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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
Arc'teryx Beta AR
Photo: Arc'teryx
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Price:  $599 List | Check Price at REI
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  ⋅  Nov 8, 2020
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 15
  • Weather Protection - 30% 8
  • Weight - 20% 5
  • Mobility and Fit - 20% 5
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 6
  • Features and Design - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Arc'teryx Beta AR remains unchanged for the 2020 season, except for a new selection of colors to mix things up. It has been a mainstay of Arc'teryx's jacket line-up for 20 years now and remains popular due to its Gore-Tex Pro membrane and burly face fabric that provide 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 for all-around mountain performance, and the AR specifically 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 it doesn't quite offer the high level of technical performance we found in the Arc'teryx Alpha FL.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Arc'teryx Beta AR
This Product
Arc'teryx Beta AR
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price Check Price at REI
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$450.00 at Backcountry$475 List$249 List
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$179.37 at Backcountry
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable, great weather protection, excellent features, awesome storm collarUnrivaled weather protection, decent venting options, perfect fitLightweight, form fitting, great storm hood, superior construction quality, reasonable priceCheap, ultralight, solid weather protection, impressive breathabilityStretchy, light, very packable, affordable, quite breathable
Cons A bit large and bulky, baggy fit, expensiveExpensive, not ultralight, mediocre breathabilityCrinkly and noisy, very little ventilation, few pockets, short front hemNo internal pockets, poor ventilation, unreliable hood drawcordsHand pockets are a bit low, hood is a bit shallow with a helmet on, fragile
Bottom Line A fantastic hardshell that has a great set of features and an amazing collar, but comes at a hefty priceA serious hardshell for serious adventuresThis hardshell is an alpine climber’s dream, and is really great for skiing as wellAn affordable hardshell that can get the job doneThe best choice for highly aerobic activities where mobility and breathability are key
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Beta AR Mammut Nordwand Adv... Arc'teryx Alpha FL REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Outdoor Research In...
Weather Protection (30%)
8.0
10.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
Weight (20%)
5.0
6.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Mobility And Fit (20%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Venting And Breathability (20%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Features And Design (10%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Arc'teryx Beta AR Mammut Nordwand Adv... Arc'teryx Alpha FL REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Outdoor Research In...
Pit Zips Yes Yes No No No
Measured Weight (size large) 16.5 oz 16.0 oz 11.8 oz 11.0 oz 11.2 oz
Material N40r-X Gore-Tex Pro 3L 3-layer 100% nylon Gore-Tex Pro Gore-Tex with N40p-X face fabric Gore-Tex Active 3L AscentShell 3L 100% nylon 20D stretch ripstop with 100% polyester 12D backer
Pockets 2 hand, 1 internal 2 front, 1 internal 1 external chest, 1 internal chest 2 hand 2 handwarmer, 1 chest
Helmet Compatible Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hood Draw Cords 3 3 3 3 3
Adjustable Cuffs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
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.

Performance Comparison


This jacket has a baggier fit than our Editors' Choice Award winner...
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.
Photo: Miranda Oakley

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, 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.

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

Weight


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.

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

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.

Standard 14" pit zips provide some ventilation with the going gets...
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.
Photo: Matt Bento

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.

Coverage wasn't too good at this point in the season, and we got...
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.
Photo: Miranda Oakley

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 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.

The hem cinch cord does a fine job keeping the heat in and the snow...
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.
Photo: Miranda Oakley

Value


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.

We loved the mobility and durability this jacket provides, but we...
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.
Photo: Miranda Oakley

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. 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