KUIU ULTRALIGHT 6000 PACK SYSTEM REVIEW
Editor: Randy Johnson
iReview Gear Lead Field Editor
HIGH DESERT WILD SHEEP GUIDES
Alti2ude Outdoors Pro Staff
New, the 2014 KUIU ULTRALIGHT Pack system is the lightest in the industry! KUIU continues its cutting edge technology in the world of Mountain Hunting. The ULTRA pack system was designed to be extremely simple yet innovative with its modular pack concept that incorporates an advanced Patent Pending Carbon Fiber frame, suspension and bag that focuses on minimizing weight without diminishing performance or functionality. All of the materials in the ULTRA Pack System are the finest in the world and combined make an unprecedented list of “the right stuff.” The brilliant foundation for this pack system is an 11 oz., California-made Carbon Fiber frame that is stronger, lighter, and narrower without compromising the performance or quality of the pack itself.
11-Ounce Revolutionary Carbon Fiber Frame
The ULTRA pack systems introduction of KUIU’s new 11-ounce California made Carbon Fiber frame design that is stronger, lighter, stiffer, and narrower ensures an ultralight packing opportunity for Mountain Hunters. This frame is produced with additional carbon to ensure the highest quality and performance.
The new frame is available in two sizes. The Regular fits torso lengths 15″ to 17.5″ and the Tall 17.5″ to 22″
Just the Facts:
KUIU’s ULTRA pack system was designed to take extreme light Mountain Hunting to another plateau of performance. With the 6000 you have a pack that is big enough to keep you out on the mountain for at least a week in preparation to do battle with the harshest environments. As KUIU looked at ways to improve and design a pack that weighs in at just 3 lbs. 9 ounces, he revolutionary design team headed by founder Jason Hairston worked tirelessly to create a lighter, stronger, narrower Carbon Fiber frame for 2014. Without compromising quality they made some clever changes to the ULTRA pack system that now provides Mountain Hunters with another alternative for addressing “lighter, faster, and more efficient.”
Please study and review the following features to gain a comprehensive understanding of just how well this pack has been designed:
• The ULTRA pack system stands out as a simple modular pack concept that incorporates KUIU’s state of the art Patent Pending Carbon Fiber frame, suspension and bag into a pack that minimizing weight while maintaining optimum performance and functionality.
• The suspension in the ULTRA utilizes a patent pending T-Lock track system design that securely holds the dual density foam shoulder straps to the frame and allows for easy adjustment and a customized comfortable fit.
• The unique hip-belt design moves the frame and pack closer to your back, providing the support necessary to carry demanding loads more efficiently. The adjustable lumbar pad and pivoting hip-belt creates unrestricted mobility and maximum comfort.
• The ULTRA’s, available in the 6000, 3000 and 1800 cubic inch models, weigh only 3 lbs. 9 oz., and 2 lbs. 13 oz., allow Mountain Hunters to reduce the weight of “the home they pack on their backs” to enable them to hunt further and faster. Additionally, the ULTRAS are also designed with KUIU’s expandable load sling for added carrying capacity. Succinctly stated, “these packs are incomparable to any other pack system in the industry.
ULTRA 6000 TAKES BACKPACKING TO ANOTHER LEVEL
Fully Adjustable Suspension
• At just 25 ounces, the redesigned suspension in the ULTRA utilizes a new patent pending T-Lock track system design that securely holds the shoulder straps to the frame and allows for easy adjustment and customizable comfort. The next-to-body material and cleaner design of the suspension make it extremely comfortable. The unique hip belt design moves the frame and pack closer to your back, offering the support necessary to carry demanding loads more efficiently. The new adjustable lumbar pad and pivoting hip-belt creates unrestricted mobility and maximum comfort.
• The suspension also now comes in two sizes: the S/M fits waist sizes 28″ to 33″ and the L/XL sizes 33″ to 44″.
ULTRA 6000 TECHNICAL FEATURES
• VOLUME: 6000ci
• 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”
• 160 Denier 100% Nylon CORDURA® Brand Ripstop
• YKK Zippers
• Duraflex Buckles
• Toray Carbon Fiber
• Doppio Futura Space Mesh
• 21 ounces (bag only)
• 3 lbs. 9 oz. (full kit)
• 6000 cubic inches (volume)
• Water Repellant 4x PU coated CORDURA ripstop fabric
• Modular System – All ULTRA Bags and Frame & Suspension are Interchangeable
• Load sling between bag & frame for 2500 ci of added carrying capacity with the load use tested to 150 lbs.
