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Best MTB bottle cages: bottle cages for bringing water on a MTB ride

A close up of a black Arundel bottle cage on a silver Arundel downtube with an orange background
(Image credit: Arundel)

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 Mandible Carbon bottle cage

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
An ultralight bottle cage that bites like a bulldog

Specifications

Material: Carbon
Weight: 28g
Price: $78.95 / £69.00

Reasons to buy

+
Rock-solid bottle grip
+
Sub 30g
+
Easy multi-angle entry
+
Multi-angle exit
+
Twin position mounts

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

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.

Topeak Ninja Master+ bottle cages and tools review

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
A modular bottle cage design with storage space for accessories

Specifications

Material: Engineering grade polymer
Weight: 39-43g
Price: $10.00 / £7.99 to $12.99 / £9.99

Reasons to buy

+
Standard, side mount and extra secure cages
+
Twistable for easy access
+
Stops strap rub
+
Multiple multi-tool options
+
CO2 and inner tube mounts
+
Great price

Reasons to avoid

-
Extra tools are expensive

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.

Syncros bottle cage

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
A bottle cage that carries a multi-tool and a pump as well

Specifications

Material: Glass fiber reinforced nylon
Weight: 170g (cage with tool), 105g (pump)
Price: $69.99 / £64.99

Reasons to buy

+
Secure side-access bottle cage
+
Comprehensive, quality tool
+
Magnetic chain link holder
+
Decent high-volume MTB pump
+
Reasonable price

Reasons to avoid

-
Offset might upset some
-
No tubeless plug tool

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.

Lezyne Matrix Team Bottle Cage review

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
A neat cantilever design and lots of colors to choose from

Specifications

Material: Carbon
Weight: 35g (without bolts)
Price: $24.99 / £22

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive bottle grip
+
Lightweight
+
Expanded entry angles
+
Nine color options
+
Sliding mount
+
Tough

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the easiest exit
-
Not a true side loader
-
You don’t get bolts
-
Plastic packaging

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.

Specialized Zee Cage II

(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Zee Cage II

A dependable option for all rider types

Specifications

Material: Fiber-reinforced resin
Weight: 43g
Price: $25 / £17

Reasons to buy

+
Secure hold
+
SWAT compatibility

Reasons to avoid

-
Some riders may prefer a more classic aesthetic

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.

King Cage

(Image credit: King Cage)
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King Cage

Classic bottle cage that still holds its own

Specifications

Material: Stainless steel or titanium
Weight: 28g (titanium version)
Price: $26 / £22

Reasons to buy

+
Timeless aesthetic
+
Doesn’t chew up bottles

Reasons to avoid

-
Stainless steel cage isn’t as strong as the titanium one

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.

Bontrager Bat Cage

(Image credit: Bontrager)
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Bontrager Bat Cage

Eco-bottle cage

Specifications

Material: Plastic
Weight: 48g
Price: $14.99 / £10.99

Reasons to buy

+
Made from recycled material
+
Design offers excellent hold

Reasons to avoid

-
On the heavy side

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. 

Fidlock Twist

(Image credit: Fidlock)
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Fidlock Twist

Cageless bottle cage

Specifications

Material: Plastic
Weight: 16g
Price: €39.99

Reasons to buy

+
Light weight
+
Clever use of magnets

Reasons to avoid

-
You have to use proprietary bottles or resort to clunky solution for standard bottles

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. 

Elite Cannibal XC

(Image credit: Elite)

Elite Cannibal XC

Dual-side loader

Specifications

Material: Reinforced fiberglass
Weight: 39g
Price: $20.99 / £13.99

Reasons to buy

+
Budget friendly
+
Load from any angle

Reasons to avoid

-
None

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.

Born and bred in Colorado, and now based in Australia, Colin comes from a ski racing background and started riding as a way to stay fit through the summer months. His father, a former European pro, convinced him to join the Colorado State University collegiate cycling team, and he hasn't stopped since. It's not often he pins on a number nowadays, and you'll likely find him in search of flowy singletrack, gravel roads and hairpin corners. Colin has worked at Bikeradar and is a regular contributor to Australian Mountain Bike and Cyclist magazines. 

Rides: BMC Team Machine SLR01, Trek Top Fuel 9, Ibis Ripley