First impressions of the Group Cooking System version of JetBoil's integrated stove.
We've just got hold of the JetBoil Sumo, a larger version of the JetBoil stove designed for use by groups of two to four people, but using the same principles as the pioneering original Personal Cooking System (PCS) JetBoils.
The Sumo really is a recognisably scaled-up version of JetBoil PCS. Actually the burner unit is identical to the smaller versions, but the pot is significantly larger with a capacity of 1.8 litres against just 0.8 litres for the original. Like other JetBoils, the Sumo's pot uses the FluxRing heat exchanger fins on the base of the pot which drastically improves efficiency, speeds up boiling times, and according to JetBoils roughly halves the amount of fuel used.
The base of the pot is tapered to the same diameter as the original, allowing it to use the same burner, though obviously the pot itself, with its tough, hard-anodised interior, is significantly wider.
You'd think that would make the pot a whole lot heavier, but actually we found that compared to a basic Flash JetBoil, the Sumo pot and lid was only marginally heavier at 269g versus 244g for the Flash pot - so just 25g more for an extra 1 litre of capacity.
In fact our Sumo weighs the same as the Flash once you include the burner weight thanks to the former actually using the lighter burner unit from the Sol PCS - 102g versus 146g - to give a full weight of 418g for both. Obviously the Sol would be slightly lighter again.
Tried And Tested Features
Otherwise you get JetBoil's tried and tested features, which include the neat, secure but easy to use attachment system for the pot, a built-in piezo igniter, wrap-around insulated Neoprene cosy and lid with integrated pour spout and strainer.
Of course the big plus is increased capacity, which means while the original JetBoil is great for one person or two at a pinch, the 1.8-litre Sumo pot means you can cater for two to three people. You're still mostly limited to one-pot meals, unless you're prepared to carry a second, conventional, pot you can use with the burner's clip-on adaptor.
The only real downside we can see is increased pack size and the fact that the increased size of the pot means that the burner no longer fits snugly inside, so you'll need to pad it out somehow.
A quick trial boil-up with 500ml of water took 2 minutes 55 secs to reach a rolling boil. Last time we tested a Flash, it managed the same feat in 3 minutes 28 secs, so they're in a similar ball park, though nowhere near as fast as the 1 minute 15 secs of MSR's innovative Reactor system.
Our experience is that the FluxRing system really does work, particularly in colder conditions and also, the Neoprene pot cosy means that the contents stay warmer for longer after boiling.
All the positive attributes of the smaller JetBoil stoves, but with a larger capacity sums it up. All the details are nicely thought out and work, so fitting and removing the pot is straightforward, the straining lid works well as does the handle and it'd decently efficient too.
Another positive is that while it's bulkier than the original, you don't pay a huge weight penalty for the extra capacity and because the burners are interchangeable, you could always invest in an extra smaller or larger pot for solo or group trips.
The upside to the FluxRing pot is that boiling times will be roughly a third quicker than with conventional pots and for one-pot meals, it works brilliantly with decent boil times and fuel efficiency - less fuel burned equals a lighter pack load. The downside is that you're mostly stuck with one-pot meals, so you need to be a little more imaginative, though you can also use a conventional pan on the burner with the 34g add-on adaptor for the burner.
But in short, as fast and convenient as the original, but bigger.
Price is £130, though if you're feeling flush you can spend an additional £50 and got for the Sumo Ti with its titanium pot and save around 100g more at 50p per gramme...
More information at www.jetboil.com.