Friday, April 29, 2016

Pack and Go! or Hell NO! Jetboil Genesis Gear review

This past weekend I finally got my butt in a tent, and in the process I got to test out some gear that has been sitting for way too long. So here is the first gear review in a while.

I am a long time user of the Jetboil- I still have a Jetboil PCS (older than the current Flash) - and it is my go to stove when my plan involves just boiling water. I have an MSR whisperlite for longer trips or when I am cooking actual food. I have long been skeptical when jetboil tries to release a more cooking centric stove system. I think this may be the third attempt at such a project (the helios, the sumo and now the Genesis). Essentially this is jetboil trying to expand it's market base. They already have a huge presence in lightweight water boilers, time to expand into basecamp cookers as well.

The product I tested was the Genesis basecamp system and it is a beautiful package.  A large pot, a matching fry pan, and the two burner stove in a nice black carry bag.

The large pot has an associated lid with an integrated water strainer. The 10 inch fry pain is ceramic coated for non-stick performance. The massive 5 liter pot has the Jetboil flux ring to offer wind protection. The carry bag also has a spot for the fuel connection hose, making the entire kit fairly compact.

The stove set up in a breeze, and ignites quickly with the two separate igniter switches. You can run either burner separately or both together. The package I had weighed in at just under 10 pounds, but construction of the stove was meticulous and well thought out

This Jetboil is propane, unlike every other Jetboil I have used. Clearly attempting to compete with the large two burner campchef/coleman/everest/brunton two burner basecamp stoves. I set it up and got to cooking. Dinner would be Mussels in a spicy red sauce with linguini, and a crusty baguette for dipping in the tomato sauce. For starters I needed to saute a diced onion and pepper, and the stove offered great flame control. I flicked the igniter switch on one of the burners (after opening the control valve) and I had good flame control with easy to reach access. Once the peppers and onions were sauteed I added tomatoes and spices and turned my attention to boiling water for linguini. I chose to do this in my own pot - not the jetboil pot with the flux ring. I needed no adapter to do this - as you would in other Jetboil stoves. My 3 liter pot was dwarfed next to the behemoth that comes with this stove. 


With 1.5 liters of water in my pot, I cranked up burner two, to the maximum. I wanted to see how fast this would boil water, and it did not disappoint. I didn't time it, but it was pretty incredibly fast - they say a liter in 3 minutes 15 seconds but it seemed faster than that. I added my pasta and let it do it's thing. Both pots fit easily on the two burners, but the pot without the flux ring left me concerned for performance in high wind. Most two burner stoves offer some sort of wind screen and this one doesn't - though the burners are slightly recessed, which should offer some protection. Though there was no wind when I was using it, so this may be a non issue.

This stove offers a Jetlink, stove linking system, with an optional cable ($35) you can link two of these stoves together, or the genesis to certain eureka stoves giving you 4 burners. I am not sure when I would need 4 burners in the woods, but nice to have the option. There is also the option to add the Luna stove to the Jetlink port. The Luna is a $59 water boiler that looks like a jetfoil flash adapted to run propane. Initially I thought I could connect my Jetboil PCS (or if you had one, a Flash, Sol, Zip or MiniMo.) But this isn't the case, I was a little disappointed.

The remainder of my evening cooking was uneventful - though the following morning I once again had fun boiling water for coffee - with 10,000 BTU's of power it didn't take long! My overall impression with this stove was extremely favorable.

Actually, that is an understatement. I loved it. I have used a lot of two burner camp stoves. I used to do Thanksgiving every year in this same campground, and I would cook the big parts of the meal in Dutch ovens but all the sides on a two burner coleman. I wish I had this back then.

The Pluses - Beautiful design, and build quality. Fast boiler, with good flame control. Convenient carry case. Huge pot, and frypan. Great power output.

The Minuses - The potential for wind issues, as the stove doesn't offer a wind screen. Here is the big one. Price.

Lets talk about Price. This stove as tested is $350. It is available without the pots and pans and carry bag for $239. That is still $79 more than the next most expensive competitor on and that stove, while it weighs more, also puts out more power (12000 BTU's compared to the Genesis 10000)

I think this is a great stove, and may even buy one - this kit is a loaner - it is really wonderful. But also wonderfully expensive.

