Jan 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm #1298290
full write up here: http://nsiderbam.blogspot.com/2013/01/rei-flash-45-first-impressions.html
It seems like a very nice pack. Slightly over specced weight (35oz vs 34oz) but that's really not a large difference. I really like the floating pack lid as its two pockets make grabbing all those small items you need throughout the day painless. The hipbelt pockets are of average size and made of mesh, so they won't protect anything fragile inside.
The hipbelt and shoulder straps are extremely comfortable…I would say that this is the most comfortable pack I've worn with weight in it, but I've only walked a mile or so with it on so I can't truly comment on comfort yet.
Construction is good, size is as advertised (it's definitely a 45-liter pack — no more, no less), and the aluminum headrail/delrin rods give the pack lots of stability and stiffness.
Best of all, it's only $130. I'd say it's a decent competitor to some of the other similarly-sized UL packs out there now — you gain a few ounces but spend a lot less.Jan 21, 2013 at 5:43 pm #1945938
Thanks for the initial review! Pack looks promising. When you get the chance, can you let us know how much the lid weighs? I'm trying to get an idea of how much lighter this pack can get. Thanks!Jan 21, 2013 at 6:12 pm #1945949
@simply_lightLocale: Midwest, US
I am usually impressed with the price points on packs at REI. Of course when you mass produce them it allows you to be more flexible on the price.Jan 21, 2013 at 9:44 pm #1946021
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
Thanks for posting. This could be the UL pack I've been wanting either REI or Golite to make for a long time. It will be great if the average wanna be hiker can walk into REI and pick out a 2 pound pack without having to mail order it.
Do you think you will take this on the CT?Jan 22, 2013 at 4:34 am #1946066
I think I will. I need to figure out how to shave a few more ounces off it though. The easiest step would probably be to take off the pack lid, but that's one of my favorite features :(Jan 22, 2013 at 6:16 am #1946070
@anarkhosLocale: Colorado, Wyoming
What do you think max loadout would be on this? Unfortunately I tend to load heavy due to food and water. MY brother and I are planning a CT thru this summer/fall and I'm seriously considering grabbing this pack when REI dividend/20% off happens in March. That would be a LW backpack from a reputable manufacturer with an actual load support system for $104.00 before tax! I could finally replace my beloved but overweight MountainSmith bag.
Plus I could totally gut the hydration sleeve and whatnot, shave a little excess. Never been a fan of hydro systems personally.Jan 22, 2013 at 11:59 am #1946149
Not impressed. For 4oz more, there's the Boreas Buttermilk 40, which won Backpacker's Editor's Choice for being one of the most comfortable packs they've ever tested for warm weather. Plus, it's more minimalist and easier to shave ounces from since there's no extra stitching (or a lid.) Shave out the hydration sleeve and cut the hidden tie-down straps, and this pack drops under the REI pack's weight.
The mesh is higher quality. The load distribution straps are placed along seams. The hip belt pockets are larger and tougher. The outer pack is silicone-impreganted for water resistance.
Plus, the frame is removable (either the wire frame or the plastic sheet, or both) and it's $20 less than the REI pack on http://www.theclymb.com, and the sale doesn't expire.
The back padding is a nice complement to my torso-length pad. Very pleased with this pack.
Jan 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm #1946510
If anything I'd say that because the Buttermilk is more minimalist (and yet heavier than the Flash), it would be harder to cut weight off of. You can cut off all the same items on the Flash — hydration pocket, straps, etc. — and still have more to take off. The lid itself weighs a couple of ounces at least and is detachable, meaning you're not gonna permanently damage the pack if you decide to remove it. The fact that its larger cousin (they reviewed the 55L Buttermilk, not the 40L) was a Backpacker Editor's Choice doesn't really impress me; the same year their editor's choice of a tent was a 4lb 2-person tent that was praised for "withstanding 25mph winds".
I wouldn't say the Flash's mesh is poor quality — it's just not stretchy mesh. It will catch easier than the mesh on my GG Murmur or ULA CDT, but I doubt it would tear as easily.
Andrew, when are you planning on doing the CT? My brother and I will be doing it starting the last week of July. I'm sure the Flash could handle 25-30lbs easily, above that I'd have to do some testing.Jan 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm #1946511
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
One thing you cannot measure is the functionality (how easy it is to live out of a pack). This is up to the individual.Jan 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm #1946580
My friend has the 55, I have the 40, and they're practically identical- literally just slightly taller and slightly wider, at the price of a few ounces. I don't think the backpacker review is invalid because of the difference. Besides, I don't think the Backpacker award is a closer, just a relevant detail. Good call though- I don't agree with them often.
Idk, I just thought I'd give an alternate opinion. The Buttermilk's design team specifically put packs like the REI Flash in their sights and went to the drawing board to get rid of the extras, cut weight, but maintain functionality- that last part is important. For the price point, I haven't seen another pack match up. It carries like an Osprey.
I rip right through open-holed, "cheap" mesh by accident about once per pack. Toss a Leatherman in a pocket and forget about it for 2 miles, and it's gone. I don't like it, I'd rather have the good stuff.
I can only assume your review of the REI's mesh pockets as "probably tougher" is based on clairvoyance! Haha!
When I see a "minimalist" pack that has a sewn-in frame, a lid, and less-than-ideal mesh pockets (when outer pockets are a huge part of minimalist packing) I like to think it's a nice way to trick tourists into spending extra to be like the racers they see on the cover of a magazine. I think there are 5 better ways to spend money, and the Buttermilk is one suggestion from me.
No problem if you disagree :DJan 23, 2013 at 7:14 pm #1946612
I wouldn't call it clairvoyance, but you're right — it definitely wasn't experimental data. It is a open-holed webbed mesh, but isn't simply string. It's very similar to the thick nylon mesh upper you get on a tough pair of trail runners. I guess I'll just have to see how it handles out on the field.
And I definitely agree with the whole "minimalist" thing…it's all based on point of view. If you ask anyone from this forum what comes to mind when you say minimalist, they'll respond with "Zpacks Zero" or "GG Murmur". If you ask the typical REI customer/weekend hiker that carriers a 50lb pack for three days, they'll say that anything under 50 liters and 5lbs is minimalist. I wouldn't say REI is being inaccurate in their wording…just catering to a different market!
I've never tried a Boreas and hadn't heard of them until two or three months ago, but would like to try one out sometime.Jan 23, 2013 at 8:17 pm #1946628
How true to size is the hip belt? The large's specs online say the hip belt is for those with a 34"-46" waist. I have a 31" waist and a 21.5" torso. It doesn't seem that the big pack companies cater to guys like me.
For the record – I'm saving up for a custom pack.Jan 23, 2013 at 11:38 pm #1946663
The extra ounces on the Boreas go straight into the backpanel. It's a nice pack. I think you're on to something with the mesh on the Flash, I've been hoping for something above the quality you get on, say, a Kelty, but even strong meshes have been letting me down since I've started backpacking. I'm an instant skeptic, but a potential convert.Jan 24, 2013 at 6:15 am #1946689
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I wouldn't go by anything Backpacker mag says. They like the gear best from companies that advertise in the magazine. Serious conflict of interest there.Jan 24, 2013 at 6:20 am #1946690
I haven't seen the Flash 45 yet, but have to say that I love the Flash 18 and the Flash 30. Based on that I expect to be very happy with the 45 as well.
BTW upon checking… It looks like the difference in weight is a lot more than 4 ounces. The specs I see are 2 lb 2 oz vs 3 lb 1 oz, a difference of 15 ounces. That is almost half again the weight of the Flash.
Then there is price… I much prefer to buy from REI for the dividend, the ease of return, and the fact that they are local. If I buy from them, the Flash is $129 vs the Buttermilk at $185.Jan 24, 2013 at 6:23 am #1946694
@anarkhosLocale: Colorado, Wyoming
My brother and I are most likely going in September, he's doing wildland firefighting this summer and if we have another supremely dry summer they may keep him on into the fall. I may end up going by myself. I'll just have to wait and see how everything plays out. 95% of the time I end up solo, which is fine for me.
So I'm pretty sold on the Flash 45 right now, I'm pretty impressed with both the discussions here on BPL as well as other online research. I've recently downsized my other gear quite a bit but I'm paranoid about using a 45 liter pack. I've only ever done long hikes with a 55 or larger, so once I have everything squared away I'll load my 55 and see how comfortable I'd be with a smaller pack.Jan 24, 2013 at 6:29 am #1946696
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Did anyone ever get to weigh the lid on the Flash.Jan 24, 2013 at 10:37 am #1946779
> "Did anyone ever get to weigh the lid on the Flash."
I just bought one today…
2.5 ounces for the lid.
The whole pack is 2 lb 2.5 ounces for my size medium without any snipping or trimming and there is a lot of stuff that could be trimmed off. All of the various webbing is way longer than most of us will need. Also the pouch for the water bladder could be removed. Without the lid and with all of the straps trimmed it would be several ounces under 2 pounds. Even with the lid on and with some other trimming I think you could pretty easily get below 2 lb.
My initial reaction is that this is a very nice pack. It seems very comfortable and well designed. Granted I have thus far only loaded it a walked around the block with it. It looks very durable to me. The mesh actually is heavy duty especially compared to that on most of the ultralight cottage industry models.Jan 24, 2013 at 10:58 am #1946783
Will this pack fit a bear can? If so, will it fit sideways or only vertical? Bear can is a bearikade weekender or similar.Jan 24, 2013 at 12:51 pm #1946812
My Garcia bear canister almost fits sideways. It might even be able to be jammed in sideways, but I was shy about damaging the pack. The Weekender is a little shorter and only very slightly larger diameter, but not tapered, so I am pretty sure it would fit sideways.
