This one here is about my thoughts of my older generation Arc’teryx Beta AR hardshell, a jacket that has served me very well throughout the years I’ve had it. Something I take with me most of the time in spring and summertime, far into the autumn even!
Now, a disclaimer before all; I’m not even completely sure, if the model of the jacket is exactly correct, but it’s the closest I’ve come up, flipping through old Arc’teryx catalogues and their website, the Beta AR is the closest i could come up with. I got this Jacket as a present years ago, and never before cared for the exact model. If anyone has better knowledge of the model, please correct me in the comments!
But who gives a damn really, the point of this review is the jacket’s features and capabilities, and will most probably apply to most, if not all of the Arc’teryx hardshells. So let’s get down to business.
Arc’teryx Beta AR Hardshell old gen. – In a nutshell
The Arc’teryx Beta line of products is mainly for mountain use, but are very versatile.
And coincidentally the AR stands for All Round- usability for a multitude of different activities. Beta AR is meant to be an emergency shell for outdoor use, something you quickly pull out of your backpack or even a purse, when it starts to rain or it gets very windy. That’s why it’s made to be so lightweight and to pack into a small space.
– Hip length. Not too short so it won’t ride up or expose your lower back and not too long as to be cumbersome with climbing gear or a ruck’s waistbelt.
– Gore-tex PACLITE® shell- Extremely lightweight 3-layer laminated fabric, consisting of a light outer fabric(40 or 80 denier ripstop nylon), backed by the Gore-Tex® membrane, which itself is backed by the PACLITE® product technology, making the fabric extremely light, packable and water- and windproof. Keeps you dry and cool, even in the most challenging conditions.
– Taped seams and WaterTight™ external zippers with corded pull tabs for ease of use.
DWR finish (Durable Water Repellent) helps repel water from fabric surface.
– The Beta AR features the Arc’teryx DropHood™, which is climbing helmet-compatible, fast adjustable hood with a separate collar. A very nice combination altogether.
In the manufacturer’s own online store the Arc’teryx Beta AR retails at hefty 500 euros and comes in six different colours and sizes ranging from XS to XXL. Also included is a 2-day shipping for free on all orders from the online store.
Thoughts & Experiences
I’ve had my Beta AR for at least 5 years now and I just love it. I could safely say that I’ve had some serious hours with it on me in a variety of different activities, weathers and temperatures. It has gained a sort of a “crown jewel” status in my outdoor gear and I’ve kept it well throughout the years. And maybe I have been going a little softer on it than necessary, but nonetheless, it’s been put through it’s paces thoroughly! My Beta AR is size XL and color is Twinleaf (Green).
How do I use my Beta AR then? Mostly it’s an everyday jacket option to me most of the year and it excels in that very well. I mostly use it as a windbreaker, but with the added bonus of water repellency.
If it’s a colder morning I put on the Beta with a t-shirt under it. And when it gets warm enough in the afternoon, I tuck it into my backpack, where it won’t take much space at all. As rolled up on itself the jacket hardly takes a litre of volume and weighs only a staggering 361 grams(size XL) thanks to the PACLITE® shell. If an unpredicted rainfall or thunderstorm emerges, I will have the necessary waterproof jacket with me to wear at a moment’s notice.
I wore the Beta last winter on a chilly(-5 degrees celsius) and windy day when we had a day hike in late December with only a technical t-shirt and a microfleece shirt under it. We hiked pretty slowly, and even still I stayed warm and snug throughout the day. There was no snow on the ground, neither rainfall, but the day managed to prove to me once again, how damn good and versatile this jacket is.
The Beta AR is constructed with great precision and is a very neat high-end hardshell jacket. Even though my jacket has been made in China instead of Canada, I have nothing to complain about it quality-wise. All the sewn seams are taped on the inside, with which I believe to be the same Gore-Tex PACLITE® fabric as the rest of the jacket, maintaining it’s water repellency and breathability at the same time. The cuffs, the hem and partially the hood of the jacket haven’t been sewn at all, but rather glued or laminated to the inside of the jacket, which have held together with no delamination to befirm and clean solution overall.
The two large front pockets are located a bit high in my opinion, but over time I’ve gotten used to them and actually really like them, even though I rarely use them at all. They’re meant to be a bit higher, to allow access even when wearing a large ruck and using it’s waistbelt, and many users probably appreciate this feature a lot.
The Arc’teryx DropHood™ is probably the best hood on a jacket, I’ve ever had the pleasure to use. It simply works like a dream. The design and cut is so well thought out, allowing use even with a climbing helmet on, without being too big and saggy, thanks to the well functioning elastic draw-cords and lightly reinforced laminated brim on the front!
The Beta AR isn’t perfect though. Maybe it’s just my body and the semi-athletic cut of the jacket that don’t perfectly mix, but to me the jacket’s hem tends to ride up a little over time. The climb rate is greatly decreased by how slippery is the material of the clothing underneath. The PACLITE® inside of the jacket is very slippery itself, but with regular cotton shirts the hem climbs easier and faster. Wearing a backpack also seems to cause the hem to ride up.
I’m feeling very indifferent about the jacket’s breathability, since I have very mixed experiences with it. The PACLITE® shell is said to be very well venting and breathable, which it may be, but I really have not had any clear sensations of whether it functions as it’s said or not.
Also, extended wear in a warm environment while moving, might just give you a heatstroke. The jacket really works a bit like a space blanket, and on a 20+ degree sunny day, even with moderate winds, you might want to reconsider if you should use the Beta AR as a windbreaker. I recently did just like that, and damn I felt like having been in a hot sauna for a while. The jacket felt cool and all when we were outside, but after the hike, my body started feeling so much heat that I felt very uncomfortable and exhausted. Though, it’s not intended to use like this so… I can only blame myself.
Overall the Beta AR is an awesome piece of kit and a lifesaver at best! It really shines in bad conditions while maintaining user comfort and keeping the wind and water off your skin and the ever important insulating layers of clothing in colder climates. Price is a big factor to many, and Arc’teryx as a brand is really out there on the top of the “food chain”. I may have never gotten this jacket myself for that price, but if I had spent my own money on the jacket, I would do it again. I’ve been infected by the Deadbird flu and I’m looking forward to getting something else from them sometime in the future!
– Super lightweight and packable
– Hip length cut
– Water repellent zippers
– Wind- and waterproof
– Arc’teryx DropHood™
– Space blanket effect.
– Space blanket effect
– Hem tends to ride up
Overall Total: 20/25
Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased the Arc’teryx Beta AR with my own funds from a Finnish retailer for my own use. I was not required to write a positive review by any party. The opinions I have expressed are my own entirely.
This review was originally published in the Noble & Blue. Noble & Blue is a small Finnish outdoor and tactical gear reviewing blog, that also shares stories of learning and adventure. Click here to know more about Noble & Blue
Arc’teryx Beta AR