We had an early look at the EXP bikepacking bag series from Salsa back in July, but just now have word that much of the new kit is ready to get strapped on your bike to head out into the backcountry (or will be very soon). Salsa has always been known for building bikes capable of any adventure, with many standouts for both on and off-road loaded touring. But now they’ve developed the EXP gear, as much to better fit their own adventure bikes, but also because they had a few new ideas that they thought made for a better way to strap gear on your bike to hit the trail…


The biggest new idea is probably their Anything Cradle. Designed as a better solution to strapping a cylindrical bag straight to your handlebar, the lightweight frame spaces your gear out away from the handlebar, creating room for cables and just as importantly your hands. The result is fewer crimped cable, no impact on your shifting or braking systems, and the full use of all hand positions on the bar.

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On top of the Anything Cradle, you can mount three different EXP solutions. The most basic $75 setup adds just a set of cinch down EXP Straps to the Anything Cradle, with a buckle to lash whatever you want to the cradle, be it a tent, a sleeping pad, your bed roll, or anything else you can think of. Next, for $100 you get the Anything Cradle, the straps, plus a 15l EXP Dry Bag with fully welded seams and hook & loop points specially designed to fit the cradle with the straps. The last option for $150 includes the Anything Cradle, the straps, the dry bag, and another bag, called the EXP Front Pouch that straps on top. Also with welded construction, it adds on several more small pockets for easy access to smaller items while on the bike, and clips on in line with the EXP straps.

Salsa EXP bags handlebar saddle frame bag bikes bike-4 exp_anything_cradle_framepack_bg8407

One of the big features of the EXP line is neatly integrating with Salsa’s bikes. The first EXP series Framepack is specifically sized and shaped to fit inside the main triangle of their dropbar mountain bike tourer. Salsa tells us that they’ll have other bike-specific Framepacks in the near future to fit some of their other touring bikes, but for now the $120 bag targets just those pedaling the Cutthroat.

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The smaller, but more universal EXP Toptube Bag sits just behind your stem for fast access to food and other essentials on your trip. The $50 bag is designed especially to fit the two-bolt toptube bosses on the Cutthroat, Woodsmoke & new Mukluk, but should work with other bikes with the same mounting or with removable straps to fit just about any other bike.

Salsa EXP bags handlebar saddle frame bag bikes bike-6 salsa_exp-bike-packing-gear-bags_seat-pack_on-bike

The last to round out the EXP bikepacking range is their massive Seatpack said to sell for just $120. Of all the EXP gear it seems to be the last one that will come to market. While the Cutthroat Framepack and Toptube Bag should be available through your local Salsa dealer as early as this week, and the Anything Cradle with any of its three packing options will hit the shelves in early December, the EXP Seatpack is still said to be in production. As such, Salsa is still a bit loose with the final details, but the bag we saw was big (~15-18l) and has some nice features to make it waterproof, expandable for varying loads, and is said to work well doubling as a giant rear fender.


  1. dirtybird on

    i find “bike packing” to be pretty rad. yet i don’t think i have ever seen someone on the east coast with any frame bags beside the ol pannier. i lived in colorado for a fair while and… one would expect it out there but in reality there really wasn’t too much of it goin on. it is crazy how many bikes and bags are being designed around “bike packing” this year when it seems like the market is… not there. but hey, maybe it is there and i live under a rock.

    rock on salsa. looks like some cool bags!

    • Kernel Flickitov on

      You may live under a rock, but at least you can acknowledge that. Funny thing is, this is one of the only segments of the bike industry that saw any substantial growth in a pretty terrible 2016.

  2. Cory on

    @dirtybird: I am on the coast and i own half the Revelate catalog it seems just to commute because of all the crap I have to haul daily…

  3. mudrock on

    Looking at that seat pack, it seems bikepackers’ aversion to rear racks is getting ridiculous. Maybe a seatpost mounted rack instead.

    • Scott on

      Porcelain rocket makes a combination of the two. It’s a seat bag with a very limited support under it that connects to your seat post called the Mr. Fusion.

      That said I find if you pack it correctly and are not digging into your bag during the ride (rather you pull stuff out once you make your destination) the seat bags work quite well and allow you to not need a rack.

    • takingfunseriously on

      @dougB the bag straps go around the seat rails taking most of the load weight. When I ride with the bags I try to put as much of the “weight” in a frame bag taking the load away from the front and the back of the bike. This also helps when riding too. Centered weight makes the ride quality a lot better too.

  4. Von Kruiser on

    @ mudrock – I agree and have dropped the seatbag onto an Ortlieb steel lightweight rack. I put two small accessory handlebar bag as mini panniers for quick access which bikepacking bikes are missing. It’s the perfect set up for single track offroad tougher trails. I can now easily run a dropper post when it gets steep and drops. Also no more tail wagging bag and love the extra room w/ minor weight penalty. The seatpost rack would not say in place when the trails got tough. Love the rear rack set up… even angled it so looks like a regular bikepacking rig and moves the weight a little more centered.

    • CW on

      @Von Kruiser re: your steel rear rack w/ two small bags – I’d love to see photos. I’m building up a Cutthroat now for ‘as much singletrack as possible’ style bikepacking, but will be using a dropper post.
      So, although I love the idea of the stability of a rack, eliminating seatpack wag, droppers and rear racks don’t exactly play well together

  5. StephenM on

    Echoing a few other comments here, I really don’t understand to point of a huge seatbag on a hardtail. Rear racks really don’t weigh that much, and then the weight of the panniers or rack-top bag is lower, and way more secure. Framebags and bar-bags I get, but these huge seatbags I just don’t understand. Why do people hate rear racks so much? Maybe for pure bushwacking you wouldn’t want panniers off the sides, or on a full suspension, of course. But on a gravel-grinder? What am I missing? Maybe then they’d just have to call it a touring bike.

    • Ellery on

      Some of us like to do bikepacking / long hauling only rarely, like a few times a year and don’t have the need for a commuter… For me, the same bike is brought to the local gravel group ride on the weekend where added permanent weight from racks on the bike is a noticeable penalty. Rackless bags make sense for those of us who need their same bike to do drastically different things (touring vs. race pace rides) within a short amount of time. With rackless bags, I can go bike camping on Friday and then show up to the fast group ride on Sunday without having to take a screwdriver to my frame.

  6. Kernel Flickitov on

    This Cutthroat is pure off road bikepacking, not gravel specific at all. The whole backstory to why this bike exists is the Tour Divide. You should do that route with your panniers and let everyone know how far you get before they break off.


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