REI Co-op Flash 45
Best Women's Fit
Brand: REI Gear Reviews
Model: Co-op Flash 45
Our take We’ve long been fans of the Flash for its balance between low weight, comfort, and affordability (the original Flash 65 earned an Editors’ Choice Award in 2009). Male and female testers both loved this latest iteration, praising its performance-to-price. But women especially liked the fit. One female tester said the Flash 45’s canted hipbelt wrapped perfectly around her pelvis, hot spot-free. She also loved the boomerang-shaped shoulder straps, which arch away from the breasts for a no-pinch fit.
The details To save weight, organization is minimal: The lid has a single compartment, and there are two mesh side pockets that are angled so you can reach bottles without removing the pack, but there are no interior pockets. A mesh kangaroo pouch let testers store wet clothes and trail trash. A horizontal aluminum stay bisects the perimeter frame to help support loads up to 35 pounds. And compression is above average for a weekend pack. Small plastic cam/ratchet buckles hold the straps securely in place. Downside: The diagonal straps aren’t great for lashing extra gear.
Tester cred “I overloaded the pack with my gear and supplies for a first-night meal for 12,” says a tester who guided a dozen clients on the Jordan Trail. “The dinner, a traditional Jordanian Mansaf with lamb chunks, yogurt and rice, and the cooking pots, serving platter, and utensils doubled my normal weight, but the load felt surprisingly comfortable because of the load transfer.”