Name: Fuzzy Monkey (David)
Date of Review: August, 2012
Photo Album – REI Flash 62 Backpack
BACKGROUND: I’ve successfully thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. I also have numerous other backpacking trips under my belt. The weather conditions I’ve dealt with range from the desert heat to higher elevations in the mountains. I’ve dealt with thunderstorms, hail, extreme winds and most weather conditions in-between. I carried the REI Flash 62 Backpack for my 2012 Isle Royale 5 day hike, it is also the reason I wrote this review.
DISCLAIMER: I was employed by REI at the time I purchased this pack. Readers should be aware I was able to take advantage of my employee discount. However, at the time I wrote this review was NOT employed by REI. I have not been paid by REI to write this review. This review is based solely from my own personal experience using this product.
Whenever I talk about my hikes people always end up asking me what type of gear I took with me. Its also followed up with how well did the gear choices I made workout. This review is to answer those questions and to further expand on the details.
Product Information: REI Flash 62 Backpack Men’s
DESCRIPTION: The Flash 62 pack is a 3,783 liter internal frame backpack. The main compartment has a separate permanent pocket ideally suited to hold a hydration bladder. There is one large water resistant pocket on the front of the pack with a vertical zipper. The pack also features two large mesh pockets on either sides of the pack. The top cover of the pack is one large pocket that contains 6 various size loops. Between he front pocket and the main compartment is a what is being called a kangaroo pocket.
Just about every multi-day pack is going to have similar methods of adjusting the pack and the REI Flash 62 is very similar in this respect. First is the adjustable hip belt that secures with one large buckle. There are also adjustments on the bottom of the pack that connect to the hip belt. The second is the shoulder harness. The third adjustment is the load levelers one on either side. And finally the pack also features an adjustable sternum strap. REI’s more recent packs include a built-in whistle on the sternum strap, adding to the features of this pack.
REVIEW: Why I choose this pack
My first impression of the REI Flash 62 was very positive. Its a nice looking pack to begin with. But as with most things, looks are not the most important judgement criteria. I choose to purchase the REI Flash because my other packs are starting to show some serious signs of wear and was looking for a replacement or backup pack. Here is where I have to be honest with my readers, when the REI Flash became available to employees I couldn’t pass it up. I kept saying to myself, if it is a great pack then what a deal it would be, if it turned out not to be a good pack, then I wouldn’t feel so bad spending the money. So those are the reasons I choose this pack. The reminder of this review is how it worked out for me.
The first time I used the REI Flash 62 was during a 5 day hiking trip on Isle Royale in May of 2012. Since this was a new pack for me there was a slight learning curve in getting used to it. A lot of the features were similar to my Atmos 65 pack such as the top and bottom loading and access. Since these were similar, packing the REI Flash 62 was easy for me. I was able to pack just about all of my gear in the same or in close proximity to the places used on my Atmos 65 pack. This was big plus for me.
Comfort & Features
The REI Flash 62 is flat and ridged which took some getting used to. I find Osprey or Gregory backpacks tend to have a more molded fit. There are a lot of straps that hang off the Flash 62 which also took some getting used to. I used the bottom of the pack to store my sleeping bag and mattress. So it was nice having the bottom zipper access. I also liked the additional straps off the bottom of the pack. I used these to carry my camp shoes. The Flash 62 offers two pockets on the hip belt. I don’t find these useful and most of the time refrain from using them. This ends up adding extra weight on the pack and make it easier to add unneccessary weight. Since I wasn’t pinching ounces on this trip this was not a big deal. I know lots of hikers like them so its just another nice feature to have.
Although I used the adjustable lid of the pack this is another feature I find cumbersome. After loading the lid it becomes top heavy and awkward when attempting to get inside to the main compartment. On the bright side, there is a zipper on the underside of the lid. This is a huge plus and really compensates for the awkwardness in retrieving items from the lid. The kangaroo pocket is really nice for stuffing rain gear or a warm layer of clothing. I used this to carry my bulky fleece jacket.
The main compartment is large and fit everything I need for our multi-day backpacking trip. I prefer to carry a more bully fleece as my warm weather and this fit nicely inside the pack along with my other gear. With the threat of rain I was able to move my fleece inside the pack without any space issues since the lid is adjustable and “floating”.
My REI Flash 62 lasted the entire 5 day trip without any major issues or failures. The features of the pack worked well for my style of hiking and backpacking. The adjustments worked well and I was able to adjust the pack to my liking.
The only issues I came across was caring heavier weight. At the beginning of our trip when my pack is the heaviest I found the straps loosing up several times. This forced me to stop and adjust the pack several times throughout the day. I don’t remember the exact weight I was caring but from my experience I’m guessing it was about 35lb or 40lbs.
I have not modified this pack at all from its original design. However, one thing that I continue to notice with all my packs is the placement of the hydration system. The Flash 62 comes with a sleeve inside the main compartment of the pack. I’ve found this placement inconvenient when tying to fill up the bladder while you are out in the filed. My solution for this is to place the hydration bladder directly on top of the gear, after everything has been loaded into the main compartment. For more on this see my Platypus Hydration post.
CONCLUSION: The REI Flash 62 is an adequate backpack. I’ve used mine for a 5 day backpacking trip and have been generally satisfied with this pack and its performance. Although not yet the caliber or quality of an Osprey or Gregory backpack the REI Flash is still a decent pack for the price conscience consumer. I look forward to using it again in the future.
Fuzzy Monkey Likes:
Top & Bottom Loading
Tons of Features
Lots of Adjustments
Fuzzy Monkey Dislikes:
Ridged stiff feel of the pack
Tends to loosen with heavier loads
Hydration Sleeve is not removable
Fuzzy Monkey Approved: YES