A couple of months ago Salsa announced they were releasing an updated version of the EXP Series Anything Cradle and Anything Cage systems. Luckily for me the Anything Cradle system found its way to Wales for some use in the Autumnal Welsh mountains.
The Anything Cradle is now compatible for both 35mm and 31.8mm bars. Personally I think the idea of the Cradle is great. I’ve had it a few times where after loading up, you leave the camp spot and set off trying to get yourself warmed up only to find that your front roll has squashed your gear cables so changing is impossible. By having the Cradle sitting approximately 3 inches of your bars eliminates this issue. The Cradle is great for adding your tent poles to as well as long as you don’t overload the front end, Salsa states that no more than 8lbs (3.6kg) is the limit.
After using the system for a few weeks now I can confirm the Cradle didn’t move once despite riding on some pretty rough trails. Salsa also state that you also have to install it so it is pointing downwards so as to to put too much force on the bars.
The new addition to the EXP series see’s the top-load dry bag make an appearance along with the side load dry bag. The top-load dry bag is a few inches narrower than the side loader as it’ll now fit bikes with drop bars with no issues. Saying that, it still works a treat with flat bars. The material is waterproof with welded seams which gives confidence knowing that your kit will stay dry when out on a trip.
Another great feature of the top-load dry bag (and on the side load bags) is the purge valve located at the front of the bag. Once you initially load the bag up and strap the side clips together, it’s just a matter of applying pressure to the bag and release the purge valve. Any trapped air within the bag is instantly released and the results are fantastic.
The material is tough enough to withstand the elements and the pressure from the new rubber straps (more on those in a bit). The bags are held in place with the straps fed through the strap mounts on the underside of the bag as well as a couple of small velcro straps that hold it in place when initially fitting to the Cradle.
Next up is the EXP Series Anything Front Pouch that is fitted to the front of the system by looping the rubber straps through the backside of the pouch where there is a couple of loops. An additional Salsa nylon strap is also used to secure to the top of the Anything Cradle to keep the pouch from sliding down and provides even more support and stability.
The zippers on the Pouch work well when accessing whilst riding. The large pull tabs ensures that there’s no faffing and the zipper looks to be a good quality which should last some time. Again weather resistant fabric and welded seams ensures that all the kit at the front end of your rig is kept dry.
The pouch features a smaller narrower pocket to the very front and in the main compartment there’s an added internal sleeve to separate things a little better. There’s also a couple of small side mesh pockets on the edge of the Pouch. The Pouch can also be fitted on its own straight to the bars if need be.
All this is held together extremely well thanks to Salsa’s new EXP Series Rubber Straps. The straps are 30 inches long and are tough, durable and very versatile which makes strapping the bags to the Cradle simple. The Straps are available separately and would be a good addition for any bikepacker.
Overall I know the Salsa EXP Series Anything Cradle system will be a positive addition to any bikepackers kit. The waterproofness of the kit is fantastic and the Cradle eliminates those gear changing issues.
So I give the Salsa EXP Series Anything Cradle system 4 ½ Welsh Dragons out of five!
More information on the Salsa EXP series can be found here: