas is used up.
But perhaps boil times are a bit like the stove industry's version of the megapixel arms race, or the pursuit of ever-lighter tents. Once you're boiling decently fast, who really cares about a few tens of seconds either way? It's not as if you'll get out the stopwatch on an alpine bivvy.
In any case the real world performance will be of more interest to users than figures from a brand, or indeed a home test. Last week I carried the Stash for a night of camping at about 600m altitude, at temperatures a few degrees below freezing, using it in the shelter of a tent awning but with a strong draught (it was a windy night and morning). It burns with a good healthy roar, but despite its vindication in the timed garden boil-off, up a hill in more testing conditions the Stash took several minutes to boil water for soup and noodles in the evening, and I had a similar wait for my morning coffee. I didn't time it (see above), but I can say for sure that it was considerably longer than 2.5 minutes.
Gas stoves get sluggish in the cold of course, and though I was using JetBoil-branded Jetpower gas with a promise of '4-season performance' on the canister, the fact that it was some way south of zero must have been a factor. But I think the wind was more of an influence. Although the heat exchanger on the bottom of the pot provides some draught protection, it's not a lot, since the burner head is not enclosed in the manner of stove systems like the Flash or the MSR Reactor. In home tests I've found it possible to blow out the flame of the Stash with a strong puff, not something you could do to an MSR Reactor. For best results in the real windy world a foil wind guard would be a sensible addition - they don't weigh much.
In terms of fuel efficiency, JetBoil say that one 100g gas canister will boil 12 litres of water. That sounds pretty frugal, but since all those real world factors will likely have an impact, its fuel efficiency isn't something I can yet comment on.
Somewhere between a folding screw-on stove and a tower system sits the JetBoil Stash. Combining the lightness of the former with the neatness and some of the performance benefit of the latter, it's a handy little set that I'm sure will appeal to weight-conscious users from backpackers to mountaineers. As with most small burners, its main drawback is its susceptibility to wind. I think this stove hits a really useful sweet spot, and as it's so much lighter than a full-blown stove system I can see myself using it a lot as spring approaches, in preference to bigger and more powerful alternatives. Though it's not at all cheap, at £139.99, it's worth remembering that no decent stove systems are exactly light on the wallet, and for that money you get both a top-notch folding burner and a really nice lightweight little pot with integrated heat exchanger.
What do I think of the Stash? Three words: Cooking with gas.
For more info see jetboil.com