Kuiu is a company that has been specializing in ultralight mountain hunting gear since 2011, quickly finding success amongst hunters operating in remote locations. Their product line includes both clothing and gear, designed in house and sold directly to the customer. Their engineering has absolved many problems long suffered by backpack hunters and they are bringing these technologies to the outdoor market.
Kuiu’s buisness model and path to the outdoor market are unique, and their Ultra and Icon Pro pack lines utilize an equally distinct design. The literal backbone of these packs is a thin, sheet like carbon fiber frame, available in two sizes. The just released 2016 models utilize spread tow carbon fiber construction, implementing flat fibers, laid side by side and sewn together, instead of round woven fibers. This reduces voids, minimizing the amount of resin required and translating to a higher strength to weight ratio. Fibers are aligned and layered to increase stiffness in specific planes and allow flex in others. Frames weigh 11 ounces and are produced in California.
This frame is mated to one of three Ultra series pack bodies or one of three Icon Pro series pack bodies, with an appropriately sized hip belt and a fully adjustable shoulder strap assembly. The modular design allows the interchangeability of pack volumes and styles to match needs. The Kuiu Ultra line is the lighter choice; 330d high tenacity, coated/DWR rip stop Cordura fabric and simple pack body designs aimed at keeping the weights low, with volumes ranging from 1800 to 6000 cubic inches. The Ultra 3000 (49L) full kit tips the scales at a claimed 3lbs, 4.3 oz., putting it the range of light internal frame packs.
The Icon Pro series is their heavy duty, feature laden line with capacities spanning 1850 to 7200 cubic inches. 500d coated/DWR ripstop Cordura fabric, internal stretch mesh pockets, outer pockets and more features push the Icon Pro 3200 (52L) to a claimed 4 pounds, 4 oz., still an impressive weight for a pack with this much structure. All Kuiu Ultra and Icon Pro packs have been load tested to 150+ pounds!
Prices range from 349.98 for the Kuiu Ultra 1800 full kit (frame, pack body, shoulder straps and hip belt) to 499.98 for the Kuiu Icon Pro 7200 full kit. All packs are available in both a solid color scheme and camo pattern.
Another refreshing characteristic of the Kuiu brand is their transparency. Jason Hairston, owner and founder, is surprisingly open with his personal history, brand conceptualization, design philosophies and even day to day operations at Kuiu through his blog posts and videos.
Look for an upcoming test of the Kuiu Ultra 3000 here at Gear Institute!