Review: REI Flash Air 1 Backpacking Tent

The REI Flash Air 1 tent is a good option for those looking for a lightweight one-person tent that doesn’t break the bank.

REI Flash Air 1 backpacking tent

The Flash Air 1 is a single-wall, non-freestanding tent, which means that the mesh and outer walls are constructed in one layer instead of having a mesh inner tent body and a separate rainfly, and it requires staking all corners of the tent to create the structure. 

Specs

Size: The tent floor is 88” long, 35” wide at the head end, tapering to 27” at the foot end. The peak height is 42”.

Weight: The minimum trail weight with the tent body, support pole, 6 stakes and stuff sacks is 2 pounds 2 ounces. The support pole is included, but you can use a trekking pole instead to save 2.2 ounces.

Fabric: The tent rainfly and body are constructed using 20 denier silicone-coated nylon.

Price: At $279, the Flash Air 1 is an affordable option for a lightweight backpacking tent. Watch for frequent REI sales and member discounts to lower the cost.

View at REI

What I like about the Flash Air 1 tent

REI Flash Air 1 backpacking tent

Interior space: The short poles on the back wall raise the walls and greatly increase the interior space. Compared to other one-person tents, the Flash Air 1 is spacious and allows me to store my backpack and other gear inside the tent while using a full length sleeping pad. 

REI Flash Air 1 backpacking tent

Vestibule space: With the doors closed, there is a generous amount of space to place gear. I like to keep my backpacking chair in the vestibule and store all of my water filtration gear in the chair.

REI Flash Air 1 backpacking tent

Fabric: I like the strength and abrasion-resistance of nylon versus other tent materials. Nylon fabric does have a tendency to stretch, so adjusting the guylines may be necessary after setup or during the rain.

REI Flash Air 1 backpacking tent

Open for views: Both doors can be opened for views and ventilation by adding  a guyline to the apex of the tent.

Door zipper: This is the only tent I’ve used where I can open and close the zipper with one hand. This is due to the taut door from having the pole in a grommet at the base of the floor.

REI Flash Air 1 backpacking tent

Pockets: A tapered pocket is located next to the door, convenient for storing a phone, headlamp and other small items.

REI Flash Air 1 backpacking tent

Ventilation options: The Flash Air 1 has several features that increase airflow and help to mitigate condensation: a vent at the top of the door, and mesh sewn around the perimeter of the rainfly. For increased ventilation, unzip the rainfly door halfway and connect the corner loop to a toggle under the door. While camping at the Oregon Coast for two nights, the inside of the tent some condensation, but none of it dripped onto my gear or sleeping bag and instead rolled down the wall and exited via the mesh sewn between the rainfly and tent floor.

REI Flash Air 1 backpacking tent

Cons

  • slightly heavier than ultralight 1 person tents
  • short end poles are difficult to remove once inserted (I leave them in and roll up the tent with them in place)

Setup

REI Flash Air 1 backpacking tent

For those accustomed to setting up freestanding tents, a trekking pole supported tent does take some getting used to. But once you understand how to stake it and adjust the guylines, it goes up quickly. I’m currently working on a video to show the setup, coming soon.

Here’s how to set it up:

  • I use a piece of Polycro plastic for a footprint to save weight, but you can purchase a footprint made for the Flash Air. 
  • I lay out the footprint on the ground and check to see if it looks flat, then place the tent body on the footprint. 
  • Fold in the blue rainfly so  the yellow floor is in a rectangular shape.
  • Insert the two short poles into the back corners.
  • Stake the four corners of the tent in the direction of the seams of the blue fabric.
  • Place the flat end of the long support pole in the pole pocket at the peak of the door, then insert the other end into the grommet at the base of the tent.
  • Zip the door shut and stake the vestibule.
  • Locate the cords at the corners of the blue rainfly and connect them to the same stakes as the floor.
  • Stake the guyline on the back of the tent.
  • Adjust all guylines so the tent walls are taut.
  • Adjust stake placements if needed.

View at REI

REI Flash Air 1 backpacking tent

MY REVIEW POLICY

This tent was provided to me by REI for testing. However, I’m under no obligation to give it a favorable review. As an independent gear reviewer, my policy is to review only items that I have used on multiple outdoor trips and that I feel are quality products worthy of recommending. If I don’t like a product, I send it back and don’t review or recommend it.

I Heart Pacific Northwest is a participant in affiliate link programs which provide a small commission if a purchase is made through gear links on this site (at no additional cost to you). I am not sponsored by any gear companies and the items listed here are owned by me and unless otherwise stated, are purchased with my own funds. Thank you for supporting this website!