Arc'teryx Beta Jacket Review
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Arc'teryx Beta Jacket
$400.00 at REI
|$100.00 at Backcountry|
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|$300 List||$249.95 at Amazon|
Compare at 2 sellers
$169.00 at REI
|Pros||Top-tier storm worthiness, mobility and range of motion, hood design, long-lasting DWR, exceptional breathability, harness, and hip-belt friendly pockets||Super stretchy material, above average breathability, nice interior feel, lightweight, stuffs into its pocket||Super light, ultra compact, trim fit, excellent breathability, weather protection compared to others in its weight class, stuffs into a pocket, hood moves very well with its user||Unmatched stretch, mobility, freedom-of-movement, good breathability||Incredible price, Gore-Tex, solid weather protection, excellent hood design, weight and packed volume|
|Cons||No ventilation options, expensive, doesn't stuff into its pocket||Average weather protection, easy to overtighten hood and squeeze ears||Average weather protection overall, no pockets, no clip in point on stuff sack, elastic wrist loops are basic, trim/athletic cut doesn't facilitate layering||Average weather protection, you might find the slim fit doesn't accommodate layering||Wets out quicker than other Gore-Tex models, two layer design isn't as long-lasting, clammy interior|
|Bottom Line||This function-focused model is exceptionally versatile and offers some of the best performance in our review||Constructed with a super stretchy material and offering superb mobility, this is the ideal rain shell for demanding activities||If you participate in activities where every ounce matters and you also need excellent weather protection and breathability, few can match this model for its weight||The stretchiest rain jacket we have ever tested, it provides unmatched freedom of movement and great breathability, making it ideal for cool weather activities||One of the best values you can get for a piece of rain gear, this Gore-Tex model is packed full of functional features|
|Rating Categories||Arc'teryx Beta Jacket||Mountain Hardwear S...||The North Face Flig...||Rab Kinetic 2.0||REI Co-op XeroDry GTX|
|Water Resistance (30%)|
|Breathability & Venting (25%)|
|Comfort & Mobility (20%)|
|Weight & Packability (15%)|
|Specs||Arc'teryx Beta Jacket||Mountain Hardwear S...||The North Face Flig...||Rab Kinetic 2.0||REI Co-op XeroDry GTX|
|Measured Weight (Medium)||10.75 oz||10.5 oz||7.25 oz||12 oz||12.5 oz|
|Waterproof Fabric Material||3-layer Gore-Tex with Gore C-Knit backer||2.5 layer Dry.Q propriatary material||20D FutureLight 3L||Proflex||2-layer GORE-TEX Paclite|
|Pockets||2 hand pockets||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered chest||1 interior||2 hand||2 hand|
|Hipbelt Friendly Hand Pockets||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Helmet Compatible Hood||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Stows Into Pocket||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Striking an unmatched balance of storm protection, breathability, and weight, no model can match the Arc'teryx Beta's overall performance level. It's pricey, sure, but easily stands out as the cream of the crop and our overall recommendation.
The Arc'teryx Beta uses Gore-Tex in a 3-layer construction — a Gore-Tex membrane inside of 2 thin layers all sandwiched together. This keeps the rain and snow out while still breathing well to expel any moisture generated while hiking or backpacking. After extensive testing, the new Beta is one of the most stormworthy models we tested. We found that it provided more weather protection than most rain shells and equal protection to most heavy-duty "winter" hard shells.
Even after extended camping trips in the pouring rain, we found the Beta had the longest-lasting DWR that resisted wetting out more than any other model we tested. In our direct side-by-side comparisons, it excelled in our shower and garden hose tests, keeping us comfortable and dry. During two dozen days of backpacking, climbing, and ski touring over a very damp autumn in the Pacific Northwest (and a surprisingly wet trip to Red Rock near Las Vegas), the Beta LT exceeded our expectations and is one of the most weather-resistant products we tested.
The Beta offers an array of well-designed features, which rank highly for their functionality in keeping our reviewers dry. We appreciated its sleek, low-profile Velcro wrist closures, which minimized the water running down our arms if we were using our hands above our heads. The main front zipper is watertight and sports a minimal but effective internal storm flap that keeps the water out in even the wettest of storms. The Durable Water Repellency (DWR) holds up incredibly well and is one of the best in our fleet.
The Beta features one of the best overall hood designs with a nearly unmatched level of peripheral vision; it does function with a helmet, but the fit is right. Our testers loved its deep hood (which provides more protection) and an extremely functional brim that actually keeps the rain off the front of your face. The hood design is easy and functional when cinching down. Unlike options with three cinch points (one in the back and two in the front) that tighten independently, this model cinches all three places simultaneously from the same rear cinch.
This basic but incredibly effective hood design performed exceptionally well and was easy to tighten with one hand or two to loosen. The Beta's hood easily accommodates most headwear and head sizes, hugging our heads from beanies to baseball caps — or nothing at all.
The hood is tight to fit over most climbing or bike helmets. It can fit, but it depends on the model, and it may not be super comfortable. We recommend wearing the hood underneath your helmet.
Breathability and Venting
The Beta uses the standard Gore-Tex for its weather protection and proved one of the more breathable models in our review.
