Edits completed below.
REI Flash 18 Pack
Date: January 25, 2013
Name: Rick McQuet
Height: 6' 5" (1.9 m)
Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)
Email address: rmcquet (at) yahoo (dot) com
Backpacking Background: I went on family backpacking trips every summer from the 3rd grade through 8th grade, including hikes within the Trinity Alps and Sierra Nevada in California. In the past 5 years, backpacking has included multi-day trips to the Ventana Wilderness, Desolation Wilderness, and Tahoe National Forest, all in California. In addition, I attend several Boy Scout camping trips each year in Illinois and Wisconsin. Each summer, I go on multiple day hikes from our cabin in McCall, Idaho. I endeavor to be a light (but not ultra-light) backpacker.
Manufacturer: REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.)
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Listed weight: 11.0 Ounces (312 Grams)
Weight as delivered: 10.9 Ounces (309 Grams)
Listed Length: 18 in (457 mm)
Listed Width: 9.5 in (241 mm)
Capacity: 1,100 cu in (18 l)
Color: Light Grey (available in several colors, including red, gold, blue, purple and black)
MSRP: $34.50 US
Figure 1: Flash 18 (photo courtesy rei.com)
The REI Flash 18 Pack (hereafter, "Flash 18", or "the pack") is a lightweight frameless, top-loading daypack. It is the smallest of the Flash series made by REI. The Flash 18 is made of 140 denier ripstop nylon. It has a single opening at the top, with a single drawcord closure. The adjustable shoulder straps are nylon mesh. There is an adjustable sternum strap and an unpadded waist strap, both made of nylon webbing and with quick release buckles. Both the sternum strap and waist strap are removable. The outside has two nylon straps running lengthwise along the pack, sewn in a daisy chain fashion. At the bottom is an additional tool loop. There are no external pockets.
Figure 2: Flash 18 Front (left) and Back (right)
Inside the pack there are two pockets. The first is a single zippered mesh pocket (6 in by 9 in, or 15 cm by 23 cm) for securing things such as keys, wallets, cell phones and other small items. The second is a large internal sleeve designed to hold a hydration reservoir. A single exit port for the reservoir hose runs out from the middle at top of the pack.
There is also a piece of closed cell foam padding, about a quarter of an inch thick (6 mm), that sits in an interior sleeve on the back of the pack. This has a hook-and-loop enclosure that keeps it securely closed.
Figure 3: Mesh Pocket (left) and Hydration Reservoir (right)
I have used the Flash 18 extensively across a variety of different uses, about 25 to 30 times total:
- Six days as both a summit pack and pillow on summer hikes in the Ventana Wilderness and Tahoe National Forest (Castle Peak area) in California. I just rolled it up and stuffed into my main pack while hiking. As a pillow, I stuffed my clothes into it. I did not experience any rain or snow during these trips.
- Approximately ten day hikes in Idaho during the summer, where I typically carry two liters of water in a hydration reservoir, lunch for two people, a windbreaker, camera and maps. Elevations ranged from 5,000 ft to 7,500 ft (1,520 m to 2290 m). Temperatures were moderate, approximately 70 F to 80 F (21 C to 27 C).
- Ten days of skiing during the winter in Idaho, from cold, sunny days to wet, snowy days. Five of the days were cold and sunny, with temps ranging from 5 F to 25 F (-15 C to -4 C). The snowy days were between 25 F and 32 F (-4 C to 0 C). Elevation ranged from 6,000 ft to 7,500 ft (1,830 m to 2,290 m). I used it both for downhill skiing and backcountry skiing. For downhill, I would carry extra gloves, an extra layer, and a small lunch. For backcountry, I carried extra layers, skins, extra gloves, two liters of water, camera and a small lunch.
- Several times while running in Chicago. I often run from work to a gym four miles from my office, so I will carry a change of clothes in the pack.
Figure 4: Wearing Flash 18 (left) and Rolled Up (right)
I first learned about the pack from a friend of mine, who is an experienced hiker and mountaineer. He used it for a few day hikes we did together while in McCall, Idaho. I really liked how light it was, and yet it seemed to have a lot of room. I purchased mine at the REI store in Northbrook, Illinois.
Overall, after using it in many different ways and on different trips, I really like the Flash 18. I have not had any problems with the fit of the pack, with the adjustments or durability. The drawstring locking mechanism is straightforward. The loop in the hydration sleeve that was added to the most recent version of the Flash 18 prevents the hydration reservoir from sagging to the bottom of the bag as it empties.
The padding provided protection against any zippers or sharp edges in my gear.. However, my opinion is that the padding in the pack isn't absolutely necessary. It is possible to remove the existing padding and replace it with something thicker.
In addition, the Flash 18 carries loads very well and feels quite stable while hiking or even scrambling across boulders. I found the shoulder straps to be comfortable, and I could adjust the sternum strap higher or lower depending on the load I was carrying.
I also really like the versatility of the pack. In general, I could use it as a stuff sack for a sleeping bag (though I have not tried that yet), or as a bear bag for hanging food (worked well for this use). I have used it as a pillow, and even as a bag for going to the gym.
The only small complaint (and it's a small one) is the mechanism that is used to tighten the drawcord. If I open the bag too quickly, the cord can get twisted and then stuck. To avoid this, I simply have to make sure that the drawcord is not twisted up as I go to open the pack.
