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REI Flash 45 (2012-2013 Model)

in Backpacks - Internal Frame

Average Rating
4.50 / 5 (2 reviews)

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G Sticks
( VoiceOfSticks )

REI Flash 45 (2012-2013 Model) on 04/30/2013 07:25:16 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I just used this pack on a 3-night, 35 miler in Shenandoah. We did some of the most challenging trails in the park so I got to use the pack on a variety of terrain. With that in mind, here are some thoughts...

- This is my first lightweight pack and I tested it against an Exos 46. Ultimately this just fit me better but I love Osprey so no knock on the Exos.
- Simple design, main compartment, big, segmented mesh outer pocket, lid pockets (under and over) and hip belt pockets. I carried food for my partner and myself, and toward the end picked up the mess kit and water filter. Along with my sleeping bag, RidgeRest, ditty bag and clothes everything still fit. I am lightweight, NOT UL, so if you're UL or SUL this will have PLENTY of room for you. Perhaps too much even.
- I thought that overall weight was handled well. I had some issues with the shoulder straps digging in when my pack was maxed out (~35 lbs) but I think that's to be expected given the light and flexible frame design. The system on the Flash 45 is a foam pad covered in mesh against your pack with aluminum/delrin rods along either side of the pad. Hipbelt support was solid though, no issues as with the shoulder strap.
- The mesh pockets were perfect for 2 16 oz. Gatorade bottles and my raingear. I loved the set up of having a stash pocket and I'll never buy a pack without one again. I did have trouble getting the bottles out with the pack on though. I suspect 1L Platypus bottles would be easier but might tear the fine mesh on this pack.
- Compression is pretty sparse but it worked. I felt like the side compression straps could do a bit more but b/c my RidgeRest was forming a tube inside there wasn't any way for them to really cinch down.

All in all it was a great pack for my needs. I look forward to using it again and I think with the right set up it's a good pack. The kicker is that it's only $129 (I got it with the annual 20% off) so at that point it's a steal compared to the Exos or other comparable packs.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Osprey Exos 46 - Men's priced at: $122.99 - $179.00
Platypus Bottle priced at: $12.95
Shop Gatorade, Rei products at GearBuyer
George Davis
( nsiderbam - M )

Great lightweight pack on 08/03/2013 11:49:49 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I've been a UL backpacker for a few years now and this pack was my first purchase where I've actually gone up in weight, meaning that I decided the benefits of using this pack are worth the extra ounces.

Some highlights and stats:
- floating (and removable) lid with two good-sized pockets
- delrin rod and stiff foam paneling form the "frame"
- continuous mesh pocket on the back
- weighs just over 32oz once straps are cut down and the hydration bladder pocket is removed
- many lashing points

Overall impressions after ~150 miles on the trail:

The pack is very comfortable; my hips are usually sore after the first day but I'm fine after that (like getting your trail legs back). I'm able to keep all the weight on my hips and pull the pack in tight with the load-lifters.

I love the livability of the pack. The mesh pocket is large enough for a rain jacket or tarp that you want to keep close and accessible. I usually keep my map, glove liners, beanie, ipod, and other often-used items in the top lid pocket. Less-used items like my medical kit, ground cloth, cell phone, and wallet go into the bottom lid pocket. My camera/aquamira/knife go in the hipbelt pockets. I stick all my clothing and sleeping gear in a compactor bag at the bottom of my pack and then put the food on top. This pack is every bit of 45 liters; I managed to fit my 9lb base weight (including the pack's weight) into the pack along with 7 full days of food and two liters of water.

Some have complained about not being able to fit 1 liter gatorade bottles in the mesh pocket if the pack is completely stuffed. You can make the bottles fit, but it's definitely difficult. I highly recommend using compressible water bottles as they'll slide in much easier.

Also, some have noted that the pack doesn't compress down very well if you have very little gear in it or try to use it as a dayback. This is true for most framed packs, but that is why I have a smaller pack (GG Murmur) to use for trips where I don't need as much gear or food.

In conclusion, this is a great lightweight pack. Yes, there are lighter framed packs out there. However, there is something to be said for a fully-featured $130 pack that, with a bit of trimming, weighs under 2 pounds, is very comfortable and durable, and can be found at any REI store. If you're just getting into ultralight backpacking and aren't willing to sprint for a 10oz cuben fiber pack just yet, or if you're looking for something a bit more durabe and capable than that 10oz cuben fiber pack and don't mind the weight gain, this this pack is for you.

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