Ultralight for Not-So-Light Packouts: KUIU Pro LT Pack Review

Women's PRO LT 4000 Pack

Women’s fit backcountry hunting packs are a relatively recent addition to hunting products designed to fit the female frame. With most of what’s available weighing well over 5 pounds, KUIU’s offering stands out as the lightest model available — not just for women, but also for any backcountry hunter. Its highly adjustable suspension, carbon fiber frame, and efficient storage layout set it apart from other packs.

A solid backcountry hunting pack needs to perform a multitude of tasks. It should efficiently carry equipment and supplies, adjust to fit the user comfortably, and pack out a harvested animal — all while keeping the pack’s weight as light as practically possible.

At well over a pound lighter in stated weight than my previous pack (with 50% more capacity), I was immediately smitten with KUIU’s PRO LT 4000 pack when I saw it. It’s got a couple of shortcomings that I’ll discuss further down, but it makes up for them in fit and finish. 

In short: For women (or anyone else) looking for a lightweight backcountry pack with meat-hauling capabilities, the KUIU PRO LT4000 offers extraordinary comfort. Despite weighing in a little heavy and coming up short in the load sling department, the customizable fit and well-thought-out details have me reaching for this bag, even when I don’t need the extra capacity. 


KUIU Women’s PRO LT 4000 Pack

Specs

  • Main body
    CORDURA HT 330D
  • Waterproof back and bottom panel
    CORDURA HT 330D
  • Hypalon Reinforced Compression Strap Anchors
  • Chomarat Spread Tow Carbon Fiber
  • One size fits all frame/suspension- Waist Belt
    25-44", Height 5’10” and shorter
  • Volume
    4,000 cu. in.
  • Weight (claimed)
    3 lbs., 13.9 oz.
  • Colors
    Valo, Verde, Vias, Phantom, Evergreen
  • Price
    $616

Pros

  • Highly adjustable suspension

  • Great pocket layout/size

  • Wears cooler than other packs

  • Compact frame size

Cons

  • Heavier than stated weight

  • Load sling could be improved


Andrea Wilson

KUIU PRO LT4000 Overview

Carrying snacks in KUIU Pro LT Pack
(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

First things first: The suspension of this pack system is the only women’s-specific component. So, if you’re a man looking for KUIU PRO LT4000 pack reviews and you’ve landed here, then stick around because this one’s for you, too.

Next: Do all women need a women’s-specific hunting pack? As with anything else that you wear, it comes down to personal preference. The shoulder harness and hip belt are shaped differently than what’s on a “men’s” pack to account for wider hips, narrower shoulders, and to keep the shoulder straps off of the breasts. If those things matter to you, it’s probably worth trying out.

My first hunting pack was a Mystery Ranch Sawtooth 45. With over three seasons of use, including a massive multiday elk packout, it proved to be an excellent pack backed by a great company. However, I had wandering eyes. I lusted after something a little larger and lighter. When I saw KUIU’s Women’s PRO LT 4000 pack in Evergreen, I had an immediate crush. A sub-4-pound pack? Sign me up.

Testing

Since I received this pack for review nowhere near a large animal hunting season, I tested the load-hauling capabilities with a 50-pound sandbag, doing everything from 1-mile hikes to and from my mailbox to a 4-mile loop to run game cameras.

hikinh in kuiui Pro LT Pack
(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

I also used it for turkey scouting, hauling a pop-up ground blind to my favorite turkey hunting spot, and for spring turkey hunting. When hunting, I carry a few layers, food, 2 L of water, a sitting pad, a hard plastic hen decoy, and the occasional mule deer shed antler inside the main compartment. The terrain I’m hunting is rugged mountain backcountry with mostly off-trail travel.

Women's Pro LT 4000 Pack
(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

I want to start with the things that made me raise an eyebrow before I get into why I otherwise love this pack.

Weight

KUIU lists the stated weight of the PRO LT4000 pack at 3 pounds, 13 ounces. My pack weighs in at 4 pounds, 5 ounces. At first, I thought maybe my cheap scale was to blame, so I took it to the tiny rural post office near my house and traded our nice mailroom worker a dozen yard eggs to weigh each component separately on a certified, legal-for-trade scale.

Here are the results in claimed/actual format: 

  • Total pack: 3 lbs., 13.9 oz. / 4 lbs., 5 oz.
  • Pockets: 3.5 oz. / 3.4 oz.
  • Bag: 1 lb., 3.5 oz. / 1 lb., 7.2 oz.
  • Suspension: 1 lb., 11.9 oz. / 1 lb., 11.5 oz.
  • Frame: 11 oz. / 15.6 oz.

Even at 7 ounces over the stated weight, the PRO LT 4000 pack system is more than a pound lighter than my previous pack, with an extra 1,200 cubic inches of space. This unexpected weight might have some buyers returning their purchase before they even try it on. However, as I pointed out previously, it’s still one of the lightest models on the market. 

Load Hauling

The frame and suspension make a 50-pound load incredibly comfortable and easy to handle. I worked my way up to a 4-mile off-trail hike to check a few game cameras. The frame shape, in combination with the suspension padding/adjustability, made it feel more comfortable and agile compared to other load-hauling packs I’ve used.

Putting sandbag in the kuiu pack
(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

Heavy Pack Failure

However, I think the design has one big shortcoming in this department: Whatever you have in the load-carrying space between the frame and pack is only held in place by the straps that attach and compress the bag to the frame. This means that keeping 50 (or more) pounds stable on the frame relies solely on compression from four side straps and two bottom straps that have relatively small attachment points on the pack.

