The REI Co-op Flash Air 1 is an ultralight backpacking tent that won’t break the bank, but it does have quite a few downfalls that could have you back in the queue at REI doing a return.
The Flash is a non freestanding tent, which means it relies heavily on its guyout points for stability, but also the use of trekking poles. It is considered a 3 season tent. The flash air is REI’s lightest weight tent to date, which attracts the ultralight backpacking crowd.
The Flash has a unique and rugged design that looks really cool once it is set up. Many tents today are made with bright and colorful fabrics, but the Flash goes for a more traditional design and color scheme, making it a decent option for stealth camping or if you just like a more natural look for your tent.
Comfort and Space
The Flash Air 1 is a one person tent with ample room for tall folks to stretch their legs. It measures in at 88 x 35/27 (L x W head/foot) (223.5 cm x 88.9/68.6 cm), making it fairly roomy. It also has an 8 sq. ft. (0.74 sq m) vestibule to store your gear outside and open up more wiggle room. The peak height is 42 inches (106.7 cm), which is taller than some other backpacking tents that have a dome shaped design. The walls of the Flash Air are sloped, making it feel more cramped in the foot area.
The Interior of the tent has a couple mesh pockets and a light loop at the peak of the tent to secure your headlamp or Moji light.
Breathability and Ventilation
With a hybrid single-wall design, the Flash really struggles in terms of ventilation and breathability. The tent suffers from a great deal of condensation build up, making it almost unlivable and even dangerous in some conditions. If you will be camping in cold weather, the condensation build up could be lethal, so be sure to opt for a different tent for those winter adventures. While the tent is extra long and provides a bit more shoulder space so that most campers won’t be touching the side walls while they are wet, it is just too big of a risk. The Flash has one ventilation point at the top of the tent, but unfortunately it just does not help mitigate the condensation build up.
The Flash does have a large mesh panel on the door side, but it just does not provide enough cross ventilation for comfort, especially in inclement weather. If you are camping in good weather and aren’t concerned about critters entering your home, sleeping with the door fully open or half open can help you get a little bit of a breeze.
As a non-freestanding tent, the Flash Air has its limits in extreme weather. The stability of the tent relies solely on the stakeout points and your trekking poles or the hubbed vertical pole, which are more susceptible to large gusts of wind.
The asymmetrical design of the tent does not do well in windy conditions in general, with the walls caving in due to little structural support. Overall, this tent would not fare well in any condition that is not dry with fair weather.
The Flash has DAC aluminum tent poles, which are a sturdy and lightweight construction that should hold up well over time. The nylon fabric of the tent itself is durable enough, but does tend to stretch when it gets wet from rain or condensation build up.
Ease of Use
The Flash Air can be set up with the included pole, or with trekking poles to save weight on the trail. Overall, this tent takes some practice to set up. There are no pockets for your trekking poles to keep them in place, and it is imperative to set the tension of the guylines properly so that they can help support the poles.
If you choose to use the included pole, it does have a hubbed design that has a clip-in area for the tent to attach to, which does make setting it up with the pole a little easier.
As mentioned previously, when the fabric is wet it does stretch quite a bit, which does not help with the set-up process.
Packed Size and Weight
The selling point on the Flash Air is its weight and pack size. At just 1 pound 4 ounces for its minimum trail weight, the non freestanding design of the Flash really shines. Some brands like Hyperlite and Zpack will offer a lighter weight design, but the Flash comes at a fraction of the cost. It has a pack size of 6 x 16 inches. (15.2 cm x 40.6 cm)
Pros and Cons
- Light weight and packable
- Budget friendly
- Poor ventilation that causes large amounts of condensation build up
- Not great for inclement weather
- Difficult to set up
|Comfort and Space||5/10|
|Ease of Setup||4/10|
|Size and Weight||9/10|