Tag Archives: trail running

REI Flash 22 Lightweight Backpack Review and Video

REI FLash 22 Lightweight Backpack Review


Check out the video review or keep reading for the old fashioned way… Thanks.

I’ve got daypacks, klettesacks, backpacks, knapsacks, shoulder bags, messenger bags, laptop bags and camera bags, but I never, for some reason, seem to have the perfect bag for any one thing. A few years ago Leah and I bought a couple REI Flash 18 backpacks for some light trail running. They’re good little bags, they hold a water bladder plus a little food and some light clothing. Perfect, right? No. Because I lost mine. Sure, maybe I loaned it someone or someone borrowed it without asking and never returned it… I don’t know. It’s gone. That much I do know. As much as I love Topo Deisgns bags, none of them are really lightweight and none of them are set up to accommodate a water bladder. I’m usually fine with a water bottle on a hike, but if I’m running I like to have a bladder. It’s easier to access and easier to carry and often it’s lighter once it’s empty – it certainly takes up less room once it’s empty than a water bottle does.


At any rate I started shopping around. Bad idea. Now I’m pretty sure in the not too distant future I’ll have a Nathan’s Vest and an Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 in addition to the REI Flash 22 I ordered. I settled on the REI Flash 22 mainly because of price. It’s cheap. Not necessarily cheaply made, but it’s certainly an affordable bag. I ordered it from REI as a year end closeout and got it for about $38.00. Much cheaper than anything Ultimate Direction is offering.


I waffled back and forth between the REI Flash 18 and the Flash 22 for a little while – the 18 was even cheaper than the 22, but I’d had it (and secretly I hoped (still hope?) that I’d find it again) and decided I wanted a little more room in the pack department. The 18 is (I believe) so named because its capacity is ~18 liters, and the 22 is ~22 liters, so it’s a little larger. Also I was hoping for something that’d do double duty as stuffable, but full-featured daypack for travel. I wanted something that I could put a bladder in and go for a run, but that I could roll up and stuff in a larger bag to travel with – kind of a destination backpack that wouldn’t take up as much room or weigh as much as the 1000 Denier Cordura Topo Deisgns Pack that I usually take with me.


I originally ordered the gray Flash 22, but only because the black was out of stock. I’ve got a thing for black bags. Most of my bags are black and I wanted one that matched. No luck though, as the closeouts were only available in gray. I ordered the gray one and a couple days later I noticed the black one was back on the sale list so I ordered it as well. My original thought was that I’d just return the gray one and keep the black one. I was quite surprised a week later when the black one was going back – not the gray one.


The gray one is so much easier to look inside. One can open the top of the bag and actually see the contents. The black one is dark enough to qualify as a black hole. Anything you have in the bag will never escape the event horizon of it’s mouth – not due to gravity but simply because you won’t ever be able to find anything in the dark. After looking inside both bags (a feature that I tried to show in the above video) I opted to keep the gray one.


It’s a good bag. It’s lightweight, it’s easy to use, and it fits well. It doesn’t bounce too much when running, but it’s not as secure as an ultrarunning style race vest would be. I’ve run with my Camelbak bladder about half full and while I find the sloshing noise annoying, it’s secure enough. The main compartment holds a jacket and some camera gear – enough to keep me reasonably happy. It’s a decent lightweight daypack at an affordable price. I tend to prefer stuff that costs five times as much, comes with some pseudo-ethos and is made in the USA, but this is essentially just what I was looking for, and it was cheap.


Thanks for reading, stay safe out there.

Soft Star Moc3 Minimalist Running Shoe Review

Soft Star Moc3 Minimalist Running Shoe Review.

Minimalist Running Shoe

I hate the term “barefoot shoe”. At any rate, a couple years ago I was having a little knee pain while running. One thing led to another and, for better or worse, I now mostly run barefoot. Not “barefoot”, but real barefoot. Not Five Fingers “barefoot”, not Nike Free “barefoot”, but real barefoot. I like the feeling. I like the freedom. Some claim there might be better connection to the planet – some magical hippie-dippy fairy dust that lines the road in front of you as you run barefoot. While I can’t necessarily confirm that, I might not quite deny it either. I dream in barefoot now. Weird.

