Stryker XL - Camp Bag & Camp Bag Alternatives Review & Comparison

ChrisAU

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Disclaimer: Yes, my pool table is dirty. Its used more for this kind of stuff than it is pool.

So Kifaru sucked me back in with the recent sale after using Kuiu for a few years. I had moved to Kuiu for weight and economic concerns. Weight has become less of a concern as my experience has grown, and with the sale economics was less of a factor. I didn't have any specific complaints from my Kuiu other than being a little short on space at times. I can tell the Kifaru will be much more comfortable under heavy weights, something I knew when I switched to my Kuiu in 2019. After my first experience in 2018 with Kifaru I didn't expect to be carrying heavy loads much - well thats all I've done since I switched ha. Two elk and two antelope in 3 total trips. My Kuiu was the pro suspension with an older Ultra 4000 bag. I made it work fine for 5-6 night trips. We always made multiple trips with an animal down and wound up strapping some stuff to the outside.

The Stryker/Stryker XL system intrigued me as a system with an easily accessible load shelf and a moderately sized main bag for day hunts. You can put just about as big as a bag you want in the load sling to make it a big enough bag for however long you need. I also love the modularity of Kifaru, there probably aren't many setups that are just like another after the owner has had it a few days.

These are the bags I got to try out with manufacturer claimed specs:

Kifaru Camp Bag - 3540 ci - 19.2 oz
Hill People Gear Small Decker Pack Bag - 2500 ci - 10.4 oz
Z-Packs Pack Liner - 2800 ci - 1.8 oz
Z-Packs Small Pack Liner - 1650 ci - 1.4 oz

LPfvV1g.jpg


Left to Right - Z-Packs Pack Liner - Z-Packs Small Pack Liner - HPG Small Decker Pack Bag - Kifaru Camp Bag

So, to decide what to keep and see how it works for me I did a mock pack - a few of them. I gathered most everything I'd take for a 6 night/7 day backcountry elk hunt. I grabbed most things but omitted a few smaller items that would wind up in a belt pouch or a my bino harness. Rifle was not included for obvious reasons. I did forget to grab a fleece mid layer, but it would have easily fit in the Stryker XL's main bag.

XZjjpF9.jpg


I then separated what I'd put in the Stryker XL's main bag and in the camp bags. Here is what I had slated aside for the camp bag:

2021 Lanshan 1 Plus Tent
Six Moon Designs Tent Pole (I like my trekking poles)
Hammock Gear 20* Quilt
Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insualted Regular Sleeping Pad
Sea to Summit Pillow
Extra Pair of Boxers
6 Dehydrated Meals
5 Food Day Bags Stuffed with Packing Peanuts (almost as yummy as what I normally bring)
Toaks 550 Pot with Esbit Tablets and Ti Stove Inside
Spork
Toaks Wind Shield rolled over an Opinel Saw

MApvuDK.jpg


First up is the small Z-Packs liner - I figure if it works, then no reason for me to try the regular/large. As you can see I opted to drop the "pointy" items from the above list due to fabric concerns. Otherwise everything fit fine with minimal stuffing, could fit more in it if needed, and then I decided to not use the large - if your camp is appreciably bigger than mine then yes, the large would work great for you if this is what you wanted to use.

59JxBfN.jpg


Pros:
Super Lightweight at 1.4 oz
Waterproof

Cons:
Loud Material
Potentially Less Durable

Here are some pics with the pack fully loaded out:

hv2oDnS.jpg

hoF1amN.jpg

NYC7z86.jpg



Next up is the Hill People Gear Small Decker Pack Bag.

Once again, everything fit great. I really like the top zip of this, the grab handle, and really really like that it has side pockets - this allows me to put tripod, tent poles, extra water bottles, whatever in the side pockets like you would on any other pack. This wound up my favorite for its moderate size and the aforementioned features.

Pros:
More Durable
Side Pockets
Zip Access

Cons:
Not Waterproof
Moderate Weight

Kwk8JQj.jpg

kWztocs.jpg

VHiVkkG.jpg


Side pocket verastility:
pSusxqq.jpg


One criticism I've heard of the Stryker is where do you put meat if you are packing out camp all at one time? We'd likely never do this as I do multiple trips, but lets say you wanted to take out a load of meat and 100% of camp - no problem with the Sherman. The weight certainly starts to get further away from your back, but nothing unmanageable. I'd rather have a longer turn radius than be wide anyway. There is a size Large FL Solitude bib in the Z-packs bag here. Could stuff much more in it.

bepi6ot.jpg

JKfjJpa.jpg


Now, the Kifaru Camp Bag.

It's so big I just put the Decker straight into the Camp Bag. Obviously fits well, as it is made to. I do like integrated points on it for attaching straps if needed, you can get creative with compressing the load in the Kifaru Camp Bag if needed. I'm keeping this as an option for longer extended hunts in the future.

