KUIU ICON 7200 REVIEW
By Randy Johnson
iReview Gear Lead Field Editor
HIGH DESERT WILD SHEEP GUIDES
New, improved, the 2013 Icon 7200 KUIU Pack system continues its innovative, cutting edge evolution of the Patent Pending Icon Molded Carbon Fiber Frame, suspension and Expedition Grade ultra-light bags. This external frame hunting or expedition pack features a modular system that when interchanged takes only a few minutes to go from one sized bag to another. Included in the 2013 line are the 1850, 5200 & 7200 cubic inch bags. The 2013 version is amazingly lighter, stronger and more comfortable! With KUIU’s microscopic focus on excellence this pack system offers unparalleled functionality, versatility, and optimum weight distribution. It provides incredible comfort and organization for storage. The result is perhaps the finest hunting pack to ever be designed!
KUIU pack on a recent desert sheep scouting trip in 113 degree weather!
ICON CARBON FIBER FRAME & SUSPENSION:
Facts and Features:
KUIU’s Icon 7200 was designed to take ultra light Mountain Hunting to another level. With 7200 cubic inches of max volume this pack is big enough to keep you out on the mountain for a marathon hunt in the harshest environments. Continually seeking to improve their products KUIU’s revolutionary design team headed by founder Jason Hairston worked tirelessly on testing a new resin technology and manufacturing process that increased the elongation of the resin and created a lighter and stronger Carbon Fiber frame for 2013. Listening to their customers they changed the Lumbar Pad to molded foam that has made it softer and adjustable, allowing each customer to experience a customized fit. The shoulder pads now highlight a new foam combination that makes heavy loads even more comfortable.
Although the 7200 increased its volume from the 7000, specific changes to the Icon lid and the added strength of 500 Denier ripstop CORDURA® Fabric DID NOT increase the weight but the KUIU 7200 actually is lighter!
The Icon 7200 is truly cutting edge and innovative. The Load Sling, designed between the bag and frame, enables you to expand the carrying capacity of your pack by an additional 1800 cubic inches if needed. Please review the following features to gain a complete understanding of just how well this pack has been designed:
• 47 ounces (bag only)
• 5 lbs. 12 ounces (full kit)
• 7200 cubic inches (volume)
• Load sling between bag & frame
• 1800 additional cubic inches in load sling mode
• Water repellant PU coated 160/500 denier CORDURA® ripstop
• 160 denier CORDURA® ripstop
• 500 denier CORDURA® ripstop reinforced bottom & back panel
• Occipital cavity provides unrestricted head movement
• Modular system – All ICON bags are interchangeable with the ICON Frame & Suspension (each sold separately)
• YKK Zippers
• Duraflex Buckle
• Removable/Extendable top lid
• 3 Organizational Pockets
COMPRESSION STRAP CONFIGURATION
• 4 External compression straps
• 2 Removable accessory straps for additional equipment and compression
• 1 Front exterior upper horizontal pocket
• 1 Front exterior lower vertical pocket
• 2 Side exterior pockets designed to store spotting scope, tri-pod, or rifle
• 2 Exterior stuff-it/water bottle pockets
• 8 Internal pockets for gear organization & hydration bladders
• 3 Exterior lid pockets
PACK HYDRATION CONFIGURATION
• 2 Stretch mesh pockets for hydration bladders
• 2 hanging clips
• Dual L & R ports
• YKK Aquaguard Coil Zippers – External
• YKK Concealed Coil Zippers – Internal
• Molded zipper pulls
I guide desert sheep hunters. My hunts are not easy as they involve backpack only Mountain Hunting in isolated, very remote, hash terrain. We often find ourselves on multiple day, extended backpack trips where we require the best in gear, not only for safety, but to enable us to test our mental and physical abilities against Mother Nature’s elements.
Although there were a few very minor issues with my Icon 7000 last year I felt like it was the best overall light backpack system that I had ever thrown onto my shoulders. Then, when visiting with KUIU’s Jason Hairston, I found out that they were working on additional improvements to make this pack system even better. Wow, that got me excited because when I’m out on the mountain I demand a backpack that will hold up under the most extreme conditions, yet be extraordinarily functional and comfortable. I require the flexibility to pack and utilize a wide variety of gear such as climbing ropes, rifle, stoves, food, water filters, and many other miscellaneous items. Not only does the ultimate success of our hunts depend upon the functionality of my backpack but also there are times it can be the difference in keeping my hunters and I out in the field a little longer to pursue a trophy ram.
In June, I had the opportunity to field test KUIU’s new, improved Icon 7200 modular backpack system. I’ve had this pack on my back every week now to see if I could find any flaws or failures. So far, it has performed impeccably.
