Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant Review
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Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant
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|Pros||Rugged, very weather-ready, excellent features||Lightweight, stormworthy, quiet fabric, good breathability, 3/4 length side zips, effective elastic cuffs||Ultralight, super compact, good mobility, extremely comfortable elastic waistband, stows nicely in a reversible pocket||Best inexpensive pant, above average durability, excellent storm-worthiness||Fantastic price, very light, impressively small compact volume, solid storm protection, respectable breathability|
|Cons||Heavy, expensive, large and bulky cuffs||No zip fly, one marginally useful pocket||Lower durability, feels clammy, hard to pull on over most boots||No pockets, low breathability and ventilation, not easy to put on without removing footwear||Not as breathable as other models, not as durable or as long-lasting, no ventilation options|
|Bottom Line||For certain users, the rugged construction and bullet-proof weather protection might be just what you need||Highly protective pants that are light and compact for tucking away in your backpack||Hard to beat for any trip where weight and packed space are at a premium||A killer pant for the price, offering better than expected feel and weather resistance||A simple, lightweight, and compact rain pant that excels at a range of outdoor activies at a price that's tough to beat|
|Rating Categories||Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant||Outdoor Research Fo...||Outdoor Research He...||Columbia Rebel Roamer||Marmot PreCip Eco Pant|
|Water Resistance (25%)|
|Comfort and Mobility (20%)|
|Breathability and Venting (20%)|
|Packed Size (10%)|
|Specs||Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant||Outdoor Research Fo...||Outdoor Research He...||Columbia Rebel Roamer||Marmot PreCip Eco Pant|
|Measured Weight||18.3 oz||10.2 oz||6.5 oz||12.5 oz||8.5 oz|
|Waterproof Fabric Material||Gore-Tex Pro||2L Gore-Tex with PacLite Technology||2.5L Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse||Omni-Tech Waterproof/Breathable||NanoPro Eco|
|Face Fabric and Layer Construction||N40r-X Gore-Tex Pro||100% polyester 50D||30D 100% nylon ripstop||70D 100% nylon||100% recycled nylon ripstop|
|Side Zips Length||Upper thigh vents and 1/4 ankle zips||3/4 length||1/4 length ankle zips||None||1/4 length|
|Put On Over Hiking or Mountaineering Boots||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Stows Into Pocket||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Waistband Closure||Zip fly with integrated belt||Elastic + shock cord||Elastic with drawcord||Elastic + shock cord||Elastic + shock cord|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Since our testing, the Beta AR has been graced with a new thigh pocket hidden under a storm flap. There are also thigh zips for venting in addition to the 1/4 length ankle zips.
The Arc'teryx Beta AR Pant is a sturdy product designed to bridge the gap between rugged ski pants and regular rain pants. Some will use these as your typical hiking and mountaineering shell pants, while others will find them totally appropriate as ski and snowboard resort pants. Spanning this broad gap leaves significant compromises in either extreme, but the end result might just work for you. They are plenty protective and breathable; the fabric, especially when brand new, is stiff and crinkly. They are heavier than we'd like for hiking and mountaineering and more confining and close-fitting than many seek for resort ski wear.
In sum, these are nothing special. The construction is immaculate, and the materials are excellent, but the niche they fill is a strange one. If you find yourself hiking for weeks in cold rain, these would be a good choice. Not many enjoy hiking like that, though. Even for extended rainy exposure, lighter construction and less bulky cuffs are preferred.
Here, these pants excel. The Gore-Tex fabric and careful construction work together to keep all the weather outside; we expect nothing else from the long-time partnership between Arc'teryx and Gore-Tex. Even in snowy and brushy walking, the integrated gaiter keeps moisture out of your boots. Few hiking rain pants have an integrated gaiter similar to this; it definitely adds some weather resistance (though careful use of an added elastic stirrup can replicate a gaiter even in regular cuffed pants) but adds a lot of bulk.
Comfort and Mobility
We expect excellent tailoring from Arc'teryx, and the Beta AR shell pants meet our expectations. What is interesting, especially as other companies move forward in this regard, is that they use relatively stiff and "loud" fabrics for their shell gear. They must have some reason, but the result is shell clothing that isn't quite as comfortable as we'd like. We want shell pants and jackets with the Arc'teryx tailoring and attention to detail but with softer fabrics. The Beta AR pants are downright loud in use, and this has been our experience with other Arc'teryx gear as well. It eventually quiets with use, but the initial experience is scratchy.
Breathability and Venting
When it comes to breathability, Gore-Tex fabrics are near the top of the heap. Only the air-permeable fabrics are more breathable than any of the Gore-Tex products. The Beta AR augments the breathability of the fabric with pretty good venting, and the 3/4 side zips vent basically as much as full zips do. Even the zip fly can be used as a vent, modesty permitting.
The usability, protection, and comfort features of the Beta AR are plentiful and handy. The adjustable and low-profile integrated belt works with a zippered fly and central waistband snap to hold the pants up but not interfere with a climbing harness or backpack waist belt. The long side zips open to vent and to get the pants on over even the bulkiest ski boots. The lack of full-size zips is only a problem when trying to put the pants on or off over crampons, snowshoes, or skis. The double-layered cuffs seal tightly over boots of many dimensions. The cuffs are nicest for very large boots and for a tight seal while maintaining the appearance of regular hanging pant cuffs.
All the features and durability add up to make the Beta AR a relatively bulk package. Some of our test products pack down to the size of a Nalgene, or even a large apple. The Beta AR is closer to the size of a pineapple.
At well over a pound, the Beta AR is the sort of thing you choose when you absolutely know you need all of its protection. These are not the pants you carry "just in case". When there are options that are less than half the weight, choosing the Beta AR is not a choice you make for light weight. In extended poor weather, the Beta will be much more comfortable and protective, but for most general uses, the lighter weight pants in our review will do the trick.
Here the Beta AR excels. That stiff, rugged fabric and Arc'teryx's proven construction techniques combine to make pants that will last for years of even the most robust and stormy use. These pants will last longer than the ultralight products.
Should You Buy the Arc'teryx Beta AR?
The Beta AR is rugged, durable, and very weather-ready. It is as stout as many ski resort pants, without some of the more important features (insulation, for instance). For really warm and wet ski conditions, consider the Beta AR. For hiking in the rain, they will keep you dry and will do so for a long, long time. The catch for human-powered adventures is in the weight. And of course, another huge catch here is the cost. These are exorbitantly expensive and were outperformed in some metrics (like comfort) by other contenders.
What Other Rain Pants Should You Consider?
Most people don't need a rain pant this burly (or this expensive). The Outdoor Research Foray Pant is our favorite of the bunch and a fraction of the cost of the Beta AR. If you want an ultralight rain pant, the Outdoor Research Helium Pant is our recommendation. For an uber-affordable pant, the Columbia Rebel Roamer or even the Marmot PreCip Eco Pant are both great options with totally decent performance.
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