Based on the price alone, I am afraid I have to call this a....

Hell NO!

It is simply too much money, when you can get a $89 coleman two burner with push button start, running the same fuel and 11,000 BTU's of power. The Jetboil Genesis is without a doubt the best made two burner camp stove I have ever used. It is also the coolest looking stove I have ever used. But at $239 for the stove, and $350 for the kit I just used, for me, it is a Hell No!


There is in fact a windscreen in the case with this stove. It is a clear plastic barrier that goes around the stove. I still haven't used it, but it is in there if you need it. Also, on a recent trip the fuel regulator - which is the brass fitting that connects the propane to the stove - started violently leaking propane. We stopped using it for the remainder of the trip and when I got home I made a phone call to Jetboil. It was a short and wonderful conversation. They had a new regulator on its way to me that day, I had it a couple of days later, all at no charge. They never asked me for proof of purchase, they didn't try and second guess what occurred. It was amazing customer service

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Thank You Patton Oswalt

On the last Alaska expedition we were generally off the water in the late afternoon. We would settle into camp, put up a tent and a cook tarp. Filter water, make beds, cook dinner. All the things that you do on an extended trip. Generally around 4 o'clock or so, we would have a whiskey. We thought of this as the "cocktail hour". On this trip I finally got to do something I had been planning for almost a decade. I had whiskey on the rocks, with the rocks being naturally purified, hundreds of years old (or maybe thousands....probably not thousands, but it sounds good) glacier ice. It was spectacular.

At cocktail time, we would also listen to something. We would listen to comedian Patton Oswalt. I am not sure how it started, but everyday we listened to him. We had most of his albums on my iPhone, and we would listen using the tiny built in speakers.

We joked that because he had done such a good job of keeping us sane while we laughed every afternoon, that we would dedicate the film to him, and since the film is currently standing still I will publicly thank him here.

But here is the thing, this week, unexpectedly, at the age of 46, Patton Oswalts wife passed away. While I know he will never see this, I just wanted to express my sadness, and condolences to Mr. Oswalt and his daughter. Losing a spouse, particularly at such a young age is nightmarish.

Thanks Patton.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Tow Hook - Seemed Like a good idea at the time.

My trusty Toyota Yaris has been replaced, by a slightly newer  and hopefully just as trusty Yaris. It is like she never left, except of course, she has. I hope I fall as in love with this little car as my last one, but I doubt that will occur as I don't plan on driving her to Alaska Twice.

Something that a lot of people asked me about was the tow hook on the front right side of the yaris that I used to secure my bow line. I got the idea of using it from a friend who works for NOLS. It seemed brilliant, and I did for literally 100,000 miles.

Then someone ran a red light, I hit them in the middle of an intersection, and the first point of contact was that tow hook. The impact was sudden, jarring and scary, but what didn't happen was an airbag deploy. I was going somewhere between 20 and 30 miles an hour, more than fast enough to trigger a discharge.

The fire department was concerned about it, and mentioned several times that they were surprised they didn't deploy, they were disconnecting the battery (normal procedure is to cut the battery cables, as a courtesy they took the time to simply disconnect them, I think because I identified myself as a former medic) and they told me not to drive the car. Not that I could.

I commented to many people that I was surprised that the airbags didn't deploy - most resulting in funny comments like "oh on the yaris, you have too blow up the airbags yourself." I even went as far to mention it here on the blog.

Then I got this comment from a reader named Kiradale:

I recently purchased a VW Golf wagon. The owners manual warns against driving with the tow eye in place on the front bumper as it may affect deployment of the air bags in the event of a collision.

I did some research, but couldn't find anything online, linking tow hook usage to a lack of airbag deployment on the Yaris, but honestly, it makes complete sense that having that hook could alter airbag deployment. In this case anecdotal evidence is enough. 

So please, don't use the tow hook on the front of your car - any car - as a method for securing your bow lines. If there is even a chance it will keep your airbags from deploying it isn't worth the convenience. 

Instead I will be using these:

The Seattle Sports quick loops is one of those things I wish I had invented. Put the rubber tube part under your hood, and let the loop part stick out. Tie off to that, and you are good to go. At least I hope you are good to go, I haven't used them yet. Ill keep you posted. 

And do me a favor. Drive carefully!