When true Mountain Hunters like Jason Hairston design a pack system for themselves I believe they take a tremendous amount of pride to ensure that the pack functions as designed without any defects! I’ve purposefully tried to abuse the Icon on some very tough scouting trips this summer. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to pack a big ram in it yet I can tell you “flat out” that this backpack is extremely comfortable to wear. I’m far from being as young as I once was so it is very important to me that a backpack doesn’t exasperate the aches and soreness that I seem to notice a little more now days with the “age factor.”
Let me say this: In just a few months I will be pulling my Icon 7200 up over cliffs and know that I will be carrying loads in well in excess of 90 pounds. After my difficult field testing I have no doubts that this pack system will stand up to anything that I or Mother Nature’s can come up with. My Icon probably won’t look as new when I complete my hunting season in December but this will be the pack I choose to wear for the following reasons:
• Loading, Capacity and Organization – Being a guide requires me to have and haul a lot of gear for my marathon backpack hunting trips. For this reason, loading, capacity and organization are very important features that I love about the Icon 7200. How many backpacks can be loaded from the front, side, or top? This feature in the Icon is one extremely important criteria for me. The main compartment/panel of this pack system can be easily accessed or loaded by unzipping the dual direction zippers on the front of the pack to expose the entire compartment. Please see photo insert of the inside of my Icon!
It was simple and efficient for me to load and organize my gear according to weight, size, bulk, etc, into the Icon. To make it even easier, the KUIU engineers designed 7 internal organizational pockets that enable me to fit specific gear into locations where I can find it. I like to use one of the “two” dual stretch mesh hydration pockets to store my one man Hillenberg tent with the other pocket housing my 100 ounce hydration bladder. (By the way I hear that KUIU will soon be introducing a one and two man tent of their own as well as a line of Quixdown Sleeping Bags. I can’t wait to test those pieces of gear. If they are as well designed as the Icon pack system they will be incredible!) The port that I run my hydration tube through is located perfectly in the back of the pack. I can easily secured the tube to my shoulder harnesses, one of which has been fitted with a hydration tube clamp. This is a very nice feature.
After loading the majority of my gear, I like to pull the front panel of the pack closed, and then push the sides together so I don’t blow out a zipper before pulling the dual zippers from both sides closed. Any additional gear can then be loaded into the pack from the top, before securing a dual drawstring that closes the main compartment. To ensure even greater capacity, the pack system can be expanded further, by utilizing the upper frame pocket before pulling that drawstring closed. You are then ready to pull the removable, extendable top lid of the pack down over the main compartment before buckling and tightening. The top lid was redesigned this year for fit and features three different pockets designed for you to store miscellaneous gear.
The Icon 7200 definitely is a “Super Bowl Winner” in meeting the Mountain Hunter’s expectations for loading, capacity and organization. All these special features and still maintaining weight is truly an accomplishment that will be hard to match! There just isn’t another pack system like it that I’ve found.
• Load Sling – Wow, what a great, ingenious, innovative feature! Jason and his industrial design team built the Icon suspension so that you could easily prepare the pack for what KUIU refers to as “load sling use.” By simply disengaging the load lifter strap and compression straps from the pack bag, I can open the lower frame stay pockets and engage the Icon pack system into load sling mode. This allows me additional space to carry a boned out ram with no problem in the extra load sling space between the frame and bag. This clever architecture is ingenious. I now don’t have to worry about stuffing a hunter’s boned out animal or cape into the main compartment of my bag with all my other gear! Great job guys! Super feature. The load sling can also be used for your tent or other gear if necessary.
• Carbon Fiber Frame/Suspension– When I’m out on the mountain every single pound, every ounce counts when having to pack the weight on your back. Remember, the lighter your load, the more mobility and flexibility you have to climb mountains in pursuit of trophy rams, bucks or bulls. With that said, KUIU’s 5 lb.12 ounce total package is incredible. It’s lighter in weight than other frames and bags but every bit as strong. In fact, Carbon Fiber is twice as strong as steel and half the weight of aluminum. At no time when I was packing extremely heavy loads has my Icon 7200 felt like it wouldn’t support the load. Engineered with vertical stiffness for heavier loads and horizontal flexion this frame literally moves with the hunter or backpacker to maximize comfort and mobility. The Carbon Fiber frame is arched so that it provides me with the critical ventilation I need to not overheat in the hot, dry air of the desert. KUIU’s inset waist belt pivot and independent shoulder pad adjustment provided a very comfortable fit. Talk about taking the bar to another level.
