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Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket Review


Hardshell Jacket

Arc'Teryx Beta AR Nautic Grey
Price:   Varies from $439 - $575 online  —  Compare at 7 sellers
Pros:  Durable, great weather protection, excellent features, awesome storm collar!
Cons:  Heavy and bulky, expensive
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx

Overview

The Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket is a bomber hardshell that offers fantastic weather protection and comes loaded with a whole heap of handy features. The jacket is part of the Beta series meaning it's made for all-around mountain use, and the AR also stands for all-around, so this is designed to be one versatile jacket. Whether you use it for expedition or alpine climbing, skiing, working outside, or simply as your everyday all winter long jacket, this durable beast will not let you down. If you have the money to afford its hefty price tag and want one jacket that can do it all, look no further than the Beta AR.

This jacket falls in the middle of the three Arc'teryx jackets we featured in this review when considering weight, features, and price. The Editors' Choice Award winning Arc'teryx Alpha FL is lighter, cheaper, and more pared down to the basics than the Beta AR. On the other hand, the Arc'teryx Theta AR is a very similar jacket that is slightly heavier, longer at the waist, and includes more features. The Beta AR remains virtually unchanged from the 2014 model, but that didn't stop us from buying a new one to test again side-by-side.

New Colors for the Arc'Teryx Beta AR - November 2016
The Beta AR is now available in new colors, scroll down to find out more.

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Andy Wellman
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Friday
November 11, 2016

The New Version of the Arc'Teryx Beta AR Jacket vs. the Older Version


Since we last tested the Beta AR jacket, nothing has changed except the colors. It is now available in Admiral Blue, Black, Cardinal Red, Hylidae Green, Madras Yellow, and Nautic Grey.

The latest colorways of the Beta AR jacket are pictured below, in the order we've listed above.
Arc'Teryx Beta AR Admiral Blue
Arc'Teryx Beta AR Black
Arc'Teryx Beta AR Cardinal Red
 
Arc'Teryx Beta AR Hylidae Green
Arc'Teryx Beta AR Madras Yellow
Arc'Teryx Beta AR Nautic Grey
 


Hands-On Review




The Arc'teryx Beta AR is an all-around jacket that will do an incredible job of protecting you from the elements while providing exemplary durability. The features included with this jacket are top-notch and it is built with careful craftsmanship. Arc'teryx describes it as their ultimate lightweight hardshell, but at 16.7 ounces, we hardly found it to be super light or super packable. We did love the weather protection it offers, especially the tall collar feature that is really comfortable and doesn't rub the chin while sealing off the neck from the elements.

Performance Comparison


There's ice under all that snow somewhere  and under the Beta AR  our head tester is plenty warm and dry. This jacket can certainly do it all  ice climbing  backcountry skiing  or simply taking shelter from the snow.
There's ice under all that snow somewhere, and under the Beta AR, our head tester is plenty warm and dry. This jacket can certainly do it all ice climbing, backcountry skiing, or simply taking shelter from the snow.

Weather Protection


Notice how in the hood comes down outside the collar  meaning no water can run off the hood and into the neck. This was a great aspect of the high collar on this and the Theta AR jacket  and kept us dry during the shower test.
Notice how in the hood comes down outside the collar, meaning no water can run off the hood and into the neck. This was a great aspect of the high collar on this and the Theta AR jacket, and kept us dry during the shower test.
This shell is made of both 80D and 40D Gore-Tex Pro membrane. Most of the face fabric is the lighter and more supple 40D, with the 80D reinforcing the shoulders. We gave this jacket 9 out of 10 for weather protection; it includes all the stellar features found on the other Arc'teryx jackets we tested, like a four-point adjustable storm hood and water-tight zippers. What we really love about the Beta AR is its collar. The collar is a separate piece of material from the hood, meaning it wraps and seals around your neck all the way around, and is incredibly cozy and comfortable. That said, we couldn't give it a perfect 10. We found that even though the Alpha FL's collar was slightly less comfortable, its more "standard" facial opening sealed off our face better.

Like the Beta AR, the Theta AR is also made of 80D and 40D Gore-Tex Pro membrane and has the high collar that we love so much.

Shown here is the 40 denier face fabric of the Beta AR with some light signs of wetting around the higher wear zipper areas  and the seam taped insides of the GORE-TEX Pro membrane. While Arc'teryx jackets are the most durable we tested  unfortunately their DWR coating is not.
Shown here is the 40 denier face fabric of the Beta AR with some light signs of wetting around the higher wear zipper areas, and the seam taped insides of the GORE-TEX Pro membrane. While Arc'teryx jackets are the most durable we tested, unfortunately their DWR coating is not.

Weight


At 16.7 ounces for a size large, the Beta AR is a heavy and relatively bulky jacket. The jackets that were heavier include the Arc'teryx Theta AR, REI Shuksan II, and the Mountain Hardwear Torsun. Arc'teryx claims that this is a lightweight and packable shell, but we have to disagree.

Mobility & Fit


This shell is cut to Arc'teryx's "Athletic Fit," standard, meaning that it includes plenty of room underneath for layering. To us, it felt bulky and baggy in the chest and lacks the mid-back draw cord of the Theta AR to snug everything up. While it is designed to allow plenty of layering underneath, we feel that the cut of this jacket could hardly be called "athletic." Additionally, the heavy weight Gore-Tex Pro membrane is stiff and crinkly, making this one of the less mobile jackets available. That said, we liked how the hood fit, even with a helmet on, allowing for movement of the head and helmet within the hood, rather than moving with it, but our visibility was never impaired. The hemline of this jacket is at waist level, which we found to be sufficient, but we have to admit that we liked the low hem on the Theta AR a little better.