Things I Like:
- compresses to a small size
Things I Don't Like:
- the closure mechanism
I am very happy with my Flash 18 and would not hesitate to recommend to a friend.
--- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "richardglyon@..." wrote:
> Welcome to BackpackGearTest.org, and thanks for your Owner Review. This is a very good start at a first OR. While the edit list may appear long, most of the edits relate to BackpackGearTest conventions and protocols. I think you have done a good job of expressing yourself and describing the pack. I look forward to working with you to polish the Review for posting.
> My edits below are in standard BGT format:
> EDIT (all caps) required change
> Edit (initial cap) suggested change or request for clarification
> Comment just that, no change required
> Several times below I refer to "projection." BGT limits its Owner Reviews and Test Reports to the author's personal experiences. None of us is allowed to speculate about another's use of the product or, except in rare circumstances, report on other people's use of it. We call this "projection" and it takes many forms. I believe your projecting is easily remedied, as noted below, but for future work be aware of this rule. (It's easy to project inadvertently, as I did recently in an Owner Review.)
> After revising you need to do two things. Post the html version of the Report in the Tests/Owner Reviews folder on BackpackGearTest.org, and post the plain text version here, with "Repost," the product name, and your name in the subject line, and with a tinyurl link to the html version in the body of your message.
> Cheers, Richard Lyon
> BGT Editor
> ###REI Flash 18###
> EDIT: REI Flash 18 Pack [For two reasons: more importantly, that's what REI calls it; second, to facilitate readers' knowing what it is. "Flash" doesn't automatically call up a pack.
> ### Height: 6' 5" (1.9 meters)
> Weight: 180 lbs (82 kilos) ###
> Edit: While it's OK to write out a unit of measurement, you should be consistent throughout your report all spelled out or all abbreviations. Check this throughout the Review.
> EDIT: If you choose abbreviations, a BGT convention is always lower case and always singular. 180 lb, not 180 lbs. Again, check this throughout your Review.
> ###Backpacking Background:I went on family backpacking trips every summer###
> Edit/EDIT: This may have occurred when you posted the plain text (one reason I need to see the html version), but you should always have a space between a colon and the following text. Another thing to check this throughout your Review.
> ###backpacking has included multi-day trips to the Ventana Wilderness, Desolation
> Wilderness, and Tahoe National Forest.###
> EDIT: You need to add the state. Some of our readers may not know where these places are.
> ### Length: 18 Inches (457 Millimeters)
> Width: 9.5 Inches (241 Millimeters)###
> EDIT: Listed or measured? We require both if the manufacturer lists dimensions. If not, indicate that these are measured dimensions.
> ###Color: Light Grey###
> Edit: Consider noting that the pack is available in several other colors.
> ###MSRP: $34.50###
> EDIT: $34.50 US [Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several other countries where BGT has readers have their own dollars.]
> ### The first is a single zippered mesh pocket, for securing things such as keys, wallets, cell phones and other small items. The second is a large internal sleeve designed to hold a hydration reservoir. ###
> EDIT/Edit: If you can, add the pockets' sizes. This may not be necessary if your photos show what's inside.
> ###An exit port for the reservoir hose runs out from the top of the pack.###
> EDIT: Indicate which side if there's only one. If there are two, so state, and state where they are located.
> ###There is also a piece of closed cell foam padding, about a quarter of an inch thick (6.3 mm), ###
> Edit: The Imperial is approximate, so I'd round the metric to 6 mm.
> ### This has a Velcro enclosure that keeps it securely closed.###
> EDIT: Velcro's trademark owner jealously guards its mark. Unless something on the pack or from REI indicates that it's true Velcro, change to "hook-and-loop."
> ### where I typically carry 2 Liters of water in a Camelbak hydration reservoir###
> Edit: liters (lower case)
> Edit: two liters [Easier to read if single-digit numbers are written out]
> EDIT: Delete "Camelbak." For several reasons BGT discourages mentioning brands or products that are not being reviewed, unless necessary for clarity. It's not necessary here, so delete the brand name.
> ###Ten days of skiing during the winter in Idaho, from cold, sunny days to wet, snowy days.###
> EDIT: Please add temperature ranges, and how much exposure the pack had to precipitation (all day? A few minutes?). Don't forget to include the Celsius equivalents.
> ### I used it both for downhill/Nordic skiing and backcountry skiing.###
> Edit: What's your difference between Nordic and backcountry skiing? To me Nordic skiing refers to gear: double camber skis, usually without a metal edge. Backcountry is where skiing (on Nordic, Alpine, AT, or telemark skis) takes place. It would be helpful if you explained.
> ###However, my opinion is that the padding in the pack isn't absolutely necessary, but it is possible that some may prefer it. If you don't like it, you can simply remove it. In contrast, I have read in several online reviews that some users have added more substantial or thicker padding in lieu of the existing, but I have not experimented with that approach. ###
> EDIT: First example of projection. End the first sentence after "necessary" and delete the third sentence, or revise it to say that it is possible to replace the padding with stouter material. Change "you" in the second sentence to "I." Always be wary of using the second person "you" or "your."
> ###In general, one can use it as a stuff sack for a sleeping bag (though I have not tried that yet), or as a bear bag for hanging food (worked well for this use).###
> EDIT: More projection. "I could use it"
> ##If you open the bag too quickly, the cord can get twisted and then stuck. You simply have to make sure that the drawcord is not twisted up as you go to open the pack.###
> EDIT: As above change "you" to "I" in all three places.