[ladies ’ choice]
Why we like it The Flash has been a perennial favorite for its low weight and price, and female testers raved about its new women’s suspension system.
Women’s fit Dramatically curved shoulder straps that don’t chafe breasts, big foam scapular pads that provide more contact with the back, and a longer hipbelt made a big difference to our testers. “I have wide hips,” says one tester who used the Flash on a 100-mile section of the PCT, “and I’ve always had to wear a men’s pack to get adequate hipbelt wrap. But then my shoulders are swimming in the harness; with this pack I wasn’t forced to compromise.”
Suspension An aluminum perimeter stay gives the pack torsional flex so that it moves with your upper body as you walk, while distributing the weight between the spongy shoulder straps and stiff hipbelt. One tester loaded the pack with 35 pounds in Crater Lake National Park and felt that it could have carried 10 more, no problem. “On a tough, rocky section of trail, when it felt like I was climbing more than walking, the stability was impressive,” she adds.
Value In 2009, we gave the earlier version of the Flash our Editors’ Choice Award for its performance/price double-whammy, and at $189, it’s still a steal. The men’s version is the Flash 62 ($189; 2 lbs. 14 oz.; 62 liters)
Fave feature Twin zippered shoulder-strap pouches keep sunscreen, lip balm, and gummy bears handy, but they’re slim enough that they don’t get in the way.
$189; 2 lbs. 14 oz.; 58 liters; 3 sizes each for men and women; rei.com hipbelt pockets, stuff-it pouch