This jacket does not have the low hem line of the Theta AR  as you can see it rides up a bit while raising arms above the head. We like the fit of the other jacket a bit better.
This jacket does not have the low hem line of the Theta AR, as you can see it rides up a bit while raising arms above the head. We like the fit of the other jacket a bit better.

While the Beta AR has the wonderful high collar and full selection of pockets and pit zips that make it great for almost any purpose, we think that users looking for the absolute best protection for mountaineering expeditions would be wise to check out the Arc'teryx Alpha SV. Its fit was sleeker and more mobile than the AR, making it the most protective jacket available for high end climbing.

Breathability


We were quite surprised to find that the heavy weight GORE-TEX Pro membrane in this jacket breathed at least as well as other jackets that we tested during our treadmill test. While we certainly got very hot and steamed up the inside of the jacket while running, we could not find any evidence of water vapor condensed to the inside of the jacket, a stark difference from jackets such as the Patagonia M10. We could only conclude from this test that the GORE-TEX Pro certainly does work. That said, this jacket comes with pit zips, and the uncomfortable relative humidity that inspires the breathing process is probably best circumvented by simply taking advantage of the copious venting features.

Peter Dever steps out to the edge of a rollover to inspect the terrain below for recent avalanche debris while skinning up a popular run in the San Juans. One can see the generous size of the cut for this jacket.
Peter Dever steps out to the edge of a rollover to inspect the terrain below for recent avalanche debris while skinning up a popular run in the San Juans. One can see the generous size of the cut for this jacket.

Features


This product has a feature set that differentiates it from jackets like the Alpha FL: the Beta is a bit more comfortable to hang out in, but is a little heavier as a result. Instead of chest pockets, it has two large and high handwarmer pockets that live above the hip belt line of a pack or harness. It also has a small internal stash pocket. We have already described how much we love the high collar. While the draw cord buckles are adequate, they are not as good as the ones on the Patagonia Refugitive. The Beta has four adjustment points on its storm hood, but is lacking the harness hemlock feature (present on the Alpha FL) that keeps it from riding up with a harness on.

The high collar on the Beta AR (pictured here) is the same as on the Theta AR. Both are very comfy to keep zipped up all the time. Check out the pull cords for the hood. While we like that they are on the outside because that makes it easier to adjust  it also means that long cords are potentially blowing around near your face.
The high collar on the Beta AR (pictured here) is the same as on the Theta AR. Both are very comfy to keep zipped up all the time. Check out the pull cords for the hood. While we like that they are on the outside because that makes it easier to adjust, it also means that long cords are potentially blowing around near your face.

Double chest high handwarmer pockets live above the belt of a harness and are big enough to hold just about anything you would want to carry.
Double chest high handwarmer pockets live above the belt of a harness and are big enough to hold just about anything you would want to carry.

Best Applications


While you could certainly climb ice or large mountains in this jacket, it is not designed to perform as well as the Alpha FL in those environments. This might be one of the best jackets to buy if you are wanting something that can do it all ski, backcountry, climbing, working, or hanging out on gnarly winter days. However, we don't think it is the best jacket for doing any one of these things, but is rather the consummate all-arounder.

Dakota Soifer dropping into a narrow hallway in the San Juan Mountains while tested jackets.
Dakota Soifer dropping into a narrow hallway in the San Juan Mountains while tested jackets.

Value


This jacket costs $550, which is a lot of money. The materials and craftsmanship probably make this jacket worth that price. However, for any given activity, there is a jacket in this review that will probably do a better job at a lower price. We liked the Theta AR better for only slightly more money.

Another option in Arc'teryx's Beta series of jackets is the Arc'teryx Beta LT. However, despite sharing the moniker "Beta," the LT and the AR are very different offerings. The LT is in fact very similar to the Alpha FL, with a similar hood and collar design and no ventilation options to save weight. It does have high handwarmer pockets, like the AR, but also has a hemline that is a bit too short for technical activities. The LT is cut far more trimly than the AR. In our opinion, if you are looking for an all-around jacket that is comfortable for hanging out in, working in, and that can do everything reasonably well, then you the Beta AR is a great choice. If you want the best technical hardshell available, the Editors' Choice winning Alpha FL is the no-brainer. Somewhere in between, in a no-man's land that doesn't make much sense to us, lies the Beta LT, one that we wouldn't really recommend, especially at a price-tag of $499.

Conclusion


The Arc'teryx Beta AR is a great winter hardshell that will protect you from the weather in any conditions. It is an extremely durable and well-made all-around jacket that can perform admirably in any conditions or activities.

Dakota Soifer ponders the next pitch of what turned out to be a really long couloir. HIs jacket was a bit large for him  but he still thought it did a good job keeping the snow out.
Dakota Soifer ponders the next pitch of what turned out to be a really long couloir. HIs jacket was a bit large for him, but he still thought it did a good job keeping the snow out.

Other Versions


Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket - 6 colors
Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket - Women's
  • Women's version of this jacket
  • Burly winter hardshell
  • $550

Arc'teryx Beta LT Jacket or Beta LT Jacket - Women's
  • Light Weight version of the Beta Series
  • Durable and well constructed
  • $500

Arc'Teryx Beta LT Hybrid
Beta LT Hybrid Jacket
  • Same basic Beta LT design
  • 2 types of Gore-Tex material
  • packs down smaller, weighs less than the Beta LT
  • Ideal for less severe conditions than the regular version
  • $350
Andy Wellman

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: November 11, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
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4 star: 100%  (1)
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