The REI Flash 18 Pack is an extremely lightweight and versatile piece of travel gear. After using the pack for several months, I decided to write my very own REI Flash 18 Pack Review. I’ve been using the Flash 18 as a secondary backpack along with my Kelty Redwing 50. I usually travel with it on short day trips, tours and to school. The REI Flash 18 Pack can hold various travel gear such a jacket or a hydration system.
(I wore the backpack on my trip to space.)
The main reason I bought the Flash 18 was because of its price, weight and size. It weighs 11 ounces, has a capacity of 18 liters and costs $35 on REI.com. The Flash 18 Pack is a lot like a more durable and comfortable version of a drawstring bag. Here is a list of things that I liked about the pack.
I have read reviews where people have said that the pack isn’t durable, but I haven’t had any problems with it after 5 months. Also the material of the backpack is water resistant. It has been the perfect size for me to put my 13 inch MacBook Air along with a jacket, snacks and school stuff. I chose the black color, because I didn’t really want to stick out while traveling. When the pack is not in use I can easily roll it up where it won’t take up much space.
There are a lot of things that I like about the pack, but there are still improvements that can be made. Here’s a list of what I didn’t like or improvements that I think could be made.
Almost always, good things come at costs. In this context, in order for the pack to be lightweight, luxuries such as more padded straps and more pockets are sacrificed. The light weight is mainly due to it being frameless and not really padded.
The straps of the REI Flash 18 Pack have a very minimalist feel. They are like mesh, but are comfortable as long as you don’t overpack.
I am a fan of panel loading packs mainly because they make it easier to access the stuff on the bottom. Unfortunately for me this pack is top loading.
I’m also not a huge fan of the closing mechanism. If the string thing were to break then it’s game over, and the pack won’t be able to close. My Flash 18 hasn’t broken, but I would just put that into consideration.
The current closing mechanism always leaves a small hole on the top, which can allow water to get inside. A zipper would be easier to use and would also not allow any water to get inside the pack.
There are only two compartments and the water sleeve in the whole bag. There is the main compartment and a small mesh pocket in the inside of the bag. When the little pocket in the front is packed to the max it covers the opening of the pack making you have to take stuff out of the pocket to get large items out of the main area. It’s not a major problem, but it’s just a bit annoying.
Here is a picture of the little pocket. (The pack is flipped inside out.)
Here is a picture of the sleeve.
The waist belt isn’t padded, but it’s fine for me. Being not padded saves weight.
Overall I would highly recommend this backpack. It doesn’t have that many features, but it is extremely good at being lightweight and useful. I did have some concerns with the pack but they were all minor ones.
What do you think? Leave your comment below.
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