Although they make a full range of cycling, running and skiing clothing, Craft are best known for their base layers and this is another top performer to keep you comfortable on high-intensity autumn/winter rides.
The way Craft name their base layers is confusing, to be blunt. The Craft Pro Cool clothing is designed to keep you cool in warm conditions. Okay. The Pro Warm is designed to keep you warm in cold conditions. Okay. Then, sitting between those two is the Pro Zero that's designed to keep you comfortable in fair to cold conditions.
Then there's Pro Zero Extreme - this one - which merges Pro Zero and Pro Cool fabrics. You don't get different panels made from different materials; rather, the Pro Zero is positioned on the inner face and the Pro Cool on the outer - so this base layer is lighter and more airy than the standard Pro Zero (130g/m2 as opposed to 170g/m2). It's 'Zero Extreme' in that it's intended to allow zero moisture against your skin no matter how extreme your level of exercise.
It's 100% polyester with what Craft call a hexa-channelled fibre against your skin - six tiny channels to shift moisture away. The hollow Thermolite fibres outside continue transporting the moisture while also providing insulation. That's what Craft tell us, anyway; all of this is way too small to see.
The proof of the pudding, though, is that this base layer does its job incredibly well. Put it on and the Pro Zero Extreme feels immediately warm. It's super-soft and very stretchy, especially crossways. That means it's easy to get a snug fit without any tightness whatsoever, and there's no constraint when you shift your body position. You also get a good, long back and a high collar -exactly what you want on the bike.
There are no seams at all in the body and those on the shoulders, arms and collar are all flat-stitched so you don't feel them. There are no labels to get on your nerves either; the washing instructions are printed inside. I've ridden in dozens, probably hundreds, of base layers over the years and Craft's are the most comfortable I've ever known.
The Pro Zero Extreme impresses most when you work up a sweat. It just whips the moisture away. It will become heavier than some lightweight base layers if you really do open the floodgates but you have to get your outer-layer clothing badly wrong for that to happen. In normal circumstances, it does a brilliant job.
You can get base layers that provide more warmth but this one offers a middling level of insulation. I've been wearing it under various different outer layers from about 12C and under. Clearly, it depends what clothing you use over the top but I reckon the temperature range for this is about 5-12C... something like that. I'd probably go for something warmer when it gets really cold but for autumn and spring and milder winter days, this is a really good choice.
The only issue I'd take with Craft is that although this top features an antimicrobial treatment to stop odour setting in, I've not found it to smell especially fresh mid-ride. Fair enough, it washes well, but at the caf stop it's not the best.
Superbly comfortable base layer; excellent for keeping you sweat-free on autumn/spring and milder winter rides
road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Zero Extreme Mens L/S Crew Neck Base Layer
Size tested: Silver - L
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?
Craft say, "Craft's new Pro Zero Extreme merges two of our most battle hardened fabrics, Pro Zero and Pro Cool, into the most effective base layer yet. Pro Zero stays in contact with your body, pulling excess moisture away from your skin, while simultaneously keeping you warm. Pro Cool outer fabric allows air to circulate around your body and further promote moisture expulsion. proZEROextreme also features an antimicrobial treatment to prevent fabric odor from setting in. Guaranteed to be the best fitting, best performing and most comfortable base layer yet."
It's aimed at anyone who cycles hard enough to work up a sweat. Works fine for running too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Craft say, "A hexa channeled fiber (six channels) against the skin enhances moisture transport and cools the body down, whereas a hollow fiber on the outside of the fabric offers insulation and transports moisture to the next layer."
We couldn't tell you why it works, but we can tell you that it does work.
Seamless body. The seams around the arms, shoulders and neck are all flat-stitched.
Craft tops do tend to pill a bit with use but that doesn't affect the performance a lot. Just be careful around Velcro!
The best, in my opinion.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed. It does what it's supposed to and then some more.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort and the level of moisture transportation.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
If you don't have a Craft base layer in your life, get one.
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.