Reviews You Can Rely On

REI Co-op Flash Sit Pad Review

An ultralight, insulated sit pad that doubles as a pillow and packs smaller than a soda can
rei co-op flash sit pad backpacking chair review
Credit: REI Co-op
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Price:  $30 List
Pros:  Miniscule packed size, ultralight, insulated, doubles as a pillow
Cons:  Possibility of puncture, no backrest, requires sitting on the ground
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Elizabeth Paashaus ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 7, 2021
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Comfort - 35% 2.0
  • Size and Weight - 30% 10.0
  • Stability - 20% 8.0
  • Ease of Use - 15% 7.0

Our Verdict

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 has discontinued the Flash Sit Pad as of 2022.

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.

Performance Comparison


rei co-op flash sit pad backpacking chair review - hard rocks are transformed into comfortable seats by this cushion...
Hard rocks are transformed into comfortable seats by this cushion but be careful! Sharp edges can puncture the inflatable pad.
Credit: Adam and Elizabeth Paashaus

Comfort


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.

rei co-op flash sit pad backpacking chair review - conductive heat loss to rocks and the ground can be significantly...
Conductive heat loss to rocks and the ground can be significantly slowed down by the insulation in this pad.
Credit: Elizabeth Paashaus

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.

Snaps in half to create a pillow.
Snaps in half to create a pillow.
The thickness of the pillow can be adjusted by releasing or adding...
The thickness of the pillow can be adjusted by releasing or adding air.

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.

rei co-op flash sit pad backpacking chair review - this has got the be the smallest sit pad on the market.
This has got the be the smallest sit pad on the market.
Credit: Adam and Elizabeth Paashaus

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.

rei co-op flash sit pad backpacking chair review - the pad isn't huge so when sitting in wet conditions, larger folks...
The pad isn't huge so when sitting in wet conditions, larger folks may find their hips getting damp.
Credit: Elizabeth Paashaus

Stability


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.

rei co-op flash sit pad backpacking chair review - the slippery fabric and light weight mean that this pad is primed to...
The slippery fabric and light weight mean that this pad is primed to slide or blow away if you don't hold it down.
Credit: Elizabeth Paashaus

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.

rei co-op flash sit pad backpacking chair review - muah! a quick kiss (or two puffs of air) and the flash sit pad is...
Muah! A quick kiss (or two puffs of air) and the Flash Sit Pad is set up.
Credit: Elizabeth Paashaus

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.

rei co-op flash sit pad backpacking chair review - the difficulty of using this pad is only in your personal difficulty...
The difficulty of using this pad is only in your personal difficulty in getting on and off the ground.
Credit: Elizabeth Paashaus

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

rei co-op flash sit pad backpacking chair review - even if you find it uncomfortable to get your body into a ground...
Even if you find it uncomfortable to get your body into a ground sitting position, a sit pad makes a great addition to a log or a rock.
Credit: Elizabeth Paashaus

Elizabeth Paashaus
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