REI Flash 18
Date: January 25, 2013
Name: Rick McQuet
Height: 6' 5" (1.9 meters)
Weight: 180 lbs (82 kilos)
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 the past 5 years,
backpacking has included multi-day trips to the Ventana Wilderness, Desolation
Wilderness, and Tahoe National Forest. 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)
Length: 18 Inches (457 Millimeters)
Width: 9.5 Inches (241 Millimeters)
Capacity: 1,100 cubic inches (18 liters)
Figure 1: Flash 18 (photo courtesy rei.com)
The REI Flash 18 (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
Figure 2: Flash
18 Front (left) and Back (right)
Inside the pack there are two pockets. 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. An exit port for the
reservoir hose runs out from the top of the pack.
There is also a piece of closed cell foam padding, about a
quarter of an inch thick (6.3 mm), that sits in an interior sleeve on the back
of the pack. This has a velcro
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:
days as both a summit pack and pillow on summer hikes in the Ventana Wilderness
and Tahoe National Forest (Castle Peak area). 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.
ten day hikes in Idaho during the summer, where I typically carry 2 Liters of
water in a Camelbak 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).
days of skiing during the winter in Idaho, from cold, sunny days to wet, snowy
days. I used it both for
downhill/Nordic skiing and backcountry skiing. For Nordic, I would carry extra gloves, an extra layer, and
a small lunch. For backcountry, I
carried extra layers, skins, extra gloves, 2 liters of water, camera and a
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, 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, 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.
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, 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). I have used it as a pillow, and even as a bag for going to
The only small complaint (and it’s a small one) is the
mechanism that is used to tighten the drawcord. 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.
Things I Like:
to a small size
Things I Don’t Like:
I am very happy with my Flash 18 and would not hesitate to
recommend to a friend.
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