Jet Boil vs. MSR Whispelite

-- Last Updated: Nov-15-09 2:49 PM EST --

Looking at a stove for Xmas for a relative getting into the outdoors. I've had the MSR Whisperlite for decades so familiar with that tried and true stove, but not familiar with the performance, durability, reliability and fuel consumption of the Jet Boil.

Jet Boil
The Jet Boil is the only small stove I’ve ever had, so I can’t compare it to any other model.

I can say I have been very pleased with it for five years now. Very light, packable and convenient.

One problem. I noticed this spring that the spark ignition was beginning to fail to light the stove. These ignition systems are known to fail eventually, and Jet Boil sells a replacement module for about $10.

However, I read a tip on a forum. I just bent the “spray nozzle” a fraction of an inch closer to the burner, and it has been igniting perfectly ever since all season.

Very different stoves…
The Whisperlite, as I recall, is a liquid gas stove (i.e. white gas like my MSR dragonfly) and the Jetboil is a canister stove.

I really like my Jetboil. Heats water faster than anything else I’ve ever owned and very efficient with fuel.

However, in really cold temps, canister stoves don’t perform as well. I’m talking really cold temps, though. If it is just cold, you can carry the canister close to your body to keep it warm.

White gas stoves are easier to adjust for simmering, etc. so it depends on how much cooking your friend does.

If they won’t be in real cold temps and they tend to just boil water for meals and hot beverages, I’d recommend the Jetboil.

the wisperlite doesn’t really simmer…

Whisperlite Here…

– Last Updated: Nov-15-09 10:12 PM EST –

...and we like it. Had to do a rebuild this year, new o-rings etc., (very simple, btw) but apart from that, it's been a trooper. Boils water fast, heats stuff well, not a good simmering stove. Kind of exciting to light at times, tho...

one-trick pony
The Jetboil is great at boiling water. If you want boiling water (for soup, tea, freeze-dried food, boiling pouches, etc.), it’s great. It packs down small, it’s self contained, and fast. That means you can put it into a single dry bag, pull it all out fast, and boil water fast. Those are the plusses. On the down side, it’s still kind of heavy, uses only isobutane cannisters (a minus for some), and burns so hot in such a small concentrated spot that it’s hard to do anything with it other than boil water (forget about frying an egg). Plus, with the stove attached to the cannister, it’s dangerous to bake (the cannister can overheat and explode; heat reflects down). All things that your whisperlite can do, although, with white gas, I don’t remember how easy it is to bake with the whisperlite. So it’s your call. It depends on what you want to do with it. If you like to cook from scratch, the whisperlite is the way to go.

MSR Pocket Rocket + Jetboil Pot

– Last Updated: Nov-15-09 6:57 PM EST –

I've got the MSR Pocket Rocket. We regularly backpack with another person who uses the Jetboil system. It's impressive, but we are just as happy with our pocket rocket and we can boil more water at a time. The key for us is we splurged and bought a 1.5L Jetboil Cooking Pot that we use to boil water in and it is amazingly fast with the Pocket Rocket (it sits right on top of the P.R. The pairing incorporates the sweet flux ring of the jetboil products and the tried and true (bulletproof, IMHO) quality of MSR products.

Can't say enough good things about this set up.
The Jetboil pot we're using:

BTW, my Whisperlite stove hasn't been used in 5-10 years. It is old technology compared to what is available today. Do yourself a favor and upgrade for X-mas, to whatever you decide. You'll be happy you did.

I have the Whisperlite
but not the Jetboil. Instead, I went with the MSR Pocket Rocket for a lightweight canister fuel stove. In high altitudes and extreme cold, the Whisperlite gets the nod over any canister stove. But it’s potentially messy to use (got to be careful about spills) and has to be wiped down before storing, unless you like the look of sooty gear. And it smells.

Any time the white gas stove isn’t called for by necessity, I prefer to use the Pocket Rocket. Don’t know how it compares to the Jet Boil (other than the obvious), but it sure is easy to pack and easy to use. You do have to carry some kind of lighter for it though.

I have Jet Boil and Simmerlite
I have a Jet Boil and an MSR Simmerlite (think that is the name)…anyway it is similar to your white gas stove.

One thing not mentioned here is performance in the cold. White gas is the way to go if you are going to be in temperatures around freezing or lower. No question. Jet boil and similar butane stoves degrade significantly in cold temps.


check out the msr reactor
If you are looking for the most fuel efficient and fast boiling stove around. It can also come closer to simmering than the jet boil because of the unique burner design. just my 2 cents.


– Last Updated: Nov-16-09 12:18 AM EST –

I guess you didn't read my post above.......

how will it be used ?
As someone posted above, the Jetboil is a good (very good in my opinion) stove/system for boiling water - for up to two people; beyond that, you’d need to get the larger pot, and/or get a stabilizer/pot support kit to use a regular pot that’s not a Jetboil product. For larger pots, its better to use the bigger, 230 gram fuel cannister - it gives you a wider base. Doing that works, but you lose the efficiency of the Jetboil “system”. I have the stabilizer and pot support, but too big a pot will get kinda shaky.

I use my Jetboil for September backpack/hunting trips in Colorado, where temps in the AM can be down to 20 degrees - works fine so far.

As pointed out, the Piezo electric lighter is prone to failure - you need to be careflul how you align the rubber pot top when putting the stove away. The original lighter lasted me a year or two, then broke (the ceramic cracks, and the spark shorts out. I bought the replacement kit for $10, but that didn’t last as long. I couldn’t “anchor” it tightly enough to keep the part from shifting and then shorting out on the burner plate or whatever the top of the stove is called.

But, I do like the convenience, and the no-mess with liquid fuel. For solo canoe trips, I can get 6 days of use with one of the 100 gr (standard/small size)cannisters - that’s boiling about 3 cups in the morning, and 4 or so in the evening, not leting the stove “ide”, but shutting it off when not in use, and sometimes not bringing the water to a full boil - mostly, like for instant coffee, you don’t need boiling water - “hot” is good enough.

I also have Coleman Peak 1 white gas stove. I like that as well; but it is bigger, weighs more, (but fuel cost is cheaper), works in much colder temps, and is much easier to use for a group of 3 or 4 people, though I still only boil water - it would definitely be better if I “cooked”.

So it depends on what use your friend would make of the stove which would determine the best choice.

Could be a gift certificate to REI, with a note saying to go buy a stove would be the best choice?

I like my Jetboil
I had a Whisperlite for many years. It’s a good stove and as others have mentioned the white gas stoves don’t suffer in the cold. Like the Jetboil, it really is only good to boil water. If you want to turn down the heat there are better stoves.

A few years after my Whisperlight gave up the ghost I splurged on a Jetboil personal set. I really like the way it packs up small and conserves fuel. I find it quite handy as a one person cook kit.

But I wouldn’t want to cook for two with it. The cup/pot is too small. I probably will get the larger pot at some point but expect that will use more fuel.

I will echo most of the comments
about both the Whisperlite and the JetBoil. I have both, and as time has passed and I have become…lazier, my outdoor cooking has devolved into mostly foods that can be prepared via hot water. For this, the JetBoil excells. I imagine that the new MSR Reactor is the same or better.

I once tried to make a noodle dish in the JB that required simmering noodles. Bad idea. Constant stirring is needed to prevent scorching.

One simple meal that DOES work well in the JB is to empty a can of Progresso soup into the pot, add about a half cup of fast-cooking brown rice, and go from there. Lots of stirring needed, but not overly so.

One more thing - I often use an old MSR foil winfscreen loosely arranged around the JB. Loosely is the key word here.


What about the Snowpeak Giga Stove?
I just got one of these, and I’m LOVING it so far. I’m dabbling in ultralight backpacking as well, so my decision for this was influenced by that.

Here is a link to a “starter kit”, that includes a 700ml cup, fuel canister, stove, spork and lid for under 9 ounces.

I have the auto Giga stove, and it lights perfectly everytime. It will boil 8ounces in under a minute. And I can cook two packets of ramen in the cup w/ 16 ounces of water (per the package directions).

