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Arc'teryx Beta AR Review

A fantastic hardshell that has a great set of features and an amazing collar, but comes at a hefty price.
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Price:  $575 List | $404.98 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable, great weather protection, excellent features, awesome storm collar
Cons:  A bit large and bulky, baggy fit, expensive
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 28, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 10
  • Weather Protection - 35% 8
  • Weight - 20% 5
  • Mobility and Fit - 20% 5
  • Venting and Breathability - 15% 6
  • Features - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Beta AR remains unchanged for the 2018 season, except for a new selection of new colors to mix things up. It has been a mainstay of Arc'teryx's jacket line-up for around 13 years now and remains popular due to its Gore-Tex Pro membrane and burly face fabric leading to exceptional durability. This jacket is known for its versatility and is designed specifically with this attribute in mind. Arc'teryx designs their Beta series of clothing with all-around performance in mind, and the AR also stands for "All-round." Due to its incredible collar design, deep hood, and spacious fit it may be the most comfortable hardshell to hang around in all day, but doesn't quite offer the top-quality performance we found in the Arc'teryx Alpha FL.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Arc'teryx Beta AR
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award   
Price $404.98 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$425.00 at REI
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$164.98 at Backcountry
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$499.95 at REI$239.40 at Patagonia
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable, great weather protection, excellent features, awesome storm collarLightweight, form fitting, great storm hood, superior construction quality, affordableStretchy, light, very packable, affordable, quite breathableAwesome weather protection, fits great, very mobilePackable, stretchy, excellent mobility
Cons A bit large and bulky, baggy fit, expensiveCrinkly and noisy, very little ventilationHand pockets are a bit low, hood is a bit shallow with a helmet onSkin pockets a bit too narrow, small ventilation zips"Wets out" more easily than other models, slower to dry than other models, especially when the DWR treatment begins to wear off
Bottom Line A fantastic hardshell that has a great set of features and an amazing collar, but comes at a hefty price.This hardshell is an alpine climber’s dream, and is really great for skiing as well.The best choice for highly aerobic activities where mobility and breathability are key.A solid hardshell that thrives in bad weather.This stretchy, waterproof shell is a good choice for alpine and ice climbing and a unique entry to the hardshell category.
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Beta AR Arc'teryx Alpha FL Outdoor Research Interstellar Dynafit Radical Patagonia Galvanized
Weather Protection (35%)
10
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8
10
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10
10
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6
10
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9
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7
Weight (20%)
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5
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9
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10
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6
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6
Mobility And Fit (20%)
10
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5
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7
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9
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8
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9
Venting And Breathability (15%)
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6
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4
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9
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7
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6
Features (10%)
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6
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8
Specs Arc'teryx Beta AR Arc'teryx Alpha FL Outdoor Research... Dynafit Radical Patagonia Galvanized
Pit Zips Yes No No Yes Yes
Measured Weight (Size) 15.6oz.(S) 11 oz. (S) 11.5 oz. (L) 14.8 oz. (50/L) 16.1 oz. (S)
Material N40r-X Gore-Tex Pro 3L Gore-Tex with N40p-X face fabric AscentShell 3L 100% nylon 20D stretch ripstop with 100% polyester 12D backer Gore-Tex Pro with C-Knit backer 3-layer, 4.4-oz 50-denier 88% polyester/12% spandex
Pockets 2 hand, 1 internal 1 Nepoleon, 1 internal 2 handwarmer, 1 chest 2 side handwarmer, 1 sleeve, 2 internal stash Two handwarmer, 1 internal chest
Helmet Compatible Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hood Draw Cords 3 3 3 1 3
Adjustable Cuffs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Two-Way Front Zipper No No No Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

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 with its blend of 80D and 40D face fabrics paired with a Gore-Tex Pro membrane. The features included with 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 15.6 0z ounces, we hardly found it to be super light or super packable compared to the Arc'teryx Alpha FL.

That said, we did love the weather protection it offers, especially the tall collar feature that is comfortable and doesn't rub the chin while sealing off the neck from the elements. This 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 and skiing missions as more athletically cut jackets. Due to its fit, the Beta AR is also an excellent choice for dudes with larger frames.

Performance Comparison


This jacket has a baggier fit than our Editors' Choice Award winner and can accommodate more layers. The hem is longer than previous versions but still doesn't provide as much coverage as the Summit L5 GTX Pro.
This jacket has a baggier fit than our Editors' Choice Award winner and can accommodate more layers. The hem is longer than previous versions but still doesn't provide as much coverage as the Summit L5 GTX Pro.

Weather Protection


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, like a four-point adjustable storm hood and water-tight zippers. What we 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 has plenty of room underneath it for warmth layers or a Buff to help keep your face and neck warm. The newest incarnation of the Beta AR has a much appreciated lower hemline than the previous version.

The cavernous hood is a snug fit over a ski helmet and fits very well over a smaller climbing helmet.
The cavernous hood is a snug fit over a ski helmet and fits very well over a smaller climbing helmet.

Weight


At 15.6 oz for a size small, the Beta AR is a moderately heavy and relatively bulky jacket. While this weight probably shouldn't be considered "heavy," this is a comparative review, so we are holding it to a standard set by the other jackets. It was slightly lighter than the Patagonia Galvanized Jacket, but nowhere near as light, or as packable, as the the Outdoor Research Interstellar.

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 less mobile jackets available.

Arc'teryx added some inches to the hemline  giving us more of that all-important butt coverage.
Arc'teryx added some inches to the hemline, giving us more of that all-important butt coverage.

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. People with a larger frame will do well with the fit of this jacket, as it doesn't have any of the constrictions we found on some of the more genuinely "athletic fits" that we tested, but there is no doubt 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.

Standard 14" pit zips provide some ventilation with the going gets tough  but this heavier model doesn't breathe as well as lighter jackets with thinner shell fabrics like the OR Optimizer.
Standard 14" pit zips provide some ventilation with the going gets tough, but this heavier model doesn't breathe as well as lighter jackets with thinner shell fabrics like the OR Optimizer.

While we felt it did an ok job of breathing once we had 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. 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, and in no way did it ventilate as well as the Mountain Hardwear CloudSeeker. This jacket is undoubtedly better at protecting from bad weather than it is at breathing once you are hot.

Coverage wasn't too good at this point in the season  and we got pretty sweaty in this jacket while navigating patchy snow and collapsing sagebrush at lower elevations.
Coverage wasn't too good at this point in the season, and we got pretty sweaty in this jacket while navigating patchy snow and collapsing sagebrush at lower elevations.

Features


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 the hip belt line of a pack or 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.

The hem cinch cord does a fine job keeping the heat in and the snow out  but we wish that Arc'teryx used the same cord locks as they do on the Alpha FL  since they are easier to operate with gloved hands.
The hem cinch cord does a fine job keeping the heat in and the snow out, but we wish that Arc'teryx used the same cord locks as they do on the Alpha FL, since they are easier to operate with gloved hands.

Best Applications


While you could certainly climb ice or large mountains in this jacket, we don't think it performs quite 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 — skiing, 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 — it is rather the consummate all-arounder.

We loved the mobility and durability this jacket provides  but we have to admit get gets pretty hot during fair weather ski tours  even with the pit vents open.
We loved the mobility and durability this jacket provides, but we have to admit get gets pretty hot during fair weather ski tours, even with the pit vents open.

Value


This jacket costs $575, 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, throwing into question the actual value you are getting for a jacket that is so expensive.

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 for any activity. While 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