Review: REI Flash Air 2 Tent

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

The REI Flash Air 2 is an ultralight backpacking tent with plenty of room for two people at a lower price than similar options.

NOTE: This version of the Flash Air 2 tent is no longer available and has been replaced with a new version.

This is a hybrid single-wall construction tent, with mesh sewn to a single layer of fabric that covers the top front and back. Most single wall tents only have mesh to the top of the side wall, but the Flash Air tent tapers the mesh beyond the wall at an angle up to the roof of the tent. This feature has several advantages: better ventilation which provides less chance of condensation, and the ability to stargaze from inside the tent.

In addition, the unique pole structure provides vertical walls for more interior space, especially important when using the tent for two people. An option to use trekking poles instead of the included vertical poles saves about 3 ounces.

Specs

  • Minimum Trail Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz. (includes tent body, roof hub poles, and stakes – will need to use trekking poles for setup)
  • Typical Trail Weight: 2 lb. 2 oz. (includes tent body, roof hub poles, vertical poles, and stakes)
  • Packaged Weight: 2 lbs. 8 oz. (includes tent body, roof hub poles, vertical poles, stakes, extra guylines, and stuff sacks)
  • Packed Size: 7 x 16 inches
  • Floor Dimensions: 88 x 52/42 (L x W head/foot) inches
  • Floor Area: 28.7 square feet
  • Vestibule Area: 16.8 square feet
  • Peak Height: 42 inches
  • Number of Doors: 2 doors
  • Number of Poles: 4 (two roof hub poles (required) and two vertical poles that can be substituted with trekking poles)
  • Pole Material: DAC NFL aluminum
  • Canopy Fabric: Nylon mesh
  • Floor Fabric: Ripstop nylon
  • Design Type: Nonfreestanding

Price: $349.00 (no longer available)

View new version at REI

Setup

If you aren’t used to a non-freestanding tent, setup takes a bit to get used to, but once you do, it’s easy and provides a stable structure that does well in varying conditions.

The Flash Air 2 utilizes 6 stakes (included) for setup. Lay out the tent body and stake each corner’s light gray guylines first. Align the guylines at a 45-degree angle. Leave the orange guylines for the main body unattached for now.

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

Insert the hubbed pole into sleeves at the top of each side. If using the included vertical poles, insert them into the plastic hub compartment and place the bottom of the pole in the side grommet. The plastic hub has two places for poles: the smaller hole is for the included poles, while larger holes are for using trekking poles instead. Attach the plastic clip to the hub.

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

Close the vestibule doors and stake on both sides of the tent.

After adding the poles and vestibule stakes, attach the orange guylines on the four corners of the tent to the same stakes as the floor guylines. Adjust each as needed to make the tent walls taught.

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

In order to have the tent doors fully open, I like to add an apex guyline to the plastic hub. This way, I can roll back both doors and have the tent fully open yet stable.

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

Interior space

For two people

Most two-person backpacking tents are tight on space, but I find that the Flash Air 2 has ample room for two sleeping pads with additional space for gear. Shown below are two regular size sleeping pads, with slight room on the sides and generous room at the top and bottom. The Sea to Summit pad is the women’s version, which is slightly wider and shorter at 21.5″ by 66″. The Thermarest Xtherm pad is regular length and width at 20″ by 72″.

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

An included strut pole at the foot of the tent raises the walls of the tent to allow for more room at the foot end of the tent to keep sleeping bags from touching the tent walls.

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent ReviewREI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

The head-end wall of the tent is angled higher than the foot end, allowing for more space to sit up without touching the tent wall.

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

For one person

Used as a one person tent, the Flash Air 2 is a palace with tons of room for gear. On trips where I’ll be spending more time in my tent due to weather or shorter days, I like having the additional space to spread out.

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

Features

Ventilation

Single wall tents have a reputation for the buildup of condensation on the inside of the fabric walls. Two roof vents can be opened to allow for airflow from the sides to the top of the tent. I always leave the vents open, especially when it’s raining. The design of the vent doesn’t allow rain to get inside the tent. In addition to the vents, the vestibule walls are meant to be staked high to allow for airflow from the sides. Keeping at least one of the vestibule doors open – preferably on both sides of the tent – will to a long way to help to mitigate condensation. Pay attention to the direction of wind/rain to determine which side to open.

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent ReviewREI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

Additional features

Pockets on each side of the tent doors are good for keeping small items handy.

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

Loops on the interior allow for hanging a line (not included) across the roof of the tent. I added a line with adjustable taut-line hitch knots so I can hang a small light and have place for wet socks or other small items to hang.

REI Flash Air 2 Backpacking Tent Review

Overall – for the light weight, spacious interior, and quality build – the low price of the REI Flash Air 2 is hard to beat.

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 through Amazon and Avantlink, which provides a small commission if a purchase is made through gear links on this site. This does not change the price of the item. 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. My policy is to only link to products that I've used and would recommend. Thank you for supporting this blog!