REI Flash 55 Ultralight Backpack Evaluation

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REI Flash 55 Backpack Review

The REI Flash 55 Backpack is an ultralight, roll-top backpack with an non-compulsory high lid pocket.  Weighing 2 lbs 13 oz, it has a mesh again panel to assist preserve your shirt dry in heat climate and quite a few pockets and straps, referred to as “packmods”, that may be eliminated or reconfigured to lighten it additional, as much as 6.4 oz on our scale. The pack has two mesh water bottle sleeves along with two aspect pockets which are massive sufficient to hold 1L bottles, a entrance stretch pocket, dual-side compression straps, and twin daisy chains operating up the size of the pack’s seams.

Make no mistake, the REI Flash 55 is a real ultralight backpack and represents an thrilling leap ahead by the Co-op to make lighter-weight backpacking extra accessible and reasonably priced. Plus, at $199, the REI Flash 55 is a Greatest Purchase. We’re very impressed by the match and carry. You’ll be able to pay much more for lots much less on the subject of an ultralight backpack.  A Ladies’s REI Flash 55 Backpack can also be out there.

Specs at a Look

    • Quantity: 55L
    • Weight (whole): 2lbs 13 oz (dimension medium)
    • Weight (stripped): 2 lbs 5.6 oz (dimension medium)
    • Gender: Unisex and Ladies’s out there
    • Body: Inner, Perimeter Wire
    • Adjustable Torso Size: Sure
    • Pockets: 10, together with the primary compartment
    • Bear Canister Compatibility: BV 500 and the Garcia Backpacker’s Cache match vertically in the primary compartment, horizontally within the extension collar, and horizontally below the floating high lid pocket; BV475, BV450, and BV425 match horizontally on the backside of the primary compartment.
    • Torso Sizing: (S: 17-19 inches), (M: 18-20 inches), (L: 19-21 inches)
    • Hip belt Sizing: (S: 32-40 inches), (M: 34-42 inches), (L: 34-46 inches)
    • Most really helpful load: 30 lbs
    • Supplies: 100D and 210D  recycled Robic Nylon
    • Non-obligatory Add-on Pockets and Straps (out there individually) – Waterproof shoulder pocket, solid-faced hipbelt pocket, mesh-faced hipbelt pocket, and additional accent straps.

Backpack Storage and Group

The main compartment closes with a roll top, although you can add the floating lid top pocket for more storage or organization.
The principle compartment closes with a roll high, though you may add the floating lid high pocket for extra storage or group. You can even connect the top of the roll high alongside the perimeters of the pack.

The REI Flash 55 is an ultralight-style roll-top backpack with an non-compulsory high lid. The benefit of utilizing a roll-top is that it allows you to compress masses from the highest along with the perimeters utilizing compression straps. That is helpful in case your load expands and shrinks throughout a visit, like if you resupply your meals on the town on a thru-hike or part hike.

The Flash 55 has a floating lid pocket that can be use to hold a bear canister on top of the pack.
The Flash 55 has a floating lid pocket that may be use to carry a bear canister on high of the pack.

The good factor about having the non-compulsory high lid is you can add it when it’s wanted, in cooler climate, for instance, to hold additional gloves, navigation gear, or smaller gadgets which are useful to have simply accessible on longer hikes.

The Flash 55 high lid can also be a floating lid, which is essential as a result of the pack has a protracted extension collar that extends above the highest of the body. Having a floating lid allows you to elevate its peak, so it sits correctly on high of your load. It additionally allows you to wedge gear between the highest of the primary compartment and the underside of the highest lid, like a bear canister, tent, sleeping pad, and so forth, with out having to place it into the primary compartment. That enormously expands the pack’s utility on extra distant or technical journeys when carrying awkwardly sized gear is critical.

The sides of the floating lid extend over a BV500 bear canister for a very secure carry
The perimeters of the floating lid lengthen over a BV500 bear canister for a really safe carry

The principle compartment of the Flash 55 is large and it’ll maintain lots of gear and meals (it feels far bigger than 55L and the amount most likely doesn’t account for the extension collar). It has a hydration pocket inside with a central cling loop, however the remainder of the area is unstructured with high entry solely.  A rain cowl is just not included with the pack, so that you’ll need to line the inside with a pack liner or trash compactor bag.

The front pocket is great for stuffing layers or a wet tent, with durable mesh side panels to help drain and dry items
The entrance pocket is nice for stuffing layers or a moist tent, with sturdy mesh aspect panels to assist drain and dry gadgets

The Flash 55 has a entrance (stable) stretch pocket bordered on the perimeters with sturdy mesh that makes it straightforward to retailer damp or incessantly accessed gadgets, so that you don’t need to cease and open up your pack to entry them or put them away. The highest of that pocket additionally hooks onto a plastic dongle for added safety. Daisy chains run alongside each side of the entrance stretch pocket and lengthen up the aspect seams all the way in which to the highest of the body. These can be utilized to lash accent gear to the skin of the pack, like snowshoes (MSR Lightning Ascents match), and likewise function anchors for the aspect compression straps so you may transfer their anchor factors up and down the perimeters of the pack.

