The REI Flash Air 2 tent is the truest sign that ultralight backpacking has gone mainstream. It’s a single-wall, two-and-a-half pound backpacking tent that must be staked out to stand up. These jargon-laden stats make ounce counters giddy, and regular backpackers a bit wary.
But REI has released a strong, livable ultralight backpacking tent, and it means more casual backpackers will flock to the offering, and the ultralight mentality.
There’s a lot to be said about the Flash Air 2. It has two L-shaped doors and two full vestibules, which allows two people and their gear to shelter comfortably.
It is not a freestanding tent (like the REI Quarter Dome or Half Dome), which means it must be set up by staking out the four corners and two rainfly center-points. This greatly reduces the overall weight because there are less poles, but it also means you have to put some more effort into the setup, and need ground that can hold a stake.
It’s also not a double-walled tent, which typically have a separate rainfly and mesh tent body. Instead, the single-wall design means that the mesh body of the tent is sewed directly adjacent to the rainfly, and you don’t get an overlap of mesh and rainfly — it’s one or the other.
You set the Flash Air 2 tent up in one fell swoop, rather than in two separate pieces. This is rather simple, but you also get a lot more condensation due to the design, which is true of all single-wall tents.
There are interior pockets, exceptional star gazing ports on both sides of the tent, and plenty of adjustability to get the perfect taut pitch. It comes in a subtle, camouflage green, and we think you’ll be seeing it on thru-hikes post-haste.
Unique Features of the REI Co-Op Flash Air 2 Ultralight Tent
The most interesting feature of the REI Flash Air 2 has to do with its poles. This ultralight tent achieves its ridiculously low weight — two and a half pounds total — by not having very many of them.
It comes with two hubbed roof poles, a single short foot pole, and two longer, collapsible side poles. The hubbed poles are particularly unique, in that they allow a nearly 90-degree angle on both sides of the tent, giving it an impressive A-frame shape.
You can also roll back the fly over these hubbed roof poles to get impressive views of the galaxy on a cloudless night.
But that’s if you want to use all the poles.
The full Flash Air 2 pole setup is 6.8 ounces — fairly low weight — but you can leave the two longer, collapsible side poles at home and use your own trekking poles instead.
This is a popular weight-saving technique, whereby a piece of gear you might already carry, trekking poles, replaces an otherwise useless (and heavy) piece of gear.
To do this, you’ll need trekking poles that can adjust to 71.7 inches (106 cm), but beyond that the process is fairly simple. Insert your trekking pole where the tent pole would go. Follow the directions in the inside of the Flash Air 2 tent bag to get the correct pitch.
Ample space in the Flash Air 2
Another notable feature is just how roomy this tent is. It’s 7.3 feet long (88 inches), which means it’ll fit anyone, no matter how tall. And it has a tapered width of 52 inches at the head, and 42 inches at the feet, which is a little wider than standard for tents like this.
You can fit two standard 20 inch sleeping pads side by side and have room to spare at the narrowest point, and tons of room towards your head. The two doors and wide, wing-like rain fly make the tent feel even roomier, and the hubbed pole design gives you a 42-inch peak height.
This means both of you can sit up, come and go as you please, and lie down with room to spare.
Who is REI Co-Op?
REI Co-Op doesn’t really need an introduction — it’s the in-house brand of the largest U.S. outdoor retailer. The company is known for creating thoughtful, sustainable products that rival (and often beat out) big brand competitors.
The REI Flash Air 2 is an impressive, livable ultralight backpacking tent with ample room for two, and plenty of customization for ounce counters.
This article is sponsored by REI Co-Op.
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