The REI Flash 22 is a perfect day pack for a short or long hike. The ultra light design of ensures comfort but doesn’t sacrifice any essential features. The pack also can double as a great travel pack, especially for light travelers. The small frame gives the pack the added bonus of fitting under an airplane seat! At a low price point, the REI Flash is a great choice for the trail, short travel or both.
This versatile pack has the capacity to hold all you’d need for a short or even a long day hike, including copious amounts of water in the summer and layers of clothing in the winter. The zippered lid pocket can hold small items that you’d want to access quickly. I usually stick my snacks in here when I’m hiking and my lunch inside the main compartment. The pocket also has a key hook, which helps me keep track of my keys during hikes, which is something I normally misplace quite often. The two mesh pockets on the outside can fit two water bottles. I usually use average 24 oz. water bottles but I’ve also easily stored 32 oz. Nalgen bottles. The back also has an internal hydration sleeve, which can fit up to a 3 liter hydration reservoir. The pack also has a port to route the sip tube over either shoulder.
For a low-priced ultra light pack, the REI Flash 22 is quite comfortable on day hikes. Although the lightly padded stretch-mesh shoulder straps move freely during hikes, if you are carrying a lot of weight, it can be uncomfortable. I feel this most when I’m traveling with the pack when I pack to capacity at which point the straps can dig into my shoulders. The waist belt and sternum strap can help distribute the weight and reduce the discomfort (both are also detachable, if you prefer not to use them). The mesh back is soft and lightly padded for comfort and breathability, but I find it reduces the packs ability to wick moisture. I sweat profusely on hikes and usually the back of the pack is soaked in the summer (but I’m usually soaked elsewhere as well!).
In addition to the versatility, the REI Flash 22 is also durable. I’ve used this pack for the past four years on a variety of hikes and travel. Despite being well-used, the pack doesn’t show a lot of wear and tear. The bottom fabric is especially strong. I do a lot of butt scooting during rock scrambles, especially when I was slack packing several tough areas of the Appalachian Trail including the Mahoosuc Notch, and reinforced bottom has helped the pack stay in tact. The bottom reinforcement has also been really helpful when I use the pack for travel. When fully packed it often is able to sit on the bottom and I double as a footrest in airports! Although day packs don’t typically sit up like bigger packs, the lighter side and top materials of the this pack hasn’t hindered it’s durability.
One of the most handy features of the pack is the daisy chain for outside gear attachment, which can come in handy for storing hiking poles. I often use this when I have to put my poles away during scrambles and keeping hiking equipment organized. The sternum buckle also has a built-in safety whistle. I’ve never used it but if you are likely to carry one with you on hikes, this could be an added feature to consider.
Although REI discontinued the version of the pack I have but the replacement pack is identical to the older version. The improvements they’ve made to the new pack include: single tool loops at the bottom of the pack, extra padding on the shoulder straps and an extra zip pocket for easy access to storage.
Despite the comfort the slight comfort issues, the REI Flash 22 is one of my most reliable pieces of hiking equipment! In fact this will be the most used hiking equipment on the upcoming road trip. I highly recommend the pack, especially the new version which sounds like addresses the comfort issues with the older pack.