The Craft Active Intensity CN LS M is one of the most comfortable baselayers I've ever worn and a very good choice for cold, if not freezing, temperatures. There's no merino in the mix, but it's still pretty good value.
The Active Intensity has a slim but not overly tight fit with a body that, as you can see from our photos, is quite long. In a long-sleeve baselayer designed for the colder months that's handy, as it provides just that bit more protection.
No merino wool here, the fabric is a 61/35/4 per cent split of polyamide, polyester and elastane, but it does feel remarkably soft against the skin. You can pay a lot more than the £34 asking price here for a merino-based baselayer – £70 for Pactimo's High Grade Wool baselayer, £60 for the Rivelo Hathersage, although dhb's long-sleeve Merino baselayer is £40.
The Active Intensity purports to be more technical than merino offerings, with strategically placed – 'bodymapped' – panels for optimum performance, which gives thinner areas under the arms, down the flanks and around the bottom, and slightly thicker areas on the wind-facing chest, and the upper back too.
It's designed to provide top moisture-wicking performance while keeping body heat inside the key, often exposed, areas of the body. It might do, but the truth is I can't really tell the difference between this and any other half-decent under layer.
It certainly does as good a job as any technical baselayer with at least one eye on insulation, and the neat design looks flash, too.
What I did notice is the aforementioned fit, which sits nicely on the skin without restricting movement. This test top is a medium, which suggests to me it might size a little larger than your typical performance baselayer, though there's not a lot in it. If you fall between two sizes, I'd say opt for the smaller one.
That's evidenced by the length of the sleeves which, make no mistake, are very long. I've got quite a long reach, yet I still have to adjust the length to avoid bunching in the cuff area, which can impact comfort under a jersey or slim-fitting jacket like Castelli's Perfetto or Santini's Beta Rain Jacket.
Thankfully they pull up fine without bunching much further up, and don't fall back down again. They bend nicely at the elbow, too, thanks to the flexibility of the fabric.
The neckline is well considered in so far as it creates a gentle seal to stop draughts, and doesn't feel at all restrictive. I liked it especially on my colder rides, when things got to mid-single figures.
Thanks to there being no wool content, washing is as simple as chucking it in with your standard wash, and it comes out just fine. Craft recommends a 40 degree cycle too, and that's enough to get rid of any lingering smells too (at least, it is for me, but I don't really suffer with that problem).
All together, this is a technically competent long sleeve baselayer that comes in at a decent price – roughly the same as Lusso's Bioactive Thermal Polo. It'll do a good job throughout the colder months (aside from the really freezing stuff, arguably), while fitting nicely under your winter layering system.
A technically-proficient long sleeve baselayer that'll sort you for the majority of the colder months
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Craft Active Intensity CN LS M
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Craft says, "100% Polyester Elastic jersey with ergonomic fit and excellent body-temperature management
"When exercising in the cold it's vital that body heat is retained but moisture is removed so as to avoid the chilling down of the core. The Active Intensity CN Long Sleeve base layer is designed to trap that built up body heat while the fabric actively draws perspiration off the skin where it can evaporate off the garment surface. This leaves you feeling dry and comfortable and temperature optimally balanced.
"Whether you're pushing yourself at full intensity or taking it steady over winter, this base layer from Craft ensures those hours of effort are completed in comfort rather than battling the chills."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Craft doesn't say much more, but Wiggle lists:
- High wicking and breathable
- Flatlock seams
- Bodymapped panels
- Ergonomic fit
Definitely one of the best I've come across – stitching is flat and high quality,
No merino here, but that doesn't hold it back.
I found that it can snag fairly easily. Be sure to avoid abrasive surfaces.
The slim fit is great for performance riding, although the sleeves are a touch long in my view.
Sizes slightly bigger than 'normal' by my estimation, but not hugely so.
One of the most comfortable layers I've ever worn, even without merino.
You can pay less for synthetic baselayers, but I'd say £34 is a fair price for a technical baselayer.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very easy, washing through a normal 40 degree cycle – just avoid Velcro!
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good fit, overall performance, neat body mapping.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's the same price as Lusso's non-merino Bioactive Thermal Polo; recently tested long-sleeve merino baselayers from Pactimo and Showers Pass are £70 or more. The Rivelo Hathersage I tested is now £60 at rrp, and while dhb's £35 Aeron Merino baselayer is no longer available (for men), its long-sleeve Merino baselayer is £40.
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
It might not have merino wool in the mix, and the sleeves might be a touch long (on me, anyway), but it's one of the most comfortable I've ever worn. It's a very good performer at a decent price point.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding