Jetboil MicroMo Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 8, 2016      

Jetboil changed the game a few years ago when they burst onto the scene with their revolutionary, fast cooking system. It provided exceptional efficiency and a easy, tightly integrated setup. Since then, a variety of manufacturers have come up with similar products. Imitation is the purest form of flattery, or so they say.

Canister cooking systems all had similar disadvantages. Namely price, canister availability, cold weather performance, and an inability to simmer. I hesitated to get one for years for all these reasons, however the major deterent was their simmering handicap. Boiling water is good, but being able to make pasta or couscous is necessary for delicious meals while camping. Also, if you’re purifying water, you need to be able to simmer it for a few minutes to fully kill everything nasty.

The Jetboil MicroMo caught my interest when I learned about its improved ability to simmer.

Melting snow in the sun up on Mt. Rainier.

Melting snow in the sun up on Mt. Rainier.

Many outdoor companies obsess with change and new products, rather than simply enhancing what works. As a designer, this attitude is a major pet peeve of mine, as it often results in incompatible products and discontinuations of excellent items, often in favor of something inferior. Jetboil has been a shining antithesis of this. They started out with a product that worked quite well. Over the years, they’ve kept the same basic formula. However, instead of sitting on their hands, they’ve consistently and carefully made incremental improvements. Jetboil’s different sizes and types of pots are integrated, but still compatible across their product line, even with older models. Their products have evolved with noteworthy enhancements. Kudos.

Jetboil’s new MicroMo is an excellent example of this. The system is similar to their other stoves, with upgraded features. For one, it’s smaller and lighter. The burner assembly is shorter, as well as the pot that comes with the stove. The smaller burner is actually more powerful than the older larger ones. It spits out 6,000 BTU compared to the 4,500 BTU of the Jetboil Flash. In addition, it dials down to simmer quite nicely, a win-win. The internal components are tweaked so it takes multiple turns of the knob to get to full power. This means that the burner can be easily adjusted to a tiny flame with minimal heat output.

In the past my Jetboil (and other integrated cannister stove) cooking experience usually went something like this: boil water, add pasta, almost immediately it boils over, frantically attempt to turn the stove off (without finger burns), let it sit for a bit, turn it on again, it boils over again…you get the picture. At the end, burned food is inevitably stuck to the bottom of the pot. Making tea or freeze-dried meals was easy, and that’s about it. I’m sure better cooking can be done, but it’s undeniably difficult. In contrast, the MicroMo simmers wonderfully. After dialing the flame down I can calmly stir my macaroni to al-dente perfection. I’ve got to remember the chef hat on my next trip.

The MicroMo compared to a "standard" original jetboil size. (Nalgene for scale). The MicroMo has a smaller burner, so the fuel, burner, and fuel stand still fits inside the .8L pot.

The MicroMo compared to a “standard” original Jetboil size. (Nalgene for scale). The MicroMo has a smaller burner, so the fuel, burner, and fuel stand still fits inside the .8L pot.

Burner size comparison. Original Jetboil burner on the left, MicroMo on the right. The size difference mostly comes from the different plastic part. The burner parts look quite similar, although the MicroMo delivers both higher heat output, and better simmering.

Burner size comparison. Original Jetboil burner on the left, MicroMo on the right. The size variation mostly comes from the different plastic parts. The burner parts look quite similar, although the MiniMo delivers both higher heat output, and better simmering.

I’ve been using the stove throughout the winter on a short overnight trips as well as day trips. The smaller burner and pot make the stove setup quite compact. It efficiently melts snow on day trips. The pot is small, and isn’t quite big enough for two people on an overnight (although it does work). With the standard flame-thrower Jetboil, it’s necessary to leave a large space when filling the pot with water, because the stove boils so aggressively. However, since the MicroMo burner simmers so well, it’s possible to fill the pot almost completely full. There is still a warning on the pot to only fill it ¾ full, but I’ve successfully ignored that several times. With a bit of care and attention, it’s possible to boil almost the same amount of water in the MicroMo’s small pot as in the larger standard pot. The stove is still compatible with larger Jetboil pots, which I’ve used on several trips.