FRAME AND SUSPENSION
• Molded Carbon Fiber Frame
• Vertical Stiffness & Horizontal Flex
• Adjustable molded foam lumbar pad with 2 levels of thickness adjustment
• Built in T-Lock Track System for easy torso length adjustment
• Pivoting Hip Belt
• Frame – available in 2 sizes, regular and tall.
Regular fits torso length of 15” – 17”
Tall fits torso length of 17.5” – 22”
Hip Belt – available in 2 sizes, S/M and L/XL.
S/M fits waist size of 28” – 33”
L/XL fits waist size 33” – 44”
• Removable and extendable top lid
• 1 Organizational Pockets
• 1 exterior large vertical pocket
• 1 exterior lower vertical pocket
• 1 exterior lid pocket
• Top entry with extendable shroud
• 21 inch side entry with single side zipper
• 1 oversized exterior stuff-it pocket
• YKK Zippers
• Cord zipper pulls
COMPRESSION STRAP CONFIGURATION
• 4 external compression straps
• 5 extra accessory/compression straps included
PACK HYDRATION CONFIGURATION
• 1 internal hanging hydration clip
• Single hydration port
• The ULTRA Pack System is completely modular. This means that with a few simple adjustments, each ULTRA pack can be interchanged onto the same New Carbon Fiber frame & suspension.
• When in need of extra space, the ULTRA 6000 can be converted to carry a load between the bag and frame. With some simple 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.
I’ve been a hard core backpack hunter for nearly 25 years so I know what I’m looking for when it comes to a quality pack. My adventures are very tough, physically demanding hunts in remote, hash terrain. I demand the very best in gear, not only for personal safety, but to enable myself to hunt harder and longer when I’m out in the field. It seems that Mountain Hunters are always testing their mental and physical abilities against Mother Nature’s elements.
I know how critical it is to pack as light as possible without compromising quality. That’s the exact reason KUIU’s new ULTRALIGHT PACK SYSTEM caught my attention. When I first looked at the ULTRA 6000 pack, I f felt like it had the potential to become a major game changer for Mountain Hunters everywhere. In visiting with KUIU’s Jason Hairston and Patrick Mayer, I was convinced that this backpack would hold up to the abuse that I can put a backpack through. After watching the team at KUIU test a fully loaded ULTRA 6000 out by rolling it down a steep mountainside as well as running over the amazing carbon fiber frame with a truck I was ready to test it out in the field! Wow, I was really pumped to get out on the mountain this spring. I can tell you right now that I wasn’t disappointed. After an extremely demanding 4 day backpack trip into Utah’s extremely rugged Escalante Canyon Country several weeks ago I was totally impressed with the ULTRA 6000’s strength, durability and functionality. It held up to all the abuse I could literally throw at it!
The ULTRA’s bag is designed with seam construction that maximizes its strength yet reduces seam weight. My ULTRA 6000 featured a roomy 500ci lid with one zipper pocket and an expandable shroud that enabled me to get more gear into my pack. Although I consider the 6000 to be a “top loader” it is also designed with a 21-inch vertical single side entry zipper that provided quick access when I needed to get into my main compartment. I found that the 2 exterior pockets and one oversized stuff-it pocket made it easy for me to organize critical gear such as my spotting scope, tripod and other essential items. I chose to order a couple of the hip belt pouches for the ULTRA 6000 hip belt as I like to carry my headlamp and a small pistol in those. The “pack bag” itself is made with 160 Denier Textured Cordura® Rip Stop Fabric. Yes, it’s light but it is also quite tough. The inside of the bag is coated with a substance called PU (polyurethane) that makes the fabric more durable and abrasion resistance. As with any pack that doesn’t feature a much heavier Cordura you have to be careful to not tear the material when maneuvering off ledges or pulling your backpack up over a sandstone cliff with a rope. LOL
Although my ULTRA 6000 comes with an expandable load sling that will add addition carrying capacity, I didn’t have to utilize this very handy feature on my recent trip. The load sling itself is easy and quick to engage. This feature makes this pack even more versatile when carrying heavy loads or packing boned out big game meat.