Directly comparing the breathability of the Beta and its Gore-Tex fabric to air-permeable models isn't as cut and dry as it sounds. Air-permeable models have a lower, yet static level of breathability. In contrast, this model, as well as other models that feature any type of Gore-Tex, can have higher and lower levels of breathability depending on the user's activity level and environmental factors (like the temperature outside). This level fluctuates more depending on how much internal heat build-up there is relative to the air temperature and, to a lesser extent, relative humidity. When we worked hard (such as hiking), Gore-Tex breathed better than any model featuring an air-permeable fabric. The air-permeable jackets performed better if it was super hot and humid, or once we had cooled down. Still, the Beta takes the cake for general breathability, particularly while in motion and working up a sweat.
One potential drawback for some users is that the Beta doesn't feature additional ventilation like pit zips to dump heat and sweat. Ventilation isn't as crucial as breathability; for example, if it's pouring rain, but you happen to find yourself on an overgrown trail, you won't be able to open your vents up much (if at all) because water will start coming in through the vents. All jackets have breathability maximums that can easily be exceeded if you are overdressed.
Comfort and Mobility
The Beta uses Gore's C-Knit backer material for the interior lining, which proved quiet and soft. It was among the most comfortable in our review. Not all Gore-Tex jackets feel as nice as this one; it was significantly less clammy and sticky than many others and felt great directly against our skin when worn with a t-shirt.
The Beta boasts some of the better overall mobility and range of motion of any model we tested. Our testers loved this jacket's slightly longer arm length and nicely designed, articulated sleeves. Even folks who don't have long arms benefitted from this combination of features and design, as the ends of the sleeves didn't pull back, even when reaching directly above our heads. While the sleeves were slightly longer than average, all of our testers agreed they never felt bulky or too long, and most folks commented that this aspect made the jacket more comfortable overall.
The Beta is a relatively minimalist jacket that offers several small nods to comfort, like a micro-fleece lining on the top of the inside of the zipper to protect the chin. There is a similar piece of fabric on the back of the neck. This extra material adds comfort and increases longevity by absorbing oil and sweat, reducing the chance of the interior fabric delaminating in an area that gets a lot of wear. We love the slightly more athletic fit, which still allows for effective layering without bunching in the underarm areas.
The pockets on this model are slightly elevated, so they remain accessible under a pack or while wearing a harness, and their zippers don't pinch while wearing a backpack. While slightly elevated, they weren't so high that they still didn't provide a pleasant place to keep our hands warm and tucked away. This combination of features makes Zeta's slightly elevated, function-focused pockets among our review team's favorites.
Weight and Packability
We weighed the Beta in at 10.75 ounces — significantly lighter than most full-featured hardshells, yet it doesn't yield much performance or overall weather protection to most of these heavier models. Arc'teryx reduces the weight of this model in several ways: there's no additional ventilation besides simply unzipping the primary front zipper. This saves a least a few ounces of materials of zippers and stitching. Arc'teryx uses a 16mm seam, which is the narrowest in our review.
The zippers are watertight, enabling Arc'teryx to minimize the size of the storm flap, further saving weight. Even the Velcro wrist straps are low profile, minimizing weight without giving up functionality. Though it's not the lightest rain jacket we tested, this model is plenty light enough to satisfy most outdoor enthusiasts. You can buy a model that weighs as little as 6.5 ounces, but you get a lot more performance from this jacket from the additional 4-5 ounces.
For a sub-11-ounce jacket, the Beta is surprisingly durable. After using all winter and summer alpine guiding, we found it provides good resistance to tearing or scuffing and is notably tougher than most models of similar or less weight. The longevity of its DWR also impressed our review team; even after a full winter and spring, it's still going strong. Besides the Beta's outer tight-knit exterior face fabric, it offers several features that increase this model's overall durability. There aren't any seams on the shoulders, which is typically the first place seam tape will pull back due to the pressure of shoulder straps and abrasion. Additionally, the seam tape used on this product is the thinnest in the review; this saves weight and makes it less prone to peeling after extended use.
The inside of the chin area has an additional layer of nylon to combat the wearer's sweat from clogging the pores of the membrane, which can cause it to break down or delaminate prematurely. The Beta is one of the most robust jackets we tested, which is particularly impressive, considering it weighs less than 11 ounces.
Should You Buy the Arc'teryx Beta?
Despite being one of the more expensive jackets in its category, for any more demanding or passionate outdoor user willing to spend the extra money, the Beta will surely be worth the price. Offering the best storm protection and among the best freedom of movement, breathability, and comfort, this jacket is the bomb. Arc'teryx paid attention to all the details, from the smaller seam tape to its seam allowance, the materials used, its hood design, and the cut of the jacket — it's hard not to be taken with almost any aspect of this jacket, as long as you can stomach the price.
What Other Rain Jackets Should You Consider?
While the Beta was the crème de la crème of rain jackets, a few other performers stood out for specific applications. For climbing or other activities demanding high levels of mobility, we loved the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic for its super stretchy material and well-designed fit. For the most weight-conscious users, we recommend the Outdoor Research Helium for its low weight and tiny packed size. If you need increased ventilation, the Outdoor Research Foray II offers huge side vents to dump moisture.
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