Pros:
More Durable
Very Large for Longer Hunts

Cons:
Not Waterproof
Heavy

Mkzc974.jpg

qFCpkJP.jpg


And lastly, what you're all wondering - but what if I'm insane and like to whitetail hunt in spots that required boot foot waders?? Well, here's my Size 12 Regular Sitka waders in a Rogers wader bag:

LB2Tqcr.jpg

lahA2S5.jpg


Perfect! Ha

Also a couple side notes on my hip belt configuration - I found the Marsupial Small Shotgun Shell pouch to be a nicely sized pouch that only takes up 3 PALs rows. I easily put my Outdoorsman's pistol grip and two pairs of thick gloves in here:

KwZVNDr.jpg


I'm also a big fan of the Kifaru Gun Bearer upper piece but never like the lower as it had the one strap in the middle that allowed the butt of the rifle to rotate too much in my experience. The last few years I helped solve this issue by using the Kuiu lower, but this year found that the Initial Ascent lower is even better - it has a slightly larger cradle and is better constructed:

9hKmlwP.jpg
 

Grumman

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Great write up! I bought a Stryker XL during the sale also so this is very helpful.


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jnawalaniec

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Sep 4, 2021
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Salt Lake City
i’m very happy someone did this so I didn’t have to, thank you! I’m currently on a sewing kit with plans to make my own bag dry bags for this but that decker looks nice in there.
 

bowhuntr09

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Feb 20, 2021
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Thanks for the write up. I bought the 22 Mag from the sale, but still have my eye on a Stryker XL.
 

prm

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Cool write up! I am a big fan of the Stryker method. So versatile, and capable. I personally would use one of the larger bags and not use the sherman. Just personal preference.

edit: had not heard of that HPG bag. That looks like a great option! May have to try one!
 
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ChrisAU

ChrisAU

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My back hurts just from looking at those pictures! I think I'll stick with having a bag big enough to carry my stuff (Dall for me).

Well done and thanks for putting the time in though! Always interesting to see how people do stuff!

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I think that is a bit of a misconception with the Stryker XL. It may be on the narrow side, but you are only looking at ~4000ci total in all of those pics except the one with the Decker between the Sherman and Stryker. Overall shape and size is extremely similar for the Decker + Stryker compared to my Kuiu Ultra 4000 for example. The different “layers” add some depth misconception IMO. A full Reckoning like I had before would be wider and deeper.
 
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ChrisAU

ChrisAU

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I think that is a bit of a misconception with the Stryker XL. It may be on the narrow side, but you are only looking at ~4000ci total in all of those pics except the one with the Decker between the Sherman and Stryker. Overall shape and size is extremely similar for the Decker + Stryker compared to my Kuiu Ultra 4000 for example. The different “layers” add some depth misconception IMO. A full Reckoning like I had before would be wider and deeper.

I posted this and thought to myself man, there’s no need for theories and opinions here. Went up stairs and stuffed the Decker/Stryker XL, my Kuiu Ultra 4000, and a Kifaru Woodsman to the gills with clothing. I placed a thin foam pad under the Kuiu to simulate the thicker lumbar pad and shoulder straps of the Kifaru, and stacked magazines under the Woodsman to simulate frame/lumbar/shoulder straps.

I only stuffed the main bags. The Decker/Stryker XL is ~4400ci, the Kuiu 4000 is ~4000ci (though I speculate it could be much smaller if Kuiu is including the front compartment), and the Woodsman is ~3400ci. All the bags measured roughly 12-13” wide with the Kuiu being the widest and the Woodsman/Stryker being nearly identical in width.

I think these pics just primarily show the difference in cubic inches as the packs grow outward.



85BE1F57-97D1-4E2F-96CE-D0BD69C122AE.jpeg 481CBBB0-9B49-4B3C-8E18-8E34A3F56181.jpeg D2A90D96-3EFB-4885-A790-60E9B2DEB6A4.jpeg 11C2B734-4C84-4A4D-8EFD-F4D87346EBF2.jpeg
 
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ChrisAU

ChrisAU

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Measured depth of the bags roughly as so:

Woodsman 11.5”
Kuiu Ultra 4000 12.5”
Stryker XL/Decker 14.0”

I believe those are roughly in line with the increase in storage capacity.
 

prm

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Whether someone chooses a large bag pack or a Stryker, in the end you’re carrying the same volume and weight of stuff. How far off your back it ends up depends entirely in how you pack it. With a large pack, you use the shape of the main bag. With the Stryker, how the camp bag is packed impacts how far off your back the weight is placed. I feel it’s better to place the camp bag on the shelf between frame and Stryker and pull in the straps on the Stryker to about the depth (distance from back) I want, then fill the bag. You‘ll find you use more of the width and height of the camp bag, and not all the depth and thus keep the weight closer. This requires a camp bag slightly larger because you wont use all the depth. Same principle applies to a large bag pack. Bottom line, put the weight where you want it. For this reason, the larger Zpacks bag is appealing. Is the larger z bag wider?

