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REI Flash 55 Ultralight Backpack Evaluate

REI Flash 55 Backpack Review

The REI Flash 55 Backpack is an ultralight, roll-top backpack with an optionally available high lid pocket.  Weighing 2 lbs 13 oz, it has a mesh again panel to assist maintain 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 facet pockets which are giant sufficient to hold 1L bottles, a entrance stretch pocket, dual-side compression straps, and twin daisy chains working 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 may pay much more for lots much less in terms of an ultralight backpack.  A Ladies’s REI Flash 55 Backpack can also be accessible.

Specs at a Look

    • Quantity: 55L
    • Weight (complete): 2lbs 13 oz (measurement medium)
    • Weight (stripped): 2 lbs 5.6 oz (measurement medium)
    • Gender: Unisex and Ladies’s accessible
    • 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 advisable load: 30 lbs
    • Supplies: 100D and 210D  recycled Robic Nylon
    • Non-obligatory Add-on Pockets and Straps (accessible 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’ll be able to add the floating lid high pocket for extra storage or group. You may as well connect the tip of the roll high alongside the perimeters of the pack.

The REI Flash 55 is an ultralight-style roll-top backpack with an optionally available high lid. The benefit of utilizing a roll-top is that it helps you to compress hundreds from the highest along with the perimeters utilizing compression straps. That is helpful in case your load expands and shrinks throughout a visit, like while 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 great factor about having the optionally available high lid is which you could add it when it’s wanted, in cooler climate, for instance, to hold additional gloves, navigation gear, or smaller gadgets which are helpful 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 an extended extension collar that extends above the highest of the body. Having a floating lid helps you to elevate its peak, so it sits correctly on high of your load. It additionally helps 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 edges 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 quite a lot of gear and meals (it feels far bigger than 55L and the quantity most likely doesn’t account for the extension collar). It has a hydration pocket inside with a central dangle loop, however the remainder of the area is unstructured with high entry solely.  A rain cowl isn’t 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 facet panels to assist drain and dry gadgets

The Flash 55 has a entrance (strong) stretch pocket bordered on the perimeters with sturdy mesh that makes it straightforward to retailer damp or often accessed gadgets, so that you don’t must 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 either side of the entrance stretch pocket and lengthen up the facet seams all the best way to the highest of the body. These can be utilized to lash accent gear to the surface of the pack, like snowshoes (MSR Lightning Ascents match), and likewise function anchors for the facet compression straps so you’ll be able to transfer their anchor factors up and down the perimeters of the pack.








Ultralight and Customizable

The REI Flash 55 is a extremely configurable, ultralight backpacking pack that weighs 2 lbs 13 oz however might be stripped right down to 2 lbs 5.6 oz by eradicating a number of optionally available parts. We like this pack as a result of its so versatile and cozy to put on, at a worth that is simply reasonably priced by anybody desirous 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 facet pockets for gear storage and mesh sleeves to carry water bottles

The Flash 55 has two mesh sleeves (situated immediately behind the hip belt pockets however hooked up to the pack sides) to make it straightforward to achieve the bottles or snacks when you’re sporting the pack. The bottle sleeves are sized for tall skinny SmartWater bottles (proven above) or Nalgene Bottles (proven under) 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 tough to re-snap closed when sporting the pack. One hack to make tall bottles safer is to decrease one of many facet 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 suits snugly within the mesh water bottle sleeves.

The Flash 55 additionally has strong paneled facet 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 facet 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 aren’t reachable when sporting the pack. Observe: you’ll be able to run the facet packmod straps over these facet pockets or via them.

There are 4 detachable pockets on the Flash 55, all of that are optionally available.  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 features and at different places on the pack.

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

The hip belt pockets are additionally simply detachable. One is mesh-faced and the opposite has a strong cloth entrance. They’re fairly giant sufficient and large enough 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 yet 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 analogous pocket attachment technique, since individuals have very totally different wants at totally different occasions. I want having a selection over which pockets to connect to my backpack as an alternative 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 digital camera. It’s secured on high with velcro. Earlier fashions of the Flash 55 has a water-proof shoulder strap pocket which was significantly better, however can nonetheless be bought as an add-on. You may as well 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 should 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 approach 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 working alongside the pack sides. You may as well connect different gear.

The 4 vertical corners of the pack have daisy chains loops working down them, carried out utilizing wire, as an alternative of conventional webbing. That is an more and more widespread characteristic discovered on path working 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 an alternative of being sewn into the pack seams. This allows you to detach them, transfer them to a distinct location, or change their angles, as wanted.

REI even features a mesh sack with the Flash 55 so you’ll be able to retailer the straps you’ve eliminated between makes use of, and never lose them. Instructions for attaching the straps are printed on the surface. 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. In the event you’re making an attempt to scale back your pack weight, the most important bang for the buck is available in eradicating the pockets, not the straps.

  • the floating high lid w/2 straps (3.3 oz)
  • 4 facet compression straps (0.8 oz)
  • strong 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 facet compression straps is that you just usually can’t anticipate while you’ll want them to lash gear to the facet of the pack. In the event you take away the highest lid, you’ll be able to eliminate as much as 4 straps, although I’d nonetheless advocate protecting two of them to carry down the perimeters of the roll high. There are quite a lot of variations attainable, although.

Backpack Body and Suspension

The REI Flash 55 is an adjustable-length backpack with a mesh again panel to assist maintain you cooler and your shirt drier in heat climate. The torso size is useless easy to regulate, by transferring 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 should you already know your torso size. See learn how to measure torso size. 

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

The again panel mesh is stretched throughout comfortable 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 respectable 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 while 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 mass and hip girdle for max effectivity, whereas the comfortable 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 snug and doesn’t slip down.

The hipbelt is exceptionally well padded with precurved wings
The hipbelt is exceptionally nicely 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 want on packs as a result of it may be used whereas sporting 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 when it comes to torso lengths though the hip belt sizing is extra versatile. Nonetheless, I’d encourage you to attempt on totally different sizes to zero in on a snug match. In the event you’re between torso lengths, I’d positively advocate sizing up.

Comparable Ultralight Backpacks


The REI Flash 55 is a extremely configurable, backpacking pack that weighs 2 lbs 13 oz however might be stripped right down to 2 lbs 5.6 oz by eradicating a number of optionally available parts. In the event you’ve by no means owned a backpack that’s this light-weight, the Flash 55 is an efficient ultralight pack to chop your tooth on as a result of it’s so reasonably priced and simply personalized for various journeys, seasons, or locales. Totally configured, out-of-the-box, with its high lid and full compression system, you should use it so long as you don’t exceed its most advisable 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 while you’re prepared. Regardless, I feel you’ll nonetheless be impressed at how nicely the Flash 55 carries in comparison with a heavier-weight backpack with a extra substantial body. This pack is a winner.

Disclosure: REI donated a backpack for evaluate.

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Positive Recharge
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