Gear Review: REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress
NOTE: Click here for my review of the updated, 2017 version of the REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress.
REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress
$119, 1 lb. 1 oz. (regular, with stuff sack)
Sizes: regular (20.5x72x2.5 inches) and long (25x77x2.5 inches)
Comfortable, packable, light, and user friendly, at a good price—that was my verdict after I used this air mat on a five-day backpacking trip in Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness and a six-day hike in Sequoia National Park. It has a quality that’s important in an air mattress—durability: Thanks to the 30-denier ripstop polyester fabric and welded construction, I slept under the stars on pebbly gravel at Columbine Lake in Sequoia, and used it nightly in my chair kit sitting around campsites, without the Flash springing a leak.
Although it’s a full-length, six-foot air mattress, and a plush two-and-a-half inches thick, it packs down to slightly larger than a liter bottle. The one-way valves—one to inflate, one to deflate—keep air from leaking through when open, thanks to small a flap inside each. The inflate valve’s flap popped out of place once, but I only had to push it back in to repair it. More uniquely, it deflates in about a half-second when you open that valve, making packing up a quick task. It takes me about 25 strong breaths to fully inflate the mattress. The water-resistant, synthetic Primaloft insulation, packed into baffles, delivers an R-value of 3.2, comparable to other high-quality, three-season air mats. The insulation is also relatively quiet, not squeaking loudly when I roll around, like some other air mattresses—probably a relief for my tent mates.
See my reviews of three other three-season air mats I like, the Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core SL, the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite, and the Exped SynMat UL 7—and an item I never sleep outside without, my Cocoon Ultralight AirCore Pillow.
See all of my reviews of backpacking gear.
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.
Subscribe to the Big Outside
Enter your e-mail address for updates about new stories, reviews, and gear giveaways!