KUIU STALKER 500
The Stalker 500 is designed as a low profile hydration pack which can be easily stowed inside a larger backpack and deployment on the final stages of a stalk, hence its name. Its shoulder straps are ingenuously made to fold into their own dedicated pockets to minimize bulk when riding inside a larger pack. The Stalker 500 also features a dedicated foam padded hydration pouch, two additional storage pockets, water repellent Ripstop Cordura fabric, Duraflex hardware, and YKK zippers. Over the years we have found ourselves continually purchasing hydration packs of comparable size from companies like Camelback, Dakine, High Sierra, and others, simply because they are perfect for those short hunts, hikes, or rides where you want to be light and fast but are still trekking far enough from civilization that you want those task essential items with you. Based on our initial impressions this pack can hang with the best of them.
We took this little pack for a 7 mile hike through Utah’s Lake Blanche Park over the weekend and it really impressed us. I wore the pack most of the day and my wife took it for part of the hike back to the car. The pack sat comfortable and secure against our sweaty t-shirts and neither of us experienced any discomfort or pain points. The tiny straps and clips all stayed in place throughout the hike and we never once found ourselves tightening or re-adjusting the them which is pretty impressive considering how small they are and how substantial the load was that we placed on them. We stuffed a 2 liter water bladder, goal zero battery pack, phone, USB cable, GoPro with selfie stick, med kit, sandwiches, and a few cliff bars into the Stalker 500. Ditch the GoPro and add rain gear and a range finder and this is very similar to what we would loadout for a day hunt or early season sit in the stand. The Stalker 500 rode so well we actually took its coziness for granted until we finally sat to write this review and reflected on how painless the pack had been to carry.
The padded hydration sleeve definitely aided in the pack’s comfort. The padding also seemed to help dull any noise coming from the packs compartments. Despite all our movement during our 2400 ft of elevation gained the little pack remained silently at peace in the center of our backs. The cinch straps which hug the main compartment also helped keep everything nice and tight. These straps were also great for holding an extra layer of clothing.
If you own any other Kuiu products you’ll likely recognize the water repellent Ripstop Cordura material used in the stalkers construction. In our experience we have found this material to be super lightweight but impressively abrasive resistant. Our favorite Kuiu hat is made from the same material and it has survived two hunting seasons, a half marathon, lots of miles in the woods, and countless social events rife with adult beverages. And it still looks brand new! It’s the toughest hat we own and while we recognize that it isn’t exactly scientific to qualify our hats experience to the Stalker 500 we thought it important you understand that this Cordura material is serious stuff. We were also impressed that this material kept the Stalker 500 from feeling waterlogged and it didn’t seem to smell despite us spending four hours profusely sweating in temperatures which hovered just below 100 Fahrenheit.
We are also big fans of the compartments on the Stalker 500. The shape, layout, and angle of opening make it so that contents are easily accessible but remain secure when opening. As previously mentioned we had a mess of cables and small electronics in both pockets but we never felt like we had to fight them from falling out every time we unzipped the bag. We have had a lot of bags in the past where unzipping a compartment felt was akin to pulling a parachute cord so we really appreciated how well Kuiu was able to designed these. And as advertised, when all was said and done we were able to easily fit the Stalker 500 in one of our larger bags. Either full of the essentials or emptied and folded into a neat little package.
We really like this pack and it will be coming with us on many more trips and hunts this year. Whether you are making the final stalk on a sheep or taking a short hike through the trails, the Kuiu Stalker 500 is definitely a solid option for anyone in need of a small, portable pack. The Stalker 500 retails for $60. You can check out more details and purchase the Stalker 500 from Kuiu’s website: