Gear Review: REI Flash 45 Backpack
REI Flash 45 Backpack: Light and Comfortable, With a Few Minor Flaws
Volume: 45L Medium / 50L Large
Weight: 2 lbs 2, ounces / 2 lbs, 3 oz
Frame: Aluminum, with Delrin Side Rods
I picked up this pack on sale at REI for $69. I couldn’t believe the weight to size ratio. It is plenty big for a 3-4 day trip and weighs less than my “ultralight” ULA Circuit. This pack is made up of one large main compartment with a two-pocket removable lid. Mesh covers the front and sides of the pack, creating one huge pocket for storing all the things you may need quickly (water bottles, filter, rain gear, etc.). There are openings on the sides of the mesh that create an easy to grab water bottle pocket. The hip belt is not removable from the frame, and features two large pockets as well as a large buckle that you (unfortunately) pull apart to tighten. The straps are mesh with lightweight foam padding. Although they look small, they’re very comfortable. The right side also features a stretchy mesh pocket that can easily fit a large smart phone or camera. Finally, the back panel is made up of mesh with foam inserts that create air channels to keep your back cool; REI calls this their Freeflow LT back. There are two compression straps on either side of the pack, and two loops for storing trekking poles or ice axes.
I loaded this pack up with about 20lbs of gear and food, and took it out for a long weekend on the AT. I found it extremely comfortable. Granted it was not a lot of weight, but it literally felt like I was carrying nothing. The main compartment is massive and I didn’t even get close to filling it up. The large front mesh pocket was nice, though I wish they had sewn in separators between the front and the “water bottle” side pockets, items slid to the sides a bit, which made it difficult to get a water bottle back in. The straps were surprisingly comfortable for how little padding they have, and they breathed very well. The pockets on the hip belt were big enough to fit snack bars for on-the-go eating. I was not very happy with the main hip belt buckle. In order to tighten it, you have to pull the straps outwards, which makes it somewhat awkward and difficult to really tighten down. A lot of modern packs are moving towards hip belts that you pull the straps towards the midline, which makes it much easier and more comfortable to tighten. The back panel was comfortable, and their Freeflow LT technology kept me nice and cool, and it felt as though the pack conformed well to my back. The suspension on the REI Flash is really great. The frame moves with your body, which helps to eliminate any rash or irritation; the pack feels great.
Red Hatchet Says:
Overall, I give this pack a 9/10. Plenty of room for all the gear you could need on a 3 or 4 day trip. I would even say you could thru-hike with this, if you could resupply every 3 days or so (like on the AT), and have a pretty ultralight setup already. The front pocket is big enough to fit all the bulky gear you don’t want inside the pack. For being so light, the suspension made it feel like a cloud on my back, though I will need to take it back out with more gear (around 30lbs), I have faith it’ll still be great. Besides the hip belt buckle and the front pocket not having separators, I really have no complaints about it. I picked it up for a great price at $69. They’re currently out of stock, but will probably be releasing the 2016 version soon. Let’s hope they didn’t change very much, because the REI Flash 45 pack is great the way it is. Whether it’s an overnight or a 4-day trip, this pack will get you where you need to be, for an incredible price and an even better weight.