OUTDOORS

Jetboil Flash vs Zip: Which One is The Better Choice?

flash vs zip featured
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

There’s nothing like a trip to the great outdoors to clear one’s mind and help re-attune with nature, however it does have its drawbacks and limitations. One of the biggest complaints surrounding this subject is regarding the quality of food that is being consumed while out in the open.

While canned food, rations, and small packets will keep you going and stave off hunger there is simply no substitute for a fresh cooked warm meal to fill yourself up. For this, we must take a closer look at a jetboil flash vs zip comparison and give you the best choie for those warm meals.

While a campfire is a more natural approach, it is often too much of an inconvenience, taking time and effort to get going and setting up the actual cookery on the embers is a nightmare. Not to mention the fact that this forces you to carry around pots, pans, and various other kitchen utensils in order to actually cook a meal.It goes without saying that this might be enough to ruin the overall experience.

jetboil sol near food on ground

Lucky for outdoorsmen everywhere that the portable stoves were invented. They are small, packed with a compact propane tank and capped with a metal cup in which you can actually cook your food. These stoves are small enough to be carried around without any kind of inconvenience on the carrier, but big enough to allow for a proper meal for 1 to be cooked, without using a campfire or anything extra other than the food itself.

While there are a lot of such products on the market and a whole slew of manufacturers, the name Jetboil still reigns supreme on the market. Offering campers, hikers, and outdoorsmen the products that they need without forcing them to settle for compromises was what brought them to the top and it’s what is still keeping them there.

In regards to portable stoves, Jetboil offers a lot of options, covering the broad spectrum of outdoor activities as well as demands on the market, however, because of the number of options on the market it can be very difficult to tell which option is the best one and in what situation.A very good example of this is the debate between the Flash and Zip portable stoves.

jetboil stove on snowy rock

At first glance, these 2 products are very much alike, with only minor differences that set them apart, however there is a lot more to them than meets the eye.Do keep in mind that we will be looking at them from the perspective of a hiker / outdoors enthusiast that has to fend for himself and deal with his own personal needs. This does not cover any family situation or organized group setting.

That being said, let’s look at the 2 products and see which one comes out on top.

Jetboil Flash

The flash is by far the most most advanced of the 2 products.

First off, the overall cup capacity of the Flash is 1 liter, allowing the hiker to prepare proper single meals and hefty portions without having to skimp on any ingredients. The size of the cup also allows the hiker to boil water for drinking in more comfortable amounts without having to set up a second boiling round in order to do things like refill a canteen.

jetboil on leaves

Right out of the box, the Flash comes with everything that it needs, along with a hefty instruction manual and safety instructions. Included in the packaging is the tripod that helps stabilize the stove along with a gas canister to get you started and a small plastic measuring cup.

Another really neat thing that this stove sports is a flux ring on the bottom, allowing the heat to be better distributed and at the same time protecting the flame from the wind, requiring overall less gas and time in order to cook whatever the hiker wants to cook.

When it comes to efficiency, though, the Flash is not the best of the best. The gas canister that it comes with is a 3.53 ounce one and it is able to boil 12 liters before running out. This means it it can boil 12 cups and last just over 1 hour of total cooking time before it has to be replaced.

Although one can argue that this is more than enough for an average hiker or even a small camping weekend when compared to other such products on the market it tends to fall a bit short.

jetboil flash next to rice and chicken pack on the ground

The cup itself is quite a feat. It is made out of metal, allowing the heat to be properly conducted through it. At the same time though it is also insulated on the outside with thick thermal resistant plastic, allowing the food or liquid inside to stay warm for as long as possible while at the same time preventing the hiker from burning his hands on it.

The Flash also comes with a plastic cap which is highly resistant to heat as well. The cap covers the metal rim of the cup, allowing the hiker to drink out of the cup without risking burns on his lips while at the same time helping the contents of the cup stay warm for as long as possible.

One last thing to mention about the cup itself is the fact that there is a temperature tracker built into the external insulation. This tracker changes its color to dark orange when the contents of the cup reach boiling temperature, making it easier to see when the cooking is done and helping preserve gas at the same time.

Ignition jetboil flash cooking system

In regards to extras and add-on options, there are not really that many on the market for it. This is mainly because it comes with everything that it needs right out of the box. The most common and popular extras that people opt for are slightly bigger gas canisters.

One massive leg up that the Flash has over the Zip is the ignition system. The Flash comes equipped with a lighter mounted on the actual stove. The hiker needs to only turn on the gas and press a small button in order to ignite the flame and get the stove going.

Jetboil Zip

The Zip is somewhat of a smaller brother to the Flash because while it does come with almost everything that the Flash comes with, it is something different altogether.

The tripod is a design element that is shared with the Flash, the Zip having exactly the same model tripod as its counterpart.

The gas canisters used by the stove are similar to the ones that the Flash uses, however, the only one that can actually fit inside the cup and be safely transported with the stove itself is the 3.53 ounce canister. Anything larger than that will have to be transported separately from the unit itself.

jetboil zip

Another thing that is a bit different is the burner itself. The Zip has a more simplistic design which is a lot harder to use in harsh and difficult weather conditions. First off, the regulator adjustment is being done by a small knob under the burner itself. Second, the burner does not have an ignition system, the hiker having to ignite it with a match or lighter.

