Arc’teryx Beta AR
The Arc’teryx Beta AR is a terrific hardshell with a fantastic collar and a great set of other features. It does have a hefty price tag. There were two groups of testers that provided information for this review.
Group One rated the hardshell on a scale of one to ten on the following categories: Features (6), Mobility and Fit (5), Venting and Breathability (6), Weather Protection (8), and Weight (5). Group Two was generally kinder in its evaluation.
The Arc’teryx Beta AR has been in the company’s jacket lineup for about 13 years. Its Gore-Tex Pro membrane is one reason it remains popular. The burly face fabric provides exceptional durability. The jacket was explicitly designed to be versatile. The Beta series of clothing is designed specifically for all-around performance.
- Fit provides room to layer without restricting movement or the jacket riding up
- Large hand pockets can fit skins for speedy transition
- Large hood is easy to adjust when wearing gloves and does not impair vision
- Gore-Tex Pro construction mixed with 40D and 80D shell fabric makes the jacket reasonably lightweight, durable, and bombproof
- Great weather protection
- Minimal coverage when wearing a harness or backpack or while skiing
- Not recommended for those wanting an ultralight jacket
- Separate hood and collar allows snow build up and adds weight
Every detail of the jacket received attention. A smart fabric mapping has been used. This version of the jacket has all the stellar features provided by other Arc’teryx jackets such as watertight zippers and a four-point storm hood that is adjustable. The standard ‘Athletic Fit’ of the Arc’teryx jacket allows ample room for underneath layering.
It does not have the fine-tuned fit of the Arc’teryx Alpha FL. The Group One testers rated the jacket at slightly below average in an overall comparison with another Arc’teryx jacket. Arc’teryx cleverly divided the jacket into zones.
Most of the jacket uses 40-denier Gore-Tex Pro material that is more breathable and lighter in weight than the exposed 80D Gore-Tex Pro that covers the forearms, elbows, shoulders, and hood.
Ventilation is a means to comfortable cooling. The standard pit zips used on the Beta AR serve that purpose. It lacks two-way zippers and mesh backed pockets found in other jackets. Some jackets provide better ventilation than the AR. The jacket serves better as severe weather protection than breathability when the wearer is hot. The group handing out scores assigned a rating of six for breathability.
It completely wraps the neck. The collar is comfortable and cozy. Group One testers felt the Beta AR was baggy and bulky in the chest and gave the jacket a rating of five for fit. Those with a large frame do well with the way the jacket fits.
There are no constrictions like that found on other genuinely ‘athletic fits.’ Both testing groups commented about the hem being too short. It is a waist level hemline. The jacket is comfortable to wear, but the bulky fit is less technically inclined that another Arc’teryx jacket.
A full-coverage, adjustable hood features a separate collar that provides a seal around the neck that is warm and cozy. The Beta AR offers slightly less coverage than the Alpha SV that has a smaller face opening when cinched, but not a lot less.
The hood fits well even when wearing a helmet. It allows movement for the helmet and head within the hood instead of moving with it. Visibility is not impaired. The hood lacks a harness hemlock feature that would keep it from riding up while wearing a harness.
The pit zips serve as lifesavers to dump heat quickly. The main zipper can be opened partially, as conditions allow. Adjustable tabs are easy to reach and can be manipulated when wearing ski gloves. The feature is handy when temperatures are cold. Removing gloves causes instant discomfort.
The complete set of features includes a sturdy hood and pit zips. Tested in the Pacific Northwest conditions in early winter. The second group of testers was impressed with the jacket’s reliability and versatility.
The reinforced 80D Gore-Tex Pro provides extra durability in the shoulders and arms. It allows the jacket to resist backstrap abrasions. The burly ripstop construction of the 40D fabric doesn’t sacrifice durability either.
The Beta AR is a relatively bulky and moderately heavy jacket. The one-pound, 0.6-ounce weight is not classified as ‘heavy.’ Compared to the standard other jackets set, it is heavier than most. Group One testers gave the jacket a five out of ten rating.
Group Two testers feel the 16+-ounce weight is competitive. They think it is a reasonable weight to withstand weather conditions that are brutal. Weight is kept in check by a consistent 1.6 mm seam allowance.
The 16.2-ounce weight puts the jacket in the center of alpine-ready hardshells. Future updates may remove zipper garages that may trim an ounce or two. Group Two felt the overall weight was put to good use. The fit is perfect for guys with large frames. Both groups felt a lower hemline would be better for skiing.
A mid-layer can be comfortably worn under the jacket without overheating. An adjustable, large and sturdy hood is necessary for climbing, mountaineering, or skiing. The Beta AR DropHood excels at all of those activities.
