KUIU ICON PRO 5200 BACKPACK REVIEW
By Randy Johnson
iReview Gear Lead Field Editor
HIGH DESERT WILD SHEEP GUIDES
Worldwide Trophy Adventures Hunt Consultant
Alti2ude Outdoors Pro Staff
KUIU’s 5200 ICON PRO backpack provides hunters, hardcore backpackers/adventurer’s with an extremely durable, “bombproof” pack that is capable of standing up to the most difficult conditions that even a “sheep guide” can throw at it. The 5200 is capable of carrying extra heavy loads due to the strength of its revolutionary carbon fiber frame that the design team at KUIU has made even stronger. The redesign of the suspension system is uniquely comfortable when your pack is loaded with extremely heavy weight.
KUIU does an outstanding job of listening to their dedicated clientele and redesigned their 5200 and ICON PRO SERIES packs to be extremely durable, tough and capable of carrying extra heavy loads. A revised carbon fiber frame has been designed with a sleeker profile yet the frame is stiffer as well as much stronger and functions in unison with the redesigned suspension system. This backpack is “expedition grade,” featuring a well thought out internal and external pocketing system that allows you to organize gear efficiently and more securely. The 5200 Icon Pro system equates to ultimate comfort and organization for the user.
Facts and Features:
The 500D Cordura Ripstop water-repellant bag fabric on the 5200 will hold up under the toughest conditions and most difficult terrain. Featuring YKK zippers and Duraflex buckles the Icon Pro 5200 is built to withstand abuse. The top of the bag is highlighted by an expandable, secured shroud with double drawstrings. The adjustable top lid has been designed with three, zippered pockets as you can secure the lid by pulling two Duraflex buckles downward for compactness and balance. The lid can be removed.
The PRO 5200’s full horseshoe zipper allows complete access to the main pack compartment, its interior pockets and hydration system. Hunters, mountaineers, guides and hard-core backpacking aficionado’s will find that the large exterior front and side pockets with two way zippers are perfect for carrying optics, trekking poles, ice picks or other critical gear that requires immediate access. KUIU’s new system of internal lashing points that include removable straps allow you better interior organization. Very importantly, these lashing straps, that should be connected diagonally make it easier to secure heavy internal loads higher within the pack and closer to your back where they should be for comfort. Weighing in at 5 lbs. 9 oz. the ICON PRO 5200 is very light for a backpack designed for “guide demanded” durability that has been “beefed’ up in strength to carry heavy loads.
The mid-height load sling allows 2500 additional c.i. of carrying capacity that can be placed between the bag and frame, with the weight kept up high to assist with the overall balance/center of gravity of the pack.
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.
The ICON PRO’S new suspension and adjustable lumbar padding are exactly what the “pack doctor ordered.” The Shoulder straps have excellent padding as does the large hip belt. Designed with the finest materials available, including Toray carbon fiber, 500 Denier CORDURA® Rip-Stop, YKK Zippers, and Duraflex® hardware, the PRO will stand up to the toughest mountain hunting conditions. The larger hip belt structure of the ICON PRO 5200 provides solid lumbar support when you are packing carrying heavy loads. The new removable side-of-hip-belt webbing system provides you with the option of attaching important accessories such as a gun, bear spray, or a rangefinder. The ICON PRO’s T-Lock suspension can be adjusted easily to fit all sizes and body types for the perfect fit.
KUIU’s modular system is easily interchangeable and only takes a few minutes to go from one sized bag to another. Included in KUIU’s 2015 Icon Pro line are the 1850, 3200, 5200 & 7200 cubic inch bags. This backpack system is extremely functional and extra versatile in offering optimum weight distribution. The ICON PRO SERIES’ comfort, organization and versatility are unparalleled.
Hunters, outdoorsmen and guides who love to spend days out on the mountain backpacking demand gear that is lightweight, yet tougher than nails. The design and structure of the Icon Pro 5200 is one of the very best hunting backpacks in the entire outdoor market, enabling you to take your performance out on the mountain to another level.
Please review carefully the following detailed specifications of the ICON PRO 5200 and compare with other backpacks on the market to understand just how well KUIU has designed this backpack!
ICON PRO 5200 SPECIFICATIONS
• VOLUME: 5200 ci
• FULL KIT: Assembled Bag, Frame & Suspension
• Frame (torso length): Regular 15” – 17” Tall 17.5” – 22”
• Hip Belt (waist size): S/M 28” – 33” L/XL 33” – 44”
• 500 Denier 100% Nylon CORDURA® Brand Ripstop
• YKK Zippers
• Duraflex Buckles
• Doppio Futura Spacer Mesh
• Toray Carbon Fiber
• 47.6 ounces (bag only)
• 5 lbs. 9 oz. (full kit)
• 5200 cubic inches (volume)
• Water Repellant 2x PU coated CORDURA® ripstop fabric
• Modular System – All ICON PRO Bags and Frame & Suspension are Interchangeable
• Load sling between bag & frame for 2500 ci of added carrying capacity
• Load Use Tested to 150 lbs.
FRAME & SUSPENSION
• Molded Carbon Fiber Frame
• Vertical Stiffness & Horizontal Flex
• Built in T-Lock Track System for easy torso length adjustment
• Full webbing reinforcement on shoulder straps to eliminate stretch
• Dual density foam padding
• Adjustable sternum strap
• Adjustable molded foam lumbar pad with 2 levels of thickness adjustment
• Silicon Anti-Slip pad printed on the lumbar pad
• Increased belt size distributes weight over a large area
• Internal plastic sheet behind lumbar pad for additional structural support
• Power pulls for easy waist belt tightening
• Pivoting Hip Belt
• Frame – available in 2 sizes, regular and tall – See sizing tab.
• Hip Belt – available in 2 sizes, S/M and L/XL – See sizing tab.
• Removable and extendable top lid
• 2 Organizational Pockets
• Horseshoe zip opening to fully access the main compartment
• 2 exterior front pockets with 1 internal pocket
• 2 large exterior side pockets
• 2 exterior stuff-it pocket
• 2 large interior hydration pockets (hold up to 4 liter bladder)
• 1 hydration clip and 2 access ports
• 2 interior pockets on back of horseshoe opening
• New internal system of lashing points and included removable straps allows for better internal organization
• New hip belt pouches with zip forward opening (sold separately)
• YKK Zippers
• Cord zipper pulls
COMPRESSION STRAP CONFIGURATION
• 4 external compression straps
• 4 extra compression straps for internal lashing system
PACK HYDRATION CONFIGURATION
• 2 large interior hydration pockets (hold up to 4 liter bladder)
• 2 internal hanging hydration clip
• 2 hydration ports
• The ICON PRO Pack System is completely modular. With a few simple adjustments, each ICON PRO bag can be interchanged onto the same Carbon Fiber frame & suspension.
• When in need of extra space, the ICON Pro Packs can be converted to carry a load between the bag and frame. With some quick adjustments, the bag separates from the frame, leaving a webbing shelf attached to the frame, creating a load sling for an additional 2500ci carrying capacity. The load sling is designed perfectly to fit KUIU’s XXL roll top dry bag.
I don’t pull any punches as my story is straightforward – I guide desert sheep hunters in some of the most difficult high desert plateau terrain in North America and spend a tremendous amount of time out on the mountain each year. My demands on the gear and equipment that I use are brutal as my time is spent in very isolated, remote, harsh environmental conditions. If my gear doesn’t hold up I could quickly find myself in a dangerous situation as Mother Nature doesn’t turn its face the other way for anyone.
