REI Co-op Flash 55 - Women's Review
Compare to Similar Products
REI Co-op Flash 55 - Women's
$199.00 at REI
|$152.00 at Backcountry|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$224.95 at Amazon|
Compare at 3 sellers
|$250.00 at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
$229.00 at REI
|Pros||Versatile, affordable, customizable, comfortable, lightweight, user-friendly design||Ultra comfortable and well-ventilated, spacious and fits a bear can horizontally, affordable, durable, low center of gravity||Stable and sturdy, comfortable, adjustable, spacious, great suspension||Great pockets, intelligent organizational features, well-cushioned, 3 access points into main compartment, more affordable||Two water bottle holsters, durable, lid converts to a daypack, includes raincover|
|Cons||Lower maximum load, less plush padding||Set torso adjustment points, no back stash pocket, brain isn't very flexible||Heavy, overbuilt for lighter missions, padding can feel stiff, expensive, less versatile||On the heavier side, only available in one size||Rigid foam padding on back, limited torso adjustment settings|
|Bottom Line||Both affordable and customizable, this pack comes equipped to tackle a variety of adventures, all in a very weight-conscious and beginner-friendly way||Get back to basics with this comfortable and affordable pack that can handle heavy loads with grace and adequate ventilation||Bringing you exceptional comfort and support for heavy loads with an excellent feature set and spacious pockets||With organization at its forefront, this pack is great for the adventurer who wants their gear in order when they reach camp||Plenty of thoughtful features, but heavy and not as comfortable or adjustable as others|
|Rating Categories||REI Co-op Flash 55...||Osprey Renn 65||Gregory Deva 60||Deuter Aircontact C...||REI Co-op Traverse 60|
|Ease of Use (25%)|
|Specs||REI Co-op Flash 55...||Osprey Renn 65||Gregory Deva 60||Deuter Aircontact C...||REI Co-op Traverse 60|
|Measured Weight||2.7 lbs||3.6 lbs||4.7 lbs||4.9 lbs||4.2 lbs|
|Weight per Liter (oz)||0.79 oz/L||0.89 oz/L||1.25 oz/L||1.12 oz/L||1.12 oz/L|
|Advertised Volume||55L||65L||60L||60 + 10L||60L|
|Organization Compartments||Lid, double side pockets, front pocket, hip belt pockets, shoulder strap phone pocket, main compartment||Lid, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment||Lid, front pocket, hip belt pockets, 1 water bottle compartment, main compartment||Lid, mesh side pockets, front stretch pocket, zippered top pocket, inner stretch compartment, bottom compartment with zippered divider, internal valuables pocket, dual zippered pockets on hipbelt||Lid, side pockets, hip belt pockets, main compartment|
|Access||Top||Top, bottom||Top, side, bottom||Top, panel||Top, bottom|
|Rain Cover Included||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Women's Specific Features||Women's specific fit||Women's specific fit||Slim profile and women’s-specific Response A3W Suspension||Women's specific fit||Women's specific fit|
|Sleeping bag Compartment||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Bear Can Compatible||Yes - Vertical||Yes - Vertical and Horizontal||Yes - Vertical and Horizontal||Yes - Vertical and Horizontal||Yes|
|Main Materials||Ripstop nylon; Oxford nylon (bluesign® approved)||600D polyester||210D 40% recycled nylon & 420D 45% recycled nylon with PFC-free DWR||235D polyamide||300D recycled ripstop nylon|
|Volumes Available||55 liters||50, 65 liters||60, 70 liters||45+10, 60+10 liters||32, 60 liters|
|Sizes Available||XS, S, M||One size, adjustable torso||XS, S, M||One size, adjustable torso||XS, XS Torso x M Hipbelt, S, M|
|Measured Volume (main compartment)||45L||45L||45L||50L||(not measured)|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The updates to the REI Flash 55 have made it an incredibly worthy contender in the fight to see which backpacking backpack for women is the best on the market. At only 2.7 pounds with removable pockets, you can get this pack down to a scant 2 pounds if you are motivated to shed weight. Made of thin, ripstop nylon and featuring a roll-top closure, this is one of our top recommendations for newbie backpackers who want a well-featured trail companion without over-purchasing.
