Craft Active Extreme Crewneck 2.0
Will Ross, January 16, 2017
Attempting to train during a Bavarian winter warrants the most ludicrous garments. When keeping warm is a vital ingredient to continuing a regular off-season training diet, baselayers absolutely come into their own, covering for a range of diverse weather systems across multiple activities.
Diverse threads from an assortment of brands can certainly cater for a variety of intensities and wear options – beneath a Gore-Tex jacket, or as a single layer, for instance. For 40-year-old Swedish apparel brand Craft, this primarily means designing for cross-country skiers, with a more recent focus on endurance cyclists and runners that don’t hold back when it comes to winter training.
In each of their activity divisions, Craft take a no-compromise approach to their garments, leaning firmly in favour of function over aesthetic. Their long sleeve Active Extreme series even goes as far as causing partial blindness to anyone who glances a quick sighting, but it is robust when it comes to performing as a thermal top for athletes.
For me, it’s the shape and fit of their latest Active Extreme Crewneck 2.0 that makes it so relevant to gruelling running workouts in the winter, attributes it inherited from the predecessor Active Extreme Crewneck 1.0. In truth, claiming the Active Extreme fit to be tight would be a stretch too far. Rather the garment holds close to the body without creating a suffocating wrap on your skin, matched with enough length to keep the top of climbing up your trunk during your session.
However, the 2.0’s panelling is different to the 1.0, with separate strips beneath the armpits and around the wrist. Whereas these areas of the garment on the 1.0 were simply a continuation of the overall thread, the 2.0 has made the top more complex. Tucked beneath the armpits in the 2.0 is a thinner membrane than the rest of the garment, allowing for a tiny amount of additional movement in the shoulders. But more importantly, these panels give the sense that Craft are eager to stay at the high-end of the market with a dynamic proposition that encourages good running technique. They also present more of a proposition for longevity, since the seams beneath the armpits in the 1.0 were known to break apart.
The second major advancement with the 2.0 are the elastic cuffs which wrap the wrist in a separate, breathable mesh strap. While the degree of elasticity or closure is no advancement from the 1.0, the access to check a GPS watch or quickly roll the sleeves is made more possible by the firm contact point that the new cuffs provide. The 1.0 did offer something sublime in its ‘cuff-free’ cuffs, in that you could grab them and pull them over your elbows when you’re overheating. But this kind of liberation is still allowed in the 2.0, just with a firmed contact point.
Finally, a new knitting pattern separates the main body fabrics of the 1.0 and 2.0, though the benefit is hard to detect. The idea with the 2.0 is that the Slovenian COOLMAX yarns are arranged in a propellor thread structure to allow for the fastest transfer of sweat from the body into the atmosphere. As for the exposure of a pair of nipples – just opt for the fluorescent colourway and hope the entire top serves as an overall distraction for people you pass.