Review: Salsa EXP Anything Cargo Cage HD

At a Glance

  • Salsa’s Anything Cargo Cage HD is an extra-large, extra-sturdy 3-bolt cage for carrying dry bags and big bottles on fork blades and down tubes.
  • As one of the biggest cages available, it excels at carrying large dry bags filled with soft or awkwardly shaped stuff.
  • It comes with two high-quality rubber straps and is a great value.

The Salsa EXP Anything Cage is nearly synonymous with the concept of a bikepacking cargo cage. For years it’s been faithfully carrying food, clothes, sleeping pads, cook kits, and yes, pretty much anything on the forks of adventure-ready bikes. It’s probably the best-known cage on the market and was one of the earliest, but how does it measure up to newer options?

Truth be told, I’m actually a long-time fan of the competing Blackburn Outpost cage. I own a whole stack and that has seen thousands of miles of use. But I recently came across a used Salsa Anything Cage on sale for a great price. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to test it side-by-side with the Outpost on my next trip.

After 250 rugged miles of bikepacking in Baja, here’s my review of the Salsa Anything cargo cage: pros, cons, how it differs from other cages on the market, and under what circumstances I would use it again.

If you’re comparing specifically to the Blackburn Outpost, see Salsa Anything vs. Blackburn Outpost: Battle of the Cargo Cages.

Bikepacker rides down rutted dirt road
Me, the author, testing the Anything Cargo Cage on rough roads in Baja

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Product: Salsa EXP Series Anything Cage HD

Price: $35
Weight: 5.15 oz (measured without straps or hardware)
Size: 8.5″ x 4.6″ x 3.5″
Material: glass filled nylon, a high-strength plastic
Cargo weight limit: 6.6 lbs (3 kg)
Mounting bolts: 3

My rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

Shop Salsa Anything Cage at:

What I love about the Anything Cage:

  • Sturdy 3-bolt mount
  • Large supportive shape works for big bulky bags
  • Comes with high-quality rubber straps
  • Slots conveniently retain straps when they’re unbuckled
  • Good value for the price
  • Small points of contact between cage and frame for versatile fit and less rubbing

Could be better:

  • Heavier than other cages
  • Bulky
  • Too wide for beneath some downtubes (hits chainring)
  • Bolt hole position isn’t very adjustable and doesn’t position weight as low as it could
  • Requires longer mounting bolts
  • Shape of spine doesn’t work well with hose clamps or electrical tape mounting
  • Plastic, so in theory could break (though I’ve never seen this happen)

My conclusion: Salsa’s EXP Anything Cage is a popular cargo cage designed to carry oversize bottles and dry bags on fork blades and down tubes. At $35 with included rubber straps, it’s a great value. I love its versatile design and big supportive shape for carrying large or awkwardly shaped bags; it’s a great bikepacking all-arounder. But if lightweight and streamlined is your goal, consider other options.

Shape and Size

It can be hard to get a sense for absolute size from online product pictures, so here’s what you need to know about the Salsa Anything HD cage: it’s one of the biggest cargo cages on the market with dimensions (as measured by me) of 8.5″ x 4.6″ x 3.5″. As far as I know only the Topeak VersaCage is bigger, and just barely.

Three cargo cages next to each other, the leftmost is the biggest (Salsa Anything), the middle is Blackburn Outpost, and the rightmost is the smallest (Wolf Tooth Morse).
Cargo cages come in a wide range of sizes. Salsa EXP Anything (left), Blackburn Outpost (middle), Wolf Tooth Morse Cargo (right).

The Anything Cage’s large size and solid, supportive structure make it especially good for carrying large dry bags. Nearly any cargo cage can carry a rigid bottle, even a big one, without an especially large base of support. This is also somewhat true for purpose-built fork bags with a semi-rigid structure. But a 5-liter dry bag stuffed with soft or awkwardly shaped items needs a cage with a bit more structure, which is exactly where the Salsa Anything Cage excels.

Loaded bikepacking bike leaning against dirt embankment in the desert. There are two cargo cages in front, two in back, and one under the downtube.
The Anything Cage works well for carrying large bulky dry bags, shown here on my fork in Baja.

It also works fine for extra-large water bottles, or even standard-size ones if you run the strap through the inner slots for a tighter fit. It’s versatile in that sense. But if you plan to mostly carry bottles and rarely carry bulky dry bags with your cargo cage, there are lighter and more streamlined options available (like Wolf Tooth’s Morse Cargo Cage which I’ve reviewed here).

Bottom view of three cargo cages
The Anything Cage (left) has a fairly big base compared to smaller cages like the Wolftooth Morse Cargo (right). Both can hold a rigid bottle, but the Anything Cage will work better for a large soft dry bag.

If you want to run the Anything Cage on your downtube, measure carefully. Its wide profile will clash with the chainring(2) on some bikes. On my 1x Chumba Stella, for example, the Anything Cage does not fit on the downtube. The Blackburn Outpost, being ever so slightly narrower, just barely fits.

Mounting the Anything Cage

The Salsa Anything cage uses the 3-pack bolt pattern commonly found on bikepacking-focused and “adventure” forks. Each bolt hole is oblong for a small amount of up-down adjustment.

An empty Salsa cargo cage mounted to a black carbon fork with 3-pack bolts
The Anything Cage mounts with a standard 3-pack bolt pattern.

