The Arc'teryx Theta AR is the most expensive jacket in this review with a price tag of $625.00, but it is also the most heavily featured. In many ways it is very similar to the Arc'teryx Beta AR, but has a much lower hem line that protects better against snow while skiing. The Theta also has an extra mid-back draw cord to snug up the empty space and includes a sleeve pocket and larger interior pocket. It has a GORE-TEX Pro membrane paired with a combination of 80 denier and 40 denier fabrics that make it like a bomb shelter when it comes to weather protection. If you want the single most durable jacket in this review, then look no further, but if you want something that is form fitting and designed to be light, then we recommend something like our Editors' Choice award winner Arc'teryx Alpha FL instead.
Arc'teryx Theta AR Review
Cons: Heavy, expensive, very bulky and baggy fit, loud and crinkly
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you intend to live or work in the gnarliest of weather and want a jacket that can protect you from those hard elements for years to come, there is no better jacket in this review than the Theta AR. Its reinforced GORE-TEX Pro, combined with the highest quality construction, ensures that this will be among the longest lasting of your outdoor garments. While it is designed to be versatile and functional for all outdoor activities, it is not a specialist in any one activity. However, none will live up to the moniker of "storm shelter" quite like this one will.
Arc'teryx describes this jacket as a "storm shelter," and we would have to agree. Weather protection is the forte of the Theta AR. In addition to having the highest quality membrane combined with the burliest face fabrics in our review, what sets this jacket apart is the storm hood and high collar. The collar, like the one on the Beta AR, is the comfiest of any we reviewed, making it by far the easiest of any jacket to keep fully zipped up, all the time, with no discomfort or mobility restrictions. The Theta AR features the lowest, and therefore most protective, hemline of any jacket, and like all Arc'teryx jackets, the Velcro quality on the wrist enclosures was top notch. (It's worth noting here that the Beta AR uses the same membrane/face fabric combo as the Theta.)
At 18.1 ounces, the Theta AR is one of the heaviest in this review. Only the Mountain Hardwear Torsun and REI Shuksan II clocked in heavier. We must say, though, that for being one of the heaviest we tried, it's still a pretty light jacket. The added features and longer length are what make it heavier than the Beta AR, and that difference ended up being the only thing separating the two jackets in score.
Mobility & Fit
We awarded the Theta AR 6 out of a possible 10 points for Mobility and Fit. The GORE-TEX Pro membrane is loud and crinkly, and the jacket is nowhere near as mobile as some of the best, like the Outdoor Research Axiom and Westcomb Shift LT. We did, however, love how the storm hood worked with a helmet. Its four draw strings really help you hone in on the perfect fit. Depending on how tight you cranked it down, the hood either gripped the head and helmet, or let it move freely inside, but regardless, we never had an issue with impaired visibility. What we didn't like about this jacket was what we considered its excessive space and bagginess in the chest and torso. For us there was simply too much jacket for a size large.
Surprisingly, we found the Theta AR to be not as hot as most others while running on the treadmill. We think this may have been due to extra air escaping out the wide neck collar. Likewise, we were unable to find any moisture inside the jacket after the test, proving that it is highly breathable. Just in case conditions are not right for breathability, Arc'teryx also included pit zips under the arms in this model for extra venting.
The Theta AR features a number of things that other jackets do not. It has a very large interior pocket, as well as a sleeve pocket. What we really liked is that it was the only jacket to have a mid-back draw cord that helped us cinch up the excessive bagginess, something that was not present in the Beta AR. The main pockets are two large chest height hand pockets that easily sit well above a harness or waist belt of a pack. All in all, the Theta AR was the most heavily featured jacket we tested, but we found that it was upstaged by some of the more practical features found on the Patagonia Refugitive.
This jacket is designed to be used for any outdoor application, but it is a bit overkill in our minds for anywhere except places where the weather will always be bad, like the coast of Alaska. If weather protection is so important that you are willing to sacrifice other characteristics like mobility and weight, then this is the jacket for you.
The Theta AR will run you $625.00. This price tag makes it the most expensive one in the review. In our opinion, you can find higher performing jackets for less money, making it questionable what sort of value you are getting. Arc'teryx products have long been known as some of the most expensive available, but most people seem to think that they get what they pay for.
The Arc'teryx Theta AR is the most expensive and the burliest jacket included in this review. For the relatively warm and dry climate of Colorado where most of our testing took place, it was not our favorite option. However, in certain climates, this jacket could easily outperform all the others. We liked it slightly better than the Arc'teryx Beta AR because of its longer cut and mid-back draw cord. For only $29.00 more, we think that it is worth the extra money.
— Andy Wellman