With the Stryker, once at camp you get to ditch all the bulk in about 30 seconds and have a svelte hunting day pack that is ready to haul as much meat as your back and legs can stand. Or you can haul ladder stands, buckets, sandbags, climber stands, or whatever.
 

Catahoula

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I’m intrigued by this bag. I’m currently set-up with the Woodsman bag and like my set-up. However, I’m liking the Stryker XL for its smaller size, load shelf size and ease of use, better set-up with bladder pocket. Reminds me of my girl’s MR Pop-Up 28. One of the young guys I was introduced to this last season at camp had one and he gladly showed me his set-up. I’m think about the change. Nice photos by the way.
 
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ChrisAU

ChrisAU

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Whether someone chooses a large bag pack or a Stryker, in the end you’re carrying the same volume and weight of stuff. How far off your back it ends up depends entirely in how you pack it. With a large pack, you use the shape of the main bag. With the Stryker, how the camp bag is packed impacts how far off your back the weight is placed. I feel it’s better to place the camp bag on the shelf between frame and Stryker and pull in the straps on the Stryker to about the depth (distance from back) I want, then fill the bag. You‘ll find you use more of the width and height of the camp bag, and not all the depth and thus keep the weight closer. This requires a camp bag slightly larger because you wont use all the depth. Same principle applies to a large bag pack. Bottom line, put the weight where you want it. For this reason, the larger Zpacks bag is appealing. Is the larger z bag wider?

With the Stryker, once at camp you get to ditch all the bulk in about 30 seconds and have a svelte hunting day pack that is ready to haul as much meat as your back and legs can stand. Or you can haul ladder stands, buckets, sandbags, climber stands, or whatever.

The larger Z-Packs bag is a bit wider but is much taller:

Regular/Large: 19.5" x 38.5" Flat
Small: 17" x 32" Flat
 
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ChrisAU

ChrisAU

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I almost bought myself a Stryker XL this year to compliment my muskeg 7k. Now after using it for a season I'm glad i didn't. I used to chase the only take enough bag for what you need to cut as much weight as humanly possible. Previous to this I ran a Kuiu also, even ran the ultra 4000 and then shortly after needed a bigger pack and went to the 7800. I was floored how small i could make that pack go tiny with only my day kit after unloading and making camp.

Fast forward, no more meat shelves, stuff rides better, its easier to pack and far simpler. Centre of gravity is closer to your back. And really in the end you are close weight wise.

2.3lbs for the stryker XL (website weight)
1.2lbs for the camp bag.
(3.5lbs roughly for the combo at what 3540ci + 1900ci = 5440ci total)

Why not for simplicity sake run a Gnargali 2.8lbs (4400-5000ci) / Dall 3.05lb (6000-7000ci), Hoodlum 3.45lbs (4700-6400ci) or any other larger bag for that matter and keep things simple?

Well, with the Stryker XL + Z-Packs bag you are close to 5000ci if not over at 2.4 lbs. With the ability to use it to pack tree stands, waders, a 55 gallon drum, whatever. I do like the simplicity of just a bag, and I too found the 4000 to be a tad small but it no way do I need a 7800 that couldn't carry large bulky items when needed. I disliked the Reckoning in day pack mode, had to choke off most of the bag to be able to put stuff up top where I didn't have to dive my whole body into the bag to get everything out. Now I can drop camp and have the 1900 ci main bag of the Stryker ready to go. Who knows, after field use maybe I won't like it. Many seem to like it though, and I'm excited to give it a shot.
 

Deadman's Point

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I appreciate the work you did to document this. I guess there is a single positive to Kifaru's stupidity in pairing up an end of the year inventory where they can't ship with heir biggest sale of the year.... I have a lot of time to read about what other folks are doing.
 

DDR

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Great write up! Thanks for taking the time. Very helpful
 

N2TRKYS

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I almost bought myself a Stryker XL this year to compliment my muskeg 7k. Now after using it for a season I'm glad i didn't. I used to chase the only take enough bag for what you need to cut as much weight as humanly possible. Previous to this I ran a Kuiu also, even ran the ultra 4000 and then shortly after needed a bigger pack and went to the 7800. I was floored how small i could make that pack go tiny with only my day kit after unloading and making camp.

Fast forward, no more meat shelves, stuff rides better, its easier to pack and far simpler. Centre of gravity is closer to your back. And really in the end you are close weight wise.

2.3lbs for the stryker XL (website weight)
1.2lbs for the camp bag.
(3.5lbs roughly for the combo at what 3540ci + 1900ci = 5440ci total)

Why not for simplicity sake run a Gnargali 2.8lbs (4400-5000ci) / Dall 3.05lb (6000-7000ci), Hoodlum 3.45lbs (4700-6400ci) or any other larger bag for that matter and keep things simple?


Yep, I bought the original Stryker when it came out. Turns out, I like my AMR so much better than the Stryker.
 

10ringer

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Jun 10, 2017
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NC
Yep, I bought the original Stryker when it came out. Turns out, I like my AMR so much better than the Stryker.

AMR with a full length side access zipper or full horseshoe would be the bomb!


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