Traveler's Gear Box: Jetboil's Sol Ti Cooking System
A reliable cookstove is an essential piece of gear for campers, and if you're heading into the backcountry, a system compact in size and light in weight is ideal. Jetboil's most recent offering in that category meets those needs and then some.
The Sol Ti (Ti for titanium) "cooking system," as the company refers to it, weighs in at 8.5 ounces. That's before factoring in the pot support, fuel stabilizer, or measuring cup, though they shouldn't add more than a few ounces.
It's also highly compact, measuring just a tad over 4 inches wide and 6.5 inches high, a nice size for fitting into your pack.
True, both the weight and the size leave more of a footprint than the MSR PocketRocket, which weighs but 3 ounces and measures 4 inches by 2 inches by 2 inches. But with the Sol Ti (MSRP $149.95) you carry everything you need -- butane canister, stove, and over-sized cup for boiling water -- in one tidy, compact package.
With the PocketRocket you need to factor in a cookset of some sort, so while the two are probably fairly comparable, weight-wise, when you consider that you could end up taking up more space and/or weight in your pack with the PocketRocket, depending on whether you travel with a full cookset or simply one pot to heat water. But the Sol Ti boils water faster, and at lower temperatures, than the PocketRocket, something to take into consideration if you enjoy winter backpacking.
For comparison's sake, I put the Sol Ti up against a Jetboil Flash I picked up a couple of years ago. The Flash is both heavier and a bit larger, at 14 ounces and standing a tad over 7 inches tall and not quite 4.5 inches wide. Flash does hold slightly more water -- 1 liter vs. .8 liter -- for boiling, but that's a pretty minimal difference. The Sol Ti is a bit faster at heating water, bringing 16 ounces to boil in 2 minutes, 15 seconds, or 15 seconds faster than the Flash is rated. But that difference is fairly inconsequential, and certainly can be affected by weather conditions.
The Sol Ti does comes with a pot support that allows you to replace the boiling cup with a pot for more ambitious meals, a nice addition if weight is not a great consideration.
While I haven't tested it, the company maintains that its new Thermo-Regulate™ Burner Technology allows the stove to function down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, a big improvement over other canister-fueled stoves that typically struggle as the temperature approaches 32 degrees.
As with other Jetboil systems, the Sol Ti has a Neoprene wrap that both serves to prevent you from burning yourself against the hot cup and offers a heat indicator with the company's ubiquitous trio of slashes that let you know when your water is hot (if the bubbles don't.). It also has a lid with holes for sipping your drink through.
The Sol Ti also comes with a number of available options, such as a coffee press, cooking pots, utensils, even a kit to hang the system, something that can be handy if you're bivouacked on a climbing wall, though that's not something I expect to encounter.
A handy gadget to have with any Jetboil system is the company's trademarked CrunchIt tool for use in recycling empty canisters. With it you can drain any residual gas that might be in the can and then punch several holes into it so it's obvious the can is empty, something recyclers will appreciate.
The bottom line when it comes to purchashing this stove system for backcountry use seems to come down to your preferred method for cooking. Do you go the freeze-dried route and simply pour boiling water into the package, or are you a bit more ambitious with your culinary skills? If so, having one container to boil water in, with nothing else to cook in, might not be enough. But then, there are those pots and frying pans in the Jetboil line...
On the other hand, if you're an avid day hiker, backcountry skier, or snowshoer, this would make a great stove to have in your daypack and ready to go for those mid-day breaks when you need something hot to drink.