I actually think I like the canister being in vertical orientation, I can fit a lot of stuff in next to it.Jan 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm #1946832
Check the link I put in my original message; the Buttermilk is $110.Jan 27, 2013 at 9:46 am #1947639
@tiquerLocale: In the dog house, lately
I bought my Flash 45 on Thursday. It weighted in at 34.8oz sans tags for the medium. The “Lime Spritz” is pretty bright and I’m glad it is just trim. First impressions of the material and general construction are good. It the mesh on both the hip belt pockets and the big floating pocket on the front looks and feels good. I would have to believe that if either where to get a tear it would not go unnoticed. The rip stop main body looks and feels good although, I will use a liner, to insure the gear stays dry. They have been more than generous with all the straps and after couple shake downs, I will have them trimmed down. The main compartment is lager than I had thought it would be and I have no doubt that my regular spring load of 23 / 25lbs will fit with room to spare. The lid is very similar to the one on my Flash 65 and may be a little more water resistant, due to the flap that completely covers the main compartment zipper and what appears to be a heaver coating on the inside. The shoulder straps and hip belt retain the classic REI style. The foam(?) padding looks thin but adequate and as with all of the features, only field tests will tell.
I loaded this flash with 17.5 lbs of gear and water and went for a walk. For those of you that my live in or near Charlotte, NC, there are a couple nice county parks, that have some walking trails. Bunny trails to be sure, but better than a road walk. I was out for about 5 hours and maybe 15 miles. Most of the gear I had brought was mostly for bulk and weight. I had a Sublite sil in the big mesh pocket on the front for awhile. That is where I usually had it in the 65. After about an hour I move it inside the pack. I actually slid it down inside the bladder pocket.(which I will probably remove) I was a just a little too uneasy even after I used one of the provided bungees that came on the pack, that it might fall out. I left it inside the rest of the day but I’m not sure it will stay there. I like my tent on the outside. For me, it lessens the problems of putting away a wet tent, which is always a problem when you are walking the AT in the spring. I also used a 1-liter Smart water bottle in the left side of the big mesh pocket. At first it wanted to almost lay down away from me, so I took out a beanie that happened to be in one of the stuff stacks I had put in. I rolled the beanie up slid it down next to the bottle and everything stayed in place. I had no trouble getting the bottle in and out with the pack on. Again, I use this system with the 65. The tall smart water bottle is what makes this work for me. It did not take me many adjustments to get the feel I like, and after the walk I did not have any pain or soreness in my shoulders or neck.
I only get enough time to actually get out and actually hike a few weeks and around 500 miles a year. If that makes me a “tourist”, I can live with that.
Well this got a lot longer that the original intent. This is my first online review, so I hope you got at least a rudimentary idea of what to expect from this pack
MikeJan 27, 2013 at 4:07 pm #1947762
@skomaeLocale: northeastern US
I ordered one of these a few weeks back and it finally arrived for in-store pickup. Looking forward to trying this out as my main pack this year once the snow melts away.
Regarding the Buttermilks 55, I've put a lot of miles into this pack and I can't decide if I love or hate it. I constantly miss having a floating lid, the mesh pockets aren't as stretchy as (but far more durable than) the Granite Gear AC Blaze 60, and it's not quite as comfortable as my (older) REI Flash 50, nor the AC Blaze. I will say to its credit, though, is that it manages to be a very durable, rock-solid pack at a reasonable weight, considering how much I've overstuffed it and dragged it through rocks and vegetation. It also carries excellently summit-style with the compression straps pulled in tight and just a couple things. If it had a slightly taller collar it'd be ideal for all 4 seasons.
I'm hoping the Flash 45 carries more comfortably and retains a good amount of durability. If so, it'll definitely win out over the Buttermilks for me with its lid and Flash-like comfort.Jan 27, 2013 at 5:34 pm #1947793
I looked at the REI Flash 45 recently in the store and was struck by how close it resembles the ULA Circuit–I mean right down to the J-style shoulder harness. The fabrics didn't seem as durable on the Flash as on the Circuit but I think REI finally hit the nail on the head with the pack–lightweight, comfortable if it performs like the Circuit, and very functional. It reminded me of a KIA-why hope for a great product when you can just copy the design it from a proven winner!Jan 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm #1947797
@strong806Locale: Near the AT
Looking at the Circuit (39 ounces) versus the Large Flash 50 at 36 ounces, you get 18 liters more for only a 3 ounce penalty (0 ounces if you remove accessories), but almost $100 more in price.
I guess it is just a matter of your budget and volume needs? The bear can comments were helpful.
For the price I'm tempted to just buy the Flash 50 to see how I like it. I have the REI UL 60 and have been pleased with how it carries, and would have too much room if I used alot of stuff sacks or compression. I like using the pack as a stuff sack.
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