This is less adjustment than other cages that offer 4 bolt positions (VersaCage) or three holes per bolt position (Outpost), but in most cases this won’t be an issue. The bolt holes are positioned low, which puts the cage up higher, a minor drawback for folks who are enthusiastic about keeping weight as low to the ground as possible (in practice most riders won’t notice a difference).

The Anything Cage requires longer-than-average bolts because the mounting area has a thick profile. The body of the cage is raised a bit from the tube or fork blade. These bolts are included, but if you carry spares (always a smart idea) be aware that the shortest bottle cage bolts won’t work. I recommend 14mm length. You may also want to use washers, as I’ve seen bolt heads start to wear through the cage material over time.

Closeup of back of Salsa cargo cage
The back of the Anything Cage is spaced away from the tube or fork blade with plastic standoffs. This ensures a good fit and minimal rubbing, but requires long bolts.

Otherwise the raised design is a good thing. It allows the cage to fit snugly against a wider range of tube profiles. It also minimizes surface area in contact with the bike frame, which should reduce rubbing and the amount of protective frame tape needed.

Can you use the Anything Cage with only two bolts, if that’s all you have? Here’s my entirely unofficial opinion: yes, with care. If I were going to use this cage with only two bolts I would load it more lightly, use strong stainless steel bolts (like the ones it comes with, not the cheap aluminum bolts found on some frames), and / or fasten the straps around the fork blade or tube as shown below for extra support.

Straps

One major point for the Anything versus its main competitors: it comes with two good quality rubber Voile-style straps. When you consider the cost of these straps on their own, about $8 each, this makes the Anything Cage an excellent value. The Outpost Cage, by comparison, has a similar price tag but comes with nylon straps that some riders (like me) will replace with rubber at an extra cost.

The straps shown in this review are my Voile straps, not the ones that come with the Anything Cage. However, I’m familiar with the Salsa straps and feel confident saying they’re equally as good.

I like how the Anything Cage retains straps when they’re unbuckled. When routed through the slots the strap ends don’t tangle in the wheels and spokes. This is a minor annoyance that happens surprisingly often when I’m bikepacking: I unload my dry bags, lay down my bike, and then later need to move my bike a bit. Straps that catch in my spokes and wrap around my hubs, or fall off and get lost, are a pain.

Empty Salsa Anything cage mounted to fork with straps dangling
There are several good ways to route straps through the Anything Cage so they stay in place when empty.

The Anything Cage gives multiple options for routing the straps. You could pass them behind the cage and around the edges, or through any of the slots depending on the size of your cargo. In the picture above it might have been better to pass the strap in through the small slot, then out through the large slot and around the back. But the design is flexible and a number of options will work.

When carrying a heavy load I like to wrap at least one strap around the tube or fork blade for added support. With other cargo cages I’ve had bolts rattle loose and even seen a 2-bolt cage sheer off, breaking both bolts in half! The Anything Cage makes it easy to wrap around the fork blade and still pass the strap ends through the slots, conveniently holding the straps in place when the cage is unloaded.

Closeup of dry bag in Salsa Anything Cage showing rubber straps routed around the fork blade
When carrying heavy loads I like to route the straps around the fork blade for extra support.

Weight

The Salsa Anything Cage is on the heavy side at 5.15 oz according to my scale, excluding straps and mounting hardware. I’m not aware of any cage that’s heavier, but I also don’t know of any that are larger, more supportive, or otherwise better-suited to carrying a big dry bag. If you’re really into streamlining a lightweight bikepacking setup, this probably isn’t your cargo cage.

Salsa Anything Cage on scale reading 5.15oz

Alternatives and Comparison

The Salsa Anything has a few close competitors in the category of larger cargo cages. Here’s how they compare.

Salsa Anything HD:

  • Price: $35
  • Weight: 5.15 oz
  • Dimensions: 8.5″ x 4.6″ x 3.5″
  • Max load: 6.6 lbs
  • Includes good rubber straps

Topeak VersaCage:

  • Price: $38
  • Weight: 4.5 oz (cage only)
  • Dimensions: 8.7” x 4.7” x 2.8”
  • Max load: 6.6 lbs
  • Includes mediocre straps
  • Includes clamps for bikes without eyelets

Blackburn Outpost:

  • Price: $35
  • Weight: 4.3 oz (cage only)
  • Dimensions: 7.9″ x 4″ x 3.3″
  • Max load: 11 lbs
  • Includes mediocre straps
Blackburn Outpost bottle cage

Price and Value

Looking at the comparison above, it’s clear that if you prefer rubber straps the Salsa Anything Cage is the best value of the bunch.

Why should you prefer rubber straps? In my experience they make more of a difference with hard-sided containers, like bottles, that will rattle against the cage if straps aren’t perfectly tight. Nylon straps, like those that come with the Outpost and VersaCage, don’t pull as tightly because they don’t stretch. I also find them more fiddly to tighten and loosen, so they don’t work well for items you remove from the bike often.

For this reason, over time I’ve replaced all my straps with rubber ones. This adds about $16 to the cost of each cage that didn’t come with them. The Salsa Anything Cage is well-priced to begin with and also includes straps you won’t need to replace, making it the best value in my opinion.

More Bikepacking Resources

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About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa, founder of Exploring Wild. I’ve traveled over 20,000 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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