Design: High movement, gusseted armpits, lower cut tail hem, articulated elbows, e3D ergonomic 3-dimensional patterning for enhanced comfort and mobility, Stormhood.
Materials: NEW N40p-X Gore-Tex Proshell, Vislon Zippers
Weight: 12.5 oz
Arc'teryx has long been known for two things; bomber technical clothing and a certain mystique that cannot really be explained. I recently tested the Beta LT jacket featuring the latest and greatest in Gore Tex with the lightest ever Pro Shell.
This jacket is billed as one to be used for fast and light all mountain activities including backcountry skiing, alpine climbing, ice climbing, hiking, and trekking and weighing in at just over 12 oz it won't weigh you down. Gore has long been pushing the envelope with their materials and innovation seemingly always looking to help outdoor enthusiasts endure more while wearing less. To be honest I am having a hard time breaking away the Gore technology from the jacket itself, for instance while ice climbing I would be hesitant to rest the tool over my shoulder for fear of tearing the un reinforced shoulders of the jacket. Now while the Gore is "pro" can it really stand up to the abuse a pro would put it through? I am not so sure. But enough about that, when it comes to the jacket review let's talk about the construction and features of the jacket itself.
Starting at the hood this jacket features a great oversized hood to easily fit over a helmet and has multiple cinch points for quick adjustment as needed. The brim on the hood is minimal but because it is integrated with the cinch cords it helps pull the lid down close to your forehead. The hood comes down high to the waterproof Vislon zipper and covers your mouth for additional protection during really blustery days…and I always thought that was what beards were for. Just kidding, this is a nice feature and one that you usually dislike until you really need it, and then you are STOKED! Added bonus is that the piece of the hood that goes over your mouth features a low pile brushed micro suede so as to not abrade your lips or shorn chin.
The general cut of the jacket is trim, which is nice for shoulder seasons, but in the heart of winter I definitely wished I had scored a size larger so I could layer a bit more in the brutal cold.
I really enjoyed the gusseted arm pits so I could move without constriction and the longer tail cut on the back keeps the jacket low when I was placing tools over head. The Beta LT also features 3 pockets; one on each side mid chest and one inside on the left side. I do like the placement of the pockets on this jacket as I can still get to my snacky cakes or camera without shifting a hip belt on my pack or working through some weird movement to get my stuff out. The internal pocket is really nice to keep electronics a bit closer to your core for added warmth.
I was a bit bummed that a jacket that listed potential target activities as ice climbing, does not have a belay zipper (a second zipper so you can unzip from the bottom for a harness) or reinforced shoulders and elbows. The fabric is a bit like carbon fiber to me, where psychologically it is inconceivable that it can be as strong as it is, but like carbon fiber it may just be. That being said I am still leery, albeit without a ton of justification.
I think that this jacket is more aptly focused on cross country skiing, trekking, and hiking, but be warned that the inside of my jacket wore through due to it rubbing on a hard plastic button on my bibs while doing some backcountry playing on Wetterhorn Peak earlier this winter.
Which makes me wonder at it's effectiveness with a pack on, you know like the one that carries your avy gear, extra clothing, or summit beers.
After spending a bit of time at higher exertion, I did notice that the inside of the jacket had started to accumulate moisture and was not wicking as well as I had hoped, and I can only assume that the best way to mitigate this is to slow down and sweat less, after all sweat kills in cold environments. I think trying to compare this to other membranes is going to be tough due to a variety of conditions presented in each instance, but I can say that it works no worse than others that I have tried, so Gore-Tex can chalk that up to a win, right? On the flip side, or should I say outside of the jacket, I noticed in downpours or when the shoulder material was compressed by pack straps, the outer material did seem to wet out, but it never got through the membrane. So while it looked soaked through it was in fact dry as a bone inside, this includes the pockets. The jacket was really, really dry and showed no signs of issue with keeping me dry. Care instructions are simple and easily handled at home and easily refreshed the DWR when I thought I had beaten it up enough.
In conclusion this jacket is a great technical jacket that is constructed for active pursuits and while Gore-Tex's undeniable advancements in breathability and water protection is always getting closer to that unachievable dream, I do wonder if they are creating less durable equipment while chasing the ultra light dream. A good buddy of mine always says the ideal is 3 parts; inexpensive, fast, and good. With these things I think we're getting 2 out of three, and that ain't bad…but it isn't good either! I would personally rather have a bit of heavier (think more durable material) than super light as I am a bit rough on my equipment.