REI Co-op Flash Air 2 Tent Review
Nov 24, 2020 at 9:59 am #3685496Backpacking LightAdmin
@backpackinglightLocale: Rocky Mountains
The REI Co-op Flash Air 2 Tent is a two-person hybrid single/double-wall shelter with dual entrances and vestibules. It is non-freestanding and can be pitched with two trekking poles to save weight or by using the included pole set. Its packaged weight is 40 oz (1,134 g), and its minimum weight is 31 oz (879 g). The MSRP of this model is $299.
As a hybrid shelter, the REI Co-op Flash Air 2 Tent mixes and matches design components from traditional backpacking tents and single-wall shelters to create a product that features the best of both. The REI Co-op Flash Air 2 Tent provides reasonable livability for two persons and can also serve as a palatial single-person shelter.Nov 25, 2020 at 1:35 pm #3685730David UBPL Member
“If I added the extra guy lines and stakes, would it have held up? Probably, but what’s the point then? If I’m having to maximize the guylines every time I set it, and carry all that extra weight, it’s defeating the point of a lightweight shelter.”
You mean having to add 4-5oz in stakes and guylines weigh you down?
Even a heavy tent requires sufficient guylines and pegs in very windy conditions so I find this comment odd. Maybe I have misinterpreted you.Nov 25, 2020 at 1:48 pm #3685735Mark WetheringtonBPL Member
@markwethLocale: Western Montana
That comment was from one of the reviews left on the REI website; I included it (along with other comments) in this review to show the experiences and expectations others had with the tent. I tried to put them into context in the review and offer my own opinions about their validity. I also thought that comment was odd and reflected an unrealistic expectation, my apologies if the rest of my review didn’t make that clear.Nov 25, 2020 at 3:40 pm #3685757Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Yep, REI designs good gear.
I’ve had 2 REI FLASH UL backpacks and now own 2 FLASH air mattresses, 3 Season and All Season. Both work well and the valves are compatible with a Sea to Summit pump/dry bag, a wise move on REI’s part.
This FLASH tent is well designed and good for cooking under the vestibules in the rain, alway a consideration for tent design.Nov 25, 2020 at 3:51 pm #3685761David UBPL Member
Thanks Mark. Sorry about that. Quarantine brain on my end.Nov 29, 2020 at 6:48 am #3686279Eli NBPL Member
the lowest-priced two-person shelter in its weight category
I don’t understand why Tarptent is always left out of these comparisons. The Motrail is cheaper (normally $265 without poles and $286 with, currently on sale for less), weighs about 3oz more (that weight includes the stuff sack, it’s not clear if yours does), requires only four stakes, and has a much smaller packed size. Maybe the extra 3oz puts it in a different weight category in your mind–but then you compare it to the Lunar Duo which is much heavier than either.Nov 29, 2020 at 7:38 am #3686282William ChiltonBPL Member
The Motrail is cheaper (normally $265 without poles and $286 with, currently on sale for less), weighs about 3oz more (that weight includes the stuff sack, it’s not clear if yours does), requires only four stakes, and has a much smaller packed size. Maybe the extra 3oz puts it in a different weight category in your mind–but then you compare it to the Lunar Duo which is much heavier than either.
I think it’s because all the tents in the comparison are side entry, like the Flash, whereas the Motrail is front entry.Nov 29, 2020 at 9:27 am #3686293Dan DurstonBPL Member
@dandydanLocale: Canadian Rockies
“The quality of the mesh is perhaps the most prominent area where the quality lacked”
In REIs defense, what you’re seeing here are “pulls” or “snags” in the mesh which are misalignment of the strands but these are reversible and not really REIs fault.
The lightest (0.5oz) mesh forms pulls/snags substantially easier than heavier mesh (0.65-0.9oz). It’s an industry wide issue and not really a quality problem so much as a limitation of 0.5oz mesh. This mesh will form these cosmetic imperfections substantially more easily, but then heavier mesh adds a few ounces to the tent, so cosmetic (and reversible) imperfections are the price of saving those ounces. This occurs from strain on the mesh, such as contact with velcro, stress during stuffing, or if the vent struts or poles get jabbed into the mesh during pack up.
It’s affecting tents from all brands that use the lightest mesh, which is why many tent companies are now creating videos on how to reverse it, such these videos from MSR and SlingFin. Those videos do a good job showing how to reverse it. Basically you can hold the mesh tight and give it a scratch and those will reverse.