Jetboil Fan

– Last Updated: Nov-17-09 12:18 AM EST –

I'm very pleased with my Jetboil. I've used it on two extended kayak camping trips and some shorter ones plus I keep it in the kitchen and if I want to fix something quickly that requires hot water I use it instead of the stove.
Other than the striker failing after a year I have never had it not perform as advertised. Since the stove can be lit with conventional means I have never missed a meal. I used it for another two years w/o the striker and kept telling myself that "I really should replace that striker". The strikers are cheap, available and field maintainable.
In my opinion, it is stove for heating water only. It fits my needs well as I have instant oatmeal and coffee for breakfast and freeze dried in a bag for dinner. It is most effective boiling one cup and fine up to two cups. Nice for one person or for two taking turns. The MSR Reactor is a better choice for two people or more as it comes into it's own and outshines the JB when two plus cups of water are needed. For myself, the Jetboil is a much better choice than the Reactor as the Reactor takes up more space, seems clunky and doesn't seem any faster for my personal use. If space in your boat is never an issue than it probably doesn't matter.
This last summer I paddled from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy. I was on the water three weeks and in a paranoid state I took eight cannisters. I was afraid that if my patner's stove failed I would need fuel for both of us. I started with a less-than-full cannister, changed it once and finsihed with a less than empty one. Fuel consumption seemed just fine to me.
Cold weather brings it back to earth. Last winter while on a three day South Sound trip in freezing temps I decided to sleep with the cannister at night and walk around with it in my pocket before dinner. That helped but cold weather doesn't support the fast performance of this piece of equipment.
I don't cook, I boil water. I have an unused Group Cooking System and I am skeptical of how useful this would be. Doubt that I will ever find out. I don't think that the Jetboil is the stove for someone who has the expectation of actually cooking something. The Whisperlite would be a better choice for that but it drives me nuts. Too much fussing, takes too long, etc.
Jetboil fits my needs.


Never liked Whisperlite
Let me start by saying I spent years as an alpine climbing guide, kayak guide, program director etc. Used a lot of stoves over the years including MSR products. Used XGK’s on Denali guiding and as long as they were on a shovel or similar surface so as not to melt into the ice, they were reliable as can be.

HATED the Whisperlite. Had a dozen in an outdoor program and constant carboning up of the vaporizing tube, maintenance and poor in field performance. (yeah yeah we used good fuel) International was better via larger vaporizing tube IMO. Got rid of the stoves and went to another brand with far better luck.

Now, I know that will be blasphemy to many who have had luck with them. As a personal stove it may be fine, but professionally the worst stove I encountered. I think there are far better products to choose from. Although there are many out now that I have not experienced, so with regard to the latest stuff I cannot comment with authenticity.

My Whisperlite is the International.
Guess I should have pointed that out. Didn’t know there would be that much difference. It’s always worked perfectly.

White gas stoves
I’ve never used the jetboil so I can’t comment on that. Heck, I’ve never used canister stove just yet!

My first stove was Whisperlite. Good light weight backpacking stove FOR BOILING WATER!

But I wanted to do a bit of cooking! So I searched and found the Coleman Peak 1 and couldn’t be happier. So happy I never bother with canister stove!!!

Now the drawback of Peak 1 is weight and size. So if I were backpacking for more than a weekend, I would go back to the Whisperlite, although I would go with the International instead. But I don’t do long backpack trips any more so I’m “just saying”.

For canoe and kayak camping, where weight isn’t much of an issue, I’d say Peak 1 wins hands down. No fuss lighting, easy adjustment of heat level (for simmering), and no spill possiblity (well, almost no)! So that little bit of extra weight and the slightly awkward shape is worth it in ease of use.

Being a white gas stove, cold isn’t an issue nor is elevation. But then, who here paddle camp in the depth of winter for THAT to matter anyway???

So the real charmer is actually car camping! The Peak 1 is actually a devil of a backpacking stove that can still shine in a car campground!!!

Jetboil Fuel Usage
I always loved Jonathan Walpole’s point about the Jetboils fuel use on day 17 of his Outside Passage romp:

Mon July 03: Location : 51 08.060N 127 41.253W

Burnett Bay, just south of Cape Caution

Mile long white sand beach. Having a fantastic time. Approximately 30nm to Port Hardy. Late start tomorrow to avoid paddlin against current. May be camp on small island on Queen Charlotte Strait.

Still on the first small canister of fuel… the Jet Boil stoves are great.

More of that trip here: