Craft's Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Baselayer is – at risk of stating the obvious – mostly intended for warm-weather use, and marketed as being the extra cooling layer you want when you're getting too hot. I found that quite an amusing concept when I first heard it, but it does make sense as a good base layer is likely to do a better job than just a jersey at pulling the sweat away from your skin.
During the review period I've really only had one or two rides where being too hot was on the cards, but that was enough to confirm that Mat was spot on in his earlier review. However counter-intuitive it may sound, adding an extra layer really can help keep you more comfortable on a hot day. The clever mesh has a holey structure that wicks moisture fantastically well, and it is so light that you'll forget you're wearing it.
Most of the riding lately, however, has been colder and sometimes wetter, so I figured it would be interesting to see whether this would be any good in these conditions. Layered up and riding hard, winter riding can be a sweat-inducing affair too, and sure enough, this base layer offers excellent comfort against the skin in the colder months too. You obviously need some other layers for warmth as this won't contribute much there.
I found it particularly effective when worn underneath a tight-fitting water-resistant jersey, like the Castelli Gabba (or the ever-increasing number of similar products from other brands). I find that this sort of jersey can feel a bit clammy against the skin, and sticking a suitable base layer underneath really makes a big difference. I now never wear my Gabba without it.
Since Mat's review the basic design hasn't changed much; that's no bad thing. There are now some Craft logos front and back, which no-one's ever going to see (I've yet to be seen in public wearing only this). I'll admit I'd expected the logos to soon fall victim to the washing machine, but they're still in place. The neck and arm holes are particularly roomy, and as the fabric is so light, this can mean that it's prone to getting pulled around by your bibstraps when dressing.
A medium fits me well - you want your base layers to be close fitting. All in all it's pretty hard to fault. An RRP of £28 might sound a lot for a vest but you can often find it for quite a bit less than this if you shop around. Other brands sell similar summer base layers for quite a lot more, too. I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of it once summer is again upon us, but it's a surprisingly useful layer to have for winter riding too. Thoroughly recommended.
Very well-regarded summer base layer works well for winter use too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Cool Mesh Superlight Sleeveless Baselayer
Size tested: Medium
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?
The Craft Cool Mesh Superlight sleeveless base layer is brilliant value providing a superb cooling effect with a 3-dimensional ergonomic fit for freedom of movement during workouts in hot conditions.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Full lightweight mesh
- Big mesh construction for super ventilation and cooling features
- Ergonomic cut for total freedom of movements
- Soft and comfortable fit
- Excellent moisture transportation
- Keeps you fresh during exercising
Really impressive moisture wicking.
Reports abound of these things lasting for years and years, despite their flimsy appearance.
Significantly improves the comfort of a Gabba, I found.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Well, I didn't get much opportunity yet. But it works surprisingly well in the winter, as long as you're getting warmth from another layer (or just from going *really* fast).
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 190cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.