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The Craft Active Extreme X Crew Neck baselayer performs well in cool weather, providing warmth when it's needed while also offering excellent breathability when you're working hard.
I tested out the Active Extreme 2.0 a few years ago and thought it was excellent, so I was interested to see how this model compares.
Craft says it's 'designed for racing and high-intensity workouts in mild to cold winter conditions', and, like the Active Extreme 2.0, for temperatures of between -5 and +10°C – so it's something you should be able to use comfortably for three seasons.
I tested it in a variety of conditions, as the testing period threw up a series of curveball temperatures and conditions. The coldest was 3°C, when I wore it beneath a merino wool jersey and gilet, and it offered enough warmth to keep me comfortable. The highest temperature I used it was around 12 degrees, underneath a short sleeve jersey and arm warmers, and here it regulated my temperature fairly well too, thanks to the breathability and wicking.
Even following prolonged periods of intense activity, within a couple of minutes I was back to a manageable temperature. Strategic vents within the baselayer around the armpits help to quickly move hot air away from the body, and even using it underneath several layers it still seemed to allow air to flow away from the skin quickly and easily – something that can be a bit more of a challenge during colder months.
The waffle-knitted material – Coolmax and 'Seaqual' polyester, produced from recycled marine plastics – is also very effective for wicking moisture away from the skin quickly, helping to manage your temperature effectively.
I also found that it was warm enough for use in most conditions. As I said above, I used it down to 3 degrees under a long-sleeve jersey and gilet, and I would be confident I could wear it comfortably in lower temperatures. One of the benefits of having a short sleeve layer is that when temperatures really plummet you have the option of wearing arm warmers, for additional insulation, which isn't always possible with a long-sleeve, close-fitting baselayer.
In terms of fit it hugs the figure well, offering a lot of stretch in the material to allow it to sit comfortably without restricting movement. One element that I particularly like is the length, as it is long enough to tuck easily underneath bib shorts without riding up. I have a particularly long body, and baselayers quite often don't sit low enough and then ride up, which is not the case here.
Its rrp of £40 is a fair price compared to others on the market. For instance, the dhb Aeron Equinox baselayer is £30 but doesn't offer the same performance at colder temperatures, while the Rapha Brevet baselayer, which offers similar levels of warmth, comes in at £20 more.
Overall, I was very impressed with this baselayer in much the same way as I was impressed with the long sleeve model. It offers excellent breathability and ventilation while wicking moisture impressively. It fits well, and the long body means you can tuck it in easily and it won't ride up.
Cold weather baselayer that puts in a strong performance – and eco friendly too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Active Extreme X Crew Neck Base Layer
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Craft says, 'Tight short-sleeve baselayer jersey with mesh panels and excellent body-temperature Active Extreme X is a short-sleeve baselayer jersey designed for racing and high-intensity workouts in mild to cold winter conditions.
'This high-performance garment combines lightweight SEAQUAL™ polyester, Coolmax® Air Technology and recycled polyester to provide exceptional body-temperature management during high-intensity activities. In addition, the garment comes with a waffle-knitted design for enhanced moisture transport and comfort. Great stretch and ergonomic fit ensure optimal freedom of movement while bodymapped mesh panels provide extra ventilation where it's needed the most. A proven favorite among elite athletes and everyday heroes.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Craft says this about the fabric and technology:
SEAQUAL™ eco-friendly fabric
The SEAQUAL™ Initiative challenges plastic pollution and helps to clean our oceans from marine litter, driving society towards circularity. A result of our ambition to take full responsibility for the entire value chain, Active Extreme X RN LS is made of upcycled marine plastics, a 100% recycled material. The recycled SEAQUAL™ fabric is not only eco-friendly but offers exceptional moisture transport and ventilation as well.
Coolmax® Air Technology
Coolmax® Air Technology fabrics are designed to optimize the body's natural temperature management in cold as well as warm conditions. Featuring polyester fibers with a unique propeller-shaped cross-section, the fabric provides excellent thermoregulation for optimal performance. Tests have shown that garments made with the Coolmax® Air Technology offer superior body-temperature management, great comfort and superb quick-dry effect.
* Thin, lightweight and elastic fabric
* SEAQUAL™ polyester produced from recycled plastic
* Coolmax® Air Technology
* Waffle-knitted design for maximum moisture transport and comfort
* Mesh inserts at armpits for enhanced ventilation
* Flatlock seams that follow body movements
* Tight fit
* Moisture transport: 5 out of 5
* Activity level: 5 out of 5
* Temperature: -5°C to +10°C
It's a well-made baselayer with strong stitching and good material choices throughout.
Performed very well throughout the review, offering excellent breathability, wicking, and heat management.
Thanks to good material choices and stitching it is likely to last a long time. I also found that any smells washed out easily, so you're unlikely to need to replace it on account of that.
A really good fit thanks in no small part to the additional body length.
Sized up as expected.
Very comfortable thanks to the wicking and breathability it offers.
It's £20 less than the Rapha Brevet baselayer, which offers broadly the same qualities. More expensive than the £30 dhb Aeron Equinox baselayer but that doesn't have quite the same prowess in cold temperatures.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, washed at 30 degrees without any problems at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performed very well, it regulated my temperature both in warmer and cooler temperatures.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit – I often struggle with baselayers because I have a longer-than-average body, not the case here.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing major springs to mind.
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 overall score
Like the long-sleeve Active Extreme 2,0, it's excellent: it does everything it needs to in terms of temperature regulation, wicking, and breathability, and is much warmer than you might expect considering its lack of bulk. It's eco-friendly too – what more could you want?
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
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, mtb,
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.