Jet Boil vs. Reactor

A few weeks ago my friend and I were planning a trip to Elfin Lake.  I had every camping gear except for a stove.  I do have a big Butane stove that I go kayak camping with but it’s too heavy and too big to fit in the backpack.  So we went to MEC and talked to several staffs about it.  My friend Ellen Pratt who works for Mountain Equipment said that the Reactor is the fastest boiling water stove in the store.  The 3 staffs we talked to at MEC all recommended Reactor because it boils water quickly, more wind resistant than Jet Boil (because it has no flame), and fuel can be bought anywhere in Canada.  Jet Boil uses it’s own proprietor fuel that Mountain Equipment do not carry anymore.

I wasn’t 100% sure because if I buy a stove, it should last me the next 10 years, just like most of the outdoor equipments I owned that I bought from MEC.  My MEC day pack lasted me 16 years, my big stove I have been using for 20 years, my Garmont hiking boots I have traveled through Asia and Europe with for the last 14 years and is still waterproof.

Ok, back to the topic, so I did some research when I got home to see what so great about these 2 stoves.

Jet Boil vs. Reactor Comparison

Live for the Out door Comparison (Video)

The Reactor is heavier and does not allow for any other cookware except the pot provided with the stove.  Jet Boil’s ability to simmer makes cooking spaghetti and pancakes possible.  Where the Reactor Dominate is its ability to boil water much faster (just over 3 minutes in windy conditions).

So the question I asked myself was what will I use the stove for when I go backpacking? After pondering on it for a few weeks, I think boiling water and melting snow really fast is what I needed when I go backpacking.  If I have the ability to bring fresh vegetables, steak, chicken wings, and all kinds of spices for cooking (i.e. in a kayak), then I will bring my big butane stove.  If I am going backpacking where the freeze dried food is probably the lightest option on my back, then I will bring the new stove.

In the end, I bought the Reactor.  I will take some video in real world situation with wind and snow this winter.

My Favorite piece of Gear that I purchased from Mountain Equipment Co-op

Mountain Equipment Co-Op ‘s Twitter was asking viewers today to post their favorite gear on their Facebook page.

Well, here’s my two cent on the favorite gear.  My favorite piece of gear is a Garmont hiking / backpacking boots I bought from Mountain Equipment Co-op in 1997.  I have worn them to over 20 countries over the past 12 years, and it is still waterproof.  The treads, however, is wearing down a bit.  The reason I can use it for so long is because I use it strictly for hiking and backpacking; I rarely use them on concrete roads.  I have sneakers for that.  I do go hiking quite a bit, almost every weekend in the summer.  In the winter I have my snowboard boots for snowshoeing because it is way more snow-proof / cold-proof than leather hiking boots.   The most important reason that I love to shop at MEC is because the gears they sell last for a very long time.

10 important considerations when buying a Tent

Recently, if you have read my other logs, I was planning a backpacking trip to Elfin Lake.  I stuff my tent into my backpack and realized how heavy it is.  I have been using the tent for a number of years, mostly for kayak camping, in which case, weight doesn’t matter.  My Tent was bought at Costco for $50 Canadian.  It takes me about an hour to put up the tent and weighs about 5 kg.  It, however, can be stuffed into quite a tiny compression sack, and when it’s up, it’s so warm and roomy, With 2 big six foot three guys, there’s still plenty of room for backpack and other gears.  I can sit up and read without bumping my head. Overall it’s a great tent for Kayak Camping.

For backpacking this tent is really impractical.  After doing a bit of research, it turns out MEC’s Tarn 2 is the most popular tent among backpackers, it’s so light and still costs less than $200.  The next popular one is Hubba (1 person) or Hubba Hubba (2 person).  I am six foot three, about 260 lbs.  When I sleep in Tarn 2, there is no room for a backpack.  This is very impractical because Vancouver does tend to rain a lot, even in the summer.  Hubba is a little roomier but cost about $100 more, weighs a little bit less.  The Hubba Hubba is supposed to be for two people, but when I lie in it, it feels more like 1 1/2 person.  There is no way both me and my friend will fit into that tent.  It is a relatively comfortable tent for one person though.

The Wonderer 2 is the tent I end up getting.  Size wise, it is very similar to my old tent.  It is 1 kg heavier than Tarn 2.  If we split the tents up between 2 people, it’s actually lighter for each person.  It takes only a few minutes to set up because all the poles are connected.  It is really roomy inside.  It definitely have enough room for 2 six foot three guys.  Costs $100 less than Hubba Hubba.  It kept us quite warm in the rain.  overall it is a really good tent for us, except for the weight.

If I was to go hiking by myself, I would probably spend the extra money for a Hubba Hubba because of its weight.

Here are the 10 important considerations when buying a tent:

1. Winter or not? Winter require more waterproof and windproof.  Summer requires more mesh for breathability.

2. How many people in the Tent?

3. How much money are you willing to spend?

4. How light does the tent need to be? i.e. can you carry the tent on your back?

5. What is your activity? backpacking? kayaking? car-camping?

6. Is ease of putting the tent up important? i.e. very important for mountaineering

7. Will the tent be used mainly for sleeping? or for doing everything else ? – such as cooking, reading.

8. How waterproof the tent needs to be? you would probably need something very waterproof for Vancouver autumn, even a winter tent.

9. How much space the tent takes up in your backpack when rolled up?

10. Free Standing or not?


For Winter Camping, I would use the North Face VE-25, which stands up to Snow, Wind, and Rain.

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