Two garments for the price of one that will keep you comfortably warm on cooler autumn/spring rides or milder winter ones
Craft are specialists in the field of base layers with a whole section on their website dedicated to their 'layering system' and it shows in the Zero Extreme Windstopper.
The Zero Extreme range is a composite of their Pro Cool (material to cool you in warm conditions) and Pro Zero (material for cold conditions), with the idea being that the Pro Zero on the inside sits close to your skin keeping you warm, whilst the Pro Cool outer wicks the moisture away. Gore Wind Stopper fabric on the chest panel, stitched on top of the wicking layer gives further protection from cooling winds. We recently reviewed and like the non windstopper version of the Craft Zero Extreme - this one doesn't disappoint either
The Extreme range is slightly lighter than Craft's Pro Zero baselayer range (130g/m2 as opposed to 170g/m2) and it's designed for high intensity, cool weather riding. It is a well crafted garment, the wind stopping layer works well - it doesn't feel like a plastic bag stuck to your chest - and has a certain amount of breath-ability so that it doesn't become wet and soggy through the course of your ride.
I found the cut well formed; body hugging but not restrictive. Unlike the standard version the Wind Stopper section means there are seams but they are low key and did not present any discomfort. Some people find Craft base layers a bit long, not me though I'm of a relatively lankly build and base layers can often leave my midrift exposed but this one can be tucked right into your tights - ensuring you get the full warming effect. The collar is equally well sized, just what you want from a colder weather base layer.
The warmth it provides is excellent for Spring/Autumn conditions (or mild winter days) - the temperatures for which it was designed. It won't compete against other heavier weight base layers in really cold weather (<5deg) but for those faster paced rides at the start of the year when you can feel summer coming, it is ideal. The wicking material does its job in taking the moisture away so that wind chill is less of a factor and tied with the WindStopper section, wind won't bring the shivers.
Unsurprisingly, the Wind Stopper section is the highlight here. It provides the function of a gilet while leaving your back free to breath. The material spans across the shoulder blades too, so you can hammer descents in the drops without wind chill spoiling your fun.
Is it worth the extra £10 over the non-WS version? Well considering the price of your average gilet (£25) I'd say it is. You may not get the flexibility of removal that you do with a gilet but since it should breath better that shouldn't be an issue. It think you get a more versatile base layer for the money (£45) and one which fits the riding and conditions for which it is designed much better. The only issue I found (as in the test of its non-WS sibling) is that although it has antibacterial protection, it does smell a bit musty even after washing now.
The Craft Zero Extreme WS long-sleeve base layer is a good choice if you are perhaps reluctant to spend more on a premium base layer because it does the work of two bits of clothing - a gilet, and a baselayer for the price of one. Paired with a long-sleeve jersey it's ideal for cool spring/sutumn rides and milder winter days too.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Zero Extreme Windstopper Long Sleeve Base Layer
Size tested: Black - 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's new Pro Zero Extreme Gore Wind Stop merges three of our most battle hardened fabrics, Pro Zero, Pro Cool and Gore Wind Stop into the most effective base layer yet.'
It's certainly effective and the WS layer adds on this.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Composite of Pro Cool and Pro Zero for warming with wicking ability. Gore Wind Stopper layer to provide the action of a gilet.
Well thought out, with the WS layer stitched over the existing base layer. WS section expands over shoulder blades too for when your in the drops. Nice and long so you don't get a gap between your bottom layer.
Gets a bit smelly even after washing.
It's not going to hold you back on the hills.
Stretchy fabric held the contours of my frame well, flat seems didn't cause any chaffing. Warm and good wicking performance.
I think the inclusion of the Wind Stopper layers presents excellent value as it can be considered as two pieces of kit.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a base layer, it hit the mark; kept me warm whilst removing perspiration.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The length - I could tuck it right into my tights.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Anti-bacterial performance appears to be wanting.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
I usually ride: Orbea Onix (Carbon) - Summer, Orbea Asphalt (Alu) - Winter My best bike is: Orbea Alma G10
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, club rides, mtb,