Founded in Sweden in 1973, the Craft brand is known throughout the world for their technical base layers and sportswear that are specific for various outdoor disciplines: running, fitness, cross-country skiing, cycling and of course mountain biking. During the shoulder seasons it is always difficult to choose the right clothing, especially for outings in the high mountains and, in our particularly cold, rainy and windy spring period, using light but adequately protective technical garments is essential. For this reason I tested two Craft products from the women’s range, the Velo Convert windproof jacket in combination with the Active Extreme 2.0 base layer.
Velo Convert Jacket
The Velo Convert jacket belongs to the Craft women’s clothing line specific for cycling / MTB. It is a very lightweight garment with removable pre-shaped sleeves. The main purpose of the jacket is shelter from the wind while at the same time offering good water resistance. It’s made by using a single layer of fabric composed of 100% polyester, which is very thin but at the same time robust and durable. The Velo Convert Jacket is characterized by a fairly trim fit that follows the lines of the body, while still managing to offer excellent freedom of movement.
The back of the jacket is longer than the front in order to optimize the fit and adequately cover the back while in a crouched riding position, offering greater protection to the area exposed to splashes of water and mud flung from the rear wheel. The shoulders are sheltered by a sort of cape that creates a second layer of fabric and acts as a link between the two sleeves for easy removal.
The most interesting feature of the Velo Convert jacket is the fact that you can quickly and easily remove the sleeves and it becomes a vest, making it versatile even in the face of sudden temperature changes. Both sleeves have a zipper, a portion of which remains hidden under the rear cape. The zipper starts from the back of the armpit to finish just below the collar.
Undoing both zippers it is possible, as you can see in the following photo, to remove the cape with both sleeves. This part of the jacket, thin and very light, once removed can be stowed inside the back pocket, without creating any inconvenience either during pedaling or when riding downhill, given the ultra minimal thickness and weight.
The convenient zippered pocket is positioned on the lower back. Being very wide, it is useful for storing numerous other items in addition to the removable sleeves. Its zipper is very fluid and smooth, so it is easy to operate even with one hand while pedaling.
The hem at the waist has a thick elastic panel with a silicone insert with the Craft logo applied to it. This detail is useful for ensuring that the hem stays in place without it moving during riding and also prevents air from getting inside the jacket causing it to swell, especially in strong winds.
The numerous reflective sections have been applied in order to make the biker visible at night both front and back. They are present on the collar near the upper edge, which is specially folded to house the zipper slider, in the middle of the cape and on both arms, just below the shoulders. Finally, both Craft logos are reflective, one positioned on the left side of the chest and the other on the lower part of the back pocket, close to the hem.
Active 2.0 Extreme Jersey LS LS
The Active Extreme 2.0 is a base layer made with high quality fabric, in order to provide excellent management of body temperature in both cold and mild weather conditions. The shirt is characterized by a very tight design with the function of a second skin, and being elastic and very thin it guarantees comfort and an excellent fit.
The fabric the Active Extreme 2.0 jersey is made from is Coolmax, made up of 96% polyester and 4% elastane, with a structure featuring a particular vertical weave that is repeated with six-channel sections. This weave, combined with the high performance of the fabric itself, is able to transport moisture from the body to the outer layer of the mesh, keeping your skin dry and, at the same time, guaranteeing rapid sweat dissipation and evaporation. The Coolmax fabric also creates a thermal insulating barrier from the outside and therefore allows excellent body temperature regulation.
Near the armpits are mesh panels, a polyester fiber with a three-dimensional perforated structure that increases air flow and improves the dissipation of sweat in the most critical points. The seams that join the different fabric panels are flat and soft so they do not create any discomfort.
On the trail
During this spring full of wind and rain I was able to fully appreciate the quality and comfort of the Craft Velo Convert jacket. It’s proven to have very good characteristics that I have extensively took advantage of in a variety of conditions. First of all I loved the excellent windproof qualities: it is able to create a barrier and to protect the entire bust and neck very closely – up to the chin thanks to the large collar. Being a jacket with excellent insulating properties, breathability is not the best and therefore sweating increases on the uphills. To better manage this aspect, I took advantage of removing the sleeves so as to facilitate the dissipation of sweat on the arms and improve air circulation in the armpits. It’s details like that which make the Velo Convert versatile and suitable for a wider range of situations and weather conditions. Being water repellent, in case of light rain it creates a thin barrier that allows the mesh to stay dry; even the damp dirt and splashes of mud glide over the surface of the jacket without being absorbed. It does lack a hood to cover the helmet, which can also be useful to guard both the ears and part of the face in case of strong wind or rain. The single-layer fabric is not stretched out in any direction however it has proven to be comfortable and able to offer good range of motion when riding downhill. An important detail is the robustness that Velo Convert has shown, resisting numerous impacts with branches, and brambles without any damage.
The temperature range recommended by Craft for the use of the Active Extreme 2.0 base layer is between -5 ° C and +10 ° C. I used it all throughout last winter, in combination with the Giro W Ambient jacket, and I appreciated the insulation and comfort on my skin. I often wore the base layer even at temperatures above 10 ° C, combining it with a light jersey and / or with the Velo Convert sleeveless and on the skin you still have the feeling of wearing a garment that remains cool and dry. This is due to the structure of the fabric that makes the jersey extremely breathable and allows sweat to evaporate very quickly, helping to keep the skin dry and the body temperature ideal. The base layer, despite being tight, is very soft, elastic and comfortable, allowing excellent freedom of movement, even when combined with numerous layers of clothing.
Sizes and colors
Velo Convert Jacket W
Available in 6 sizes (from XS to XXL) and in 6 colors.
Active Extreme 2.0 CN LS W jersey
Available in 6 sizes (from XS to XXL) and in 5 colors.