Swedish company Craft knows a thing or two about developing clothing for the cold weather, and boy does it show in this Active Extreme baselayer. If you're on the hunt for a really toasty baselayer to deal with the coldest weather we get in the UK, this one comes highly recommended.
You can spend a small fortune on a decent high quality jacket, but it's almost worthless if it's not underpinned by a high quality baselayer. At £37 (cheaper if you shop around) the Craft baselayer is a solid foundation for the start of any successful winter layering system.
It's made from 100% polyester and is surprisingly soft next to the skin, more so than merino and I'm a real wool fan. The material is ribbed and very stretchy. The fit is superb, really figure-hugging stuff, but the stretch means it doesn't feel tight or restrictive around the shoulders or torso. The close-fitting arms are a real benefit with any closer fitting jackets and long sleeve jerseys as well. All the seams are flatlocked.
The fabric has hollow fibres that along with the channels help to pull sweat away from the skin and pass it to the next layer to deal with. What it means in the real-world is really good insulation even on the chilliest mornings. Plus you can work up a lot of sweat and the baselayer copes admirably, never becoming excessively damp with sweat. It never smelt bad even during longer rides with the odd stop in a warm cafe.
I've been consistently impressed with Craft baselayers over the years and I'm always reaching for a Craft baselayer for big rides when I want the most comfort and warmth. It's a good multisport baselayer as well, I've used it for running, hiking and mountain biking. A lot of performance for not really a lot of money.
Top performance base layer for the chilliest conditions, for a reasonable price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Active Extreme baselayer
Size tested: medium., White/Gecko
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 says: "The Craft Active Extreme range is designed to keep you dry and fresh in any cold weather workout. The advanced fabric technologies keep you drier, lighter, fresher and warmer."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Comforts your body in zones you need it
- Ergonomic fit and perfect drying effect
- Thin, lightweight and extremely elastic
- Flatlock seams that follow body movements
- Keeps you fresh during exercising
No complaints, top quality stuff here.
A top quality baselayer is fundamental to your layering for cycling in the cold, and this is one of the best baselayers you can buy.
I've worn one of these baselayers for hundreds of days over the last couple of years, and wear and durability is brilliant.
Soft on the skin, and the stretchy fabric improves the fit.
A lot of performance and insulation for not a huge outlay.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Wear with a softshell jacket and you can plunge into some pretty cold weather quite happily.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Excellent fit and soft on the skin.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing 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 high quality baselayer that provides superb warmth backed up with a great fit, and it doesn't cost a fortune
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.