Reviewing REI Flash 22 Pack

REI Flash 22 Review

An ultralight, all-purpose hiking pack at a great price

The REI Flash 22 pack is an absolutely killer Co-op deal on a near-fully-featured ultralight daypack made of recycled materials. It’s versatile, sustainable, easy to love, and ready for your next adventure, whether that’s hiking or travel. Shop now.

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  • Weight: 14 oz
  • Price: $60
  • Materials:100% Recycled nylon
  • Back Panel: Modular foam sit pad with spacer mesh
  • Main Compartment Volume: 22L
  • External Volume: 4L*
  • Pros: Ultralight. Incredible value. Recycled materials. Lid compartment. Comfy hip belt. Tall side pockets. Cool prints.
  • Cons: No front mesh pocket. Floppy when empty. Barrel-shaped when full. Pocket volume sharing.

Compare this to the other best day hiking backpacks! Make sure you’re all set for your next day hike with our 3 pound ultralight day hiking checklist. Need a bigger pack? Jump to our guide to the best backpacking packs.

Flash 22 vs Flash 18

Construction & Features

REI Flash 22 Pack weighs only 14 oz, and we classify any daypack less than 16 as ultralight. Therefore, you’re getting an ultralight pack for just $60. Not bad at all!

top down view of pack

The 22L internal compartment opens and closes with a drawcord cinch, and is covered by a lid with a zippered pocket, handy for storing snacks and useful knickknacks. There are two tall side pockets for water bottles, which are very secure and deeper than average. A large zippered bonus pocket (with a sub-pockets inside) is situated on the wearer’s right, paralleling the back panel. The only downside to this is that it shares volume with main compartment, so as you fill one pocket, you lose room in the other.

close up on bonus pocket

For a mostly structureless pack, it’s comfortable too. Though if over-stuffed, it takes on a barrel shape that can slightly dig into your back. We like the breathable, spacer mesh shoulder straps and hip belt, which is widened to disperse pressure. The backside has two spacer mesh panels running along the zones which directly contact your back.

close up on hip belt spacer mesh

What structure there exists is derived from a removable foam sit pad that can be extracted from inside the top of the main compartment. This helps blocks lumps while wearing, but is quite thin as sit pads go. What’s more, removing it requires a non-trivial amount of pack disassembly work that will largely deter most people from using it on short breaks.

REI Flash 22 Pack with frame coming out

While we hate to pick flaws in a pack that’s this lightweight and affordable, the lack of a front mesh external pocket is an obvious design error. By simply adding a front mesh pocket with room to store a rain jacket, we would change our assessment from great to excellent.

back panel of flash 22 pack

REI Flash 22 Pack Review Verdict

Praise the Co-op once again! Sixty dollars is an incredible price for an ultralight hiking daypack that’s this well-rounded. Sure, slightly better daypacks exist, but precious few, if any, are this lightweight and affordable.

Compare this to the other best day hiking backpacks! Make sure you’re all set for your next day hike with our 3 pound ultralight day hiking checklist. Need a bigger pack, jump to our guide to the best backpacking packs.

rei co-op detail
flash 22 detail