Blackburn Outpost vs. Salsa Anything: Battle of the Cargo Cages


By Alissa Bell: pedal-powered freedom seeker, 20k+ miles of bikepacking and touring on 6 continents

Updated:


Trying to decide between the Salsa EXP Anything Cargo Cage and Blackburn Outpost Cage? Both are versatile, sturdy, and convenient ways to add capacity to a bikepacking bag setup. I tested both side-by-side, literally, on my recent bikepacking trip and the results were not what I expected.

Full disclosure, I’m a long-time Outpost cage fan. I own six of them, most of which have seen well over 5000 miles of bikepacking. I think they’re great! But I recently came across a killer deal on a used Salsa Anything Cage HD and decided to try it out. I own a number of Salsa’s other bikepacking products and they’ve never let me down.

So what’s the verdict? During 250 miles of rough Baja backroads I ran one of each: Outpost on my right fork blade and Anything on the left. I learned a lot from this side-by-side comparison, including what I’ve been missing all this time by not trying the popular Anything Cage and why I also still love the Outpost.

Outpost and Anything cages side-by-side on my fork

Summary: The Anything has a functionally better design and overall better value for money, especially if you want to carry big bulky bags. The Outpost is less bulky, fits better when space is limited, and has an aesthetically better design IMHO. But there’s more to it than that, so read on!

This post is a quick comparison of the Outpost versus the Anything, two of the most popular large bikepacking cargo cages. If you want all the nitty-gritty on each individual cage, see my detailed reviews:

Cargo cages are one of my favorite ways to carry bikepacking gear. There are 5 in this picture!

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Comparison Table

Blackburn OutpostSalsa EXP Anything
Price$35$35
Weight without straps4.44 oz5.15 oz
Size7.9″ x 4″ x 3.3″8.5″ x 4.6″ x 3.5″
Bolts2 (old version), 3 (new version)3
Max weight11 lbs6.6 lbs
Cage materialaluminumglass filled nylon (plastic)
Strap materialnylonrubber
Link to buyBuy on AmazonBuy at REI
Outpost cage on the left, Anything cage on the right

Size and Shape

Winner: Depends on your use case

These are both big cargo cages, but the Anything Cage is bigger. The extra half inch of both height and width make it an extra-stable perch for soft or awkwardly shaped bags that might not sit securely in a more minimalist cage. That said, I’ve carried plenty of poorly packed 5-liter dry bags in my Outpost cages with no problems. Both cages have a large base to help support soft bags.

There is one downside to the Anything Cage’s wider size: it may not fit on your downtube without hitting the chainring. Actually the Outpost might not either, but it has a better shot. On my 1x Chumba Stella, for example, the Outpost just barely clears my chainring but the Anything does not.

Both cages are large, but the Anything is slightly taller and wider.
Both the Anything and Outpost have a large supportive base that works well for soft bags.

Straps

Winner: Salsa Anything Cage

There’s a reason bikepackers love rubber Voile-style straps: they’re easy to tighten and loosen, and their slight stretch means rattle-free riding even when carrying a hard-sided bottle.

Salsa’s Anything Cage HD comes with two high-quality rubber straps. Blackburn’s Outpost cage comes with two mediocre nylon straps. The Outpost’s straps do work — they have rubber strips to prevent slippage — but they aren’t as nice. I eventually upgraded all my Outpost straps to rubber Voile straps at an extra cost of nearly $16 per cage.

The straps that come with the Outpost cage (bottom) aren’t great, so I’ve replaced them with rubber straps (top, similar to those that come with the Anything cage) over time.

Mounting

Winner: Salsa Anything Cage

Bolt Pattern

The Salsa Anything Cage uses three bolts for a stronger mount, while the original Blackburn Outpost uses only two. In my experience this isn’t a big deal, and you can still carry heavy loads with the Blackburn if you use strong stainless steel bolts and/or route the strap around the fork blade for extra support. Ditto if you want to use the Anything Cage with only two bolts, if that’s all you have.

Note: The “updated” Blackburn Outpost Cage supposedly now has 3 bolt holes, but it’s hard to find! Several attempts to order it on Amazon have failed (I received the 2 bolt version regardless of what I ordered) and it’s out of stock on Blackburn’s website.

The original Outpost cage only uses two bolts, though the updated version (if you can find it) has a three-pack mount.
The EXP Series Anything Cage mounts with three bolts.

Height Adjustability

The Blackburn Outpost cage has more vertical adjustment thanks to three oblong hole options per bolt. This allows the cage to be positioned about an inch lower than the Anything Cage can be.

While keeping weight low to the ground does technically improve bike handling, I’d be surprised if anyone could notice this difference by feel.

Shape of Mounting Area

The spine of the Blackburn Outpost is flat and relatively thin. This puts a lot of surface area in contact with your bike frame, so I recommend pieces of frame protection tape between the bolt holes. You could also use a small washer or spacer to lift the cage off the frame / fork.

The Salsa Anything Cage uses plastic standoffs to separate the cage body from the frame. Their shape fits nicely on a range of tube shapes and minimizes the amount of material in contact, which should reduce rubbing.

The only downside: you’ll need longer bolts for a sturdy mount. Salsa includes three bolts with the cage, but keep the longer length in mind if you’re packing spares. I recommend at least 14mm.

The Salsa Anything Cage is thicker where it mounts to the frame, and has less material in contact.
The Blackburn Outpost is flat and thin where it mounts to the bike, and I recommend frame protection tape underneath.

