'A beautifully-made, distinctively micro-engineered Gore-Tex Pro all-round mountain jacket with an unusual but very effective hood design - the Beta AR is every bit as good as you'd expect from innovators Arc'teryx '
Outdoors Magic: Great fabric, beautiful construction with top-notch technology, interesting hood design gives superior neck protection. Bling factor and protective feel.
Outdoors Tragic: Gore-Tex Pro is quite noisy. Limited facial protection from hood.
Outdoors Grabbit? A top jacket at a corresponding price. The mix of Gore-Tex Pro fabric and meticulous construction is unmatched and gives a great bombproof feel. The hood sacrifices outright facial protection for a high, very protective collar and in really brutal conditions you may need an additional mask. Overall though it's a superbly made and thoroughly specced all-mountain shell you can use for anything from winter walking through to serious mountaineering.
Waterproof mountaineering jacket / Gore-Tex Pro 3L fabric / helmet-compatible DropHood / Micro-seam allowance (1.6 mm) / chin guard with brushed microsuede facing / WaterTight™ external zippers / laminated pit zippers / WaterTight™ Vislon front zip/ zipper garages / die-cut Velcro® cuff adjusters / adjustable dropback hem / two high-volume hand pockets / internal chest pocket with laminated zip / reinforced shoulders and arms
Full Review Below
Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket - The Tech
The Beta AR uses Gore's top-end mountaineering fabric, Gore-Tex Pro, a slightly stiff, but light and very tough fabric that's both very waterproof and competitively breathable, but that's the just start of it.
Arc'teryx has made its name as an innovator in construction technology and it's the meticulous attention to detail that really stands out when you get up close and personal with the jacket and creates an overall feel of bombproof quality.
Touches like the consistent 1.6mm seam allowance (overlap between panels) helps to reduce bulk and increase breathability while adding intangible neatness. Ditto the micro-taped seams. Then there's the lamination and welding which Arc'teryx pioneered in the outdoors clothing world.
Zips and hems are laminated and bonded rather than being stitched. And details, like, say, the laminated hood peak, are little works of manufacturing art.
Of course, that may not matter to you, but it's one of the things - along with the distinctive 3D cut - that makes the Canadian brand stand out and explains the relatively high price-tag. Overall it adds up to a tough, beautifully made and distinctively designed all-round mountain shell.
Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket - Performance
It would almost be nice if Arc'teryx occasionally produced something that was absolute rubbish so we could slate it. However, as you might have guess, the Beta AR isn't it. The AR, if you were curious, stands for 'All Round' and the jacket is intended as an all-round, all-day mountain shell.
'The cut is nicely fitted, but not overly tight, so there's room inside for some added winter-weight insulation.'
As ever, it's a beautifully-made thing using top Gore-Tex Pro fabric and characteristically meticulous micro-engineering. The cut is nicely fitted, but not overly tight, so there's room inside for some added winter-weight insulation. No restrictions on movement, no pulling up of cuffs or sleeves. length is medium.
The Pro fabric does its normal noisy, but tough and reliable 'mobile fortress' gig and as ever, is breathable enough to cope unless you insist on overcooking things, when the easy-to-use, laminated pit-zips come into play for additional cooling.
What is a little bit different is the AR's hood design. As you can see from the images, the jacket has a separate, laminated collar that gives great protection up to chin level during normal use. It's not adjustable, which seems a slight weakness, but gives a fair bit of protection even with the hood down.
The hood itself does good job with or without a helmet - there's a volume/height adjuster than controls the height when you're neat lidded - but doesn't cover the face at all. In really gnarly conditions that's a potential problem, so for classic Scottish winter days, you'd be well advised to supplement with something like a Neoprene face mask or windproof balaclava.
Ideally we'd have a liked a little more coverage there and if you want an Arc'teryx shell with more facial protection, you'll be looking at the updated Beta SV with it's more conventional hood design.
The laminated hood peak seems marginal when not tensioned up and deployed, but actually works just fine for us.
Otherwise stuff 'just works'. Pockets are well sited - there's an internal phone-sized one that sits below chest-strap level for example - adjusters, erm, adjust, with minimal fuss and the whole package feels reassuringly tough and protective without being overly heavy at 460g for a medium.
If want an Arc'teryx shell but tougher or lighter, you'll be looking 485g for the gnarlier Beta SV or 355g for the lighter weight LT. Unfortunately the bill for the SV is an additional £130 - ouch...
Arc'teryx Beta AR Jacket - Verdict
A tough, light and beautifully-engineered all-round mountain jacket, the Beta AR feels instantly and reassuringly protective when the going gets gnarly in that portable mountain fortress way. The fit is one of the best out there and Gore-Tex Pro fabric does a characteristically capable, albeit slightly noisy job.
The hood is slightly different from the norm, but we like the chin-level all-day protection from that big collar, even though we'd prefer some snug-down adjustability to seal thing up with the hood down.
You do need to factor in an additional face covering of some kind if you want further gob-level reassurance, but on balance, we can live with that in exchange for the collar protection and comfort the rest of the time.
Otherwise it's all good and Canadian product engineering rolling on as ever. And no, it's not cheap, but the build quality is second to none, it's a super-capable mountain all-rounder and we reckon it'll last a good few years too.