In taking my sandbag out for 10-ish hikes, I managed to break the stitching on three of the four tabs holding the side compression straps to the pack. KUIU, in my experience, has the easiest and most generous warranty in the hunting space, replacing the bag immediately.

KUIU Pro LT Pack Straps
(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

Heavy Pack Solution

The brand does offer a Pack Load Hauler that attaches to the frame in place of the bag. The sling and compression design appears much more suited to securing a large amount of weight to the frame. It includes attachment points that allow you to secure one of the brand’s Stalker packs, accessory packs, or zip-dry bags to the outside for short hauling trips.

Yes, this answers my gripe — sort of. The Stalker is the largest of those compatible add-ons, which holds a 100-ounce hydration reservoir with 500 cubic inches of additional space. I know from my experience with using a large hip pack for fast/light for mountain lion hunts that its 800-cubic-inch capacity is already pushing the lower limits of size for safe/responsible backcountry hunting in the mountains (i.e., food, kill kit, and “self-rescue” necessities like first aid and extra layers). It’s also not a practical solution for a situation in which you harvest an animal and need to carry some or all of it out in addition to your full bag of gear.

In a market where other brands’ packs integrate shelves, slings, and/or frame-mounted compression straps to support loads without an extra accessory, I feel like the Pack Load Hauler is a band-aid-type solution to a problem that’s solvable with some changes to the pack itself.

OK, now to the good stuff.

Frame

One thing that’s made this pack my “go-to,” even for day trips, is the short frame. The carbon fiber backbone of the system doesn’t stick up above my head — a big one for me because it allows me to move through low-hanging limbs and brush without snagging.

It also lets me sling my shotgun diagonally over my head and onto my left shoulder, which is infinitely more comfortable than only hanging it on my right shoulder. The frame is also shaped in a way that just disappears on my back while simultaneously being stiff and strong.

KUIU Pro LT Pack Handles
(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

Suspension

The suspension system is what really sets this pack apart from others. Every load-hauling pack includes height adjustment to account for different torso lengths. The PRO LT4000 also allows for fine-tuning both the angle of the shoulder straps and the height of the lumbar pad. I played with both of these while performing my initial pack setup and found a sweet spot I’ve never found with other packs.

The belt is slightly more flexible than I’m used to. I initially thought that this would allow the pack to slip downward and generally feel less stable as I moved through rough terrain. However, my experience was quite the opposite — the flex allowed it to contour to my hip bones, giving it more resistance to movement and rotation than stiffer belts. It also eliminates pressure points on the bony parts of my hips (the iliac crest, for any of you anatomically savvy folks reading this).

Climbing with KUIU Pro LT Pack
(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

One of my biggest issues about using a larger pack for turkey hunting or summer scouting is that they tend to get very sweaty. The PRO LT4000 not only has a breathable outer layer, but it also only touches where it needs to. As a result, it wears cooler than any day pack I own.

Pack

First, the pockets. I hate it when a pack has so many pockets, zippers, and pass-throughs that I get lost trying to find my car keys or headlamp. The PRO LT4000 pack has three zippered pack pockets (one external and two internal), elastic-top side pockets, and two hip pockets.

KUIU Pro LT Pack Top Pockets
(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

Pockets

The zippered pockets offer just the right amount of organization for small items, and the deep side pockets are placed just right to allow me to reach what’s in them without taking the pack off (your experience might differ if you have limited shoulder mobility). All of the zippers have large plastic-ringed pulls, allowing for easy use when wearing warm gloves (probably big enough to grab with a mitten if you need to). 

The hip pockets are my greatest love — they’re big. I can carry a day’s worth of bars, homemade trail snacks, jerky, nuts, and trail mix. The zippers have grip tabs at the ends, making opening and closing easy.

Kuiu PRO LT Pockets
(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

The pack’s fabric has proved very durable and shows no wear after well over 30 hard days in the field. The bottom panel is waterproof. (Pro tip: If you don’t use a pack cover in heavy rain, that panel will turn the inside bottom of the pack into a small pond.)

The compression straps on the side and bottom of the pack let you snug it down as much as needed for trips that don’t require the pack’s full capacity (unless you find cool stuff in the woods to take back home).

Inside KUIU Pro LT Pack
(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

Inside, the pack has a hydration sleeve (with a zippered hose port) and four extra compression straps to secure pack contents to the back panel. I haven’t taken the pack on a multiday trip, but I see myself using them to secure my waterproof bag of food into this location.

Final Thoughts on the KUIU Pro LT

KUIU Pro LT Pack
(Photo/Andrea Wilson)

Again, downsides first — I honestly don’t care that this pack is heavier than stated. Its actual weight is still lighter than anything else with a women’s fit. As for the load-hauling issue, it is worth mentioning again that KUIU’s warranty department is absolutely on point if I ever have another problem.

As someone who hunts repeated dawn-to-dusk days, comfort is my number-one priority. The customizable fit of the suspension and lack of back sweat keep me comfortable day after day. A close second priority is efficiency. The hip and side pockets provide all the space I need for items I want to reach quickly without removing my pack.

I’m also able to move through limbs and brush without getting snagged up any more than I would with a standard day pack, thanks to the compact frame. It all adds up to make this pack something I forget about when I’m wearing it, which is the biggest compliment I can bestow on any piece of gear.

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The post Ultralight for Not-So-Light Packouts: KUIU Pro LT Pack Review appeared first on GearJunkie.

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