A Favorite REI Pack Gets a Sustainable Upgrade

New this spring, the co-op reimagines the popular Flash 22 Pack with an undyed version just for members.

Like most good ideas, the latest version of the REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack started out as an accident. In the summer of 2019, the REI materials team fielded a call from their textile mill in Daegu, South Korea. The glitch? The mill had accidentally made too much of a highly technical, bluesign®-certified fabric while manufacturing another REI pack. Back at headquarters, the product team had to think on their feet—what could they do to prevent the undyed fabric from ending up in the trash? During a meeting, a lightbulb went off: The team could use the textile to design a more sustainable version of the already popular Flash. 

For some, their favorite piece of outdoor gear is a pair of hiking boots, lovingly callused by singletrack. For others, it’s a bulky but comfy sleeping bag that’s spent countless nights under a thin layer of mesh. And for others, it’s the Flash 22, a versatile day-hiking pack that perfectly houses a Nalgene, snacks, the Ten Essentials and more, all while weighing less than a pound. The Flash has earned cult status since launching in 2012. Now, thanks to this latest round of innovation, the REI team is more excited than ever about the new undyed version.

Sustainability—that endless quest to make things less impactful—is baked into every aspect of the undyed Flash, which debuts this month. For starters, the product team’s decision to apply the extra material from the Korean mill helped divert more than 4,000 yards of fabric from the landfill. And leaving the pack undyed during the manufacturing process reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 14% and water scarcity impacts by 18%, according to the Higg Materials Sustainability Index*, an industry tool available to brands seeking to measure materials impacts. The product team also looked for ways to make the pack’s trims—like foams, buckles, stays and webbing—more sustainable. They exchanged stretchy pockets for the same undyed fabric, hunted down 50% recycled EVA foam for the back panel pad (which doubles as a sit pad) and left the nylon webbing and plastic buckles undyed, too.

“I’m proud of doing something right by the environment and right by our members,” said Lauren Meyer, senior product developer for REI Co-op. “Now go out adventuring and make it your own.”

The undyed Flash 22 Pack and the compatible Trail 2 Waistpack hit the market this month—ready for members to make their mark once again.

To celebrate, we asked our member audience how they’ve loved their Flash 22 Packs over the years. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

Amanda Laca, co-op member since 2018

Matthew Holder, co-op member since 2011

Abigail Koenig, co-op member since 2020

Sue Faunce, REI retail sales specialist, co-op member since 2019

Rachel Beck, co-op member since 2015

Lindsey Holzhauer, co-op member since 2020

How have you loved your Flash 22 Pack over the years? Tell us in the comments below!

*Based on Higg MSI 3.0 data at Higg.org.