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.
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.
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.
Long 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; exceptional 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).