By Scott Edwards
As someone who truly loves camping, doing so from a kayak was a natural progression for me, especially with the plethora of opportunities that are available virtually all over the globe. I am particularly fond of the Maine Island Trail, which I have mentioned in a previous article. Only members of the Maine Island Trail Association (a non-profit organization see: http://www.mita.org/) can camp on these islands, some of which are privately owned and they all have strict rules about leaving the island as you found it, which means as if you were never there. In fact, I highly endorse the ‘leave no trace’ credo when it comes to camping, making fires, if allowed, below the high tide line, practicing a carry in-carry out habit of leaving my site as I found it, no signs of human encroachment.
One of the things I enjoy about camping is preparing meals outside, and I don’t mean barbecuing. One thing you need to have to do this is the proverbial ‘camp stove’. The world of the ‘camp stove’ has evolved from cooking over an open fire to stoves that can now charge your electronic devices. We’ve used every fuel imaginable and pumped pressure into reservoirs until our arms fell off. We’ve had to use windscreens, and we have forgotten windscreens only to have our efforts to even have a cup of coffee foiled just when you need it most, much less get enough nutrition to power a day of paddling. Spilled fuel is always a concern, especially in a kayak, where it would get all over everything in the hatch, and perhaps react with the kayak itself. And of course, the smell of some of the fuels can be downright unpleasant. However, I think those days are over, especially for me with my penchant for camping out of a kayak. Enter into my world the JetBoil line of stoves. Small, self contained, no fuel to spill and will heat a quart of water to full rolling boil before you can get your smartphone stop watch initialized.
Fits in a small dry bag
First, let me say that I will be talking about the Sumo size of the JetBoil. Yet, despite its name, denoting size and girth, still fits in a small dry bag along with a couple fuel canisters. Now, one of the initial ‘push backs’ I got on this system is the empty canisters that one will have to pack out during your trip. JetBoil uses a proprietary ‘JetPower’ to optimize its cooking system. JetPower fuel contains a blend of propane and iso-butane. Propane provides higher vapour pressure to the fuel, which means better performance in cold weather. Iso-butane provides more constant pressure as the fuel level gets low. The JetPower fuel canister is also designed to stow conveniently within the cooking cup. I have also been asked can you travel with JetBoil. The answer is yes you can, but, you need to make sure you have fuel sources at your destination. Airlines are prohibited from transporting pressurized flammable containers. Visit http://www.jetboil.com/Support/International-Distributors/ to find fuel wherever your journey may take you.
Keeping to my desire to minimize, if not eliminate my impact on my campsite; I have no problem carrying out the fuel canisters. The Sumo comes equipped with a large main ‘pot,’ three cups/bowls, fuel mounting system with integrated sparking unit and flame control, folding stability legs to go on the fuel can that attaches to the base and lids for everything.
As I said earlier, everything fits easily into a small dry bag, making transport a breeze and leaving you plenty of room for the rest of your gear. Which if you are counting on your kayak to carry everything, every inch counts. Especially on multi day trips where you’ll need to carry more than a days worth of food, a tent, water, changes of clothing, sleeping bag and whatever else makes up your ‘can’t do without’ kit.
The construction is robust, I have no fears of anything breaking in transit and set up is simple and fast. Once assembled you are literally a couple of minutes from a steaming cup of a hot beverage, which can be a huge boost when paddling in less than balmy conditions.
One of the things I like best about the Sumo is the fact that you have enough bowls/cups for not only yourself but also another camper. Meaning, quite simply more room in another kayak for more food, water, and gear, or whatever will make your trip more enjoyable. For those of you who do camp out of kayaks you are well aware of how every inch is precious and can make the difference between bringing something and leaving it in the car.
Everything you see in the accompanying photographs came out of that one small dry bag. If you are going to be responsible for cooking for a larger group, you will obviously need larger pots and pans. The parts stayed cool, the contents of the large pot stayed hot making it the ideal vessel for a one pot meal, soup, chilli and the like. The JetBoil system has accessories enough to satisfy the most hardcore gear junkie (like me) including a ‘crunch it’ key to make the empty fuel canisters recyclable! A major plus for me… it makes the fact there is no fuel to spill and even bigger plus for the JetBoil. The one caveat about JetBoil accessories is that they often need the ‘Pot Support Kit’ which allows you to use taller or larger cooking vessels with appropriate safety and stability.
I have used a lot of different camp stoves in my life, from single burner multi-fuel models to large table top models for ‘car camping’ and by far and away the JetBoil is the most efficient, most compact and easy to use and transport cooking system I’ve encountered. I have had no difficulty finding an ample supply of the fuel and do plan ahead so I know I have enough for my trip then some. As far as a compact, efficient, easily used and remarkably small, allowing easy, space saving storage, the JetBoil system seems to be designed perfectly for kayak camping or anywhere that size is a factor, but performance cannot be compromised.