Backpack Reviews – Kuiu Icon 5200

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By now, most of you are aware of Kuiu’s company history. Founder Jason Hairston has been on a motivated and focused mission to create the best hunting gear physically and technologically possible. It’s a customer-direct-only business, cutting out the middle man in effort to leave more options available for better materials at less overall cost.

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The Icon line of packs, which consists of 1850, 5200, and 7200-c.i. options, was a hit. Based on a carbon fiber frame and savvy design, it’s a well-designed pack for serious and adventurous hunters. Note: Due to timing, we’re reviewing the 2013 model. See the sidebar to see exactly what changes have been made for the 2014 Icon Pro line, which will be available by mid-summer.

Frame/suspension: The frame is an extremely strong and lightweight carbon-fiber hybrid frame. It’s a modular system designed so that you can interchange between the 1850, 5200, and 7200 pack bags. A mid-height load sling allows 1800 c.i. of meat to be placed between the bag and frame, with the weight kept up high to help with balance/center of gravity.

The suspension is extremely comfortable, with ample padding in the shoulder straps and hip belt. The T-lock suspension adjustment is fast and easy. The lumbar pad is solid, and carrying heavy loads in comfort is no problem with this setup. The forward-pull hip belt adjustment is superior and Velcro straps allow for placement of hip pockets.

Bag: The bag is made of a water-repellant 160D Cordura Ripstop fabric with 500D reinforced bottom and back panel. YKK zippers and Duraflex buckles complete the assembly. An expandable shroud and adjustable-height lid with three pockets tops it off.icon-2

Several strategically placed pockets help to ensure proper organization. A large horseshoe zipper starts at one bottom corner and goes all the way up and around and down, allowing the front of the main bag to flip open. Inside the main bag, there are two long mesh pockets designed to hold water bladders. Against the inside of the main bag flap, three more pockets are available for smaller items.

icon-3Long side pockets are strategically built with a full length zipper with zipper pulls on top and bottom. This allows the bottom to be opened for long tripods (using the stuff-it lower side pocket for a boot). Similarly, you can open up the top and bottom, using the same stuff-it pocket as a butt scabbard for rifle storage, passing completely through the long pocket, if desired.

On the front of the pack, an upper horizontal pocket sits above a center vertical pocket. The vertical pocket is perfect for a spotting scope or raingear.

Several horizontal compression straps keep the load tight. In addition, a bottom flap is available for load support, for a sleeping pad, or for bow support.

Color/camo options: Phantom-Burnt Olive, Verde, and Vias camo

Best qualities: Lightweight but strong; designed smart; high quality materials; exceptionalicon-4 organization; great padding for packing heavy loads.

Could be better: Would like to see the frame be able to be used with load shelf separately (without pack bag).

Cost: $549. Contact: www.kuiu.com.

Recommended accessories: Platypus Hoser Hanging Bladder – $24.95; Pack Rain Cover (large, 4 oz.) – $44.99; Icon Hip Belt Pouch (available L and R, 1 oz.) – $9.99; Roll Top Dry Bag (5 sizes) – $34.99; Bow holder – $29.99; Gun Holder – $19.99.

Alternate Kuiu options to consider: New Kuiu Icon Pro line (new 2014 upgrades to 2013 models, available mid-summer); Kuiu Ultra line (1800, 3000, 6000).

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3 thoughts on “Backpack Reviews – Kuiu Icon 5200

  1. I first of all would like to applaud the guys at Kuiu for bringing some less expensive alternatives to the table as far as long distance, ultralight weight hunting and traveling packs go. I have nothing but the best to say about their weight, materials, and craftsmanship regarding layout.

    My one major issue is with the frame. I’m referring to the 2015 version of the frame, which is when i bought my pack.
    The lightweight carbon frame supports loads well, is comfortable, and is sleek enough to feel invisible on your back, however there is one major downfall – one which i believe is the most important when determining a packs usability for long distance hunts – the NOISE factor. The Carbon Fiber Frame for my 2015 icon pro MAKES NOISE!

    I don’t mean it that it shuffles and i can hear the cordura material rubbing together, and Im not talking about my stuff shuffling inside the pack – these are all but non-existent compared to the squeaking and creaking that this pack makes. This is an issue with the shoulder strap connection points and the upper attachment points of the backpack to the frame, and when i say it squeaks, i mean that every single step i take turns into a squeak or a creak in the backpack – so much so that it makes it difficult to hear things around me and has the ability to spook prey.

    I have contacted kuiu about this issue and they remain silent. I have scoured the internet for ways to deaden the problem, everything from duct tape to graphite powder, graphite oil, mixtures of the two…nothing fixes this issue.

    I hikes 80+ miles with my pack last summer, including a 30 mile, 50lb trek deep into the olympic peninsula wilderness (WA based) with my kuiu and my only complaint is the frame noise – however i never realized until now how much of an intolerable burden this would be.

    I should mention that my fiancé has the same pack and doesn’t seem to be bothered as much by the frame noise as i am, but this is my solution…

    I have a daypack that i use and love, made by Nimrod (WA Based pack design company) and they have an external frame that has wonderous capabilities when it comes to attachment and design. simply made out of aircraft aluminum, i attach my kuiu pack to their frame and off i go, no noise, no issues. I consider this the best of both worlds, although i cannot use kuiu’s hip belt with the Nimrod frame, I am content to be rid of the frame noise.

    Other than that, its a great bag, and I’m happy with my purchase.

  2. Reuben

    Got the exact same issue with my icon pro 7200 mate. Absolute pain in the ass and impossible to stalk with. Did you manage to find a solution or hear back from kuiu about this issue?

  3. Cory Toombs

    My farther in law and I both bought the 5200 pack last year and have the same issue with noise. Literally every step you take the frame squeaks. I don’t understand why Kuiu hasn’t got back to you!

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