Everyone needs a pair of arm warmers in their cycling wardrobe, especially in the UK where you can get four seasons in one day. It's possible to buy what is essentially just a tube of material in many variations – thermal, windproof, water-resistant, with multi-panel construction, even with UV sun protection – but the unisex Craft Arm Warmer is plain and simple like its name. This makes the £33 price tag seem very high, considering you can buy many other arm warmers that boast more features for about £10 less.
That's not to say the Crafts aren't good, because they do deliver what they promise – warmth and comfort for cooler weather. The polyester/elastane material has a brushed inner that feels cosy and soft against the skin and seams are flatlock stitched to prevent any chafing. There's also no care label sewn in to irritate; instructions are on the packet.
Craft says they have an ergonomic fit, although there's no obvious shaping at the elbow. They do fit nice and snugly and I found them acceptably breathable. They are small and lightweight (granted, so are most arm warmers), so will easily roll up into a jersey pocket when the temperature rises.
More plus points are the ease and speed with which you can pull them off, thanks to the fabric's stretchiness, and the fact that there's just one seam along the length – fewer seams equal less chance of irritation. They are lovely and long so pull right down over your wrists (and stay in place) and won't leave a gap even if you're wearing a very short-sleeved jersey. There is white silicone gripper both inside and outside the top band which keeps them perfectly in place and isn't too tight (I went up a size to a medium from the ones I modelled in the photo).
They also have a usefully large reflective logo on both forearms for safety on the road, as well as a small reflective arrow on each bicep, handily labelled L and R, and the subtle geometric pattern makes them less boring than plain black. (They are available in plain black too, if you prefer...)
While they work well as a thermal layer when it's dry or under a jacket, they are not at all water-resistant, nor windproof, so if you get caught in the rain your arms will get cold – in noticeable contrast to the Madison Road Race Optimus Softshell Arm Warmers (review to come), which cost £13 less. It seems a shame that Craft has priced these basic items so highly as the Craft 3D warmers scored well for their features and price.
Decent basic arm warmers for cool days but expensive for what they are
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Arm Warmer
Size tested: Size M/L (XS/S weighed)
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: "Lightweight arm warmers with brushed inside that keep your arms warm in cold conditions. Ergonomic fit."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Lightweight and stretchy thermal arm warmer
87% Polyester, 13% Elastane
Soft brushed inner
Elastic silicone grippers
Monochrome geometric print
Does what it's meant to well, but lacking in features that would improve its performance, such as water-resistance.
Can snag on Velcro.
They come in three sizes. I needed the middle one, M/L.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash 40. Material gained a slightly fuzzy appearance after first wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does just what it says – it's a comfortable fit and provides warmth.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The ease of putting them on and off, comfort and good length.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Their bobbly appearance after washing, steep price considering lack of versatility.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Not at full price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not.
Use this box to explain your score
These aren't bad at all but they are rather basic – no wind or water resistance – and you can buy similar for £15 (Ribble Roubaix). If they were a comparable price then they'd score better.
About the tester
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Giant Anthem X1
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax