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.
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.
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.
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.
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.