They might not seem like the sexiest components to think about, but the best MTB bottle cages do actually serve an important purpose. After all, you need to stay hydrated while whipping around the trails, and there’s nothing worse than reaching the bottom of a descent, only to find your best water bottle for MTB is no longer attached to your bike.
Perhaps you prefer to opt for one of the best hydration packs instead, and think “a bottle cage is just a bottle cage”. Of course, you’re right to some extent, but the best MTB bottle cages will make life easier in the long run, and it saves you from carrying extra weight on your back or around your hips.
They’ll not only keep your bottle secure, but they’ll also be easy to access while riding, they won’t add a load of weight to your setup. And if you’re really lucky, they might even come with some added storage for other useful accessories.
Depending on your budget, there are bottle cages ranging from simple resin designs to futuristic carbon options. There are some that aren’t even a cage at all. Each option has been designed to hold your bottles firmly in place, but which ones are the best? Continue reading to see our picks for the best MTB bottle cages, or read our guide at the bottom on how to choose the best MTB bottle cages for you.
Best MTB bottle cages
Arundel’s popular Mandible cage is made fully from carbon and weighs a mere 28g, making it an excellent choice for XC weight-weenies. It may cost a fortune, but there’s a reason that it’s a regular kit choice for the pros.
Don’t take its featherlight weight to mean it’s flimsy; it’s got such a firm grip that you actually need to use a bit of muscle to insert the bottle in the first place. If you’re sick of losing bottles on the trails and don’t want to add a load of excess weight to your frame, then this is by far one of the best MTB bottle cages we’ve used, and it’s pretty easy on the eyes too, which never hurts.
Read more about it in your Arundel Mandible review.
A bottle cage can do more than just carry your bottle, as Topeak’s modular Ninja design demonstrates. This very simple bottle cage can be bought either as a central loader or side loader, and in the case of the latter, it’s easily reversible so you can choose which side to make accessible.
What makes this bottle cage particularly nifty is the adapter that comes with it, which is compatible with an array of Topeak accessories. Depending on your needs, you could have an attachment for carrying a multi-tool, two CO2 cartridges or a mount for a spare inner tube.
Find out more about it in our Topeak Ninja Master+ bottle cage review.
Another bottle cage that doubles up as a useful storage space, the Syncros Tailor IS 2.0HV is a fiberglass-reinforced nylon cage that accommodates (and includes) a handheld pump and comprehensive multi-tool. The multi-tool includes a chain breaker, a magnetic chain link holder, valve core remover, disc pad wedge, spoke key, an array of hex and Torx bits and more.
It’s an excellent way to have all your essential tools onboard even when you have limited frame space, and offers exceptional value for money.
Read more in our review of the Syncros Tailor IS 2.0HV bottle cage, tool and pump.
This modern-looking and stylish bottle cage comes with several color options, making it pretty easy to match with your frame and/or accessories, and offers a strong grip as well. In terms of performance, we found it to definitely leaned more towards retention rather than easy release, so while it takes a bit of effort to get to your bottle when you’re on the move, you can rest assured that even when tackling the really rough stuff, your bottle will stay put.
For more details, check out our Lezyne Matrix Team Bottle Cage review.
The Zee Cage II is a side loader made from a reinforced composite material that weighs about 43g. This cage is compatible with Specialized’s SWAT system, which means you can connect the brand’s EMT Cage Mount Tool for quick repairs on the trail. The cage is also compatible with the Specialized MTB XC Box, a small box that attaches to the cage for storing a tube and other tools.
It’s available in a range of colors, comes in both left and right varieties and has kept bottles attached to this writer’s XC bike for years.(opens in new tab)
Handmade in Durango, Colorado, King Cage has a long legacy of being a cage that just works; the design hasn’t changed since the ’90s. However, it continues to be one of the best you can buy.
Available in stainless steel or titanium, both versions weigh less than 50g and won’t chew up your bottles. The design has attracted plenty of knock-offs and copy-cat versions, but the King Cage is known for little if any bottle ejections and worry-free riding.(opens in new tab)
While the injection-molded plastic Bat Cage has been around since 1997, Bontrager now makes this time-tested bottle cage from recycled fishing nets. This comes thanks to the brand’s membership in NextWave, a cross-industry coalition of companies working to reduce plastic in the environment.
Beuro, a company specializing in collecting and recycling fishing nets, processes the nets into tiny plastic pellets which can be used for injection molding, perfect for the Bat Cage.(opens in new tab)
Fidlock makes magnetic clasps for everything from backpacks to helmet straps, and it has used the same technology for this cageless water bottle holder. It works with either a proprietary 400ml or 600ml bottle, and also a Boa-based bottle connector.
When you need a drink, you twist the bottle, and it releases from the plate; to reconnect just pop it on and let the magnets do their magic. The downside to the system is that you’ll either need the proprietary Fidlock bottles or the Boa Connector, which also limits how much you can squeeze the bottle.
For most full-suspension MTBs, space in the front triangle is limited. This means that clearance for bottle cages can be tricky, and side load cages offer a solution. The clever folks at Elite have designed a side load cage that allows you access to the bottle from either side.
The Cannibal XC is made from reinforced fiberglass, and the wide opening allows you to place the bottle in from any angle. The elastomer in the middle of the arms allows the cage to adjust to differently shaped bottles.
How to choose the best MTB bottle cages for you
What material is best?
Bottle cages come in carbon, plastic, fiber-reinforced resin and metal. There are pros and cons to each, however, the material will influence the price and weight. Carbon and titanium cages will cost a pretty penny, while plastic and resin cages are cheaper.
Is lighter better?
When looking at bottle cages, counting grams should be pretty low on your list of priorities, as even the heavy ones aren't all that heavy. Especially for mountain biking, a bottle cage needs to have oodles of grip strength so as not to send your bottles flying the first time you hit a bump. There are great lightweight cages out there, but don’t expect a cheap cage to deliver low numbers on the scale and have much holding power. At the same time, the cage needs to release the bottle when you pull on it.
Top load or side load?
Bottle cages come in top load and side load versions, and what’s best for you will depend on your frame. If there is tons of room in your front triangle, a top load cage will work just fine. However, as most full-suspension frames possess tight clearances, a side load cage will make your bottles more accessible. However, you’ll only be able to access from one side.