In the quest for the perfect pack, its nearly impossible to find one pack to fit all needs. Sometimes, there comes a pack that may be perfect for its intended application.
I have found that in the REI Flash 22. Weighing in at less than a pound, the flash 22 is, in my humble opinion, the perfect day hiking pack. Not too big, not too small. The perfect amount of organization. Comfortable enough when loaded right.
In the past, I often carried more robust packs for day hiking. I carried a Kelty MAP 3500, and a triple aught design fastpack litespeed. Both those packs are awesome. They are built tough, durable, and could withstand the apocalypse. But day hiking should be about fun. My flash 22, with everything I need to be safe outdoors weighs less than the fastpack does empty.
At 22 liters, this pack will fit everything you need for a day out. The main compartment has a sleeve for a 2L water bladder. I had stuffed into this section a rain coat, down jacket, first aid, snacks, and an emergency bivy. The drawstring top cinches down nicely.
Here you can see the zippers for the outside sections. On the front of the pack is a zippered slash pocket where I kept a map and compass, hand sanitizer, TP and a trowel. In the top compartment I stashed a headlamp and gloves. With a 1L bottle in both of the side stretch pockets, I barely felt I was wearing a pack.
There is a thin foam pad that runs through the back panel. Its not crazy supportive, but for the light load I had offered plenty of support. The 4 foam panels were plenty comfortable.
The straps are thin, and I wouldn’t want to carry this pack loaded down. But, for carrying the 10 essentials, plus food and water, they work just fine and did not dig in, even after 6 miles of hiking and climbing. The sternum strap has a built in safety whistle. It comes with a waist strap, but the load was so light and the belt so thin I took it off.
Would I use this pack for Every day carry? Probably not. Its too small for an overnight trip, and would fail as a bug out bag. But if you’re looking for an affordable pack that will carry necessary gear, won’t weigh you down, and is super comfortable for day trips to your favorite trails, I don’t think a pack can come closer to perfection.