Enclosed is a link to Area 57, a new feature by Da...

Enclosed is a link to Area 57, a new feature by Daniel Wakefield Pasley in THE HUNT covering Tom and his workshop in Minden, Nevada.  I know you will enjoy this 2 page photo essay.

As Tom and I worked through this frame concept I began to research Carbon Fiber to better understand this material and why Carbon Fiber is the perfect material for the Icon.  I have enclosed some of my research information give you a better understanding of this amazing material to help you in your research on packs and the Icon.

A 6 μm diameter carbon filament compared to a human hair.

What is a Carbon Fiber?

A carbon fiber is a long, thin strand of material about 0.0002-0.0004 in (0.005-0.010 mm) in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in microscopic crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber. The crystal alignment makes the fiber incredibly strong for its size. Several thousand carbon fibers are twisted together to form a yarn, which may be used by itself or woven into a fabric. The yarn or fabric is combined with epoxy and wound or molded into shape to form various composite materials.

Carbon fiber-reinforced composite materials are used to make aircraft and spacecraft parts, racing car bodies, golf club shafts, bicycle frames, fishing rods, automobile springs, sailboat masts, and many other components where light weight and high strength are needed.

How Strong is Carbon Fiber?

Carbon fibers are classified by the tensile modulus of the fiber. The strongest carbon fibers with the highest tension modulus are ten times stronger than steel and eight times that of aluminum, not to mention much lighter than both materials, 5 and 1.5 times, respectively. Additionally, their fatigue properties are superior to all known metallic structures, and they are one of the most corrosion-resistant materials available, when coupled with the proper resins.

How is Carbon Fiber Made?

The raw material used to make carbon fiber are organic polymers, characterized by long strings of molecules bound together by carbon atoms. During the manufacturing process, a variety of gases and liquids are used. Some of these materials are designed to react with the fiber to achieve a specific effect. Other materials are designed not to react or to prevent certain reactions with the fiber. As with the precursors, the exact compositions of many of these process materials are considered trade secrets.

The process for making carbon fibers is part chemical and part mechanical. The precursor is drawn into long strands or fibers and then heated to a very high temperature without allowing it to come in contact with oxygen. Without oxygen, the fiber cannot burn. Instead, the high temperature causes the atoms in the fiber to vibrate violently until most of the non-carbon atoms are expelled. This process is called carbonization and leaves a fiber composed of long, tightly inter-locked chains of carbon atoms with only a few non-carbon atoms remaining.

Please let me know your thoughts and questions on Carbon Fiber.


This article has 32 comment(s)

  1. Paul Chrena

    Great info. I saw a modern marvels episode that was all about carbon and carbon fiber that showed the manufacturing process of the fibers. Very strong stuff! I can’t wait to get my pack loaded and go for a hike.

    • Jason Hairston

      CF is a fantastic material for high strength to weight ratios applications such as missiles, rockets, aerospace and pack frames.


  2. G. Todd Brooks

    Question to you Jason, is: how is your Carbon frame protected from both the elements and the breakdown of the Carbon over time?
    as an example, when I shoot Carbon Arrows they eventually crack or splinter or decay because of UV light & have to be cycled out, for Safety reasons. what would keep the ICON from being cycled out? Thanks.

    • Tom Ryle

      The CF/resin composite is the key to avoiding UV degradation. I’ll assume that Tom, working in aerospace, has this recipe dialed in for this application.

    • Jason Hairston

      As Tom mentioned the resin used protects the CF against UV.


  3. Coy C. Benge

    Thank God there are extremely intelligent individuals out there that make our hunting more enjoyable!! You guys lost me at “Carbon Fiber” but I’m ready to get one of these packs on my back…FULL OF SHEEP MEAT!!

    • Jason Hairston

      LOL! Cory I cannot wait to see photos of your loaded up!


  4. Chris

    I’d like to know more about how the lamination takes place. I’m also interested in some measure of durability. Like the breaking point of those lower arms, or how much wear they can take. I know with impacts carbon composites can fracture, what kind of testing have you done to ensure you’ve optimized your resin and fabric combo for optimal strength and durablilty? Thank you from all of us internet purchasers.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Chris,

      We use a resin mold transfer process to make the frame. I cannot go into more detail than this with you. The lower arms are very durable as I will show you in the up coming posts and as well as some demonstrations of the strength of the Icon.


  5. Matt

    Simpleton here, I’m with Coy…. Can’t believe this technology is being used to the extent of the Icon Pack. Amazing stuff. Love reading this “in depth” detail of the design and the how/why materials where picked. I couldn’t explain it, but I can follow the entries on the blog. I continue to find all these posts fascinating and very educational. Thank you!

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Matt,

      I am so glad to hear you find this type of detail interesting.


  6. Slim9300

    Interesting stuff. I can’t wait to get my Icon 6000. Is it May yet? I know this is a carbon fiber related “discussion” but I’m curious how much noise the Icon bag material makes when compared to say Pac-Lite Gore-Tex clothing?


    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Conlan,

      MUCH quieter than Pac-lite and a much softer hand feel. I think you will really like this material.


      • slim9300

        You just made my day!

        • Jason Hairston


  7. Cameron Meier

    I am very excited to see more posts and information on the strength and durability of the icon frame as well as the bag. I know you have done lots of testing and would love to see the stress points on the icon and how it articulates and moves while loaded. I mentioned this on your facebook page but is their anyway we could get some videos or anything on these packs and putting the bags on and how they attatch? I realize some people like Aron (Elk Reaper) will do this when they get the packs. Just think that would be really nice to see. I am definetly looking forward to some more posts about the frame! How are the designs coming for just a meat carrier that attaches to the frame? Love the updates and keep up the good work.

