REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad Review

REI Flash Insulated Sleeping Pad
REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad

The REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad has an R-value of 3.7 and weighs just 15 oz. It rolls up incredibly flat and requires just 10 breaths to inflate, while deflation takes just seconds through a separate deflation valve. Priced just under $100, it’s a great value for a three season pad that you can use most of the year or pair up in winter with a foam pad for camping on snow.

Specs at a Glance

    • Type: Air Pad
    • Shape: Mummy
  • Insulation Type: Synthetic
  • R-Value: 3.7
  • Packed Size: 4 x 9.5 inches
  • Pad Thickness: 2 inches
  • Dimensions: 20 x 72 x 2 inches
  • Weight: 15 oz (verified)
  • Click for complete specs

People like air-filled sleeping pads because they pack up smaller than foam or self-inflating sleeping pads. That’s certainly the case with the Flash Insulated Air Pad, which is tiny when deflated, making it easy to pack for ultralight backpacking or bikepacking trips when space is at a premium.

The REI Flash Insulated Sleeping Pad is very compact making it ideal for low volume packing
The REI Flash Insulated Sleeping Pad is very compact making it ideal for low volume packing.

The Flash Insulated Pad has two separate flat valves, one for inflation and one for deflation. While you can fill the pad with a stuff-sack style pump like the Exped Schnozzel or the REI Air Pump, there’s really no need since it only takes 9-10 breaths to inflate. The intake valve is nice because it has an internal flap that closes after each breath, so no air escapes during inflation. These flat valves are also much more durable and reliable than stick valves since they have no moving parts that can break, which is why a lot of major pad manufacturers have switched to them.

The REI Flash Insulated Pad has two flat valves - one for inflation and one for rapid deflation
The REI Flash Insulated Pad has two flat valves – one for inflation and one for rapid deflation

When opened, the deflation valve quickly deflates the pad and there’s no need to roll it up twice or three times to force the air out. The outer fabric is also pre-creased making it easy to roll up flat every time. It’s hard to believe that this pad is insulated because it rolls up so thin. But the R-value of 3.7 means you can use it almost year-round from early spring to late fall.

The egg-shell pattern is comfortable to sleep on and molds to your body shape
The egg-shell pattern is comfortable to sleep on and molds to your body shape.

The egg-shell surface of the pad has a lot more give to it than the hard-as-a-board pads from Therm-a-Rest, but is still thick enough for side sleepers and won’t bottom out. It’s also considerably quieter than the crinkly mylar reflective layer found in Therm-a-rest NeoAir Pads, even though it also has a reflective liner in addition to synthetic insulation.  If you prefer a wider width pad, it’s is also available in 25″ widths and 78″ lengths. Priced under $100, the REI Flash Insulated Air Sleeping Pad is an excellent upgrade if you want to switch from a foam or self-inflating pad so you can shrink the size of your load or experience the added comfort than an inflatable pad can provide.

Comparable Lightweight Sleeping Pads

Sleeping PadTypeSizeWeightASTM 3340 R-ValuePrice
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLiteAir Pad20" x 72" x 2.58.8 ozR=2.3$195
Nemo Tensor Insulated Short MummyAir Pad20" x 48" x 3"9 ozR=3.5$130
Big Agnes Insulated AXL AirAir Pad20" x 72" x 3.75"11.6 ozR=3$180
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XliteAir Pad20" x 72" x 2.5"12 ozR=4.2$185
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Women'sAir Pad20" x 72" x 2.5"12 ozR=5.4$175
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XThermAir Pad20" x 72" x 2.5"15 ozR=6.9$215
Big Agnes Q-Core SLXAir Pad20" x 72" x 4.25"16 ozR=3.2$150
NEMO Astro Lite InsulatedAir Pad20" x 72" x 3.5"18 ozR=2.6$130
NEMO Tensor Air PadAir Pad20" x 72" x 3.0"13 ozR-1.6$140
Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Air Pad21.5" x 72" x 4"17.3 ozR=3.2$190
Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Women'sAir Pad21.5" x 72" x 4"17.5 ozR=3.5$190

Disclosure: REI provided the author with a sleeping pad for this review.
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  1. Great review. I’m in the market for a pad that will take me deep into the shoulder seasons. I was looking at the Klymit Static V Lite insulated pad but this one looks good too. Any thoughts on which is the better pad?

    • I have that Klymit pad and like it except for its width. It’s 23″, which isn’t quite wide enough for my shoulders when lying on my back. The Klymit V pattern is more comfortable to me than either the crosswise or lengthwise baffles on other pads.

  2. I may be in the market to replace my NeoAir pad that is just too noisy (doesn’t bother me, but I get constant comments from people I am with). I took a look and it is nice that this pad comes in regular length but wide, which is not the case with other pad manufacturers is seems. I did notice in the REI reviews a significant number of users said that they got a defective one, as it would not hold air. REI must have received a bad run of the pads, hopefully that is all it is. Thanks for posting the review, this looks like a good alternative to my NeoAir.

    • Mine is fine. I think this is a good alternative to the Neolithic and like it a lot better than klymit pads. There’s nothing wrong with klymit, but I like the baffles in the flash better. Personal preference.

      • I never could determine where the leak was. The leak was slow enough that I could blow it up every evening and still get to sleep. There was no place (or enough time) to submerge this in the mountains of New Mexico. I simply threw it out at the end of the trail. I never used it outside the tent so I don’t believe it was a puncture. People blamed it on the altitude but no one else in our crew had a similar pad failure.

      • So you just threw it out without returning it? Next time you want to throw out a hundred dollar bill, just sent it to me. That was kind of wasteful.

  3. I purchased one of these after I saw the price tag of the Therrmarest NeoAir. I used it about six days before it sprang a leak – on only the second day of my Philmont Trek! I have now invested in the better pad and won’t go back to lower quality.

    • Where did the leak occur and how did you fix it. Trying to determine if it was a manufacturing defect. For example was it on a seam or did you puncture it?

  4. Can’t really justify switching from my Klymit V Insulated Ultralight (a great deal at Massdrop), but I sure wish I had that extra 5″ width in a regular length. I’m not a big guy but do a lot of tossing and turning in the night and would appreciate that extra room to roll over.

  5. I purchased a green REI flash had a couple of years ago. It failed after about a half dozen short trips. The internal baffles delaminated inside the pad. Two separate chambers became one, and so on. When I tried to return the pad, it was just outside of a year. This was a defective pad, but REI would not replace it. I took the useless pad home and cut it open to investigate the problem. The baffle material was made of cheap plastic. This may have changed or improved in the currently reviewed model, but I am not willing to take the chance again in a “cheap” product. I bought the neoair to replace it, and have been very satisfied.

  6. Seems like this article could be improved by a comparison with other options… For example the NeoAir Xtherm seems to comfortably outperform this with R 5.7 for 15oz… I’d think that is relevant…

  7. I agree with Dave, I’d love to hear Philips thoughts on this and other products he reviews as compared to the current industry leaders. He’s in the unique position of many of these products in the field as opposed to just in the store side by side. To his credit he often will address direct comparisons in the comments when asked. For example, I have been using a Nemo Astro light 25 insulated for the last few years and just bought tensor 20R insulated for a 10 oz weight savings. I’d love to know if Phillip has any thoughts on how this pad compare to this new REI one. I really wish that it had the flat valves like the sea to Summit Xped pads and apparently this new REI pad.

    • The reason I don’t is that such comparisons are too difficult to keep up to date (since manufacturers changes things every year and often sooner than that.)
      I’m a one man band…and I like it that way.

  8. The description includes, “It’s also considerably quieter…” Than what, specifically? Thermarest pads are mentioned generally in the preceding sentence, but not one in particular. Perhaps the one that sounds like a potato-chip bag? But that wouldn’t be saying much.

    Looks like a nice pad, but i’m not seeing anything that tempts me off my Exped Synmat UL 7. I have the LW (long/wide) version in the cheerful yellow color. It’s 1 lb. 5 oz., just an ounce heavier than this Flash in the LW size. Similar R values.

    The fabric on the Exped only makes a bit of squeaky-squeak noise when the sleeping bag rubs on the pad under weight points. Nothing i can’t live with. The other minor nit with the pad is the pool-raft baffle arrangement which run the length of the pad and renders a bit of a hill-and-valley effect. But it can be minimized by adjusting the inflation so the hills flatten out a bit. How do the baffles and air chambers feel on the REI?

  9. This pad seems very similar to the Sea to Summit Insulated UL, which I just bought and like very much. It is a bit noisy, though not as noisy as TR Neoair (which my friend sleeping next to me had!). How does the REI pad compare in terms of noisiness and overall?

  10. Hmmm, more leak reports here at 13:13 . Glad I went with a Klymit!

  11. I bought the REI Co op Flash. After eight nights, leak!
    Slept on the ground last night. Cold. Looking closer the intake valve, it is a leak waiting to happen. Then it did. I haven’t slept for 19 hours so before I look for a hole I will get some sleep. Then I have to find the hole, then fix it. Not very optimistic on the outcome. I am biking up the CA. coast. The only thing standing in way of a happy trip is bad sleep.

  12. I want this pad B/C it is light, warm and QUIET.
    After talking to REI I am somewhat comforted by their lifetime “materials and workmanship” guarantee. The customer service rep. told me that it covers leaking welds but not pinhole leaks not in the weld areas. Sounds OK to me so I’ll likely buy one for shoulder season backpacks like hunting trips.

    My only reservation is that it has had a more than average leakage failure rate on its welded seams. Yeah, replacement guaranteed as I mentioned above, but that’s “cold comfort” when it springs weld leaks on a cold night – pun intended.

    Its warmer winter version is also attractive for its 5+ R rating and light weight.

  13. I’m a bit concerned about the many reports of leaks. BUT when I talked to an REI customer. service rep he said it it EVER leaks at the welds it is covered by REI. Other punctures are my problem.

    So I’m getting one this summer on the next 20% sale B/C i backpack for hunting and winter camping. With pants and sweater beneath the Flash Insulated (3 season version) I feel I can be warm on snow (in my solo Moment DW tent).

  14. OK, I bought this mattress from REI and luckily got it for a bit over $70.
    Then I bought a Sea to Summit 20 L. dry bag/pump bag. I think this is a very good mattress for the money. I’m using it for fall, mild winter ski camping and spring backpacking.

    I can add a 3/16 closed cell underlayment pad and go to below zero F. with my -20 F. down bag. If I get into more winter camping I’ll get the warmer (R 5.2) winter version.

    • AND I also bought the REI FLASH All Season winter mattress. So far so good at 15 F. in a -20 F. bag.

      I guess you could say I like this design.

  15. I used this REI Flash Insulated Air sleeping bag for 3 years. Insulation: Note R:3.7 was per old standards and it may be closer to R:3.3. With a 10F sleeping bag, I was comfy sleeping down to the 30Fs on snow. In the 10s and 20s, I added a sleeping liner. I still needed to shift every couple hours in the night due to the pad for mediocre sleep. Comfort: Comfy once settled. Noise: Squeaky! Inflating/Deflating: Piece of cake. Durability: Lasted about 36 nights before it began leaking at the valve. Warranty: REI no longer provides lifetime replacement–only 1yr. I had to buy a new one. Replacing: Consider a 2-pad system for the winter as failure could be dangerous. I’m replacing with a slightly warmer, comfier, but heavier S2S Comfort Light Insulated.

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