Arc'teryx Beta AR Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Durable, great weather protection, excellent features, awesome storm collar
Cons: A bit large and bulky, baggy fit, expensive
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Arc'teryx Beta AR
|Price||$599.00 at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$437.50 at Backcountry|
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$299.40 at Backcountry
|$375 List||$81.15 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Durable, great weather protection, excellent features, awesome storm collar||Unrivaled weather protection, decent venting options, perfect fit||Lightweight, excellent fit for active uses, solid weather protection, plenty of pockets||Ultralight, less expensive, excellent packability, decent weather protection||Good ventilation, bargain price, lightweight, fully waterproof|
|Cons||A bit large and bulky, baggy fit, expensive||Expensive, not ultralight, mediocre breathability||Expensive, DWR treatment wears off quickly, great all-round performance but not outstanding in any specific areas||Limited feature set, questionable durability, high waist hemline, few venting possibilities||Interior fabric is clingy, feels delicate, limited drawcords|
|Bottom Line||A fantastic hardshell that has a great set of features and an amazing collar, but comes at a hefty price||Our favorite hardshell for serious adventures, it stands out if you're looking for an option with serious weather protection||A well-designed jacket that offers equally great weather protection, breathability, and mobility in a lightweight package||Our favorite ultralight shell to leave in our packs for unexpected storms||An ultralight waterproof model with underarm vents and and an exceptional price tag|
|Rating Categories||Arc'teryx Beta AR||Mammut Nordwand Adv...||Patagonia Ascensionist||Arc'teryx Alpha SL...||Marmot Knife Edge|
|Weather Protection (30%)|
|Mobility and Fit (20%)|
|Venting and Breathability (20%)|
|Features and Design (10%)|
|Specs||Arc'teryx Beta AR||Mammut Nordwand Adv...||Patagonia Ascensionist||Arc'teryx Alpha SL...||Marmot Knife Edge|
|Measured Weight (size large)||16.5 oz||16.0 oz||13.6 oz||7.6 oz||12.4 oz|
|Material||N40r-X Gore-Tex Pro 3L||3-layer 100% nylon Gore-Tex Pro||GORE-TEX Active with GORE C-KNIT, 30D recycled nylon||3-layer Gore-Tex with Hadron face fabric||Gore-Tex Paclite 2.5L 100% Polyester|
|Pockets||2 hand, 1 internal||2 front, 1 internal||2 zippered handwarmer, 1 zippered chest, 1 internal stretch||1 chest||2 hand, 1 chest|
|Helmet Compatible Hood||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hood Draw Cords||3||3||3||1||1|
|Two-Way Front Zipper||No||Yes||No||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Arc'teryx Beta AR is an all-around jacket that does an incredible job of protecting you from the elements while providing exemplary durability with its blend of 80D and 40D face fabrics paired with a Gore-Tex Pro membrane. The features on this jacket do an excellent job and have been upgraded to the newest standard. Arc'teryx describes it as their ultimate lightweight hardshell, but at 16.5 ounces, it's hardly super light or super packable compared to the Arc'teryx Alpha FL.
That said, we do love the weather protection it offers, especially the tall collar that is comfortable and doesn't rub the chin while sealing off the neck from the elements. The fit is quite large, to the point of being baggy, making it perhaps the best hardshell for hanging out in all the time (think work), but not as ideal for technical climbing or skiing missions as more athletically cut jackets. Due to its fit, the Beta AR is also an excellent choice for men with larger frames.
This shell is made of both 80D and 40D face fabrics backed with a lightweight Gore-Tex Pro membrane. Most of the face fabric is the lighter and more supple 40D, with the 80D reinforcing the shoulders. It includes all the stellar features found on the other Arc'teryx jackets we have tested over the years, such as a four-point adjustable storm hood and water-tight zippers. But 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 all the way around your neck, and is incredibly cozy and comfortable. It is easily the most comfortable collar in this review and leaves plenty of room underneath for warm layers or a buff to help keep your neck and face warm. The newest incarnation of the Beta AR sports a lower hemline to ensure it stays tucked in to a harness better.
At 16.5 ounces for a size large, the Beta AR is a moderately heavy and relatively bulky jacket. Although this weight normally wouldn't be considered "heavy," this is a comparative review, so we are holding it to a standard set by the other jackets. It is slightly lighter than the Patagonia Galvanized Jacket, but nowhere near as light, or as packable, as its Arc'teryx cousin, the Alpha FL.
Mobility and 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 a bit bulky and baggy in the chest. 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 heavyweight Gore-Tex Pro membrane is stiff and crinkly, making this one of the least mobile jackets available.
That said, we like how the hood fits, even with a helmet on. It allows for movement of the head and helmet within the hood, rather than moving with it, and our visibility was never impaired. People with a larger frame will do well with the fit of this jacket becasue it doesn't have any of the constrictions we found on some of the more genuinely "athletic fit" models that we tested. here is no doubt, however, that it does not have the same fine-tuned fit as the Arc'teryx Alpha FL.
Venting and Breathability
Whether we were wearing this jacket while skinning uphill, or while testing it specifically in our stationary bike test, we found the combination of 40D and 80D fabrics, along with the Gore-Tex Pro membrane, to be very hot and sweaty.
Although we think it did an ok job of breathing once we sufficiently raised the relative humidity to the point where direct diffusion could take place, the fact is that ventilation is virtually always a more comfortable means of staying cool than relying on breathability through the fabric. The Beta AR includes standard pit zips for this purpose, but lacks features we enjoy such as mesh-backed pockets or a two-way zipper. This jacket is undoubtedly better at protecting from bad weather than it is at breathing once you are hot.
This product has a feature set that differentiates it from jackets like the Arc'teryx Alpha FL; the Beta AR 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 a pack's hip belt line or climbing harness. It also has a small internal zip pocket. We have already described how much we love the high collar.
The Beta AR has four adjustment points on its storm hood and a harness hemlock feature that keeps it from riding up with a harness on or with arms overhead.
This jacket will set you back quite a bit of money. The materials and craftsmanship probably make this jacket worth the price. However, for any given activity, there is a jacket in this review that will probably do a better job at a lower price, throwing into question the actual value you're getting for a jacket that is so expensive.
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 for any activity. Although it is perhaps one of the most comfortable jackets to hang out in that we have tested, its bulkier fit makes it less technically inclined than its Alpha FL cousin.
— Andy Wellman
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