    Cameron Meier

    • Jason Hairston

      More to come Cameron on the pack and frame.


  8. Jeff M. Valunas

    Once again you and KUIU, continue to impress. I feel like a kid in science class. The difference is; Instead of getting an A thru C, I am getting an explanation, as to why/ and where my hard earned money is going. This stuff is Awesome… I officially nominate KUIU, for a ‘Noble Prize’, in a business structure for hunting, like none before!!! At least to my knowledge… 🙂
    Lookin’ forward to the next post!
    Jeff M. Valunas

    • Jason Hairston

      Thank you Jeff! I appreciate this feedback.


  9. john mcknight

    I can’t wait to get blood all over the one I ordered.
    Ride & Kill

    John McKnight

    • Jason Hairston

      Thank you John! I cannot wait to see the photos.


  10. Matthew

    I understand the advantages of the carbon fiber frame from a weight/”strength” perspective, but what if it does fail in the field? Metal pieces can be bent back into place due to the tendencey of that medium to “yield” under a failure inducing load or impact, whereas the failure of the carbon would appear to be a trip-ender. Granted, a load from a backpack probably won’t lead to a yield event in a frame under normal circumstances, but what about a tumble down a shale slide? I am hesitant to compare this pack to sliced bread just yet…unlike the rest of your gear. It’ll be fun to watch it evolve with use, which is the only real means of finding the flaws. Great idea.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Matt,

      This frame is certainly new and I appreciate your questions and concerns. The frame is pretty well protected by the bag and suspension which in the case of rolling your bag down a shale slide, not sure how best to answer this. Will it survive? How far of a tumble, how much weight, how steep, too many variables to tell you it will or will not. I do not recommend rolling your gear down a shale slide:)


  11. Bryon

    A field I like to look at when trying to understand the application and strength of carbon fiber design and one that I watched closely because I was using the products is mountain bikes. When carbon fiber frames were introduced many, myself included felt that the carbon fiber would not hold up to the constant abuse and impacts one sees during mountain biking but look what has taken place in the engineering and design of bike frames now. Improvements continue to be made in infusion laminating and compression molding that allows carbon fiber to be utilized in more and more applications. Future products and designs should be intriguing to say the least.

    • Jason Hairston

      Thank you for the comment Bryon. A very good comparison.


  12. Jason Hairston

    From Tom Ryle:

    Great summary, Jason! And the photo essay is very cool. I love seeing American ingenuity at work!

    In my past experience with CF, working on bicycle frame design (Alsop) and wheels for our university solar electric vehicle (WWU Viking XX -http://www.opencortex.org/pr00000057) I was blown away with the strength/weight ratio. It’s a specialized material and technology, and at last glance, it seems everyone in the archery industry is jumping into the CF ring. Quivers, bow risers, and other accessories are adopting this old, yet new material. CF can often create a reality that defies intuition and traditional understanding of strength, weight, and durability. This discovery by KUIU customers will be delightful, I’m sure.

    I have no issues or concerns with the Icon pack frame and quite the opposite; I predict the Icon frame will be the one of first the application of a “hunting-oriented” development adopted and proliferated by the mountaineering community…a flip-flop of sorts.


    • Jeff M. Valunas

      I second those thoughts! The ICON frame, will be remembered as an ‘Iconic’ design, that WILL be followed! Thus, the nomination for a ‘Noble Prize’, I eluded to, on another thread. It is exhilerating, to be in-
      ‘the know’, of this potentially ‘game changing’ technology! KUIU, has/is changing everything about gear… I love it!!! (maybe, Noble Prize, is a little out of reach… However, someday- ECA, from BP Mag., is in the realm of possiblity). Those nautral colors on the bag, should make that a winner.

      • Jason Hairston

        Thank you Jeff!


  13. Allan

    I am an old (58) guy who was into flyfishing back in the bamboo rod days and into bicycle racing when steel was the only material that was used in a racing frame. As others who are younger than I have said, most people were very skeptical of carbon fiber when it came the bicycling scene, and before that many people thought carbon fiber was an inferior product for flyfishing rods. The main complaint was the tendency of carbon fiber to be subject to fracture failure, and that complaint was often justified early on. Today almost every high quality fly rod is made of carbon fiber, and they are considered pretty tough, durable, and long lived — certainly far more so than the bamboo rods they generally replaced. Bicycle frames, forks and other components that were subject early on to frequent failures are now often considered the most rugged and durable. The materials have improved vastly, but even more importantly the design of the item and use of the materials in the building process has given us vastly better products. I agree with others that as designers like Jason and his group work up new products using carbon fiber, many of the products we have used in the past will be revolutionized. The Icon pack frame is a dramatic example. Other designers have used carbon fiber in the evolution of their products, but this is the most obvious and exciting shift to CF that we have seen in this segment of the outdoor equipment industry. Jason and crew are to be congratulated, but expect many others to follow this path that has been blazed with the introduction of the Icon pack frame.


    • Jason Hairston

      Thank you Allan for the nice comment and words. I really appreciate it.


  14. Matthew

    I am still a skeptic, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad development. I actually feel rather to the contrary, and hope that the “prediction” above is correct about the frame/style being adopted by many user groups.

    I like top notch reliable stuff that I can depend on. I’ll save up for quality in lieu of instant gratification. That goes for every piece of gear I own from my boots to my ball cap. If this pack proves to be that, I’ll buy one to go along with all my other KUIU gear (that should get up here some day…). I’ll still have other packs, just like I still own wool shirts and pants.

    I think the model of this company, the quality, ingenuity, and price point are excellent, and that it’s about time someone did this. Good show. I’m looking forward to getting my gear dirty, muddy, and bloody. -MNM

    • Jason Hairston

      I get it Matt! I appreciate your support and taking the time to comment.