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Best Hiking Daypack: REI Co-op Flash 22 - Gear Hacker

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Best Budget Daypack

  • Comfort 50% 50%
  • Storage 60% 60%
  • Accessories 70% 70%
  • Weight 90% 90%

Price: $55

Dimensions: 18” x 10” x 8” / 45.7 x 25.4 x 20.3 cm

Weight: 368g

What We Like: Extremely lightweight, very inexpensive. 

What We Don’t: Limited support, thin shoulder straps and hip belt.

REI is well known for making affordable but highly functional equipment, and the Flash 22 is no exception. The pack has an easy to use drawcord closure system and few external pockets to keep the price low. The lightweight hipbelt and sternum strap can be removed for a day in the city, and the minimalist design will keep you looking trendy on the streets or the trails. Weighing in at a featherweight 368g and costing only $55, the REI Co-op Flash 22 earned our Best Budget Daypack of the season. 


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  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Srorage 90% 90%
  • Accessories 100% 100%
  • Weight 80% 80%


External Gear Loops

Stash Pocket

Good Hip Belts


Maybe Too Long for some Torsos.

Dimensions: 22” x 11” x 7.1” / 56 x 28 x 18 cm

Weight: 794g

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Great Harness System for Size

Integrated Rain Cover


Sticks Out Far from the Body When Fully Packed

No Stash Pocket for Layers

Dimensions: 22” x 12” x 12” / 56 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm

Weight: 1247g

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  • Storage 100% 100%
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Great Price

Good Back Padding

Shoulder Straps


Too Many Pockets

Dimensions: 22” x 14” x 11” / 56 x 35.5 x 28 cm

Weight: 907g

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Slender Construction


No Internal Frame

Dimensions: 20.5” x 10.5” x 9” / 52 x 26.5 x 23 cm

Weight: 822g

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Innovative Hip Belt System

Hydration Reservoir Included



Bulky Build

Dimensions: 21.3” x 11.8” x 10.2” / 54.1 x 30 x 26 cm

Weight: 1275g

This pack is REI’s very own entrant into the day pack world. The Flash 22 came out several years ago and is still being made with some minor upgrades along the way. The pack itself is very minimalist and not overly loaded with accessories. It only takes one look at the price to know why. This daypack is one of the cheapest on the market. At only $55, it is hard to not take a look. REI has created a bare-bones but highly efficient daypack that will cost you a fraction of the price of others, earning the title of this season’s Best Budget Daypack. 

The Flash pack line has also been designed for the female figure. The packs designed for women are labeled as such, so be sure that you are getting a pack that has been designed for your body. This will increase the comfort and overall enjoyment of the pack and its capabilities. 

The REI Co-op Flash has been built in a multitude of different sizes. This article concentrates on the 22, but there are three other sizes: 18L, 45L, and 55L. The Flash 45 and 55 both come with a large stretch mesh pocket on the front of the pack and top lid storage. They are much larger than the 22 but will offer more storage opportunities for longer days or multiple days on the go.

Best Hiking Daypack: REI Co-op Flash 22 - Gear Hacker

Ventilation and Suspension

The Flash 22 has one of the simpler suspension system designs that we have seen for a pack in this category. The lightly padded back panel is frameless and comes with four foam sections, leaving space down the middle and out of each side to promote airflow. The negative with such a lightly padded back panel is that any awkward items in the pack, unless they are packed very efficiently, may poke the wearer through the pack and cause discomfort. The lack of any framing or a more developed foam backing causes more of the pack’s weight to ride on the wearer’s shoulders and less on their hips. It can also allow the pack to fold on itself when it is put on the ground, which can become frustrating throughout the day. 

Best Hiking Daypack: REI Co-op Flash 22 - Gear Hacker

The shoulder straps are lightly padded and covered in a mesh fabric to allow for additional airflow for the wearer. There have been some complaints about the shoulder strap material causing irritation. The shoulder straps are quite close to the neck, and I can see this being a problem over the long term.

The hip belt is thin and does not offer the same comfort level supplied by larger hip belts. The hip belt is removable, as is the sternum strap. There are also no load lifters to help manage weight. All in all, it is a very minimalist day pack. 


The Flash 22 utilizes a drawstring closure on the top of the pack with a buckled lid. The lid could be used as a “stash” pocket to hold a rain layer on the outside of the pack in variable climate areas. The lid of the pack also comes with a zippered valuables pocket, which makes for an excellent place for a phone, snacks, and your keys. 

The main compartment does come with a hydration sleeve for longer days in the woods, and the hydration hose is fed through “pass-through” padding on the shoulder straps to help manage the hose. 

Best Hiking Daypack: REI Co-op Flash 22 - Gear Hacker

On the outside of the pack is a vertical zippered pocket. This is a great spot for thinner objects, like maps or notebooks, and it will keep everything organized. On the side of the pack are two stretch mesh pockets that are great for water bottles or other items.

One of the few “hiking” specific accessories that the Flash 22 comes with is the hiking pole loops. They run down the outside of each side of the pack and can hold your trekking poles, fishing rod, or ice axes if you get creative. 

Again, this is not a massively (pardon the pun) flashy pack. It is built to be lightweight and useful for a variety of activities. It would work well on your local hiking trail or as a day pack exploring a new city (please refer to our travel packs article for more information).

Best Hiking Daypack: REI Co-op Flash 22 - Gear Hacker

Material and Weight

Durability is definitely something to consider when buying a day pack. You almost want something you can hand down to your great-great-grandchildren that is covered in patches of all the amazing places you and the pack have been. Unfortunately, the Flash 22 may not make it that far down the family tree. The lightweight nylon material is good but not great. Again, for the price, it is an excellent starter pack if you are just getting out on the trails and want to figure out what you want in a pack. Many people will quickly grow out of the pack and the limited features and comfort that it provides. It is very lightweight, at only 368g, but that lightweight build and material come at a cost⁠—overall durability. 

The Bottom Line

The Flash 22 is a very capable pack, excellent for a new hiker who just wants to get out onto the trails and figure out their pack wants and needs. The REI Co-op Flash 22 is a good pack, but in the long term, it may be worth investing in a pack that you will get to enjoy for years and years to come. On the other hand, hikers who prefer ultralightweight over durability will find this trade-off more than worth it. Weighing in at only 368g and costing only $55, the REI Co-op Flash 22 was the no brainer choice for Best Budget Daypack of 2020. 

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