After field-testing the Icon Pro 5200 for 2 months I have found it to be a definite “game changer.” Not as big as it’s big brother, the 7200, I found that this pack, is still very capable of carrying enough gear for extended days out in the field. With its load sling capacity of an additional 2000 ci and the innovative internal and external pocketing I can organize my gear quickly, conveniently and efficiently. The 5200’s horseshoe-zip opening allows me total access to the main storage compartment, the interior pockets and my hydration system. The large exterior front and side pockets are perfect for carrying my Outdoorsman tripod, spotting scope and other gear that I need to access quickly. I love the new internal lashing system KUIU has incorporated to allow better interior organization. It also makes it much easier for me to carry heavy internal loads higher in the middle of my back instead of having the weight sink low onto my glutes.
Weighing in at 5 lbs 9 oz I’ve found the 5200 to be ultra light but incredibly durable. This pack is definitely capable of carrying very heavy loads as I’ve had 100 lbs. in my pack several times and found that the large hip belt and firm lumbar pad were comfortable and didn’t slip down below my hip crest with the extra weight. Many of my backpack trips are solo so I often deem it necessary to carry a sidearm. KUIU’s removable side-of-hip-belt webbing system allows me to attach my Glock directly to the hip belt where I would have immediate access if ever needed.
The new T-Lock system of the suspension system on the ICON PRO 5200 is easily adjustable and was specifically designed to fit all body types and sizes. The frame and hip belt can be ordered in two different sizes. I have appreciated the hip belt pouches that must be purchased separately to attach to the hip belt, so that I can access smaller items such as a head lamp, leatherman, etc, that I may need on the trail without having to take my pack off.
Personally, I’ve loved all of my KUIU ultralight Mountain Hunting backpacks. However, in
the abrasive sandstone terrain I spend much of my time in I found that I was wearing
holes in the material. With the ICON PRO KUIU has maintained an ultralight backpack
but the 500 Denier 100% Nylon CORDURA® Brand Ripstop is more than tough enough to
resist tearing. In other words, the 5200 has met my specific needs. I know that hardcore
hunters will love this pack’s durability. I’ve said it before but “the new ICON
PRO packs are in my opinion, the best overall ultralight, tough backpacks that I
have ever thrown onto my shoulders.
KUIU ICON PRO 5200 WITH LOADSLING ACTIVATED
Field Testing Icon Pro 5200 On Recent CA Wild Boar Hunt
For nearly two months now I have field-tested the ICON PRO out on the mountain in difficult and downright mean conditions carrying heavy loads through boulder fields, thick oak and miserable deadfall while scouting and looking for shed antlers. KUIU’s stronger Carbon Fiber frame and flexible suspension have performed flawlessly.
Icon Pro 5200 Performing Flawlessly
The pocket configuration on the entire ICON PRO series has been well thought out. The two large inside panels of the bag are great for hydration bladders while the smaller organization pockets on the panel are perfect for other items. The two spacious pockets on the lid provide me with the ability to store items that I like to access quickly. There are two drawstring pockets designed on the outside bottom of the bag that I like to use for Nalgene bottles. Along the side of the bag, above these pockets are two long, double zippered panels that I use for my tripod and rifle. With the double zippered design, I can open the top and bottom of these pockets so that I can slide my tripod or rifle through and into one of the two bottom drawstring pockets that sit below the zippered pockets. Also, there is a large zippered pocket in the middle of the bag on the exterior that I can place my spotting scope in. This feature is very nice and convenient.
The horseshoe zipper for the main body of the bag is the same as the old Icon 7200 with the exception that all the zippers are now heavy duty YKK. With the ability to open up the bag by utilizing the horseshoe zipper I find that it is much easier for loading and the unloading of gear. The interior of the bag has four removable compression straps that work great to secure meat close to your body or you could secure a fairly large dry sack in it, with your heavier gear to keep it close to your body.
If I choose to load some of my gear through the top, a convenient shroud with two drawstrings allows me convenient access as well as the ability to secure items when I need more space. I find the drawstrings also help keep out moisture during inclement weather conditions.