I’ve always had issues with the piezo lighters on both Jetboil and other brands of self-lighting canister stoves. Sometimes they work, but mostly they don’t. They’re fragile, and susceptible to the tiniest amount of moisture. Mine stopped working almost immediately. Perhaps I wasn’t careful enough and bumped the tiny wire that creates the spark. Whatever the case, the little button is entirely ineffective (even though it often still makes a tiny spark). I’m sure Jetboil would warranty the issue, but I’ve seen the same issue in many other cases, so I’m not sure it wouldn’t stop working again soon after being fixed. Either way, the fact that it’s unreliable means that you need a lighter on hand anyways, obviating the usefulness of the mechanism. It’s a relatively minor issue, but there’s room for improvement. Perhaps a purely mechanical sparker, like the type used on a lighter, would be more robust.

As an integrated canister stove, Jetboil has some known disadvantages: canisters struggle to maintain pressure in very cold weather, plus the cost and the weight of several canisters is not ideal on longer trips. However, the MiniMo’s compact, light-weight size and excellent simmering function, tips the scales solidly in it’s favor. After years of holding out, I’m convinced that it’s the way to go for the majority of my backcountry trips. On those few longer, colder trips where white gas is still ideal, I’m sure I’ll be wishing for the cute little MicroMo as I torch my eyebrows.

Specs of the system, all verified by myself except the BTU:
6,000 BTU
Weight of burner and pot: 11.6 oz (328 gr).
Weight with full 100 g fuel and fuel stabilizer: 19.1 oz (541 gr)
Dimensions: 15.5 x 10 x 10 cm
Pot capacity: 26 oz (.77 liter)

Shop for Jetboil here.



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Comments

24 Responses to “Jetboil MicroMo Review”

  1. Trent April 8th, 2016 11:15 am

    Great to hear. What’s the preferred lighter to mitigate the piezo?

  2. Paul S. April 8th, 2016 12:55 pm

    Gas station Bic! Preferably in orange or red to be visible in a dark pack. 🙂

  3. Louie Dawson 3 April 8th, 2016 1:52 pm

    Yeah i just keep a bic in the bottom of the pot (where the plastic cover goes over the heat exchanger). Even if the gas runs out, you can still light it with just the sparker. I tend to have a few lighters on a trip (in my first aid kit, etc.) also.

    I was thinking of getting something like this instead:

    http://www.vargooutdoors.com/titanium-flint-lighter.html#.VwgLtvkgvRY

  4. RCL1 April 8th, 2016 2:29 pm

    I usually bring angel hair pasta which you can just add to the boiled water and let soak until properly soft.
    Critiques with my Jetboil flash are twofold: the foam insulating the boiling pot heats up and stretches when hot. This could be fixed (may have been in newest version?).
    My second beef is more substantial and a design problem for all stoves of this ilk- Though the heat exchanger allows for quick heating, it also results in the pot cooling off just as rapidly once the flame is off.
    Though I like my Jetboil Flash, I’m still love my old reliable Svea 123.

  5. Martin April 8th, 2016 4:22 pm

    Stoves like the Jetboil and MSR Reactor are so much more fuel-efficient than white gas that they actually save you weight on long trips. Compared to white gas you only need about 1/2 to 2/3 the fuel (by weight). That more than offsets the canister weight, especially if you use 8oz or 16oz canisters.

    Canisters stoves work fine in cold weather if you stand the canister in a shallow bowl or pan of luke-warm water. (Make sure to use isobutane/propane fuel like the Jetboil or MSR brands). We took an MSR Reactor on a multi-week climb of Mt Logan up in the Yukon and it worked fine. We were able to melt snow and boil water in much less time than with white gas, and there wasn’t any fiddling with priming. Canisters actually work better at altitude because there’s more of a difference between their internal pressure and the air pressure outside.