Consolation

Weight

Suspension

Options

Adjustability

Sizing

Sturdiness

Ultralight and Customizable

The REI Flash 55 is a extremely configurable, ultralight backpacking pack that weighs 2 lbs 13 oz however might be stripped all the way down to 2 lbs 5.6 oz by eradicating a number of non-compulsory parts. We like this pack as a result of its so versatile and comfy to put on, at a worth that is simply reasonably priced by anybody eager to get into ultralight backpacking.

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The Flash 55 has side pockets for gear storage and mesh sleeves to hold water bottles
The Flash 55 has aspect pockets for gear storage and mesh sleeves to carry water bottles

The Flash 55 has two mesh sleeves (positioned instantly behind the hip belt pockets however hooked up to the pack sides) to make it straightforward to succeed in the bottles or snacks when you’re carrying the pack. The bottle sleeves are sized for tall skinny SmartWater bottles (proven above) or Nalgene Bottles (proven beneath) and it’s straightforward to tug them out. The sleeves have snap closures in entrance to carry the bottles in place, however they are often troublesome to re-snap closed when carrying the pack. One hack to make tall bottles safer is to decrease one of many aspect pack mod straps so it covers the bottle’s cap.

The Flash 55 has a unique side pocket configuration with two pockets - open open mesh pocket and a solid side pocket behind it.
A 1L Nalgene additionally matches snugly within the mesh water bottle sleeves.

The Flash 55 additionally has stable paneled aspect pockets behind the water bottle sleeves for holding gear and longer objects, like tent poles, chair kits, fishing poles, and so forth, and lashing them to the aspect of the pack with a compression strap. It’s an essential characteristic, particularly on a pack that will likely be used for long-distance journeys. These pockets are usually not reachable when carrying the pack. Be aware: you may run the aspect packmod straps over these aspect pockets or by means of them.

There are 4 detachable pockets on the Flash 55, all of that are non-compulsory.  The highest lid is hooked up by buckles and might be simply eliminated, in addition to the straps holding it to the pack. These straps might be repurposed for different capabilities and at different areas on the pack.

The hipbelt pockets are huge and capable of carrying electronics and food.
The hipbelt pockets are big and able to carrying electronics and meals.

The hip belt pockets are additionally simply detachable. One is mesh-faced and the opposite has a stable cloth entrance. They’re fairly massive sufficient and sufficiently big to carry my iPhone 14 Professional plus snacks. They’re held on with a intelligent webbing strap/toggle system that holds them in place and prevents them from flopping as you bounce down the path. It’s one more instance of the “packmod” philosophy behind this pack’s customization ethic.

It’s a marvel that extra ultralight backpack producers don’t undertake an identical pocket attachment technique, since folks have very completely different wants at completely different instances. I choose having a alternative over which pockets to connect to my backpack as a substitute of being pressured to make use of one that’s completely affixed.

The pockets are attached using a simple webbing and plastic dongle attachment system
The pockets are hooked up utilizing a easy webbing and plastic dongle attachment system

The Flash 55 additionally comes with a mesh shoulder strap pocket that’s hooked up to the shoulder pads utilizing the identical webbing/toggle system utilized by the pockets. It’s sized slender for a Smartphone, an inReach  Mini 2. or a small digicam. It’s secured on high with velcro. Earlier fashions of the Flash 55 has a water-resistant shoulder strap pocket which was a lot better, however can nonetheless be bought as an add-on. You can even add a third-party pocket, just like the Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Pocket to the Flash 55 shoulder straps fairly simply.

The Flash 55 comes with a mesh shoulder strap pocket which is also removable.
The Flash 55 comes with a mesh shoulder strap pocket which can also be detachable.

Backpack Compression and Exterior Attachment System

The inventory REI Flash 55 comes with an elaborate however easy-to-use compression and exterior attachment system. You need to use it out the field, as-is, take away the quite a few straps (with out having to chop them off), or transfer them round any manner you want.

All of the PackMod straps attach the daisy chains running along the pack sides. You can also attach other gear.
The entire PackMod straps connect the daisy chains operating alongside the pack sides. You can even connect different gear.

The 4 vertical corners of the pack have daisy chains loops operating down them, carried out utilizing twine, as a substitute of conventional webbing. That is an more and more widespread characteristic discovered on path operating backpacks, however it hasn’t actually caught on but with mainstream ultralight backpacks.

The entire straps and attachment factors on the pack are loops (girth hitched) to the daisy chain as a substitute of being sewn into the pack seams. This allows you to detach them, transfer them to a unique location, or change their angles, as wanted.

REI even features a mesh sack with the Flash 55 so you may retailer the straps you’ve eliminated between makes use of, and never lose them. Instructions for attaching the straps are printed on the skin. Considerate.

The Flash 55 includes a stuff sack for storing removed packmods when not in use.
The Flash 55 features a stuff sack for storing eliminated packmods when not in use.

The entire detachable straps and pockets weigh 6.4 oz on our scale. If you happen to’re making an attempt to cut back your pack weight, the largest bang for the buck is available in eradicating the pockets, not the straps.

  • the floating high lid w/2 straps (3.3 oz)
  • 4 aspect compression straps (0.8 oz)
  • stable hip belt pockets (0.8 oz)
  • mesh hip belt pocket (1.0 oz)
  • shoulder strap pocket (0. 3 oz)
  • 2 further brief straps (0.2 oz)

The issue with eradicating the aspect compression straps is that you just typically can’t anticipate if you’ll want them to lash gear to the aspect of the pack. If you happen to take away the highest lid, you may eliminate as much as 4 straps, although I’d nonetheless suggest preserving two of them to carry down the perimeters of the roll high. There are lots of variations potential, although.

Backpack Body and Suspension

The REI Flash 55 is an adjustable-length backpack with a mesh again panel to assist preserve you cooler and your shirt drier in heat climate. The torso size is useless easy to regulate, by shifting the shoulder strap yoke up or down horizontal webbing straps organized down the center of the again panel and labeled in inches for ease of match in the event you already know your torso size. See easy methods to measure torso size. 

The torso length is adjusted by moving the shoulder yoke up or down.
The torso size is adjusted by shifting the shoulder yoke up or down.

The again panel mesh is stretched throughout tender dorsal and lumbar padding and built-in with the pre-curved wings of the hip belt. This supplies a snug back-hugging match, however gained’t pull you backward and off-balance. Whereas it’s not as breathable as a curved ventilated backpack just like the Zpacks Arc Extremely Haul 60 or the Osprey Exos Professional 55, it does a reasonably first rate job at serving to you keep cooler drier in scorching and muggy climate.

The backpanel is covered with mesh so it won’t stick to your back when you perspire.
The again panel is roofed with mesh so it gained’t stick with your again if you perspire.

The Flash 55’s body is a light-weight, 360 diploma metal perimeter wire (not detachable). It supplies nice torsional flex, so it strikes with you, in addition to the horizontal rigidity that’s essential for correct load lifter operate and hip belt load switch. The hip belt is sewn on to the pack in order that the load is carried very near your core muscle tissues and hip girdle for optimum effectivity, whereas the tender lumbar pad and pre-curved hip belt wings grip the iliac crest. I’m actually fairly impressed with the hip keep it up the Flash 55, which is comfy and doesn’t slip down.

The hipbelt is exceptionally well padded with precurved wings
The hipbelt is exceptionally properly padded with pre-curved wings that present a no-slip grip.

The hip belt closes with pull-forward straps for mechanical benefit, with a single central buckle, which I choose on packs as a result of it may be used whereas carrying gloves and since it’s higher for winter use when snow will clog smaller buckles.

The shoulder straps have a unisex J-shape, with a rail-based sternum strap. They’re thickly padded and coated with a breathable mesh to wick away sweat. Each shoulder straps have elastic hose keepers in addition to a pair of brief horizontal webbing straps to connect the shoulder accent pocket, which might be simply moved to the opposite shoulder strap.

The sizing ranges for the lads’s Flash 55 pack are fairly slender by way of torso lengths though the hip belt sizing is extra versatile. Nonetheless, I’d encourage you to attempt on completely different sizes to zero in on a snug match. If you happen to’re between torso lengths, I’d undoubtedly suggest sizing up.

Comparable Ultralight Backpacks

Suggestion

The REI Flash 55 is a extremely configurable, backpacking pack that weighs 2 lbs 13 oz however might be stripped all the way down to 2 lbs 5.6 oz by eradicating a number of non-compulsory parts. If you happen to’ve by no means owned a backpack that’s this light-weight, the Flash 55 is an efficient ultralight pack to chop your enamel on as a result of it’s so reasonably priced and simply custom-made for various journeys, seasons, or locales. Totally configured, out-of-the-box, with its high lid and full compression system, you should utilize it so long as you don’t exceed its most really helpful load of 30 lbs or gear, water, and meals weight. If you wish to experiment with eradicating the lid and simply utilizing the roll-top, or eradicating parts, you are able to do that if you’re prepared. Regardless, I believe you’ll nonetheless be impressed at how properly the Flash 55 carries in comparison with a heavier-weight backpack with a extra substantial body. This pack is a winner.

Evaluate 2 Costs

Final up to date: 2023-02-16 12:14:28

Disclosure: REI donated a backpack for evaluation.

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