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Verdict: 
A really strong performing baselayer, perhaps the best at managing heat I've used
Weight: 
126g
Craft Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS
9 10

The Craft Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS is an excellent baselayer that manages heat better than almost any I have used. Having worn this in freezing and mid-range conditions, I can testify that not only does it keep you warm, it also has great wicking and breathability.

Craft describes it as a baselayer for 'medium-cold to cold conditions'. This is fairly ambiguous and open to a wide range of interpretations, especially as Craft is a Swedish company, so its medium-cold is probably our hypothermia-inducing. I used it in temperatures varying from -3 to 10 for the duration of the review.

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Working within this wide range of temperatures was incredibly useful, because it really showed me the element I was most impressed with – heat management. When you put the baselayer on inside, you wonder how it will ever keep you warm outside, because it doesn't seem to do much indoors. However, when you're out it doesn't really change temperature – it kept me at a comfortable temperature throughout. It meant that I was warm enough at -3 to not freeze, and cool enough at 10 degrees to still get up climbs without boiling.

Craft Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS - back.jpg

Craft Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS - back.jpg

Craft makes the claim that 'the world's most advanced baselayer once again ups the ante'. This isn't something that I can verify, having not tried every baselayer in the world, but another of Craft's claims is that it is made from 'a thin, lightweight and elastic fabric featuring CoolMax Air, a high-performance fiber that provides superior body-temperature management' – which I can. The fabric used is very lightweight and has a decent amount of stretch (I used this over the Christmas period, so I can verify that). It is this CoolMax Air fabric that makes it so good at heat management, but there are other elements that assist with this.

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Chief among them are the vents that sit around the armpits and provide an area where heat quickly escapes. Another is breathability and the use of a quick-drying fabric, which are both exceptional. As an example, as I sit writing this I have the dry baselayer next to me after taking it out of the washing machine 20 minutes ago. When it can shed that much moisture that quickly, you can imagine how quick it is on your back. Similarly, this moisture is quickly moved away from the skin when riding, and the only time I noticed any sweat was when I was repairing a puncture in the freezing cold.

Craft Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS - shoulder.jpg

Craft Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS - shoulder.jpg

Partly because of its excellent heat management and partly because of the lightweight material used, it is also comfortable to wear for extended periods. This comes from the soft double-layered high neck and lack of labels around the neck.

Craft Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS - collar.jpg

Craft Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS - collar.jpg

In terms of value I think it's pretty good too: the baselayer has an RRP of £36, which isn't a bad price for something that works so well in a variety of conditions.

Overall I was really impressed by this baselayer. As a reviewer I always try to find the faults in a product, but with this, try as hard as I could, there was very little not to like. It manages heat incredibly well, dries quickly and wicks sweat impressively. What else could you want in a baselayer? It's available in plain black too, and white.

Verdict

A really strong performing baselayer, perhaps the best at managing heat I've used

road.cc test report

Make and model: Craft Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS

Size tested: Medium

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

A high performance baselayer for use in cold to moderate conditions.

Craft says: 'Engineered to make you lighter, faster and better, the world's most advanced baselayer once again ups the ante. Active Extreme 2.0 LS is made of a thin, lightweight and elastic fabric featuring CoolMax Air, a high-performance fiber that provides superior body-temperature management during intense workouts in mild to cold conditions. Bodymapped mesh panels with big holes ensure superb ventilation while ergonomic 3D design provides a tight, perfect fit. Developed for devoted athletes.'

There may be some unverifiable claims in there, but by-and-large this is an accurate description.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Double-layer fabric featuring CoolMax Air

Excellent moisture management

Highly breathable

Ergonomic fit

Provides superior performance and comfort

Perfect for fair and cold conditions

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Really well made; thin materials are often difficult to keep strong, but Craft has managed it well.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Great wicking and heat management, very impressive performance.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Seems well made with strong stitching, so likely to last a long time.

Rate the product for fit:
 
8/10

Good fit, the large I tested fitted well and the ergonomic 3D design keeps it tight against the skin.

Rate the product for sizing:
 
8/10

The large I tested fitted like a large.

Rate the product for weight:
 
8/10

Really lightweight for a cold weather baselayer.

Rate the product for comfort:
 
8/10

Strong heat management and a good fit mean that it is very comfortable, even on long rides.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Not cheap, but good value for something that performs so well.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Easy, washed it at 30 with no issues at all.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well, excellent for heat management and breathability.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Heat management was excellent.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Not a huge amount to dislike.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

A really strong performing baselayer that is light, warm and manages heat with aplomb.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 29  Height: 6 ft  Weight:

I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc. 

When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.  

5 comments

Avatar
Drewcifer [8 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

Some great deals on Craft baselayers over at Prendas Ciclisimo at present:

https://www.prendas.co.uk/collections/undervests-base-layers

Avatar
PeterCee [6 posts] 6 months ago
1 like

I've got 3 of the previous model Craft Extreme LS.

Best piece of clothing I ever bought. So comfortable you don't want to take it off.

Works perfectly with:

DHB full protection soft shell between +6 and -2 DegC

DHB Roubaix between 5 and 12 DegC

 

Avatar
Bobbinogs [250 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

I am a bit 50/50 on this one (I bought mine last year, not sure if that makes it the same one?).  It is a nice quality BL but the arms are loose on me.  OK I have an arm/leg strength differential akin to a T-Rex and a build to match but the cut could be a lot tighter.  It does work well though and I like the combo of a windstopper front to keep warm but then open fabric for the back/arms to help to stop overheating.  Handy piece of kit to have in the wardrobe, particularly on days with a biting wind when it can be matched with a simple LS jersey (with thin fleece lining) and Buff.

Avatar
bendertherobot [1427 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes

I agree with Peter. Simply flawless products for me. I think my Extreme Base layer is 5-6 years old now

Avatar
PeterCee [6 posts] 6 months ago
0 likes
Bobbinogs wrote:

I am a bit 50/50 on this one (I bought mine last year, not sure if that makes it the same one?).  It is a nice quality BL but the arms are loose on me.  OK I have an arm/leg strength differential akin to a T-Rex and a build to match but the cut could be a lot tighter.  It does work well though and I like the combo of a windstopper front to keep warm but then open fabric for the back/arms to help to stop overheating.  Handy piece of kit to have in the wardrobe, particularly on days with a biting wind when it can be matched with a simple LS jersey (with thin fleece lining) and Buff.

Think you're talking about a diferent product which has a windstopper front. (which for me kind of goes against the idea of maximum sweat evaporation from a base layer next to the skin)

The fit of the Craft Active Extreme version 1 is very flexible and adapts to your body shape easily.

Looks to me like version 2 is very similar but with additional mesh type inserts under the armpits and at the end of the sleeves.

Version 1 seems to have almost sold out everywhere - shame as wiggle were selling them off for £16 a few months ago.

Can't be beaten for comfort in my opinion although they do smell quickly so you need to change them after each ride. I'm sure version 2 will be a best seller especially when the price comes down.