Arc'teryx Beta AR Review
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Arc'teryx Beta AR
Check Price at REI
$649.00 at Backcountry
|$625.00 at Backcountry|
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$389.25 at Backcountry
$399.00 at Backcountry
|Pros||Durable, great weather protection, excellent features, awesome storm collar||Excellent weather protection, great fit and coverage, good ventilation||Unrivaled weather protection, great fit, durable, vents well||Sturdy weather protection, supple fabric, lightweight, breathable||Inexpensive, protective, versatile, lots of pockets|
|Cons||A bit large and bulky, baggy fit, expensive||Very expensive, a bit heavy, style not for everyone||Expensive, light on pockets||Short on pockets, slim fit||Heavy, boxy fit, vents could be longer, stiff fabric|
|Bottom Line||A fantastic hardshell that has a great set of features and an amazing collar, but comes at a hefty price||This super-protective and well-fitting hardshell is versatile for any winter activity||Our favorite hardshell for serious adventures, this jacket is protective, durable, and relatively lightweight||A lightweight shell that boasts great weather protection but without the bells and whistles of other jackets||A protective and durable hard shell jacket at a great price, but with a boxy fit|
|Rating Categories||Arc'teryx Beta AR||Norrona Trollveggen...||Mammut Nordwand Adv...||Norrona Falketind G...||Patagonia Triolet|
|Weather Protection (30%)|
|Mobility and Fit (20%)|
|Venting and Breathability (20%)|
|Features and Design (10%)|
|Specs||Arc'teryx Beta AR||Norrona Trollveggen...||Mammut Nordwand Adv...||Norrona Falketind G...||Patagonia Triolet|
|Measured Weight (size large)||16.5 oz||16.8 oz||16.0 oz||14.1 oz||19.8 oz|
|Material||N40r-X Gore-Tex Pro 3L||100% recycled 40D Gore-Tex Pro with 160D reinforcements on shoulder, forearm, and hood||100% Polyamide 30D Gore-Tex Pro||30D Gore-Tex with C-Knit backer||100% recycled polyester 75D Gore-Tex|
|Pockets||2 hand, 1 internal||2 front, 1 internal zippereed chest, 1 zippered electronics pocket inside front chest pocket||2 front, 1 internal zippered chest||2 hand, 1 internal zippered||2 chest, 2 hand, 1 internal mesh|
|Helmet Compatible Hood||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hood Draw Cords||3||1||3||1||3|
|Two-Way Front Zipper||No||Yes||Yes||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 Arc'teryx describes it as their ultimate lightweight hardshell, but at 16.5 ounces, it's hardly super light or super packable.
That said, we 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 into 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.
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 because it doesn't have any of the constrictions we found on some of the more genuinely "athletic fit" models that we tested.
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 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.
The Beta AR's feature set lends comfort, but it's 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.
Should You Buy the Beta AR?
This jacket will set you back quite a bit of money. The materials and craftsmanship are great, but for any given activity, there is a jacket in this review that will do a better job at a lower price, throwing into question the actual value you're getting for such an expensive jacket.
What Other Hardshell Jackets Should You Consider?
The Arc'teryx Beta AR is a great winter hardshell that will protect you from the weather in any conditions. However, for a similar price and weight, you can get the Norrona Trollveggen Gore-Tex Pro Light, which is one of our overall favorites and is more breathable, more protective, and has a better fit and mobility. If you're looking for a great hardshell for a more affordable price, check out the Patagonia Triolet, which offers great across-the-board performance and will leave a bit of extra money in your wallet.
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