Friday, 22 February 2013

Jetboil ZiP Review

It's taken a while, but I decided to splash out on a Jetboil. I wasn't keen on spending quite a lot on a SOL Ti, and I'm glad I resisted. I went for the ZiP model, but was it money well spent?
I like my Coleman F1 Lite for boiling water. It's...well.....light. It boils water pretty fast and it's very small. It can however be a little unstable if placed on uneven ground. So finding a suitable spot is important. It also has a lot of control over it's flame, so simmering something is a simple proposition. I'm also a recent convert to the occasional use of a Trangia Stove, not in my mind as good as my F1 in some circumstances, such as the need for speed. But the Trangia has a soul. You feel like you are more involved. A sort of cross between my F1 and a wood fire. But from taking the Trangia out of my rucksack, assembling it, and then from spark to rolling boil, it can take as much as 15 minutes. My F1 would be around 10 minutes. Can boiling water be quicker, does it need to be quicker?
The Jetboil's original incarnation, the PCS, or Personal Cooking System has seen a few different variants over the last few years. The Flash is an updated and slightly lighter version. The Sumo is a larger version for groups. The SOL an advanced system. And the runt of the pack, the ZiP. It's the smallest, nearly as light as the much more expensive, but higher specification SOL, and the cheapest. Because of slight doubts, and unable to justify the outlay for a Flash or SOL I went for the ZiP.
The entire system, including the gas canister fit inside the cook pot. The components in the ZiP are the tripod stand, the stove itself, and adapter for using different pots, the pot, and a cup which also acts as protection for the flux ring on the bottom of the pot.
The FluxRing® is one of the key features of Jetboil's line up of systems. With the name FluxRing®, I assume it refers to the control of the flow of heat from the burner to make the system more efficient by acting as a heat sink and maximising the use of the flame.
Assembling the ZiP takes literally a couple of minutes, from emptying the contents, to lighting the stove, ready to start doing it's thing, boiling water. Putting the ZiP together runs smoothly until attaching the pot to the burner. It's not a major issue, but attaching the two together can be a little fiddly.
There's no Piezo igniter on the ZiP. This has positives and negatives. While you have to remember that the burner has to be lit before mounting the pot on it, it is known for Piezo igniters to fail. My preferred system for lighting is a fire steel. I find it the most reliable method to get the Jetboil, or any other stove I have, burning. If you are gram counting, you may consider a Piezo igniter extra weight.
Speaking of which, it does take up some room, and it does weigh something, 345g minus pot support and the stabilizer tripod for the fuel canister. It is fairly light, not as light as the majority of alcohol stoves such as a Trangia, cat stove etc. But it is still fairly light considering what it can do. And with the tripod stabilizer fitted, it is very stable, even when the water is in the pot moving the centre of gravity higher up the system.
Once you light the ZiP, the regulator pretty much turns the gas on and off, there is little control over flow. So while it seems great for rapidly boiling water, cooking up a camp stew or similar from scratch and leaving it to simmer is a no go.
In use it's incredible how much the heat of the burner's flame is contained within the boundary of the FluxRing® and so makes handling the ZiP quite easy. The Jetboil just feels a lot safer in use. The Neoprene cozy works nicely. The only downside was the rather smelly rubber lid, it pongs.
So how long does a boil take? I took the ZiP into the Peak District on a cold morning walk and used it to boil up some water to re-hydrate a freeze dried meal, a Real Turmat Game Casserole. From assembling the ZiP to having a rolling boil took in the region of 5-6 minutes. Blink and you miss it. It's not as fast as the reported times of the SOL or similar systems with the Jetboil Thermo-Regulate™ technology, around 2 minutes and 15 seconds. But I do get a consistent 3 minutes 20 seconds in cold conditions with very cold water.
But would I recommend a Jetboil ZiP? It's all about the wow factor, that is, it gets the job done so quickly it makes you think WOW! But it's more of a precision instrument than a fun gadget. Unlike a fire, or a alcohol stove, it has no soul, only purpose. It isn't the lightest, it isn't the fastest, and isn't the smallest, but it will get there rapidly. If money is a little tight for the faster, higher end models, it's worth a look. Think of what you might be able to do while you wait that whole minute longer.

Feature Highlights

• 0.8 Liter FluxRing® cooking cup with insulating Cargo Cozy
• Adjustable burner
• Pot Support and Stabilizer tripod included
• Drink-through lid with pour spout & strainer
• Bottom cover doubles as a measuring cup and bowl
• Compatible with all Jetboil accessories

Some Specifications

Weight: 12 oz (345 g) * System weight does not include pot support and fuel stabilizer.
 Volume: 27 oz (0.8 Liter)
 Boil Time: 16 oz (0.5 Liter) = 2 minutes, 30 seconds (avg over life of Jetpower canister)
 Water Boiled: 12 Liters per 100g Jetpower canister
 Dimensions: 4.1” x 6.5” (104 mm x 165 mm)