The flux ring on the bottom of the cup, a staple design of Jetboil stoves, is s bit smaller and thinner, especially when compared with the one on the Flash. This is because the cup on the Zip can hold 0.8 liters of water and the reduced size of the cup, as well as the reduced quantity of food or liquid,  makes it heat up faster and more efficiently.

While the cup is smaller than most of the other personal stoves on the market, it is still enough to satisfy the needs of a hiker or outdoors enthusiast. It’s smaller size makes it a lot lighter and a lot easier to transport.

The cup itself is thermally insulated by a thick layer of neoprene, making it very difficult for the hiker to be burnt by the hot cup. Etched into the neoprene insulation is the trademark Jetboil temperature tracker which turns dark orange when the contents of the cup have reached boiling temperature.

A neat little extra that the zip comes with is a stove support which you can use on pots and pans that don’t work with the Jetboil locking system. This makes the stove a bit more versatile and adaptable in case the 0.8 liter cup is not enough to satisfy your needs.

The lid that covers the cup is made out of thermal insulating plastic and allows the hiker to enjoy his hot beverage without having to worry about being burnt by the metal rim of the cup.

The last thing that the Zip comes with is a small measuring cup which can help a hiker accurately measure liquid quantities.

Overall, the Zip is rather similar to the Flash on various levels, however, there are some subtle differences that set them apart from each other.

What sets them apart

Design-wise, it’s pretty clear what the good people at Jetboil have managed to achieve.

The Flash is a more comfortable and thought out option for your outdoor cooking needs, while the Zip is a more spartan approach, relying on basic needs rather than as many features as possible.

Probably the first and more obvious difference here is the size and overall capacity that is attributed to these stoves. While the capacity solely affects the actual cup used for cooking, it does impact the overall experience of the unit as a whole.

Cooking dinner on the Jetboil

For example, the Flash with its 1 liter capacity is perfect for boiling water, letting it cool and using it to fill your canteen, while the Zip would require 2 boiling cycles in order to do so. On the other hand, the smaller cup size of the Zip makes it a lot more portable and a lot easier to fit in a backpack than the Flash.

When it comes to cup size though, while portability has a say in the matter, the Flash proves to be the superior choice simply because the volume of water and food that it can hold more than makes up for the small bit of extra room that it takes up.

Another thing worth looking at is fuel consumption. By default both these stoves come with the 3.53 ounce gas canister, however, they don’t last the same amount of time. Because of its reduced size, the Zip manages to heat up the contents of the cup slightly faster than the Flash and ultimately using less gas in the process. All in all, the Flash has enough gas for 12 cups (12 liters) while the Zip has enough for 16 cups (12.8 liters).

Jetboil gas canister

The convenience factor is also very important here and these 2 stoves are miles apart from each other. While they both function using incredibly similar burners, the Flash has a thin yet sturdy wire knob that the hiker can use in order to regulate the size of the flame while the Zip relies on a small knob hidden at the base of the burner.

That being said, the Flash is able to be operated by the hiker in harsh weather while wearing thick gloves. The Zip, on the other hand, requires the hiker to take his gloves off in order to do so.

Another bit worth mentioning here is the fact that the Flash has an ignition mechanism which lights up the gas with the press of a button. This is something that the Zip does not have, requiring the hiker to use a match or lighter in order to ignite the gas.

Jetboil Flash push button

Overall toughness is something that is needed in the great outdoors and not just toughness towards the elements. The stove has to be able to take a bit of abuse and punishment and still be able to function. From that point of view, the Zip is more tightly packed, allowing for a lot of physical shock absorption and overall sturdiness.

The last thing to consider here is cleaning and maintenance, which can be a real pain when it comes to portable stoves. While the burner itself is similar on both models and is fairly easy to clean in the first place, the difference is actually in the cup. Due to the small cup size of the Zip, all be it half an inch shorter, the Zip is actually easier to clean and maintain that the Flash.

In conclusion

While the vast majority of outdoor enthusiasts shy away from putting one thing above another in terms of usefulness, often times rightfully claiming that everything has one use or another, it is simply not the case for the Zip versus Flash debate.

The thing that we are mostly after though when going out in the great outdoors, is relaxation. Making the hustle and bustle of the big city go away for a short period of time can be a real blessing, and the last thing we want to do is stress ourselves out with portable stoves.

While both of the featured stoves have their pros and cons and are more or less tied to multiple points of view, the overall best one is the Jetboil Flash.

Camping cooking equipment

This is because of the fact that it is able to offer thequality of life improvements like better control over the gas regulator and an ignition system, which the Zip cannot provide. The increased cup capacity also played a rather important part, allowing the hiker to have more leeway and the ability to heat up slightly larger quantities.

Although the Zip came in second, it does not mean that it is out of the picture for good. It can still be considered a good backup stove or part of an emergency kit if need be, not to mention the fact that there is always the personal preference of the hiker that nobody but the hiker in question can account for.

While we have tackled a few points here and there, the overall debate still rages on and ultimately hikers and outdoorsmen will pick the one that they feel fits their needs and so should you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

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