Craft, Part 1: the accessories

Craft hail from Sweden. They’ve not been around as long as their Norwegian competitors Helly Hansen but, well, let’s just say they hit the ground running (and cycling, skiing, generally being really fit). And, like HH, these Scandinavian guys know something about keeping us warm. They know about keeping us cool as well so we’ll probably be looking at some of the summer range in due course. But, for now, it’s cold. And, as I write this, may be about to get a whole lot colder.

In terms of durability and longevity I already have two Craft pieces in my wardrobe, a windstopper extreme base layer and a windstopper beanie. The review of the new version of that follows below. I don’t remember how old they are because they are very old. Probably 5 years, maybe 6. And they are still, virtually, as good as new. In part 2 we’ll be looking at no less than 4 base layers. But, for now, some gloves, overshoes and the one of the most witchcraft of hats.

Craft Siberia Gloves

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Well now, that’s a bold claim. Not winter, not freeze, Siberia. And that’s quite a lot to live up to. The Siberian glove is, clearly, one of Craft’s warmer gloves. If the traditional 5 finger approach leaves you cold, both meta and physically, then there are lobster designs which offer even more protection. The lumo gloves on test here are also available in black.

Sizing is similar to other brands I’ve tried, perhaps slightly on the snugger size. This size L is stated to be for 10 inch palms. Fine on me at 9.5 inches or so but, if you’re at the upper echelons, as usual, size up. They’re obviously a very noticeable pair of gloves and, as you’ll see a little later, pretty good at night as well. Because of their colour they can pick up a little bit of road dirt but they wash very well.

In terms of what they are made of, well you can see the description Ventair X Wind above. That’s Craft’s own windproof and waterproof outer. The inner is a standard fleece lining. The wrists are taken care of by a properly sized velcro fastener. There’s a large section of terry towelling on the thumb to wipe stuff away and both the thumb and forefinger have inserts to allow you to operate a phone without taking them off.

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Flip them over and you’ve got a series of silicon dots and stripes to help you keep hold of your bars. You’ll notice that there’s no actual padding here. In practice I’ve not felt that they were any less comfortable than other similar gloves as a result.

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They make pretty effective indicators as well with numerous reflective inserts.

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The RRP is £40 and that compares very favourably to other premium brands. Shop around and you should be able to take a bit more off that.

I’ve been using them in quite varied conditions from sub zero, to milder and damp/wet conditions. So I’ve been able to get quite a good handle on whether they perform and whether they can really be Siberian gloves. Well, they certainly live up to their windproof and waterproof description. In relation to the latter the caveat is that when you stitch something like this together there will, eventually, be ingress. But they really do shun water very effectively. They’re utterly windproof, of course.

In terms of comfort they’re as good as anything else I’ve tried, padding or not. It’s still easy to control lever and brakes, there’s no sensation of any restriction at all.

And so, the perennial question. How cold do they go? Well, look, there’s a bit of hyperbole in their name. But they do put up a very good fight. I always default to lobsters where the temperature will sustain itself below zero because I don’t have brilliant circulation in my hands. But I’ve been happy with these at -2 for up to an hour and a half and zero degrees for rides of much longer. So while they may not be Siberian they are most definitely useful. There is some dampness after long periods of time, inevitably really, but there are no issues that I found with difficulty in getting them off or the lining folding itself out. They dry quickly on a radiator in any event.

So, if you’re looking for a very reasonably priced pair of gloves that you know will last, that will keep you warm and dry, these really do need to be on your list.

If you want something even colder then check out these Craft Lobster mitts from our good friends at Prendas

Craft Shelter Bootie

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The shelter bootie is a mid weight neoprene and ventair x upper designed to protect you from the cold and rain. I’ll caveat all of that, as I usually do, and remind you that the big hole at the top does mean that rain will, eventually, seep in. That’s an overshoe problem and not a Craft one.

Overshoe science isn’t all that advanced, it’s pretty much a case of what you see is what you get. A waterproof upper with, usually, a fleece lining. And that’s the case here. In terms of size that’s a large on top of a pair of Shimano XC70 MTB shoes. The shoes are a 45 and large equates to 43-45. The XC70 are a bit racy so I’ve also been using them on my slightly more chunky XC50N. The fit is still the same as above.

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What you’ve got here is a fairly thin upper with a 3/4 length zip up the back. There’s a velcro strap at the bottom to make getting everything on that little bit easier and to provide a little more adjustment. The front toe section is reinforced neoprene and looks like it will withstand just about anything.

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And, once more, a tidy smattering of reflective material all over. You can also see the velcro strap at the top which provides a bit more adjustability.

In terms of how overshoes work, well, there are variations. Sometimes the really tight fit ones fail to provide total warmth because their closeness to the shoe conducts heat away. Those with a bit of space can provide a bit more insulation. It sounds counter intuitive but, in the case of these, I certainly found that to be true. The only issue I have is that they do run a little large, so these on a 45 are at the upper range of what I’d say fits well. I’d say you could probably get a 46 in there as well. If you are a 43 I’d say try the size down. You’ll still get that element of insulation.

In use they are very good. I’ve been using these in torrents of rain and deep cold. They’re as effective as anything else I’ve tried. They are spectacularly easy to keep clean with their wipe down finish and don’t really require washing very often on that basis. In terms of pricing they’re available around the £25 mark and that’s good value for something that works and is likely to be around longer than you. Just be careful with that sizing.

Craft Active Extreme Windstopper Hat

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The windstopper beanie is a ridiculously good product. My (previous version) old one has been the one constant in my wardrobe over the previous winters. Others have been good, some too bulky, but the Craft one, ever present. I don’t just use it for cycling either, I use it for everything. Running, walking, popping out to pick the kids up for school. It’s brilliant.

Craft make over a hundred hats. Let that sink in. You got a sport? Craft have a hat for that.

There is nothing to really talk about with this hat. There’s a panel of windstopper (G0re) up front. The rest a base layer material, slightly ridged for warmth. There are two sizes, s/m and l/xl. It’s uber stretchy so getting a good close fit is a piece of cake. It’s shaped so that you can get it where it needs to be including over your ears.

It weighs nothing. It packs up to nothing. It’s one of the most insignificant things you will ever picky up. And yet……

Yet, it’s a masterpiece. As I say, I’ve owned one for ages. It just works, right down to temperatures where it should not. And, shock, I’m a baldie. Nothing up there at all, no extra assistance for the hat. It should not be able to keep me cold at -5. Just shouldn’t work. But it does. And, not only does it work in the cold, it works right up there into the teens as well. It breathes, it keeps the rain off and evaporates it quickly, it almost never needs drying. It’s almost certainly possessed. I’ve tried thicker options. They compete on warmth but nothing competes on the sheer form factor of this hat. You absolutely need one. It’s that good.

And that’s part 1. Craft really do know what they’re doing for your extremities. And there are a raft of other gloves, overshoes and hats to deal with all conditions and all preferences. In part 2 we’ll be looking at some of their base layers. It’s no surprise that they do that really really well.

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3 thoughts on “Craft, Part 1: the accessories

  1. Looks like good stuff – I’ve never worn any Craft stuff but I hear good things.

    As an aside, I’m not sure winter cycling holidays in Siberia are about to take off? Also, I do love the word ‘booties’ as the name for a piece of cycling kit!

    Liked by 1 person

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