The Craft Active Extreme base layer is a great option for chilly rides, proving both warm and breathable.
Splashing out on a good winter jacket might seem like the most obvious way to stay comfortable on chilly winter rides, but, as the one item of clothing actually in contact with your skin, a decent base layer will keep you warm by both providing extra insulation while also wicking sweat away from the skin. The Craft Active Extreme base layer does this job with aplomb, and is certainly an attractive choice at £30.
The Craft Active Extreme base layer is made from 100% polyester which means that it doesn’t have the luxurious feel against the skin of more expensive merino wool base layers such as the Madison Isoler base layer. However Craft have worked two other fabrics into the polyester weave. Six-channelled fibres are positioned against the skin to quicken the wicking of sweat, while hollow fibres on the outside of the base layer provide extra insulation. And we have to say it works! Through a number of rides in the Craft Active Extreme base layer in chilly conditions, we were always warm and comfortable, while never suffering from overheating when putting in hard efforts.
While Craft can’t quite match merino wool base layers for comfort, compensation is provided by the superb fit. The thin, lightweight material is also elastic, and the ergonomic fit ensures it sits close to the torso, a nice contrast to the likes of the Caratti Thermal base layer. The sleeves and neck are also nice and slim, perfect for the skinny cyclist build.
This slim fit means that the Craft Active Extreme base layer is all but invisible once you put other layers on top, with minimal bunching when stuffed down the front of shorts or bib tights. The high neck also provides good coverage without giving the feeling that you’re cycling around in a turtleneck jumper.
For such a good base layer, the mid-level price is reasonable. Of course there are cheaper options on the market, especially if you move away from cycling-specific garments, but we can’t think of anything cheaper that manages to hit the marks in terms of warmth, breathability, and fit quite as well.
The Craft Active Extreme base layer is one of the best base layers you can buy without splashing out on merino wool, proving a warm, breathable and comfortable option for winter riding.