  6. Louie Dawson 3 April 8th, 2016 5:40 pm

    Martin, that’s super interesting! I’ve always assumed the efficiency advantage of jetboils and reactors lost out to white gas on longer, colder trips because of cannisters and cold weather issues. I guess I haven’t looked at the math though. You got any numbers or anything for how many grams of cannister fuel is recomended for longer winter trips?

  7. Lou Dawson 2 April 8th, 2016 5:53 pm

    I’m not sure you can beat two MSRs running in tandem on a stove board with a wind shield, in terms of melting snow! Just the issue of how long the fuel lasts is a winner alone. But sure, for small batch cooking it sounds like Jetboil could be a terrific solution. Placing in pan of warm water doesn’t exactly strike me as very practical for extreme situations, how about a heat exchanger that brings some heat from the burner down to the canister, and warm canister in sleeping bag or jacket before cooking? Lou

  8. Lithomancer April 8th, 2016 6:02 pm

    Lou, you’re describing the old “bomb” or “glove ruiner” mod, you just run a thickish copper wire from the heating element to the bottom of the canister. Works great, I’ve used a reactor with a bomb as high as 21k.

  9. Louie Dawson 3 April 8th, 2016 6:06 pm

    I’ve heard about the heat exchanger mod. Sounds like a good idea, if done carefully. Jetboil’s Joule system is intended for winter use. It inverts the cannister, as well as uses a sort of “heat exchanger” system. (although just for the fuel line, not the cannister). Definitely interesting, although for short winter trips in the PNW I opted for the MiniMo because we don’t deal with as much cold as other places.

  10. Lou Dawson 2 April 8th, 2016 6:08 pm

    Definitely requires a helmet and goggles, sounds like…

  11. John Yates April 8th, 2016 7:17 pm

    In general canister stoves are lighter than liquid gas stoves for short trips with few people, but as the amount of heating grows (longer trip and/or more people and/or colder weather), there is a cross over point where the liquid gas option becomes lighter. Here is the URL of an online calculator:

    http://www.howardjohnson.name/Backpacking/Stove/Stoves.htm

  12. Chris April 8th, 2016 8:34 pm

    We just used a reactor stove with fantastic results on a four day ski trip on the spearhead traverse. We budgeted 3 oz of canister fuel per person per day (two meals and snow melting per day). I’d never thought a canister stove as suitable for winter but it definitely proved me wrong. The rest of our group used jetboil stoves and the piezo lighters didn’t work either. Extremely impressed by the reactor.

  13. Martin April 8th, 2016 8:58 pm

    Lou: Our fuel budget for the Logan trip was 100g/person/day. A 16oz canister holds 450g in fuel and an empty canister weighs about 200g, so on average that’s just under 150g/person/day including canisters (slightly more with 8oz canisters).

    White gas weighs about 0.8kg/l and the usual recommendation for trips to Logan or Denali is about 200-250ml/day, so with white gas you’re looking at 160-200g/person/day in fuel weight alone.

    For the water bath I rigged up a system with a plastic bowl and 1/8″ shockcord to hold the canister in place. Hard to describe, see https://flic.kr/p/FZFBGv for a photo. It keeps the stove from tipping over and it can be used as part of a hanging stove system (another advantage of canister stoves). Yes it’s a minor hassle but not nearly as bad as trying to prime a white gas stove in a snowstorm.

  14. Travis April 8th, 2016 9:10 pm

    I bought a msr windboiler last year and I could not be more impressed. You can bring it down to something akin to a simmer and this year they released a frying pan that connect to the burner for some gourmet backcountry cooking. I also am amazed by how little fule I can bring but come back out with plenty to spare.

  15. Joe John April 8th, 2016 9:45 pm

    Thanks Louie, just what Ineed to go along with my bullet proof GSI 20fl ounce Java press.