I always use a hydration bladder when backpacking and appreciated the single hydration port and internal clip. Since the bag doesn’t feature any internal pockets I was very careful how I packed my hydration bladder so that the hydration tube was long enough to connect to the shoulder strap loop/holder on the outside of the pack.
It should be noted that the ULTRA 6000 is designed to accept KUIU’s new rifle, bow and hydration carrying systems that I haven’t tested at this time.
Due to the fact that KUIU has changed a few features with their new ULTRALIGHT line of packs I felt it would be helpful for you if I addressed these items specifically in this review.
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. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the lighter your load, the more mobility and flexibility you have to climb mountains in pursuit of trophy rams, bucks or bulls. To enable KUIU to get the ULTRA 6000 under 4 lbs they designed a new 11-ounce Carbon Fiber Frame that is even stronger. This exceptional frame is designed narrower but is produced with more carbon that enables it to perform at an extraordinary level. I found this innovative frame to be very comfortable yet capable of standing up to very heavy loads.
KUIU also redesigned the suspension in the ULTRA with what they call a T-Lock track system. I found the system to be very functional and appreciated the fact that it was easy to adjust. It is very important to customize the adjustment to your build and preferences for personal comfort. The hip belt is smaller. This design allows you to move the pack closer against your back. In return this offers greater support in carrying heavy, demanding loads.
One feature that I’ve always liked with KUIU’s packs is their lumbar pads. The ULTRA’s new adjustable lumbar pad pivots with the hip belt to create great mobility and comfort. The hip belt comes with an extra lumbar support pad that I did use because of my narrow hips. Great job KUIU team as you have once again raised the “performance bar” to a much higher level!
Compression Straps/Sternum Strap – The compression straps on the new ULTRA 6000 are narrower and feature a new “flex buckle” system. It took me a couple of minutes to get used to the change in the buckle system yet it is very simple and functional. I found these buckles to be very strong and durable. I also liked the design of the sternum strap that can be adjusted up and down to fit your torso. There are 4 external compression straps on the 6000 but KUIU does include 5 extra accessory/compression straps for your individual needs
Well Thought Out Details Do Make A Difference – I’ve always stressed that the difference between mediocre and quality backpacks comes down to the little details. Start comparing well thought out details in backpacks and you will quickly discover what I mean. I do appreciate the fact that KUIU listens to their customers and does their very best to design ULTRALIGHT gear that meets our demands. Here are a few of the details that I believe make a difference in the ULTRA 6000.
• Large, angled bottom pocket 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. KUIU has now changed the pulls attached to the zippers and these will not break. Thanks for listening KUIU!
• Accessory waist belt pockets that allow instant access to items such as your headlamp without having to take you the pack off of your back.
• Webkeepers 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. I like the new flex buckles.
• Internal hydration bladder clip, port and shoulder strap holder.
• Large, center pocket on the outside panel that can be used for your 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 strap web belts/load stabilizer straps can be tightened at the same time. This allows me to adjust these straps uniformly around my waist. On other backpacks that I have used I’m forced to tighten each strap separately.
• The shoulder harness T-lock adjustable system.
• Adjustable sternum strap.
• Lumbar pad support.
The price for the ULTRA 6000 is very affordable at $349.00 and can be ordered in Vias Camo, Verde Camo or a great looking Sage color that I really like. Accessories such as the hip belt pouches, hydration bladder, rifle carrying system, etc, must be ordered separately. To be successful in any walk of life I’ve always believed that you must change with the times. KUIU has definitely stepped it up once again with their ULTRA Line system. This backpack is ultralight and not complicated. I believe this line of packs will meet the needs of many hardcore Mountain Hunters. I do appreciate the KUIU team’s efforts!
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
Although it would add another ounce of weight I would like to see KUIU add the following to the ULTRA 6000:
• Include another bottom side stuffit pocket. I like the second side pocket as it enables me to balance my pack with a tripod on one side and a rifle or other gear such as an extra Nalgene bottle on the opposite side.
KUIU Ultra 6000 Pack System Review