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Arc'teryx - Beta LT Jacket

posted Mar 13, 2014, 2:58 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Mar 28, 2014, 2:52 AM ]

The Arc'teryx Beta LT Jacket is a lightweight, yet very tough, waterproof jacket designed for the most demanding alpinists. This garment is made of a special combination of Gore-tex® Pro and N40p-X face fabric, developed by Arc'teryx specifically with the aim of reducing weight, while increasing breathability and durability. It all sounds very good and very promising... but what are the true performances of the Beta LT jacket out there? To answer this question, Go Out Project sent a Beta LT jacket to its team, who put it to the test!

Technical Description

The jacket is entirely constructed with a Gore-tex® Pro membrane
coupled with a supple, lightweight, but very tough N40p-X face fabric
The Beta LT features:
  • Taped seams for added weatherproofness
  • Articulated elbows
  • Helmet compatible StormHood™
  • Adjustable hood drawcords
  • Chin guard with brushed microsuede facing
  • WaterTight™ Vislon front zip
  • Die-cut Velcro® cuff adjusters
  • Adjustable hem drawcord
  • Internal chest pocket with zip
  • Two hand pockets with WaterTight™ zippers
Material: Gore-Tex® Pro with N40p-X face fabric
Weight: 355 g (size M)

Our Test 

We tested the Beta LT jacket for more than 5 months over autumn and winter for backcountry skiing/snowboarding, hiking, and climbing. The weather conditions encountered during the test were varied, but mostly cold: from heavy rain and snowfalls to frosty and windy, but sunny conditions. We mostly used it in combination with a baselayer (mid-weight, merino or synthetic) and a fleece or a down or a synthetic insulating layer.

First Impressions 
From the first moment you put it on, the impression you have is that, despite being very very light, the Beta LT is actually a really tough and highly protective shell! Arc'teryx undoubtedly did a pretty good job! The secret is in the light and tough and face fabric. The feeling you have when you wear the Beta LT is that of great protection. However, the jacket is a "quite hard shell"... in the sense that, admittedly, it's not very soft to the touch. This is a typical problem of hard shells. It's what we dubbed the "cardboard-feeling"!

Some of the first comments of our testers:
  • "Very light, but at the same time very tough! Wow!"
  • "I really like the hood: it's very roomy, it always fits perfectly (even on a ski/snowboard helmet) and it never bothers. It has a high collar and a good visor, that protect very well from wind and rain."
  • "The fabric is a bit stiff, but the jacket fit so perfectly that wearing it it's always a pleasure."
Lightness & Packability
The face fabric is one of the best examples of balance between lightweight and durability. The Beta LT weighs only 355 g and it can be folded and packed into a very small volume (the size M can be squeezed in approximately 1000 cm3=1L), therefore making it the ideal protective shell to be always carried with you in your backpack in case of sudden weather changes.

Fit & Cut
The design of Beta LT is simply outstanding! The jacket always fits perfectly: no chafing, no unwanted constraints, no superfluous bulk. You always feel free to move. When you climb, when you carry a backpack, when you are skiing or snowboarding, the jacket always maintains the correct position, without pulling anywhere and without
sliding around. The hood is perfect! It fits very well both with and without a helmet and it follows the rotation of the head and it never impedes the view. The exceptional ergonomic fit of the jacket, with a very careful body-mapped design, pre-shaped elbows and gusseted underarms, is really appreciable and it was of great advantage in all the activities we tested.

The light weight combined with the ergonomic fit make the Beta LT very comfortable, despite the stiffness of the fabric. No chafing, no unwanted constraints, no superfluous bulk, without pulling anywhere and without sliding around. It seals very well, no drafts penetrate anywhere.

Weather Protection
The Gore-Tex® Pro membrane does its job perfectly: it doesn't let a single droplet it and it provides a perfect shelter from wind. All the seams are wonderfully taped and the waist, the collar/hood, and the wrists can be nicely sealed. We greatly appreciated this shelter
under heavy rainfalls, but most of the time, especially high in the mountains, we find it a very comfortable and very effective shelter from wind.

Breathability is good, maybe a tad better than that of a classical Gore-Tex® membrane, but don't expect miracles! This is still a laminated jacket with a Gore-Tex® membrane. During the activities of moderate intensity and with a good combination of baselayer and insulation layer, condensation is not a problem. Its only during the most intense activities, only when you start sweating copiously, that you might start noticing some discomfort. There are no extra ventilation zippers on this jacket but, to be quite honest, we never really missed them.

The key to build a durable laminated waterproof garment is the toughness of its face fabric and the N40p-X used on the Beta LT, despite its lightness, is very tough. It's a highly wear-resistant material, basically immune to pilling. This also helps the DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish to be better preserved, making it last longer, meaning much less need for reactivation. Another very important feature for durability is that all the seams are hidden! No exposed seams means less chance of rub and wear on this critical spots. After 5 months of testing, the jacket still looks brand new and even the DWR finish is still working very good, except maybe on some of the areas most subject to wear, like on the shoulders.

The Beta LT is a weather protective, waterproof shell, that offers the best performances whenever protection from snow, rain, and wind is required. Of course, a hard shell is not what you wanna wear on a calm, sunny day. Thanks to its lightweight, high packability, great weather protection, fine cut, and ergonomic fit, the Beta LT can be used for many different outdoor activities and it can be, indeed, considered a perfect all-rounder great for a wide rage of outdoor sports.

Our Verdict

What makes the Beta LT really stand out in comparison to other hard shells is definitely its durable and lightweight fabric, combined with an exceptional ergonomic fit. The Beta LT is the garment you want to have handy in all those situations in which snow, rain, and wind leave no escape. Thanks to its great packability, lightweight, great weather protection, and outstanding ergonomic fit the Beta LT it is going to be your trusted companion of many outdoor adventures.

 Lightness    9/10
 Comfort    8/10
 Fit & Cut  10/10
 Weather Protection  10/10
 Breathability    8/10
 Versatility    9/10
 Durability  10/10
 Total Score  9.1/10

+ Excellent thoughness-to-lightness ratio 
+ Excellent weather protection 
+ Outstanding fit and cut

- Stiff and "noisy" fabric