REI has incorporated a strong, stable suspension system for a lightweight pack. When fully loaded with up to 33 pounds, the weight is well distributed to your hips and doesn't sag onto your shoulders. We found that the frame didn't provide as much support once we added additional weight, preventing the Flash from succeeding as a "super hauler."
The Flash has a smaller-feeling frame than some of the other packs we tested, making it suitable for smaller-bodied people. Compared to some of the more ruggedly-built packs in our lineup, the Flash feels unimposing and comfortable, even on our 5'2" tester. REI makes 4 different sizes of the Flash, all of which come with an easy torso adjustment system on the back panel. This ensures that a wider variety of body shapes and sizes can find the right fit. The hip belt padding is fixed and constructed of densely woven textile, making it feel stiffer than some. The padding on the back panel is also dense but provides comfortable and unintrusive support. The perforated mesh adorning the back panel helps air flow through, further adding to this pack's overall comfort.
Ease of Use
When it comes to backpacking backpacks, our testers find that keeping things simple is usually the way to go. Our lead testers prefer backpacks with fewer organizational features, which is part of why the Flash is one of our highest scorers in this metric. Whether you are just packing up or deep in the backcountry looking for your extra fleece to stay warm, this pack is user-friendly.
The Flash features a Packmod design. This design lets you easily move or remove additional pockets for a customizable backpacking experience. The lid, hip pockets, and mesh cellphone pocket can all be easily moved to your liking, ultimately lessening the weight of this already lightweight pack. The drybag style roll-top closure is easy to use as an access point and a compressive feature. The wide mouth of the Flash makes it super easy to sift through your gear in a loaded back. While lacking additional access points, having the ability to open the top so wide makes accessing your gear a lot easier.
The Flash has bilateral side pockets in addition to its mesh water bottle pockets. These ripstop nylon pockets and beavertail exterior pouch make keeping quick-draw items within reach without so much as a zipper in the way. Beyond just the ripstop pouches, each side of the Flash has a mesh pocket that is slanted forward specifically for easy access to your water bottle.
At 2.7 pounds, this model is lighter than most but still has a strong enough frame to carry moderate loads up to around 30 pounds. In fact, the Flash outperformed many packs that weigh more with burly suspension systems. While none of the packs we tested made our heaviest loads feel lighter, some of them certainly felt more comfortable than others, the Flash included.
Even with a slightly smaller capacity than the other packs we tested, the volume-to-weight ratio of the Flash is impressive. More than just throwing up impressive numbers, though, the Flash remains comfy for the long haul when fully loaded. To keep the weight of the Flash comfortable, it is important to use the compression systems that are built into the pack. Since the Flash has a more minimalistic design and the bulk of the gear gets stowed in the main pocket, our heaviest loads were a bit lumpy and off-kilter. Once we used the external compression straps and really tamped the roll-top upper down, we felt significantly more balanced.
The recent updates to the Flash make it a standout choice in this metric. Not only is the sliding torso adjustment easy to use, but the availability of sizes makes it easy to ensure a proper fit.
Like many lightweight packs, the hip belt padding is fixed. The padding comes fairly far around the pelvic bones of average-sized women, but larger-hipped women will find that it stops short of where they may like for comfort. The thick webbing offers plenty of extra length, but without extra padding, it can be less comfortable as the miles add up.
Should You Buy the REI Flash 55?
If you are a beginning backpacker who wants a pack that will comfortably get the job done without being too much pack, the Flash is a great backpacking pack to consider. Its approachable frame size, modular organizational system, and easy-to-use features make it a great choice and a great value. Lightweight adventure enthusiasts, rejoice! The lightweight Flash could also be a fantastic choice for your next adventure.
What Other Backpacking Backpacks Should You Consider?
If you are looking for a great pack on a budget but aren't sure if the Flash is right for you, we recommend checking out our Editor's Choice award winner, the Osprey Renn. For a similar price, the Renn offers a bit more comfort via a trampoline back panel and more aggressively built suspension, though both elements come at the cost of weight. If a lightweight pack is what you're after, the Ultralight Adventure Equipment Circuit weighs the same as the Flash but offers a bit more suspension for comfortably lugging heavy loads up ragged peaks.
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More