Gear Review: REI Flash 22 Pack

I bought the REI Flash 22 Pack after hiking with regular backpacks for a few years. The last hiking pack (the Karrimor Jura 35-liter Rucksack) I had was a true dream, and hard to compete with, but it wasn’t a lightweight day pack like the dscn3432Flash 22.

That said, I’ve had a roller coaster of emotions with this pack. From the get go, I didn’t like it. It was a disappointment because I absolutely love REI. So I fought it and complained about it through many hikes, but eventually I grew attached to it. Part of that reason was because I’ve had so many adventures with the pack.

This pack has been on my back on buses and bikes and trails all over Wisconsin. It’s been with me on several camping trips, and it’s also been to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, in California. My Flash 22 has been filled with four seasons of clothing, snacks of all kinds, work stuff, my computer, and loads of books I’ve devoured.

I’ll give you my personal pros and cons, and final judgment of the pack at the end of the article. First, let’s talk about the specifications and features:

Pack specificationsimg_8819

Name: REI Flash 22 Day Pack

Size: 22 liters

Weight: 1 lb. 1 oz.

Color: Purple & gray (Note: You might notice the same REI Flash 22 Pack, in red and gray, on the back of another hiker in many of my hiking photos. It was unintentionally modeled, courtesy of my wife who is usually hiking ahead of me, unintentionally modeling.)

Bag style: Drawstring, frameless, backpack

Features:

  • Hydration pack pouch and tube outlet
  • Sternum/waist straps
  • Mesh/elastic side pockets
  • Daisy chain for outside gear attachment
  • Drawstring main compartment
  • Top flap with zipper pocket, key hooks, and buckle
  • Quick dry material
  • Inner mesh pouch with zipper
  • Breathable, padded, mesh back padding

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Pros

  • Accommodates hydration pack with water tube
  • Removable sternum/waist straps
  • Sternum buckle has safety whistle

Cons

  • Thin, unpadded straps
  • Not heavy-duty: Over time, holes have developed in the mesh material in the shoulder straps. The straps have also begun to tear away from the rest of the pack.
  • Uncomfortable: Although the back has meshed padding, the pack doesn’t sit well on my back, so I don’t really feel the benefit of the padding.

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Value for money

I bought this pack on sale for $24.99, from an REI store in Wisconsin. The pack was originally $49.99. With all honesty, I think the pack is worth something closer to the $24.99 price. It could be sturdier and more comfortable, and I think there are a few feature changes that would need to be made to make it a pack worthy of $50.00.

My final judgmentpacking-for-a-day-hike-sequoia

I’ve made good use of the pack, but I plan to upgrade when I have the cash. On one hand, the pack holds all my snacks, my rain jacket, my fleece, and all the other little bits I bring with me on day hikes. And I’ve enjoyed having the option to carry my hydration pack with me. Plus, it’s so convenient to be able to fit my 32 oz. Nalgene bottle in one mesh side pocket, and my phone in the other.

Unfortunately, my comfort level with this pack is low. I’d like a pack with wider, padded straps, and I’d like it to be designed to fit to my back a little bit better. Lastly, I want a sturdy pack that will last me a while, free of rips and holes.

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Important update!!

The original REI Flash 22 Day Pack has been discontinued, and replaced with an updated version! I read the specs on the updated pack, and they seem to be almost identical to the original Flash 22, but I went into the store and noticed several other changes to the pack.

Here are the updates:

  • Daisy chain traded for single tool loops at the bottom of the pack
  • Extra padding added to the shoulder straps
  • Extra zip pocket on the outside of the pack, for easy-to-access storage

I’m very happy with the updates that REI made to the Flash 22. After reading several reviews and comments regarding the pack, I think REI really listened and applied that feedback to the creation of a new and improved Flash 22. Anyway, here is a link to the new REI Flash 22 Day pack.

Thank you all for reading!

Feel free to leave a comment, or email me with questions!

Until next time, I’m Two Tents Down!

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Note: Two Tents Down did not receive any gear or money for this review. These are solely the opinions and observations of Two Tents Down.

Gear Review: Why This Vango Tent is a Survivor

This tent is a real gem! From wind to rain to bitter cold, this tent did the trick for me. Of course, I do have some gripes about it, but I’ll get to the rants and raves in a minute.

First, let’s start with the where, when, why, and how I ended up with this tent. I was in England at the time, and searching for a 2-person tent that would be perfect for backpacking, or for carrying some distances by train and bus and foot.

The dream tent

Basically, the ideal tent needed to be light and easy to carry, but big enough to house my wife and I for several nights at a time. We needed it to withstand a variety of weather situations, because we planned to camp in areas around England, and then in other countries down the line.

Possibly the most important aspect of this future “dream tent” was that it needed to be easy to set up and tear down. We are avid hikers, and spend most of our camping time away from our sites, so our set up has always been minimal—usually as simple as a tent and a pile of firewood.

Vango Ark 200DSCN2782

After much research, we scoped out the Vango Ark 200 at a popular outdoor shop in Northern England, and then purchased it online. It seemed to be the right size, color, and shape. Plus, it was reasonably priced, and had most of the features we were searching for.

Let’s break it down:

Specifications:

  • Capacity: 1-2 people
  • Weight: 7.6 lbs (3.45 kg)
  • Floor Dimensions: 112 x 63 inches (285 x 160 centimeters)
  • Height: 45 inches (115 centimeters)
  • Price: $106.32 (£74.99)
  • Style: Gothic Arch Tunnel; 2-pole structure with color-coded poles
  • Poles: 2
  • Entrances: 1
  • Assembly time: 5 min

tent resized

Features:

  • Mesh and fabric cabin front door
  • 4 cabin tent pockets
  • Lantern Loop
  • Carrying bag with handle
  • Enclosed porch area with two plastic windows and linked-in floor
  • Sewn-in groundsheet

Pros and Cons (according to Two Tents Down)

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Pros

  • Reasonable price: For a hundred bucks, this tent has far surpassed our expectations. It has been in three countries–on planes, trains, and subways. It’s seen three seasons, and all sorts of weather in between, and is still as tough as the day we got it.
  • Waterproof: On one camping trip, it rained on our trusty Vango for a day and a half. Not a drop of water leaked into the cabin or porch area.
  • Durable: If wind and rain storms weren’t enough, this tent also stood tall against rowdy teenagers with rocks and rodents with sharp teeth. By now the tent is a quilt, we patched it so many times. Still, no leaks and no problems.
  • Strong zippers
  • Large front door: It’s easy to enter/exit tent.
  • Lightning quick set up: Simple set up is a priority in my camping life. One of my favorite features of this tent is the quick assembly time. With two people, this tent is up and ready-to-go in less than five minutes.
  • Cabin area remains completely insect free

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Cons

  • Bugs can enter in through porch area: The porch area groundsheet is removable, so there is a tiny sliver of separation between the groundsheet itself and the porch wall. Through that tiny space, bugs can climb through and hang out in the porch area.
  • Poor ventilation: Although the cabin area fabric is breathable, it can get pretty stuffy inside the tent. Unfortunately, there is only one actual vent.
  • Too heavy for backpacking: As much as we researched, we somehow underestimated the weight of this tent. It is far too heavy to be taken on a backpacking trip. However, it would be a fantastic car camping tent for kids, or an extra tent for a last-minute camper who decides to join your camping trip!
  • Impossible to assemble tent without rain cover: This is a negative inside of a positive, really. The cabin clips onto the fly sheet, once it is already staked and poled. The great thing about this, is that the fly will never meet the thinner fabric of the cabin, so moisture cannot seep into the tent. The down fall is that on those hot, dry night you’re stuck inside a tent with minimal ventilation and a thick rain cover over the top.

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Further Reading

I recently discovered that Vango has a blog, with all sorts of details about camping products and camping itself—from hiking gear to biking gear to choosing the right sleeping bag. It’s worth checking out!

Tell me your “survivor” tent stories in the comment section below!

As always, thank you to my readers! Come find me on social media! I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Bloglovin’.

If you need me, I’m just Two Tents Down!

Sequoia campsite & Tent

Note: This review is based on opinion and personal experience the using Vango Ark 200 tent. Two Tents Down did not receive any sort of compensation for the review.