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77050FR - REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad - Kathy Waters

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  • Kathy Waters
    Oct 28, 2013
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      Below is the FR text for my new favorite sleeping pad! The HTML can be
      found in the test folder at: http://tinyurl.com/kwgtoml. Looking forward
      to your edits and comments.

      Thanks for taking on this test!


      Over the last two months, I've had the REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping pad
      out on 2 separate backkpacking trips. Both of those trips took place in the
      Cooper Mountain Range in the Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge area near
      our home in Canon City, Colorado.

      September 22 through 23 - Trip one (single overnight) - Cooper Mountain
      Range, Fremont County, Colorado
      Elevation/Terrain: 5600+ ft (1700 m) on hard, relatively flat, packed dirt
      General Weather Conditions: Cloudy with early afternoon heavy rain downpour
      Nighttime Temperature Low: 45 F (7 C)

      October 26 through 27 - Trip Two ( two overnights) - Cooper Mountain Range,
      Fremont County, Colorado
      Elevation/Terrain: 5600+ ft (1700 m) on hard, relatively flat, packed dirt
      General Weather Conditions:
      Nighttime Temperature Low: 37 F (3 C)

      The most important aspect of a sleeping pad, I think, is how comfortable it
      is to sleep on. But a close second when I consider which pad to take on a
      backpacking trip, is how much of the valuable real estate of my pack does
      the pad gobble up? I mean, really. A luxury "glamping" blow-up mattress is
      very, very cozy and soft, but I'm not going to forego my entire pack kit for
      that mattress, am I? So, the compactness of the Flash pad was very much
      appreciated when I packed it into my backpack for the first time. It's fully
      25% smaller than my previous pad and that extra space came in handy on my
      second trip when the temperatures were predicted to be a bit colder than my
      sleeping bag's rating of 40 F (4 C). I was able to squeeze in a micro fleece
      sleeping bag liner with no additional loss of space.

      Another consideration is how easy is the pad to inflate? As I indicated in
      my Initial Report, I mostly have used a self-inflating sleeping pad in the
      past and I love the simplicity of just unfolding, opening the valves and
      VOILA! The Flash pad does require some actual work, well, effort. The
      unfolding and the opening of the valves is still the same as with a
      self-inflating pad but then - QUELLE HORREURS! - I have to exert myself and
      blow it up. (OK, enough with the French, eh? Translation: Voila - see there;
      Quelle Horreurs - what horrors. End of French lesson.)

      On my first trip out, challenged by my daughter-in-law who was able to blow
      the Flash up in only 12 breaths, I practiced few deep breaths and then gave
      it a go. I'm pleased to report after 15 dizzying exhalations, I quickly
      closed the valve and the Flash was fully inflated. Julia may be able to beat
      me at sleeping pad inflation - Hey! She's younger than me - But I'm still
      family Matriarch and the mother of her husband!

      Now, onto the sleeping experiences using the Flash sleeping pad. It's great!
      Oh, I have to explain why? Well, all-righty then, here goes!

      First off, the loft of the Flash is very note-worthy - a full 2.5 in (6.3
      cm) when fully inflated. That means my sleeping bag has a very nice air
      space between it and the cold hard ground. This will be even more meaningful
      as I get into the winter months and that cold hard ground gets even colder.

      This amount of cushioning is very, very comfortable. Much more so than any
      other sleeping pad I have ever used! While I'm not exactly anywhere near as
      sensitive as the Princess in "The Princess and the Pea"; I have, in the
      past, spent many a restless night due to the one rock I missed when scoping
      out a tent site. I seriously doubt my "rock-clearing" skills have improved
      in these past couple of forays, but I can definitely say, I've slept better,
      thanks to the Flash sleeping pad's thick skin.

      Having a non-slippery surface material has proven to be a boon as well.
      Rather than constantly finding myself abruptly slipping off a sleeping while
      doing my best imitation of a wiggling worm, I am spending my nights barely
      aware I'm not in my own bed at home - at least as far as stability is
      concerned. The surface material of the Flash pad also is quieter. By that I
      mean, instead of loud crunching sounds as I toss and turn, it's more like a
      soft crinkle.

      As with my initial try-out, the Flash pad deflates quickly. By the time I've
      rolled up and stuffed my sleeping bag away and gathered together the rest of
      my gear, the Flash is pretty much ready to roll - literally. It quite neatly
      tucks away into its stuff sack every time with no fuss.

      I have been storing the Flash deflated but flat between trips these past two
      months and it looks like new still. All is well.
      I'm so excited about the REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad! It's so
      conveniently-sized for packing and set-up/take-down friendly. Best of all,
      it does what it's supposed to do - it "pads" my sleeping bag giving me
      enough cushioning for a good night's sleep after a day pounding the trails.
      Up to now, Colorado weather has been unusually warm - actually it's still
      warm, 70 F ( C) today, so I haven't really been able to judge the extent of
      the Flash's insulating capabilities. That will change dramatically between
      now and the end of the next reporting period, so I'm anxious to see how that

      My sincere thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and REI for the opportunity to
      try the Flash out! Please check back in late December to see if I continued
      to sleep like a babe-in-the-woods or if winter weather turns me into a
      grouchy bear-in-the-woods!

      Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
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