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Verdict: 
Comfortable fit but suits milder conditions only, despite the name
Weight: 
72g

The Craft Zero Extreme Short Sleeve Base Layer sounds like it's intended for wintry weather. It's not. For that you want Craft's meekly titled 'Warm' range. This vest is meant for 'fair to cold' conditions. After wearing it from winter to late spring, I reckon you can delete 'cold' from that description. This is a two-season top, at its best when the temperature climbs into double digits.

It's made of 100% polyester, with "a hollow fiber on the outside for insulation and moisture transport". It didn't get noticeably soggier than other base layers in use, though being polyester it does hold onto odours more than wool or wool blends.

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Where it falls down is in terms of insulation. This is a lightweight base layer, weighing just 72g compared to the 120g of my short sleeve Crane Sport base layers from Aldi. On some rides, it felt like cold winds cut straight through the thinner material of the Craft top. Granted, I live in North Yorkshire where it is colder than down south. I've not got a lot of padding either, and not being a T-shirt-in-January kind of northerner, I wasn't really comfortable in this until May was properly underway, or unless I overdid the outer layer(s).

>>Read more: Buyer's Guide to Base Layers

Unlike some lightweight base layers — I'm looking at you, merino wool — it didn't develop holes and tears. There's a good amount of stretch in the material and it's well stitched. The cut is athletic, the Medium size fitting me as close as the Small of some brands. It's not constricting to wear, however, and the flat seams and soft-faced material are comfortable against the skin. The fact that it's machine washable at 60 degrees means it's easier to live with, as you can just chuck it the machine. A hot wash keeps it smelling sweet too.

On the whole, it's a well made base layer that should suit late spring to early autumn conditions. A price of £30 is about par for the course. Yet for that money you can buy three or more base layers from Aldi (for example), and I have done. I wore all of them more than this Craft one during the test as they were more comfortable on cooler days. On the rare occasion it was too hot for a heavier-weight base layer, I didn't wear one at all. So the Craft Zero Extreme often languished in my bike gear drawer, alongside an abandoned string-vest type base layer.

Verdict

Comfortable fit but suits milder conditions only, despite the name

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Craft Zero Extreme Short Sleeve Base Layer

Size tested: Medium - Black

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 Zero Extreme allows you to perform with an optimal body temperature during workouts in fair and cold conditions. The underwear is made of a lightweight, elastic fabric featuring two high-tech polyester fibers: a hexa-channeled fiber against the skin for optimal moisture management, and a hollow fiber on the outside for insulation and moisture transport. A three-dimensional ergonomic fit provides freedom of movement. The fabric's anti-smell quality keeps you fresh.

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

100% polyester

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Very well stitched. Good, close fit.

Rate the product for performance:
 
5/10

Not warm enough.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

It's thin, but hasn't developed holes.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
5/10

While it is light, it's actually TOO light.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
6/10

Good - except in cooler conditions.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

It's just a vest really. £30 is par for the course, but it's still a chunk of change.

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

Not warm enough.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Fit.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Material too thin.

Did you enjoy using the product? Not really.

Would you consider buying the product? No.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Only if they're better insulated than I am and don't mind spending money.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 46  Height: 1.78m  Weight: 64kg

I usually ride: Genesis Longitude  My best bike is: Planet X Pro Carbon Track

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

10 comments

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tailwind10 [50 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I use the crew neck long sleeve version and it serves me right through winter. I guess it depends on the level of activity and what you pair it with. One of my wardrobe favourites.

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Dr Ess [16 posts] 3 years ago
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A poor review - craft base layers are very good, and like tailwind I find that when paired with the right top will serve it's purpose well. I have a number of these - both short sleeve and long.

Comments like "it felt like cold winds cut straight through" are a bit silly, given that it is not marketed as windproof! If anybody wants a proper review of this product, I guess they will have to look elsewhere!

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matthewn5 [1358 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I have the Craft Cool Mesh Superlight baselayer and it's my secret weapon for cold weather. In fact it's so good I sometimes wear it to winter outdoor events at work under my suit!

I've noticed no build up of smell (wife tested!) and its a first choice for winter cycling, walking, or even going to the office.

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offshore_dave [65 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I agree with the comments in that I am very happy with my Craft top.

I also have the windproof version and its excellent for cooler days.

Both are worn (separately) under a Castelli Gabba top and they an excellent combination both in warm or cool weather.

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repsychlist [6 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Baffled by this review.
I wear mine nearly every 3 season ride in the UK as it has a perfect warmth/breathability ratio for me with varying degrees of arm/leg warmer weights & combinations to suit the particular day. Admittedly when it's 20C+ I switch to Craft's sleeveless mesh base layer and hot weather jerseys. It's close fitting and comfortable, and has worn and washed well. I have other Craft base layers for winter and they're of the same high quality of manufacture and performance. All polyester kit has a tendency to smell but I've found that this can be avoided completely by 1. prompt on the day washing 2. the addition to the wash of a modest amount of of 'Vanish'.
What your review is really saying is that you don't really wear base layers...

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c200 [3 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

ZERO Extreme will become every year uncomfortable.
Although it is not written in the review, this shirt is troubled by protruding from a long sleeve from jersey. Not find use.
Should buy a long-sleeved rather than short sleeves.  39

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CapriciousZephyr [87 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I clicked through to here from the home page because I was curious to see how this could only get 3 stars. Like seemingly everyone else bar the reviewer, I love my Zero Extreme base layers, long and short sleeve versions, with and without windproof panels on the front. I use them for a variety of sports and find them excellent in much cooler conditions than the review rates them for. From a cycling perspective, I particularly appreciate that they are cut much longer in the body than any other base layers I have, keeping my whole back warm when I'm bent over on the bike. The only downside is the prominent Craft logo right at the neck, which, as I don't wear a shirt and tie which would cover it, prevents me from wearing them every day under my regular clothes at my excessively air-conditioned office.

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w61 [9 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Very surprised by a 6/10 score.

This top plus a gabba sees me through most of the winter in the north east.

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fuzzywuzzy [89 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Surprised by the low rating to, the long sleeve version is my preferred winter base layer although I do always pair it with a windproof jacket so maybe that's the issue here. On warmer days with a bit of a chill I use the craft windproof base layer and then just string vest type base layers when it's 20c+

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maldin [149 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I'd back the reviewer up to a point. I use the long sleeved version under a windstopper and its toasty in <10C conditions. However, using the short sleeved version with a non-windstopper thermal jersey I have found myself chilly even 8-12C (no extra wind, only air movement from riding speed). I do find that both SS and LS wick well, but I have given up on using my SS for 10C conditions. I'm the same weight and height as the reviewer (give or take a cm or kg) so perhaps our body types feel windchill particularly badly.