Home On The Range #015: KUIU ICON PRO Pack System Long Term Review
Welcome back to our recurring series of “Home on the Range.” Here, we would like to share all of our experiences for those who may be homesteading, living off the land, hunting, farming, ranching, and truly investing in nature and the great outdoors. The ability to provide for yourself and your family can be tremendously rewarding and simultaneously difficult at times. So, in “Home on the Range” we want to share our different exploits so you can learn and hopefully we can receive your feedback along the way as well.
Kuiu Icon Pro Pack System – The Pack to get There and Back
This week on Home on the Range, we’ll be looking at a piece of critical gear that has served me very well over the past several years: KUIU’s ICON PRO pack system, with the 1850 “Bag.” System is not just a marketing buzzword here. KUIU’s packs are not one-piece units, but rather a combination of three key components that one can mix and match: The suspension system is the shoulder straps, lumbar pad and kidney belt that connect you to either the frame or the bag, your choice. The frame is a stiff carbon fiber affair made by Rocket Concepts and is the main load bearing component of the system. The bag for the system can be one of eight sizes from 1850 cubic inches all the way up to 7800. There are also two types of bags, standard and LT. LT is lighter due to having 330D corder versus the standard 500D. The 1850 bag is KUIU’s smallest bag for the system, but it punches well above its weight as we will find out later on in this review. The final component of the system is the hip pouches that fit on the belt of the suspension.
Kuiu Icon Pro Pack System – Pricing and Specs
I was lucky enough to receive the KUIU pack system as an excellent gift from the most awesome person in the world, but usually the whole system goes for $479.00. One can also buy the individual components at $139 for the bag, $175 for the frame, and $145 for the suspension, plus $20 for the hip pouches. Colors available are KUIU’s Vais, Valo, and Verde camo patterns, or a nice plain grey. My personal pack is grey and blends in just fine whether in the field during any season, or while traveling. The full kit weighs 4lbs, 2.8oz, and the 1850 bag by itself weighs 1lb 8.4oz. As mentioned above, the fabric of the bag is 500D ripstop cordura, and the fabric is treated with KUIU’s durable water repellent. The carbon fiber weave on the frame uses spread tow technology, which is stronger due to having less air pockets. Both the suspension and frame come in three distinct sizes, making sure that someone is not trying to fit into a “one size fits all” solution for such a crucial piece of load bearing kit.
When the pack system is using the frame and not just the bag and suspension, one can sling load the bag to have an additional 2500 cubic inches of storage between the bag and the frame. When not using the frame, the suspension attaches directly to the bag, which has 7075 aluminum tubes for rigidity if needed.
Kuiu Icon Pro Pack System – Field Experiences
The 1850 bag holds all my game bags, extra insulation layer, lunch, water, ammo, and survival and medical gear. I’ve used it quite a bit on combo hunts where I’ll bring my bow and shotgun and harvest whatever I might come across that’s in season. The nice thing about KUIU’s bags is all the compression straps and deep side pockets make it easy to carry your weapons with your pack. I typically have my rifle or shotgun’s butt ride in the side pocket and keep the rest of the firearm close to the pack via the side compression straps. My broadhead quiver goes in the other pouch, and then my recurve bow can attach to the back of the pack if need be. The hip pouches easily hold a GPS, extra ammo, or a laser rangefinder. More often than not, I only attach a left side pouch for a rangefinder, and leave the RH side open for attachment of a Bianchi UM holster, which is a good way of carrying a sidearm while using a robust hip belt.
I’ve used this pack for hundreds of hunts and hikes, a few pack-outs, horseback hunts, and a few SHOT shows as well. Rain, snow, extreme heat, nothing fazes this pack. Being that I often am hiking more than 10 miles with at least 2k feet of vertical gain, I appreciate the comfort of the suspension system. This is especially true when I’m sweating quite a bit. The excellent lumbar pad keeps the pack from getting soaked in sweat, and is very breathable itself. Though the pack is water resistant, I’ve found its best in dumping rain or heavy wet snow to use a rain fly. I like blaze orange flys, as they make one’s pack easy to find if you have to ditch it somewhere.
Kuiu Icon Pro Pack System – Silence is Golden
When it comes to hunting, silence is a pretty important attribute for any piece of gear. KUIU’s zippers are pretty darn quiet, on par with Mystery Ranch and Sitka gear, but not quite as silent as Eberlestock. After three years, I’ve started to notice a slight squeak most likely coming from the interaction between frame and suspension. Durability has been excellent as well. In 4 years of hard, constant use, I’ve experienced zero rips or zipper breakage. The only thing that’s started to show needs of replacement is the pack straps that feed through the top of the carbon fiber frame. Those have started to fray and need replacement. I would say the only weak point of the pack system is that it can be awkward to use while horseback hunting and slinging one’s pack off of a saddle horn. The top extensions of the frame can stick into the horse’s neck. If you’re looking at using it for horseback hunting, remove the carbon fiber frame first.
Kuiu Icon Pro Pack System – Overall Impression
The KUIU pack system is an excellent choice for hunting and hiking. I wouldn’t get wrapped around the axle about if it’s “better” than other choices from comparable brands like Eberlestock or Mystery Ranch, but I will say that the KUIU system can be an economical choice in that one can purchase multiple sized bags to attach to the frame and suspension. For more information, please visit KUIU.