If you’re thinking about mounting either of these cages with hose clamps, the Outpost is a better choice. Clamps can conveniently pass through the three strap slots for a tight fit, whereas the Anything’s thicker plastic spine requires very large-diameter clamps and may not be as secure.

Strap Routing

Winner: Salsa Anything Cage

Both cages have three channels through which to pass straps, though I only use two. The Anything Cage is a bit more convenient in the case where you’ve unloaded the cages and left the straps hanging and now need to wheel the bike somewhere (happens to me surprisingly often). By routing straps through the slots on the sides of the cage, the ends are kept away from the wheels and spokes. With the Outpost it seems I’m always tangling my straps in my wheels while loading and unloading.

If you like to route the straps around the fork blade for extra support, as I often do, then the Anything Cage has better options. By passing the straps through the side slots it’s easy to keep the straps in place when they’re unbuckled.

I like to route the straps around the fork blade for extra support, which is easy to do with the Anything cage.

Both cages have options to ensure a tight fit for small objects like regular-size bottles. On the Outpost you can route a single strap around the smaller “waist.” On the Anything you can route through the slots closer to the bolt holes.

The Outpost and Anything, though designed for large bottles and bags, work fine for smaller bottles too.

Weight

Winner: Blackburn Outpost

There’s a small weight difference of less than an ounce between these two cargo cages, and the Blackburn Outpost wins. Honestly though, if you’re running a large cargo cage like either of these, an ounce is the least of your lightweight bikepacking concerns! They are both surprisingly lightweight for their strength.

The Anything is the heavier of the two, but for most people it’s a negligible difference.

Cargo Weight Limit

Winner: both

So technically the Salsa Anything cage is rated for “only” 6.6 pounds of load, while the Blackburn Outpost (even the two bolt version) is rated for a whopping 11 pounds. Personally — and this is just my opinion — I would load them both equally and not worry about either. They’re both really strong cages.

When loading either cage heavily I would also be sure to use sufficiently long stainless steel bolts and route the straps around the tube or fork blade. The cages are not necessarily the weakest link in this system. I’ve seen a heavy cargo cage fall off when the bolts sheared in half!

You can load fork cages pretty heavily (these are 2-bolt Outpost cages) if you wrap the straps around the fork blades for extra support.

Aesthetics

Winner: Blackburn Outpost (my subjective opinion)

I usually prioritize function over form when it comes to bikepacking gear, but I can’t deny that it’s nice when my bike looks spiffy. To that end I personally prefer the sleeker look of the Blackburn Outpost cage. It’s a bit smaller in actual dimensions, and it’s also less visually imposing thanks to the tubular construction and large open spaces.

It’s hard to imagine running the Salsa Anything Cage empty for any length of time; it would just look silly. I do sometimes run the Outpost cage without cargo when I’m too lazy to unmount it.

The Outpost has a neat design unlike any other cage on the market.

Price and Value

Winner: Salsa Anything Cage

Both cages currently retail for the same price of $35, and both cages offer similar value. However, the straps that come with the Anything Cage are definitely a better buy. Rubber straps are easier to cinch, easier to load and unload, and less prone to rattling with hard-sided containers because they stretch slightly.

Over time I’ve replaced all my Outpost cage straps with Voile straps, similar to the rubber straps that come with the Anything, at a cost of about $16 per cage. If you factor in that cost, the Salsa Anything Cage is a much better value.

In Conclusion

So after the test, which cargo cage do I recommend? It’s a tough call!

With 5000+ happy miles on my Outpost Cages, I wasn’t expecting to be impressed by the Anything Cage. Yet I quickly realized that its thoughtful design solves some issues I’d come to accept with the Outpost: less optimal strap routing, for example, and a bit of frame rub from the back of the cage. The Anything is super practical and well-executed.

It’s also hard to argue with the Anything’s rubber straps. Voile straps cost around $8 each, so you’ll spend an extra $16 if you go with the Outpost and then decide to upgrade the straps. If the Outpost came with quality rubber straps this would be a much tougher call, but based on value for money alone I’d have to recommend the Anything.

All that said, I still feel drawn to my Outpost cages. I like that they take up less space both physically and visually, and more importantly that they fit under my downtube without hitting my chainring. I like the way they cradle the 1.5 liter water bottles I’ve been using for years while still supporting my poorly packed 5-liter dry bags. Maybe I’m just attached to them after all those miles, but I would almost justify buying them again even with the extra cost to upgrade the straps. Irrational, perhaps, but they’re a nice cage with a unique design.

Here’s the best I can do to sum all this up. If you plan to sometimes carry water bottles and small (less than 3 liters) dry bags, and especially if you already have some Voile straps, I recommend the Outpost. If you plan to mostly carry large dry bags and you want the most functional setup for the least money, get the Anything.

They’re both great cargo cages and you can’t go wrong with either!

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About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa, founder of Exploring Wild. I’ve traveled over 19,000 miles by bike and still can’t stop planning my next ride (and helping you plan yours). Pavement and panniers or singletrack and seat bag, I love it all. On my bike I feel free. Learn more about me here.

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    1 thought on “Blackburn Outpost vs. Salsa Anything: Battle of the Cargo Cages”

    1. I recently bought a Bombtrack Beyond that has 3 holes in each for leg for attaching racks etc. My Anything cages push on the brake caliper on the front so had to get an Salsa cage. It was the old 2 hole version so I just drilled a 3rd hole!!!

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