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REI Flash 65

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: REI Flash 65 weekend pack (50-69l)

This pack is excellent for longer multi-day backpacking trips. It's half the price of the major ultralight bags, but at only 3 pounds it's not that much heavier.


  • Lightweight
  • Multiple storage options
  • Large capacity


  • Not a great place to put water bottles for easy access while hiking
  • Small waistband pocket

This pack has been with me through thick and thin. Literally.

My first backpacking trip was on a trail (the BRT) that had been pistol whipped by winter storms. Our group was literally the only group to thru-hike the trail that year. The fact that my pack walked off that trail without so much as a snag convinced me that we were BFF's.

Besides that trip I've done a couple other major multi-day trips on the SHT and IAT as well as dozens of hike on camping trips.

Here are my stats for reference. I'm 5'5", 140 lbs with an hourglass figure. This pack has many adjustable options and I've found my sweet spot. After multi-day trips my shoulders are a bit sore, but I've got no hot spots. The wide padded waist belt fits well on the hips and the back has great cushion.

My only gripe is for the chest strap. It's adjustable up and down (has a whistle too), but it just gives me one giant uniboob that looks AH-MAZ-ING in pictures. Can we please come up with another option? A wider strap that covers more? A crisscross strap that gives a little definition. It's seriously ruining my pictures :)

This pack is a 65 liter pack and I feel that's pretty accurate. I don't imagine I could go much smaller and fit in a week's worth of items. I have a pretty light setup (2lb tent, 1.5lb sleeping bag, 8oz pad, etc.) Stick a bear canister in there (next summer JMT) and I'll be stuffed. It does have side pockets, a bucket up top and a large outside back pocket so I have plenty of space for those items I want quick access to without unloading my pack.

On the waist there is a tiny pocket that I can fit my utility knife into. That's kind of a bummer as I'd love a pouch that stores more, since it's the easiest pocket to reach while hiking. I also would love the side pockets to be more accessible while the pack is on. My water bottles get stored there and I feel like I'm going to seize up a muscle in my arm trying to twist it around to pull out the bottle.

My pack is a couple of years old and I know at some point I'll have to get a new one, or maybe not, but I'm interested to see if they've improved upon this pack or if I've found the one.


Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $160

I have put a couple hundred miles on this pack in the north Georgia mountains. This pack has compression straps in all the right places making it easy to compress bulky winter loads. the shoulder straps are easily adjusted on the go. The hip belt is padded all the way around the hips to the buckle so I don't have a strap digging into my hips and the hip belt is also easily adjusted on the go.

I can't say enough about the back support on this pack, it is well padded and ventilates well and sets well in the small of my back where in the past I have had problems with other packs. The huge front pocket on this pack has plenty of room for everything from my water filter and food to maps and sundries. The huge front pocket is also conected to side compression straps so I have storage behind the front storage pocket that is compressable. I use the space to put my jacket when it gets to warm to wear to give you an idea of the space back there.

This pack was an editors choice from Backpacker Magazine and I couldn't agree more that it was a well deserved award.

Design: Top loading/ internal
Size: 65+ liters
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 42lbs
Height of Owner: 6'1"
Price Paid: $126

We got this pack for my daughter to use this backpacking season. It was on sale and I had a 20% coupon so we were able to get it for $89. She was really pleased with it and said that it was very comfortable carrying around 35 lbs.


  • Pack weight is really light
  • Handles 35 lbs of gear well
  • Attractive design


  • Waist belt padding is not very thick
  • Shoulder padding isn't either

I was trying to find a 65L pack for my daughter (16 y/o) that wasn't too beefy.  I happened to see this one at REI when it was on-sale for $105 and since I had a 20% off coupon we decided to give it a try for $89. My daughter used it this summer on a couple of 3 day/2 night backpacking trips and found no complaints.

This pack is really lightweight and the hip belt/shoulder padding is pretty slight. I think if someone tries to over pack it, they may have issues with the padding being thin. She had about 35 lbs packed and that is probably the upper limit since this pack seems better suited for lightweight backpacking.  

I'm curious how this pack will hold up over time. As indicated above, in order to achieve the lighter weight it uses lighter materials. She's not too rough on her gear and only goes backpacking a couple of times a year so I think it will last her for quite a while. For someone who's out a lot or is rough on their gear, you may want to consider something a little more durable.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $89

This pack is excellent for weekend and longer trips. It has a ton of adjustments to stabilize the pack and to secure its contents. It Is an all around great pack. Good job, REI!


  • Botton access is great
  • Excellent adjustment

This pack is excellent for weekend and longer trips. I found the chest strap on the previous version to be too high. This version it is perfectly placed and the deep side mesh pockets are great.

The bottom access makes loading and unloading extremely fast. The straps both shoulder and hip belt are the perfect size for me (5'3").
It has a ton of adjustments to stabilize the pack and to secure its contents.  Can you have too many?

Can I say anything bad about this pack? Maybe the back zipper access is not the most friendly/useful, but the pocket between the mesh pockets is great storage for quick access to your rain gear or quickly and securely storing a jacket.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $108

It is a solid pack.


  • Light
  • Durable


  • Not enough places to hold things on the outside
  • padding

It is super light and it reflects in the padding, but for a couple of day trips it is the perfect tool. I have had this pack on week long trips and it gets a little tight for that, but the pack handled the weight. I did run into the problem of tight water bottle holders and not enough places to attach things to the outside.

For the price I feel like this pack is a great buy. 

Source: bought it used

Best adjustable backpack.


  • Amazing support system for the back
  • Utility storage all around the bag
  • Very spacious and compressible


  • None

Truly an amazing backpack.

Have used it across all the four seasons and it is extremely durable and utility type.

Has a lot of storage pockets: long/medium/short.

The back spine support could be adjusted very well according to one's support system.

The belt also has utility pockets to store bars and flashlights.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $160

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