Here’s a short video review of this shoe – the reading / photo version continues below.

Minimalist Running Shoe

As much as I like being barefoot, I do live in rural Utah. It’s bitter cold in the winter (14 below zero this morning) and last summer a company did a shoddy and very rough job of chipsealing the roads around my house. While I can usually run several miles barefoot on trails, concrete, or even decent asphalt, the roads nearest my home are now rough and miserable after only a mile or two.

I needed a minimalist shoe that was easy to carry so after I’d hamburgered my feet around the neighborhood I could slip them on and make my way home. I tried the Merrell Trail Glove and found it too shoe-like. I tried some neoprene booties from a local store, but they wore out quickly and were too hot. I finally found Soft Star. I  started out with the Original RunAmoc LIte, and found it to be decent but a little floppy. It was difficult to put on because it has to be tied. I kept watching the SoftStar website waiting for another option and in late summer 2011 they announced the Moc3 RunAmoc. I ordered a pair immediately.

Minimalist Running Shoe

I love these shoes. They’re light, flexible, breathable. The sole is so thin it’s as close as I’ve come to being barefoot while in a shoe. They slip on in seconds. I’ve had them 18 months and they’ve lasted me over 500 miles of trails and asphalt and they show almost no wear. I can slip them in the wasitband of my shorts or hold them in my hands for the first few miles of rough road and then slip them on quickly and keep running. While nothing can replace the comfort of being truly barefoot, these are close. They don’t get in the way of barefoot form, and they let my toes spread out and do their job.

Minimalist Running Shoe

I’ve run to the Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon and done the Upheaval Dome trail. I’ve been to the Confluence Overlook and back. They don’t fill up with sand as much as I thought they would.

Minimalist Running Shoe

Minimalist Running Shoe


Minimalist Running Shoe

I’ve added a little dab of shoe-goo in a spot on outside of the sole where they were beginning to show a little wear, but this was largely preventative; there was no hole at all. The inner footbed is leather and has broken-in very nice.

Minimalist Running Shoe

Although the Soft Star website claims they’re more well-suited to mild trail running, I’ve run some pretty rugged trails in them and never had a complaint. In fact they’ve held up better than I thought they would from the outset. It’s a shoe I’m glad to have purchased. On top of that they’re made in the USA.

Minimalist Running Shoe

Minimalist Running Shoe

If there’s a downside, they look like slippers. I’m pretty conservative, and while I don’t think they’re as ugly as the Five Fingers, I’m a little hesitant to wear them in public. Luckily, I have the Arrow Moccasin Lace Boot and I have the Arrow Two-Eye Tie Moc, which I love. They look a little more normal, and I’ll review them sometime soon and maybe I’ll compare them to the Soft Star Rogues I got a couple months ago…

Minimalist Running Shoe

Minimalist Running Shoe




I’ve written and illustrated two children’s books that are now available in print and digital versions; Coyote Life, and The Cat’s Glasses. If you’ve got kids, check them out. If you enjoy them, please leave a review, tell your friends, etc. Thanks.

The Cat's Glasses

Kid’s Books: The Cat’s Glasses

Does your cat need glasses? How do you know? Follow one little boy as he tries to find out in The Cat’s Glasses by Quinn Hall

Find out more on MagCloud

Coyote Life by Quinn Hall

Kid’s Books: Coyote Life by Quinn Hall

Coyote Life is a short, rhyming children’s book about coyotes in the Southwest.

Find out more on MagCloud


Don’t forget to check out some of the fine art prints for sale in my Etsy shop.


My wife Leah also makes and sells some pretty cool leather stuff like minimalist wallets and camera straps. Check out her Etsy store for some cool gear. minimalist leather handstitched walletCamera Strap by Aestus Gear

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