The helmet design is easy and compatible to fine tune. It has a separate collar for extra protection and comfort. The hood fits easily around a helmet or goggles without restricting movement.
The opening around the face of the DropHood is larger when fully cinched. It is possible for snow to build up between the hood and collar. The DropHood collar is nice when a hood is not needed, but the wearer wants to tuck the chin away or keep moisture or drafts from getting inside the jacket.
Storage is a Beta AR strong suit for its multi-sport intentions. The jacket has two pockets for the hands that are large in volume. They are easily accessible when wearing a harness or pack. The openings are not as streamlined as chest pockets.
They are better placed for hand protection. They can accommodate items such as a two-way radio, maps, skins, or ski goggles. A small interior chest pocket stows small items such as a GPS device or mobile phone.
The jacket can be worn to climb large mountains and ice but does not perform as well as other jackets on the market. Arc’teryx bills the jacket as ‘regular fit.’ It is roomier than the jackets labeled ‘trim’ fitting. It has more volume primarily in the torso than trim jackets.
The term ‘athletic’ was not the word Group One would use to describe the fit. Also, the Gore-Tex Pro membrane is crinkly and stiff, which places the jacket among the less mobile available. Group Two, on the other hand, like that the jacket cinches down to 1.5 liters in size to keep everything tidy and neat.
Where Group One found the jacket to be baggy in the area of the chest, Group Two appreciated the extra space when the weather is cold. It can be layered with insulated jackets, remain comfortable, and not restrict movement.
The difference is most noticeable in the area of the armpits. The articulated elbows and no-lift gusseted underarms allow for movement such as hood adjustment, reaching in a roof box for skis, or splitting wood without cause a ride up at the waist. Both groups agreed the Beta AR is a favorite one-quiver hardshell as an all-around jacket in the multi-sports selection by Arc’teryx.
This version of the Beta AR is slightly longer than the previous model and has a new hood adjustment. The DropHood is nearly identical in adjustability and size compared to the one-piece Arc’teryx StormHood on the Alpha and Beta SVs.
The second group prefers the weight saving and greater protection of the StormHood. The previous model lacked Cohaesive cord lock adjusters. They are included in the updated model. New color options have been added. Other than the length, colors available, and cord adjusters, the Arc’teryx Beta AR remains unchanged.
There are four storm hood adjustment points. The collar is a favorite feature of testers. It is a separate piece of fabric from the hood. The hem in the men’s jacket is a bit high. The noticeably shorter hemline that is around the waist is a feature that both groups of testers find agreement. Group Two would also prefer it to be a few inches longer, particularly when wearing under a backpack or harness or for skiing.
When the cords are tightened, they allow annoying ride-up. Other Arc’teryx jackets feature a harness hemlock that the Beta AR does not have. The feature would prevent the jacket from riding up when wearing a hip belt strap or harness. There is a small zip pocket inside.
The coastal snow and rain of North Vancouver is a prime testing ground for a hardshell. Group Two testers found no vulnerability under those conditions. The durable water repellent coating is high-quality.
The jacket has fully taped seams that repel snowfall and downpours that can penetrate a lesser jacket. There are zipper garages for external zippers that help prevent moisture penetration. The zippers are water resistant, not waterproof. The laminated brim effectively keeps snow and rain off the face.
The jacket has two high and large hand warmer pockets located above the harness or backpack hip belt line instead of chest pockets. Group One rated the jacket as eight out of ten for weather protection, saying the protection offered is excellent but not entirely on par with some other jackets.
Arc’teryx Beta AR is a winter hardshell that protects from the weather in all conditions. The Arc’teryx Beta AR is both a great winter and shoulder season jacket. It delivers bombproof three-layer protection at a weight considered reasonable by Group Two.
* DropHood helmet is compatible with lock front hood adjusters of Cohaesive cord
* Five center front zippers
* Hand pockets have RS zipper sliders
* Interior zippered security pocket
* Rugged Gore-Tex Pro membrane
* Vented by WaterTight pit zippers
* Utilizes light 40D ripstop fabric for the main body and 80D to reinforce high-wear areas
The MSRP is $575. The $575 is a lot to pay for a jacket. The craftsmanship and materials likely make the jacket worth the price. However, there is a jacket for any given activity that will probably perform better at a lower price. That fact puts into question the value of a jacket that costs so much.
The jacket was released in 2000. The Gore-Tex Pro construction keeps it on the list of favorites. It is for those looking for some versatility. It may be the best choice for someone who wants a jacket for working, climbing, skiing, and wearing on gnarly winter days. It is a consummate all-arounder rather than the best pick for any one thing.