I normally enjoy cooking, and spending lots of time procuring gourmet meals at my home in Alaska. But when I’m on extended trips, my food priorities change. I want food fast, and with minimal cleanup. I could care less what it tastes like, so long as it’s got some calories in it. Now, I understand that there is a sect of people out there who enjoy their gourmet meals while in the backcountry (like those of you who have perfected how to bake muffins on a single burner stove. You know who you are…), but that’s not my thing. If someone else wants to cook Eggs Benedict for me, by all means, do it up. However, when I’m in charge of the mess hall (or mess picnic table, or mess-rock-near-the-river, as the case may be), I want a product that gets the job done fast and doesn’t require a lot of time to clean or space to store in my pack/panniers/drybag. For part of my summer adventures, I used the Jetboil Group Cooking System for my cooking needs.
Jetboil Group Cooking System: The Specs
- Group Cooking System includes pot, stove, the pot support device and a stabilizer tripod (all of which store inside the pot)
- Equipped with Jetboil’s Flux Ring technology
- Comes with insulating lid and bottom cover (which can double as plates)
- Weight: 20 oz
- MSRP: $119.95
Jetboil Group Cooking System: The Review
Overall, the CGS is an efficient system for backcountry travel. It boils water quickly (when I say quickly, we’re talking sub-4 minutes). The stove has the capability to integrate with other pans, such as the Jetboil Frying Pan. All parts fit inside the 1.5 L pot. The GCS is best suited for those looking to really save weight and look at cooking with a minimalist approach. The GCS is great for boiling water quickly. However, I also own a Jetboil Flash PCS, and I found myself leaning more towards my Jetboil Flash in many situations. The times when I found the Jetboil system most valuable was when I wanted boiling water. The Flash boils water even quicker than the GCS, and the handle and pour spout made it very easy to pour that water into my french press, Mountain House meal, etc. However, it’s tough to cook anything besides soups and dehydrated meals in the Flash. Pasta, mac and cheese and Rice A Roni were also easy in the GCS, after learning how to finesse the fuel dial and not burn dinner.
- The boil time is unbeatable. Before you can find the pasta to toss in the pot, it’s up to a rolling boil.
- The Pot Stabilizer, a small metal attachment that sits on the stove portion, makes it very easy to convert from using the pot to the frying pan.
- Single push igniter makes for easy starting. After a summer’s worth of use, the igniter is still in great shape, which is more than most people can say about their backyard barbeque grills. Also, my 3 year old Jetboil Flash also starts up no problem. Though the rain would occasionally dampen things a bit, 2 or 3 clicks of the button later, even the Flash was up and going.
- Pouring boiling water out of the pot proves to be a challenge. The Jetboil Flash has a lid that has a small hole in it, functioning as a pour spout. The GCS would be far more versatile if the lid had that same hole.
- Similar cooking setups from other companies come with a dinnerware set of sorts. For example, for around the same price, you can get a MSR Dragonfly Stove, which fits inside an MSR Bugaboo Cookset, which comes with pot, pan, 2 cups, 2 bowls and a lid that functions as a plate. Granted, that system certainly won’t boil your water in 4 minutes. But it would be nice to see Jetboil start selling the GCS with a few cups/bowls/utensils, all of which integrated inside the 1.5L pot.
- The handle on both the 1.5L pot and Frying Pan were not the most stable things I’ve seen. I never had an problems with them “falling off” per say, but they would wobble and move around enough to where I was nervous if I had to pick up a pot full of boiling anything and move it anywhere.
A lightweight, fuel efficient stove best suited for backpacking trips with one to two people.