It would be nice if 0.5oz mesh was more resistant to this, but for now it’s an unavoidable trade-off with using 0.5oz mesh. I think it’s still worth using this mesh because it’s substantially lighter and the problems are only cosmetic and reversible.Nov 29, 2020 at 9:29 am #3686294Eli NBPL Member
I think it’s because all the tents in the comparison are side entry, like the Flash, whereas the Motrail is front entry.
Fair enough, but “cheapest side-entry tent in its class” is a much different claim than “cheapest tent in its class.” I understand that the preference for side-entry is common, but it’s hardly universal (the front-entry Protrail is Tarptent’s best-selling tent–I think by a significant margin). In a comprehensive review like this one, it seems strange to ignore the existence of end-entry tents altogether.Nov 29, 2020 at 1:01 pm #3686319Peter StairBPL Member
For a 2-person tent, I prefer a double-wall design. I have too many bad memories of wet tube tents from the 1960s and 70s. It is true that the double-wall tents are heavier than single-wall or hybrid designs, but the fact that the tent body, fly, poles, and stakes are all separate, makes it possible to distribute the weight between 2 people in a way that single-wall and hybrid designs cannot. With my current 2012 Big Sky Evolution tent, the weight distributes to 26 oz and 30 oz, not ultralight but light enough for a 70-year-old. It would be heavy for a solo trip, but my wife has vetoed any consideration of solo trips, so that limitation is not relevant to me. When double-wall, 2-person tents are reviewed, it would be nice if the reviewers could provide information on the weight distribution in a 2-person situation.Nov 29, 2020 at 1:43 pm #3686328
I have never understood why anyone even thinks about the weight distribution of a tent. Just balance the tent weight with the food.
We figure all this out at home with a spreadsheet. Works fine.
CheersNov 29, 2020 at 4:41 pm #3686370Bill FBPL Member
Thanks for the review. After about 13 nights, my experiences with the Flash Air 2 are very similar to yours. Got it on sale in June for about $210 further increasing the value per $ ratio while shaving 3 lbs off my old double wall tent. So far only used in the Sierra for summer & early fall with only one night of moderate condensation with my son and I using it. Totally agree that a major, & unanticipated for me, benefit is the ease of setup & takedown as you describe. Handled a strong 3 hour August thunderstorm with 20+ mph wind, driving rain/hail, and had no issues at all. I had it staked with the basic six stakes (I did upgrade to TNH tri-beam stakes that I already had) and it had no problem with the wind. But have guyed it out as you describe since then just in case. The high bottom edge of the vestibule as you describe really does help with ventilation, but also means you will not have as much dry space underneath it during a storm as you might have with a vestibule fitted closer to the ground due to water spray. Also I am 5’11” as well and have read a review from someone 6’2″ saying that it did not work for him from a length perspective. So worth taking that into account. Alan Dixon also has an extensive set of video reviews as well on his site.Nov 30, 2020 at 2:38 pm #3686528Peter StairBPL Member
Roger, Point taken. I do the same thing at home with the spreadsheet. In fact all my trips in the last decade have been for 6-8 days with at least or more companions. In that scenario there are plenty of options for distributing the weight. Besides, when my pack starts out with ca. 10 pounds of food plus or minus 30 oz. is no big deal after a day or so.Nov 30, 2020 at 9:49 pm #3686600Tom MBPL Member
At that price point and weight I would go with Dan’s 2p X-Mid all day long.Nov 30, 2020 at 9:54 pm #3686602rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
“We figure all this out at home with a spreadsheet.”
I neither have, nor use, spreadsheets at all. Ugh. Spreadsheets are for …….. geeks, for crying out loud…Nov 30, 2020 at 10:00 pm #3686603
I’m a GEEK!Jan 25, 2021 at 2:33 pm #3695542Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
The double top vents that Mark lauds in the REI Flash 2 are virtually a standard on Tarptents and one reason why Tarptents handle condensation so well. The other reason is the bottom vents Tarptent designs in. Bottom-to-top ventilation is the key.Jan 25, 2021 at 2:37 pm #3695543
Bottom-to-top ventilation is the key.
+1Jan 25, 2021 at 3:14 pm #3695548Mark WetheringtonBPL Member
@markwethLocale: Western Montana
Definitely agree that bottom-to-top ventilation is paramount in reducing condensation. I haven’t used any TarpTents but from the designs I’ve looked at it seems they have this down even better than the REI Flash shelters.
Hopefully REI will improve this on future models, as I feel like the bottom ventilation could maybe be improved if they included some mesh on the head and foot and extended the fabric out a bit to cover them (similar to the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo and many other shelters). But for general three-season backpacking in areas without high humidity the REI was certainly sufficient.
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