Waist Belt/Lumbar Pad
The Icon 7200’s lumbar pad is a very nice improvement over last year’s. The new foam combination is great allowing for 4 different thickness adjustments. I have found the pad to be comfortable and very supportive to my lower back. KUIU’s lumber pad nicely shaped and has a tacky material on the outside that allows it to remain firmly against the small of your back without slipping. The pad’s foam combination is just what the doctor ordered for comfort. If you need additional support KUIU also includes two small foam insert with the pack system for use. For me it is very important that I place the waist pad high on the crest of my hips, not low. I have several herniated discs in my lower back and actually found that this lumbar pad has helped provide additional support for me in this region of the spine. If you experience any trouble with the lumbar pad I suggest you experiment a little. Adjust your shoulder harness a little higher for you torso. Give the lumbar pad a little time and you will be sold. After several extended backpack trips you will love the support and fit.
Well Thought Out Details That Make A Difference
The difference between a great backpack and one that is mediocre always comes down to the additional, well thought out details. KUIU has designed this pack system to meet the diverse needs of Mountain Hunters who demand light weight gear. Here are a few of the specific little details that definitely sold me on the KUIU Icon 7200 that are not incorporated into other backpack systems.
• Large, angled bottom pockets that can be tightened or loosened.
• Reverse coil zippers with custom pulls that allow you to open the pack and outside pockets from different directions. For instance, on the vertical outside pockets, I can pull the zippers in two different directions so that my tripod can extend through the opening created at the top and bottom of the pocket. This allows me to remove my tripod or other needed gear more quickly. Excellent feature.
• Waist belt pockets that allow instant access to items such as your headlamp without having to take the pack off of your back.
• Web keepers on the straps keep loose ends from dangling.
• Multiple direction compression straps that can be tightened on the sides and on the front of the backpack’s main panel. This allows better compression of your gear.
• Hydration shoulder strap holder.
• The Icon 7200 features a large, center pocket on the outside panel that can be used for gear that you want to get at quickly. I like to use this center pocket for items like my down jacket, rain gear, game bags/knife, etc. Very, very handy.
• The occipital cavity created with by the Carbon Fiber suspension gives you head space to look around when hunting in steep mountainous terrain. With other backpacks I’ve found that the top lid uncomfortably pushes my head forward.
• The waist belt has a dual pull tightening system that allows me to adjust the waist belt uniformly around my waist. On other backpacks that I have used I’m forced to tighten each strap separately.
• The shoulder harness straps can be adjusted vertically with a sliding track system and Velcro on the straps to easily fit the size of your torso. These straps are actually a pleasure instead of a chore to adjust!
• Adjustable sternum strap.
• The backpack frame handle is well sewn and designed to lift the heavy load of your pack without tearing the material. When you have 100 lbs in your backpack you don’t want to have to lift it by the shoulder straps.
• The Tri-Glides, buckles, tension locks and hip belt clips will take all the abuse you can give them without breaking down in the field.
• The reinforced 500 RIPSTOP CORDURA on the bottom and back panels has made a difference to strengthen these easily worn locations.
• The stretch mesh on the elongated hydration pockets and all other internal pockets is amazing. I thought this material might be easy to tear but it expands to provide enough room to store a one man tent in the panel.
In the hunting world today you must be willing to pay the price for quality gear. There’s no doubt that successful hunters incorporate and utilize the latest and best innovative gear that technology can offer when they are “out on the mountain.” KUIU’s Icon 7200 backpack and Carbon Fiber frame and suspension together have a price tag of around $600. They are sold separately for $299.99 each. In my opinion they are well worth their weight in gold. I personally own a dozen different backpacks and the Icon 7200 is my first choice for any extended backpack hunting expeditions!
To be successful in any walk of life I’ve always believed that you must change with the times and KUIU has definitely stepped it up once again. From the standpoint of a hard core Mountain Hunter I do appreciate the KUIU team’s efforts!
Please note that the Icon 7200 is available in Vias Camo, Verde Camo, or a Phantom Grey with Steel highlights. Available pack accessories include Hip Belt Pouches, Sil-Nylon Dry Bags and Rain Covers.
ABOUT KUIU: Based in Dixon, California, KUIU was founded in 2011 to provide customers with the world’s most advanced hunting layering system and equipment on the market. KUIU provides remarkable apparel and equipment that is light, packable, and dependable. By eliminating retailers and selling their products exclusively online, KUIU drives the ultimate shopping experience. They provide superior customer service, lower pricing, and the highest product quality. For additional information visit www.KUIU.com or call 1-855-367-5848 Monday-Friday from 9:00AM-5:00PM PST.
Stay safe everyone and “keep your boots warm” for your next hunting adventure. I hope that this review has helped you in making a very critical decision as to what your next purchase will be in a backpack system.
What They Could Do Better
• Add small pockets onto the front harness that a hunter could carry items such as their GPS or radio in for immediate access.
Kuiu Icon 7200 Back Pack Review