  16. Michael Kennedy April 9th, 2016 7:08 am

    You can also make a ghetto heat exchanger to keep the canister warm. Take a piece of copper tubing, pound flat with a hammer, bend to fit around the bottom of the canister, with one end sticking up into the flame. Make a cozy for the canister out of thin closed-cell foam, this insulates the canister and holds the copper in place. We used to do this for our home-made hanging Bluet stoves in the 70s and 80s.

  17. evn woks April 9th, 2016 11:36 am

    FYI — you don’t need to keep water at a simmer to cook pasta. just throw it in cold water, bring to a boil, and then turn the heat off and let it sit.

    http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/09/tips-for-better-easier-pasta.html

  18. Sam April 9th, 2016 8:25 pm

    From my WFR and confirmed here. http://modernsurvivalblog.com/health/how-long-to-boil-drinking-water/
    Bringing water to a boil is enough. It’s doesn’t need to simmer at a boil any longer

  19. Jim P. April 10th, 2016 8:17 pm

    Doesn’t anybody realize that the little smoke colored plastic cup on the bottom of the stove was designed to use as a hot water bath? Start with your ice cold canister and your jet boil. Add 1cm of water into the pot, start the stove, then get the water hot to the touch (about 20 seconds even with the cold canister). Then pour the water into the plastic cup, and insert your canister into the cup. Start the stove again, and even in sub freezing temps, note the huge gain in stove performance. Replace the cup water with more warm water every ten minutes or so if needed. This is a way more safer method than trying to warm a canister with a bic lighter. No more sleeping with canisters in the sleeping bag.

  20. Louie III April 11th, 2016 12:41 pm

    According to the EPA, you need to keep water boiling for a minute (3 minutes above 5,000 feet) to purify it. I’d imagine that probably includes a margin of error, but it is what they say.

    Also, in my experience, putting pasta in cold water and then bringing it to a boil makes the pasta all starchy and gooey. I prefer to put it into boiling water and cook it for a few minutes, buy to each their own. Also, for stuff like quinoa and rice, being able to simmer is a must.

    I didn’t realize that about the plastic cup! I’ll have to give that a try.

  21. Tim McAllister April 12th, 2016 5:27 am

    Good review.
    I prefer jet boils because they haven’t failed yet.
    I have had two Reactors stop working due to some sort of internal shut off if they get too hot or something
    MSR fails to mention this and it’s not field reversible rendering it useless and down right dangerous if you are in a multi day trip and need your stove. Am I the only one who has seen this?

  22. Ryan April 12th, 2016 2:33 pm

    The higher end Jetboil models as well as the Reactor have a built in pressure regulator which is what drastically improves the cold weather performance. If you’ve used a canister stove in the past that is not a higher end recent model then you’d do well to try out one of these. A wee bit has happened in the last 10 years in stoves. It’s almost like switching to skis more than 88mm underfoot! Oh wait…this is Wildsnow.

    For bigger groups in the winter and base camp snow melting sessions check out the Jetboil Joule. It has a regulator, the fuel flows in over the burner like on some white gas models for more efficient combustion and the canister gets inverted so you get gravity on your side. You need to get below zero before you start noticing a performance drop off with this and that’s true of white gas stoves at those temps.

  23. Louis April 12th, 2016 8:36 pm

    I just replaced my Flash–the burner was becoming temperamental and it wasn’t worth buying a replacement burner–with a Minimo. However, I have not had a chance to try my new Minimo to try it out.

    I haven’t had too many problems with the igniter in the 5-6 years I had my Flash–I’ve never had to start it with a lighter. If you keep fuel warm (e.g. keep it a pocket) it handles reasonably well in colder conditions.

    In terms of altitude, I’ve gotten my Jetboil (Flash) to light on couple of 14er summits–admittedly this was summer but I still wanted something hot, so I carried my Jetboil with me. I also did get it to light on a 12,000 foot peak (here in Colorado) in winter, though it took a few tries.

  24. Stretchkiwi April 12th, 2016 11:33 pm

    I see mentions of MSR Windburner above but no comparison of this new Jetboil to it. Anyone with experiences to share?





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