Quick and Dirty
Gear Type: Pillow
Trail weight: 1.25 oz
Price: $19 (on sale), $29 retail
Link: REI Flash Air Pillow
Cons: Air moves around the baffles, small surface area.
Alright, I caved in. After years of using a stuff sack and dirty clothing, I ran into a problem: I do not carry a lot of clothes on the trail. That lead to my impulsive purchase of the REI Flash Air Pillow (Flash). For $19, it was worth a shot.
I had a hard time finding it on the shelves. The packaging was small, much smaller than the Expeds, Cocoons, and Thermarest pillows sitting on the shelves. REI claims the Flash weighs 1.5 oz. The one I bought came in a 1.25 oz. You can definitely lighten it more by cutting of the excess compression strap.
The small package makes the Flash an easy stowaway item for your pack. The air valve is the same valve used by Nemo on their Zor line of sleeping pads, with a push lock instead of a screw valve.
The design has a simple kidney bean shape with a small divot in the middle for your head to rest in. Three baffles are built into the Flash to reduce forward and back movement. It tapers from 1.5 inch to about 1 inch in thickness (neck to top), giving extra thickness to conform to your neck. My immediate concern with the Flash were the edges. However, REI did a great job giving the edges a soft feel, much softer than the edges on Thermarests Prolite sleeping pads.
I have not tested the pillow extensively, BUT, I did take a quick nap with it and noticed a few things:
- While the 3 horizontal baffles are great to stop air from moving forward and back, there is nothing to stop air from moving left or right, making it quite awkward to sleep with if you move around a lot.
- The neck area is a little big overly large for me.
- The Flash is a bit small. Compared to other pillows, it has very little surface area.
- Without straps to hold it in place, the pillow can slosh around. But I am more than willing to give up straps to have a very lightweight pillow.
- Filling the Flash with full air seems to give the most comfort. I deflated the Flash a bit to test for comfort and it sloshed around quite a bit more.
Overall, I have high hopes for the Flash pillow. I’ll bring it on trail for a couple months and see how well it performs.