Thanks for editing this report series. Here is my initial report:
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REI -- Flash Sleeping Bag
Test Series by Derek Hansen
Initial Report: 23 August 2013
Name Derek Hansen
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)
Weight 170 lb (77 kg)
City, State, Country Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
I am a lightweight backpacker with a typical overnight pack weight of 15 lb (7 kg) and a multi-day weight of 20 lb (9 kg), each of which includes food and water. I prefer backpacking with a hammock as part of my sleep system.
MANUFACTURER REI, USA
YEAR OF MANUFACTURE 2013, made in China
MANUFACTURER'S WEBSITE rei.com
Designed for adult men and women
800-fill-power goose down (top)
PrimaLoft Sport synthetic fill (bottom)
Waterproof, breathable shell fabric on hood, side panels and footbox increases moisture resistance in areas that often come in contact with tent side walls
Ripstop nylon shell fabric on the rest of the bag is treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish to repel moisture and stains
Ultralight, mini-ripstop polyester lining
Performance fit: reduced girth at shoulders, hips, and lower legs.
European Norm (EN) rating for men is 32*F (0*C) and 41*F (5*C) for women
Differentiated drawcords (1 round, 1 flat) let you adjust hood and neck easily in the dark
Zipper is backed by wide, antisnag binding tape
The sleeping bag can be zipped to any other REI backpacking bag (women's bags zip on the right, men's on the left)
Includes stuff sack and storage bag
Wash in top-loading washer
Specifications WHAT THEY SAY WHAT I SAY
Weight 25 oz (709 g) 25.3 oz (718) (stuff sack weighs 53 g/2 oz)
Dimensions Fits up to 72 in (183 cm); 60 in (152 cm) shoulder girth; 55 in (140 cm) hip girth 82 in (208 cm) long; 27 in (69 cm) shoulder; 10 in (25 cm) foot
COLORS "Cactus" (green), grey, and black
ACCESSORIES Includes cotton storage sack and stuff sack
23 Aug 2013
The REI Flash sleeping bag is a mummy-style bag with a multi-chambered hood, a left-sided full length zipper (allowing for a foot vent), and features a unique combination of 8 oz (227 g) 800-fill-power goose down on the top, and 2.2 oz (62 g) of PrimaLoft Sport synthetic insulation on the bottom. The sleeping bag has a baffled construction for the down.
The zipper is backed by a wide, anti-snagging material with a single zipper pull. According to REI, the Flash can be zipped in to other REI backpacking sleeping bags.
The Flash comes with a cotton storage bag measuring 18.5 in (47 cm) tall by 14 in (36 cm) in diameter. There is also a stuff sack included that is 14.5 in (37 cm) deep by 7 in (18 cm) in diameter.
The multi-chambered hood has differential draw cords to cinch up the chin and forehead areas independently. The forehead cord uses shock cord, which makes the hood flexible to some degree.
The bag is made with a waterproof yet breathable shell to protect the hood, side panels, and foot box. DWR-treated ripstop nylon is used on the rest of the bag.
The Flash bag is beautifully constructed with nice lines and clean cuts. Getting into the bag, it is clear the designers have "nipped and tucked" in all the right places for a streamlined "mummy" design. I felt somewhat tight around my knees and legs, making it difficult to twist to my side. It has a close feel for me, but not extreme -- just exactly what I would call a "performance fit."
The first thing that really jumped out at me when inspecting the bag was the thin layer of insulation on the bottom. I knew the bag had the synthetic PrimaLoft Sport insulation on bottom, but I wasn't expecting it to be so thin. From what I've read about this type of insulation, it is often used with clothing because of how it drapes and how little quilting is required.
One reason I volunteered to test this bag was because I intend on using it while in a hammock. Just like when sleeping on the ground, insulation gets compressed underneath in a hammock. The difference between ground sleeping and hammock sleeping is that hammocks provide excellent convective air flow underneath, which is problematic for compressed insulation (read: cold butt syndrome). In my experience, synthetic insulation compresses less than down, and when I've used synthetic bags in a hammock, I've often not needed any additional insulation underneath to stay warm. With down, however, I need a pad or an under quilt to stay warm underneath.
I was hoping that the Flash would have a little more synthetic insulation on the bottom so that I could use this bag without needing a pad or under quilt. I will test to see if this thin layer of PrimaLoft will be warm enough, or if I'll need to use a pad at certain temperatures.
Trying It Out
I didn't take notice that the zipper pulls are one-sided until I had zipped myself inside. I had snaked my arm into the bag and then realized I was a bit stuck because I couldn't find a zipper pull on the inside. REI has designed, or used, a zipper pull that can slide to be either inside or outside the bag. The next time, I remembered to turn the zipper pull so it was inside the bag the next time I zipped up.
There is also a zipper pull at the foot end, so I can unzip the foot box and vent if necessary.
I'm actually very impressed with the design of the bag. I think this is the way all sleeping bags should be made, since the bottom of the bag is compressed by the occupant, and the insulation is virtually worthless. Using a pad for insulation is essential, but putting high-performance synthetic on the bottom is a stroke of genius. Still, I have doubts that the thin slice of synthetic insulation will get me far in my hammock, so I'll likely need to bring a pad or an under quilt for needed warmth below.
The fabric feels great, the overall weight is is great, and the bag stuffs down to the size of a loaf of bread. I like it.
CON--The "performance fit" is somewhat tight in spots.
I would like to thank REI and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.