Getting a good rear rack is a great way to improve your bike camping and general riding/commuting experience. I’ve had a number of different racks, but Axiom is by far my favorite company for rear racks. I’ve had Axiom’s Journey on my Cross Check for about as long as I’ve had the bike, and it has held up wonderfully, even with almost no care. At about $40 and rated to 150lbs, it’s hard to find a better deal.
This rack has never been anything but rock solid. One of my favorite features is the horizontal push out of one of the supports. This allows a number of different bag attachment possibilities. I find this particular feature very useful for panniers which utilize a bungeed hook to stabilize the pannier. This feature, as well as the number of crossings and semi-open top are also useful for attaching bungee cords and cargo nets when transporting objects on top of the rack. The rack also features a mount for a rear light so all your goodies don’t obstruct your rear visibility at night.
The top of this rack gives you the best of both worlds. The solid middle allows for a wide variety of malleable good transportation and some protection from road muck in damp conditions. The sides are sufficiently open as to allow a number of pannier mount styles as well as places to hook bungees. While some may find the Axiom Journey excessively wide, I’ve never had this be a problem. I prefer having a slightly wider base to work with as it presents more options for transportation.
If you have a bike with disc brakes, I would direct you to the Axiom Streamliner Disc. The specs are essentially the same as the Journey, but the Streamliner is slightly more expensive. I would recommend the Streamliner Disc over the Journey Disc because the weight rating is slightly higher and the construction of the Streamliner is slightly simpler and more solid than the Journey Disc. Unfortunately, the Streamliner has an open top. Additionally, the Streamliner features swept back feet mounting, which would definitely be handy if you are a person with larger feet. As someone who wears a 6.5-7, this just seems excessive.
The installation of Axiom racks is pretty straightforward and you should be able to do it at home with a multi-tool. The most annoying part by far was adjusting the arms to level the rack. I cut myself when attempting to tension one of them down. If you have moderate skill and levels of clumsiness, you should be able to do this without bleeding; however, if this makes you anxious, I’m sure your local bike shop will also be happy to help you install your rack, most likely within 30 minutes.