You know the old saying, 'cover your head, 40% of heat of lost through it' and while that may be a bit of a myth there's no denying that a layer under your helmet can really increase your cold weather comfort on the bike. Craft's Zero Extreme WS (Wind Stopper) Skull Hat is one option for doing just that.
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. A middle weighting (130g/m2 as opposed to 170g/m2 for the Pro Zero), the idea is that it is used when you are working hard enough to garner a sweat in cool weather, rather than extreme conditions as the name may suggest. It also presents a good thickness for under helmet wear - not too bulky as to leave your helmet teetering on top in only a gesture to safety.
A basic 'beanie' cut, it doesn't shape over the ears or down the neck but still covers both areas well. It is a comfortable fit which doesn't drop down to your eyebrow as some skull caps I have worn do, creating a nuisance while riding. Craft say it could be worn on its own but the styling is very much for performance rather than looks, with the Wind Stopper section looking a bit odd for casual attire.
The problem with skull caps is that you will often work up a sweat as your climbing - when your speed drops and you are working harder - leaving the cap wet. As you begin the decent, all that sweat evaporates away and you are left with a cold head. The Wind Stopper element here helps to prevent this, the panel is stitched over the front section of what would otherwise be a complete skull cap. This means the wet outer layer (due to the wicking doing its job) doesn't get a sudden onslaught of wind causing a quick and sudden temperature drop. It works well in practice and did a good job of keeping my head warm even once I'd sweated into it. The Wind Stopper layer obviously helps too when overall wind picks up, providing an extra defense against a chill. I found it warm down to around 6deg, below that I started doubling up with another buff or cap.
The cap retails for around £16 which I see as good value. It is a comfortable, well designed piece of head-wear - more so than most other headpieces. Having the added Wind Stopper layer is excellent at keeping the wind chill at bay and it hasn't inflated the price. If you find your head getting cold, or are struggling in the cold, you may want to consider this skull cap.
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Make and model: Craft Zero Windstopper Hat
Size tested: Black - L/XL
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?
'Gore Wind Stop wind proof beanie, for increase [sic] performance. ZERO Extreme lined, form fitting, can be worn under a helmet or on its own.'
Craft aren't giving away much here but basically it is a skull cap with an added Gore Wind Stopper front section.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pro Cool and Pro Zero composite for warmth with wicking ability. Gore Wind Stopper section to keep the wind at bay over your fore head.
Craft's base layer experience can be seen here, a good cut which covered my head and ears well.
Provided a good level of warmth down to about 5 deg.
Can't see how it would wear out...
Not too tight as to feel unpleasant but didn't flap in the wind either. Wicking worked well in keeping my head dry.
Retailing for £16 it is one of Craft's cheaper offerings and presents good value compared to similarly priced but non-WS options.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Well, keeping my head warm even once I'd sweated into to it up a climb.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The added Wind Stopper section.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Maybe a bit too performance orientated to look any good off the bike.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 23 Height: 184cm Weight: 66kg
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,