Product Review: JetBoil Helios

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now – I am most decidedly not a backcountry chef. If I’m going camping with a group I will gladly carry extra sleeping bags or tents or offer to cleanup camp kitchens in exchange for food – and when I first started solo camping and backpacking my meals were limited to things in wrappers or bags – basically anything you’d be likely to find in a 1950s fallout shelter.

Once I graduated to the comparatively advanced cooking technique of “heating up water,” I wanted to get something to use here in the Southern California backcountry where camp fires are often not allowed – so I picked up a mug-sized JetBoil Flash, which can boil a few cups of water in around 2 minutes. I loved it and it’s been on just about every trip I’ve been on since 2006 – but I figured it was about time to step up my cooking game.

Enter the Jetboil Helios.

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This full-on cooking system takes the mechanics of the Flash and upscales everything for a group (or maybe just a very hungry pair) with a 2 and 3 liter cooking pots, each with lids and insulated covers that wrap around the edges to keep heat in and prevent accidental burns. In addition to the pots, the Helios system has a collapsable burner unit that hooks into the JetBoil fuel canister via a cable, a stabilizer for the canister itself, and a snap-on windscreen that attaches to the base of the burner unit, which can be used with other JetBoil dishes and pans as well as the pots that are included.

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Setup is – like other JetBoil products – incredibly easy. The pot fits snugly on top of the burner just below its FluxRing – a sort of built-in windscreen that also helps focus heat to increase efficiency and reduce loss. The plastic windscreen snaps on the bottom of the burner base and leaves ample room for the fuel cable – and the fuel canister just screws in easily to the cable and stand.

Operating the unit is just as easy – there’s a small knob that operates the gas valve once everything is hooked up and to light the stove all you have to do is press a button on the gas cable.

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The unit is capable of boiling a liter of water in under three minutes – which means this thing gets hot FAST. I cooked up a few cups of oatmeal for breakfast and the whole process was over much faster than I was expecting. The oats did toast a little bit near the flame even though I was trying to keep the flame as low as possible, but the finished oatmeal tasted great and the singed oats came off very easily with a little soap and water.

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Everything packs down into the larger container with room enough for a small JetBoil fuel canister – and while it’s definitely not up to snuff for ultralight backpackers it should be fine for most backpackers – especially if you’re sharing gear with a buddy.  The pots are 5.1 and 9.5 inches in diameter, and the total packed weight (without fuel) is 48 ounces.

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The Helios group stove is available for $119.95 right now on Sierra Trading Post. And if you’re looking to level up your camp cooking game, their Social Hub has three recipes for great-tasting (and more importantly, easy) camp meals, too.

Take an additional 25% off your order at Sierra Trading Post using the coupon code SHUB2014. The code is good through the end of the day on Sunday, June 1st!

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