What’s up everyone, welcome to my review of the REI Co-op Flash 55 Backpack!

I’d be lying if I said reviewing backpacks isn’t one of my favorite pieces of gear to talk about. With so many different sizes, styles, and features, there’s so much to talk about and geek out over.

REI consistently puts out some of the most high-end gear on the market, improving year after year on features us outdoors folk don’t know we want until we have it. With this review I was asked to check out the women’s version of the new REI’s Flash 55 backpack, so the following review will be a combination of features I loved, as well as a friend of mine who was able to speak more to the fit and feel of it.

Alright, let’s get into it!

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    REI Flash 55 - Women's Backpack

    Comfort & Adjustability

    Starting off with arguably the most important part of any backpack, is this thing comfortable? When you’re lugging around 30-plus pounds on your back for hours or days on end, the last thing you want is an uncomfortable pack swinging around on your back or putting a bunch of stress on your lower back. 

    The Flash features a 3D contoured hipbelt along with a ventilated steel back panel, giving you all-day comfort while on the trail or running around the city.

    I own the older Flash 65 model and absolutely love the 3D contoured hipbelt, finding that it really helps to balance the weight evenly across my hips and takes a lot of strain off my shoulders and lower back making this bag a decent shout as a top hiking backpack too.

    Now looking to the adjustability of this pack, REI implemented an adjustable torso frame, allowing you to fine-tune the pack to your exact build.

    I personally love that female travel bag brands have started adding this feature, as sometimes the standard small, medium, and large sizes just don’t cut it for every body type. REI also added on Packmod compression straps to help you balance the load on your back that much better, improving the overall comfort AND adjustability of the pack. 

    Storage and Organizational Features

    In my experience, I would say 50-65 liter backpacks are the perfect size for weekend getaways and ultralight backpacking trips alike. 65 liters will leave you with a little more wiggle room, whereas 50 may have you deciding on what is truly essential and what’s a creature comfort when it comes time to pack. Either way, this size back has become my go-to for most of my short and longer-term trips and I found it a great size for backpacking around Europe recently.

    Alright, from the top! The Flash utilizes a roll-top lid to help with compression and resistance from the elements. When it comes to top-loading packs, the tale of the roll top versus cinching top is as old as time. Well, maybe not that old… it does feel like the roll-top is a bit newer to the scene. Nonetheless, I am a believer. Not only does it help with reducing the overall size of the pack when not needed, but it helps fight off the outside elements with much more conviction than its\ cinch-top nemesis. 

    As mentioned in the name, the Flash is a 55-liter pack, giving you all the room you need to comfortably pack everything you’d need for a weekend on the trail (or longer if you travel super light). It also features a few cool Packmod bags/stuff sacks to fit some extra gear on the outside of the pack. It’s a decent size too as a camping backpack if you’re keeping things short and pretty minimal, otherwise, you might want a larger pack.

    REI also made sure you wouldn’t get dehydrated (at least not at their fault of them) by adding an internal hydration sleeve, as well as two slanted water bottle pockets on either side of the pack. The hydration bladder tube can also be routed over either shoulder, offering an elite H2O experience on the trail. 

    REI Flash 55 - Women's Backpack


    The Flash weighs in at 2lbs 12oz, putting in damn near the ultralight category for backpacks. Typically when it comes to backpacking backpacks, the overall pack weight is going to be more affected by what you put inside as opposed to the pack’s actual weight, so try not to obsess too much over a couple extra ounces (I say this as someone who spent a few years obsessing over making my pack as light as possible, so try to avoid that rabbit hole if you can). Either way, its weight makes it one of the best travel backpacks for women on the market at the moment.

    You can also save a few ounces by removing some of the Packmod pouches, as well as the removable top lid (Speaking of the top lid, you can also turn it into a waist pack by using the top cinch straps). 

    The best present of all… is CONVENIENCE!

    Now, you could spend a fat chunk of $$$ on the WRONG present for someone. Wrong size hiking boots, wrong fit backpack, wrong shape sleeping bag… As any adventurer will tell you, gear is a personal choice.

    So give the adventurer in your life the gift of convenience: buy them an REI Co-op gift card! REI is The Broke Backpacker’s retailer of choice for ALL things outdoors, and an REI gift card is the perfect present you can buy from them. And then you won’t have to keep the receipt. 😉

    Buy on REI!

    Size and Fit

    Size and Fit tie into comfort and adjustability a bit, but I think there’s still enough here to pick them apart separately. 

    Starting off with sizes, this pack (for Women) comes in four different sizes: XS, XS w/ Medium Hipbelt, Small, and Medium. As mentioned earlier, the torso is adjustable, though I would say this is more meant to fine-tune the bag to you and not meant to act as a one size fits all feature. (That being said, I do suggest still going into an REI if possible and testing out the fit. I would hate for you to get this bag for your next trip just for it not to fit right). 

    REI Flash 55 - Women's Backpack


    The Flash 55 comes in at $199, which given all the organizational features and lightweight nature of the pack makes this price more than fair. 

    This pack is also an REI ‘Just For Members’ backpack, so if you’re not already a member, you will have to be the $20 lifetime member fee to get this pack.

    Also, a little REI pro-tip for you, if you’re a member (or when you become one to get this sweet pack) REI sends out a 20% Off discount code twice a year for one full-price product and one discounted product. So be sure to keep an eye out for these deals, REI always has some kind of crazy deal or sale going on!

    Running low on coin? Check out this guide to the best cheap backpacks for some alternative options to suit your budget.

    REI Warranty

    If you’ve been an REI fanboy/girl for a while now, you may remember their old warranty that allowed you to return the gear at any time, essentially a lifetime warranty. Anyways, it was beautiful while it lasted, but it was abused and had to be reduced to a One-Year Warranty… ONE YEAR. Even with this change, REI has one of the best warranties around, showing they truly stand behind their gear and all other products they sell through their retail stores. But be aware this warranty is exclusively for members, non-members receive a 90-day warranty. 

    REI Flash 55 - Women's Backpack

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      Final Thoughts on the REI Flash 55 Backpack

      The REI Flash 55 is a great weekend getaway bag that finds a good balance of lightweight and durability. REI constantly strives to make durable, quality gear at an affordable price, all the while attempting to shrink its footprint wherever possible.

      For me personally, you can no longer talk about high-end gear without including REI in the conversation. They’ve quickly become one of the top travel and camping brands in 2024.

      Hopefully, this review helps you on your hunt for a new backpacking pack. If you wanna keep it light without sacrificing organizational features, the REI Flash 55 may just be what you’ve been searching for!

      And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!