The Beta AR is an expensive hardshell jacket that comes with top-of-the-line construction and plenty of useful features to justify its high price tag.
- Where to buy: EVO, Amazon, REI
- Best for: Rough weather or wet environments. Skiers who need extra protection when things get tough.
- Pros: An extremely durable jacket that offers solid weather protection. It has a range of excellent features and gives you a warm shell with plenty of longevity. The storm collar is also nice and the deep hood is fantastic.
- Cons: Definitely on the expensive side. It’s also bulkier than similar options and can run a bit large. The fit is baggy as well.
- Alternatives: Arc’teryx Alpha FL, Dynafit Radical, Nordwand Advanced
Why Trust Me
I’ve been hitting the slopes since I was a kid. I enjoy getting out in the snow and have hands-on experience with a wide range of different skiing items. I spent ample time researching this jacket and tested how it holds up in different conditions across different environments.
The Beta AR is a style that’s been around in the Arc’teryx line, for a good reason. It’s a sturdy, reliable option made for skiers who want the ability to venture out into any situation and know they’ll remain safe, warm, and dry. It’s one of the most versatile jackets on the current market, and it gets high marks for both construction and general performance. It’s not the most comfortable option, but it will deliver for quite a long time.
Bulky, but Weathertight
The Beta AR is not a lightweight jacket. In fact, I consider it to be pretty bulky in both size and fit. It comes in a noticeable 16.5 ounces. That’s not the heaviest model you can find, but I would not consider it light or easily packable. That won’t bother skiers who care more about protection, but it will matter to those who like to shed ounces wherever they can.
However, there are some definite bonuses to the construction as well. The tough shell utilizes a combination of 80D and 40D face fabric that’s backed up by an excellent Gore-Tex Pro membrane. The combination is incredibly sturdy, especially when you consider the adjustable storm hood and the water-tight zippers. Overall, the Beta AR is an incredibly tough, tightly sealed piece of clothing.
Mobility and a Tight Fit
This item utilizes Arc’teryx’s “Athletic Fit” to give you a lot of room beneath it in your ensemble. Though some people will undoubtedly love the extra room, it’s more bulky than anything. The fit is also baggier than it should be, which is a bit of a bummer. However, the strong protection more than makes up for it.
Another weak point is the AR’s mobility. This is another example of favoring durability over comfort. The Gore-Tex Pro membrane does its job extremely well. Even so, it’s quite stiff and doesn’t let you move. If range of motion is something you value, this jacket likely isn’t for you.
The Beta AR is a warm jacket made to keep you insulated on any run or mountain. As such, it doesn’t have the best breathability. In fact, it’s quite stuffy. You have a lot of layers and materials built into the shell, and all of that weighs on you as you move around. It’s mainly a problem for anyone who needs to skin uphill or trek into the backcountry. You do get zippers at the armpits, but overall I found the breathability to be disappointing.
I’m a sucker for good additional features, and this is one specific area where the Beta AR shows its stuff. You aren’t getting a ton of add-ons with this jacket, but the ones that are present bring some extra functionality to the overall design. Most notable are the two high handwarmer pockets that stand in for a traditional chest pocket. The internal zipper pocket is a must-have for extra items as well.
The high collar is another fantastic piece to the Beta AR’s design. Separate from the hood, the material seals around your neck in a way that’s both warm and comfortable. You can put on more layers under it, but don’t need much else. I also like the four adjustment points on the storm hood, as well as the harness hemlock that keeps the jacket from riding up.
Price and Value
One thing there’s no getting around is the Beta AR’s price. This jacket does cost a good chunk of change, meaning it’s not a great pick for those on a budget. That being said, I still give it high marks for value because of its longevity. The Beta AR is a well-made piece of clothing. And that excellent craftsmanship means you won’t have to replace it for quite some time. Just understand premium construction always comes at a higher cost.
What I Like
I really enjoy the Beta AR’s construction. Though it does have some definite drawbacks in terms of ventilation and fit, the materials are going to both hold up and keep you warm. They are lightweight, which is never a bad thing, and the combination of 80D and 40D fabric ensures you get good reinforcing in key areas. I also love how Arc’teryx backs that up with water-tight zippers to ensure no moisture leaks through.
The jacket has plenty of great features too. The four-point adjustable hood is fun to use, while the collar is comfortable through and through. While I don’t like the lack of chest pockets, I do enjoy the two hand warmer pockets when backed up by the small internal zipper option. The harness hemlock feature is a good bonus as well.
What I Dislike
My biggest gripe with the Beta AR is the fit. The athletic fit isn’t too bad on the surface, but it’s pretty baggy in the chest area and is definitely on the bulky side. Of course, that’s to allow for extra layers, but I don’t like clothing that gets in the way. The Gore-Tex Pro membrane is also much too stiff and doesn’t allow for the amount of flexibility I would like.
The ventilation is also a weak point, in my opinion. You aren’t necessarily buying a warm or cold-weather focused jacket for its breathability, but the Beta AR could take a few more steps towards letting hot air out and cold air in. The zippers do a decent job, but the materials simply aren’t porous enough.
The Beta AR is strong and reliable, but it’s also burly and a bit big. If you want something with a better fit or that simply offers different traits, check out these options:
- Arc’teryx Alpha FL – If you’re looking for a lighter jacket than the Beta AR, the Alpha FL is a good choice. Also from Arc’teryx, this form-fitting item comes equipped with a storm hood and tough construction. Even though it doesn’t have the best insulation and lacks pockets, you get a long-lasting item at a more-than-reasonable price.
- Dynafit Radical – If you want another tough jacket that can handle more tumultuous weather, the Radical is a solid choice. It’s a good model that can stand up to the elements with ease, and it also provides a wide range of movement. The ventilation isn’t the best, but it strikes a good balance between toughness and mobility.
- Nordwand Advanced – If you want a serious hardshell, this is the way to go. While the Nordwand Advanced does come at a higher cost and isn’t light, the venting and durability are great. The fit is also incredible, making this one of the most enjoyable feeling jackets on the market.
Is this jacket waterproof?
Yes, the Beta AR has one of the best waterproof ratings of any Arc’teryx Jacket. It’s specially made to both repel and resist any outside moisture.
Does this come with a detachable hood?
No, the Beta AR’s hood, while sturdy and reliable, is not removable.
How is this jacket sized?
This jacket is true to size. You can order whatever you normally wear.
Will this jacket last a long time?
The Beta AR comes with Arc’teryx’s premium construction to ensure it will hold up in tough conditions for many seasons.
The Beta AR has a tried-and-true design that continues to hold up in modern skiing. This jacket is not perfect, it is bulky and has a baggy fit, but the strong materials and excellent waterproofing still give it excellent results in all sorts of tough conditions. The Gore-Tex Pro membrane is especially reliable and adds to the incredible versatility.
As long as you can look past the heavy 16.5-ounce weight, this jacket is going to give you great results both on and off-piste. It’s not the best choice for intensely athletic situations, such as technical climbing, but the collar is comfortable, and you’ll have enough strength to take on any mountain at any time of the year.