When appropriate I can interchange smaller bags from my other KUIU packs onto this frame. It’s a very simple process as the straps are designed with simple, small plastic/metal ends that I can open and close with one hand. Open the ends up and slide them through the appropriate webbing, close, and you’re done.
I don’t know about you, but the adjustment systems on some backpacks were always a pain in the backside. KUIU’s ICON PRO suspension is simple to adjust for your individual torso length. Slide the straps up or down on a “sliding ladder,” then secured with velcro to get your desired adjustment and angle for the load lifters to be effective and comfortable for your build. This system works great.
ICON PRO’S Shoulder Straps/Adjustable Suspension System
In the past, when I’ve packed extremely heavy loads the shoulder straps and hips belt on my previous packs were felt uncomfortable. KUIU’s new hip belt on the PRO is larger and wider, featuring a lumbar section with two different pads for personal use depending on what you like. The shoulder straps, with dual density foam don’t bite me at all and help greatly with comfort while carrying a heavy load.
What I have appreciated about the team at KUIU is that they listen carefully to what we, as guides and Mountain Hunters say to them about the design of their products. It’s my observation that they take a tremendous amount of pride in their gear to ensure that it functions at the highest levels to meet the demands of their customers.
I’ve purposefully tried to abuse the ICON PRO 5200 on some very tough scouting trips this spring as I’ve taken it through thick oak, pulled it up over ledges and subjected the pack to mud and snow. It hasn’t let me down yet.
As you consider the purchase of a new backpack I would ask that you answer the following bulleted questions in regards to the pack you are looking at. These features are what I see as the major selling points for the Icon Pro 5200.
• Loading, Capacity and Organization – Loading, capacity and organization are very important features that I love about the ICON PRO. How many backpacks can be loaded from the front, side, or top? This feature in the PRO is extremely important to 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. It has been simple and efficient for me to load and organize my gear according to weight, size, and bulk.
• 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 PRO pack system into load sling mode for an additional 2000ci on the 5200 when I need it. This allows me additional space for extended day backpack trips or to carry a boned out ram with no problem. 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.9 ounce total package in the ICON PRO 5200 is incredible. It’s lighter in weight than other frames and bags but much stronger. 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 newly redesigned ICON PRO Carbon Fiber suspension felt like it wouldn’t support the load. Engineered with increased 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.
ICON PRO’S NEW SUSPENSION SYSTEM
Waist Belt/Lumbar Pad
The ICON PRO’S wider, larger waist belt and lumbar pad is another step up. The new dual density foam combination and additional lumbar insert allow for the appropriate adjustments for comfort. I have found the pad to be comfortable and very supportive to my lower back.
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, yet durable and tough gear. Here are a few of the specific little details that definitely sold me on the KUIU ICON PRO 5200.
• Large, angled bottom pockets with drawstrings that can be tightened or loosened.
• Reverse coil YKK 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 large center pocket on the pack is very handy for my spotting scope.
• 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 Denier on this pack has made a huge difference in overall strength and durability.
• The Doppio Futura 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 even store a one-man tent in the panel.
• The 4 extra internal lashing straps are well designed to secure heavier items/loads in the middle of the your pack against your back.
ICON PRO WILL TAKE YOU WHERE YOU NEED TO GO IN THE ROUGHEST TERRAIN
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.” Because of their success and customer direct business philosophy KUIU is now able to offer lower prices on high-end backpacks such as the ICON PRO. At $449.98 you can purchase one of the finest, most durable backpacks on the market today.
Please note that the ICON PRO is available in Vias Camo, Verde Camo, or a Phantom Burnt Olive. Available pack accessories include Hip Belt Pouches, Sil-Nylon Dry Bags, Rain Covers, and Rifle Holder.
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 may be in a backpack system.
What They Could Do Better
Great pack system. I don’t have any recommendations for improvements at this time.