The REI Flash Sit Pad shines when it comes to size, weight, and versatility. Weighing only 3 ounces and rolling into a stuff sack smaller than your favorite canned IPA, there aren't many gear kits that couldn't handle the addition of this tiny seat. A handy snap allows it to double as a pillow for added versatility. Because it's inflatable like many sleeping pads, punctures are a possibility. But for backpackers who want to keep their bums warm, dry, and cushioned without the 18-ounce plus weight of an elevated chair, we think the Flash Sit Pad is a worthy option.
REI Co-op Flash Sit Pad Review
Cons: Possibility of puncture, no backrest, requires sitting on the ground
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
Our Analysis and Test Results
If sleeping on an insulated inflatable pad is comfortable, why wouldn't sitting on one be? The Flash Sit Pad brings sleeping pad technology to focus on your rear. Unlike elevated camp chairs, this pad will actually prevent you from losing heat when seated. The caveat is you do have to get on and off the ground to use it unless you can find a handy log or rock to use it on. But, if you like the idea of packing a tiny pad and gaining not only a comfy spot to sit but also an inflatable pillow, the Flash Sit Pad might be just the thing.
When put up against elevated chairs with backrests, we can't tell you that the Flash Sit Pad performs well. However, it has many redeeming qualities for the right user. The insulation prevents heat loss to the ground, which can add comfort and even safety in cold, wet conditions. This pad is inflatable, so it gives you about an inch of cushion from hard, bumpy rocks and sticks. Do be careful, though — it can be punctured, so you don't want just to set it anywhere.
Not only does this pad add to your seated comfort, but a small snap also allows you to fold it in half, creating an inflatable pillow. You can even adjust the firmness by releasing a little air from the valve.
Size & Weight
The Flash Sit Pad scores at the top of the chart for size and weight. You honestly can't beat the size; it's gotta be one of the absolute smallest packing chairs on the market. When packed, it measures 2.5" x 2.5" x 5" and weighs in at 3 ounces. If you've got room to pack an energy bar, you can throw this seat in your pack.
When inflated, the pad measures 13.5" x 17", which will be large enough for most sitting situations. However, larger hikers may find that in wet conditions, they overhang the pad enough to get a bit damp.
You can't fall out of a ground seat, so the only lack of stability here is in the fact that the Flash needs to hold air to cushion. The worst that can happen is the pad will get a leak, and you will soon be about 1 inch lower than you were before, a little colder, and wondering if you brought the sleeping pad repair kit.
Our testers did note that due to the slick material, when seated on sloped terrain or any smooth surface, this pad can slide around, sometimes making it hard to stay in one place.
Ease of Use
The Flash Sit Pad doesn't require much setup. A large valve makes it quick to blow up, and a flap on the valve keeps the air from flowing back out. To release the air to either adjust the firmness or pack the pad away, simply push on the valve, and the air comes right out. Note that the air must be all the way out or you won't be able to get it back in its little bag.
The fact that you will primarily be seated on the ground with this pad is a contributing factor to its ease of use. If you are comfortable and able to get on and off the ground easily, it's a cinch. But if you find it difficult or painful to spend any time seated in a ground position, you'll either want to pick an elevated chair or find a good rock or log to perch on with this pad.
The price of the Flash is one of the lower ones in our review, so if you like to carry a camp pillow and you also want a warm, dry spot to sit, the value of this pad will be extremely high. Anytime a piece of gear can serve more than one purpose, it will increase its value to both your pack weight and your wallet.
We like the REI Flash Sit Pad for its insulation, versatility as a pillow, and tiny size. The low weight of only 3 ounces will also make it a good option for gram-counters who want a little added comfort and warmth. If you can't see the value in carrying an extra pound or two to have an elevated camp chair, consider this pad as a low-priced, 3-ounce alternative.
— Elizabeth Paashaus
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