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The Craft Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS is an excellent baselayer that manages heat better than almost any I have used. Having worn this in freezing and mid-range conditions, I can testify that not only does it keep you warm, it also has great wicking and breathability.
Craft describes it as a baselayer for 'medium-cold to cold conditions'. This is fairly ambiguous and open to a wide range of interpretations, especially as Craft is a Swedish company, so its medium-cold is probably our hypothermia-inducing. I used it in temperatures varying from -3 to 10 for the duration of the review.
Working within this wide range of temperatures was incredibly useful, because it really showed me the element I was most impressed with – heat management. When you put the baselayer on inside, you wonder how it will ever keep you warm outside, because it doesn't seem to do much indoors. However, when you're out it doesn't really change temperature – it kept me at a comfortable temperature throughout. It meant that I was warm enough at -3 to not freeze, and cool enough at 10 degrees to still get up climbs without boiling.
Craft makes the claim that 'the world's most advanced baselayer once again ups the ante'. This isn't something that I can verify, having not tried every baselayer in the world, but another of Craft's claims is that it is made from 'a thin, lightweight and elastic fabric featuring CoolMax Air, a high-performance fiber that provides superior body-temperature management' – which I can. The fabric used is very lightweight and has a decent amount of stretch (I used this over the Christmas period, so I can verify that). It is this CoolMax Air fabric that makes it so good at heat management, but there are other elements that assist with this.
Chief among them are the vents that sit around the armpits and provide an area where heat quickly escapes. Another is breathability and the use of a quick-drying fabric, which are both exceptional. As an example, as I sit writing this I have the dry baselayer next to me after taking it out of the washing machine 20 minutes ago. When it can shed that much moisture that quickly, you can imagine how quick it is on your back. Similarly, this moisture is quickly moved away from the skin when riding, and the only time I noticed any sweat was when I was repairing a puncture in the freezing cold.
Partly because of its excellent heat management and partly because of the lightweight material used, it is also comfortable to wear for extended periods. This comes from the soft double-layered high neck and lack of labels around the neck.
In terms of value I think it's pretty good too: the baselayer has an RRP of £36, which isn't a bad price for something that works so well in a variety of conditions.
Overall I was really impressed by this baselayer. As a reviewer I always try to find the faults in a product, but with this, try as hard as I could, there was very little not to like. It manages heat incredibly well, dries quickly and wicks sweat impressively. What else could you want in a baselayer? It's available in plain black too, and white.
A really strong performing baselayer, perhaps the best at managing heat I've used
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS
Size tested: Medium
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?
A high performance baselayer for use in cold to moderate conditions.
Craft says: 'Engineered to make you lighter, faster and better, the world's most advanced baselayer once again ups the ante. Active Extreme 2.0 LS is made of a thin, lightweight and elastic fabric featuring CoolMax Air, a high-performance fiber that provides superior body-temperature management during intense workouts in mild to cold conditions. Bodymapped mesh panels with big holes ensure superb ventilation while ergonomic 3D design provides a tight, perfect fit. Developed for devoted athletes.'
There may be some unverifiable claims in there, but by-and-large this is an accurate description.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Double-layer fabric featuring CoolMax Air
Excellent moisture management
Provides superior performance and comfort
Perfect for fair and cold conditions
Really well made; thin materials are often difficult to keep strong, but Craft has managed it well.
Great wicking and heat management, very impressive performance.
Seems well made with strong stitching, so likely to last a long time.
Good fit, the large I tested fitted well and the ergonomic 3D design keeps it tight against the skin.
The large I tested fitted like a large.
Really lightweight for a cold weather baselayer.
Strong heat management and a good fit mean that it is very comfortable, even on long rides.
Not cheap, but good value for something that performs so well.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy, washed it at 30 with no issues at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, excellent for heat management and breathability.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Heat management was excellent.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not a huge amount 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 really strong performing baselayer that is light, warm and manages heat with aplomb.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between.
Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.