The Arc’teryx Beta LT Rain Jacket
– Price: $450
– Weight: 13.9oz (394g)
– Waterproofing Fabric: GoreTex 3 Layer
– Waterproofing Rating: 28,000mm
– Number of pockets: 2
– What we like: Excellent weatherproofing, build quality, and versatility
– What we don’t: Expensive, not as tough as GoreTex Pro shells
The Wise Adventurer’s Verdict
This is a review of the Arc’teryx Beta LT, a high-performance yet minimalist hardshell that’s built for all-mountain versatility.
When it comes to hardshell jackets, there’s nothing quite as capable as a GoreTex jacket from Arc’teryx. Unfortunately there’s often nothing quite as expensive as an Arc’teryx jacket either, which is what makes the Beta LT such an attractive offering.
Arc’teryx describes the Beta LT as the “minimalist” jacket in the Beta lineup, but that title can be deceiving as this jacket lacks nothing in terms of technical performance. Best-in-class three-layer GoreTex waterproofing, watertight zippers, a helmet-compatible hood… The list goes on, yet the LT is one of the few Arc’teryx jackets that can be had for well under $500.
So what’s the difference between the LT and Arc’teryx’s beefier shells? And how does a “more affordable” Arc’teryx compare to more budget-conscious alternatives from brands like REI, Patagonia, and Rab? We put the Beta LT through the wringer to see if this minimalist jacket is worth the extra cash.
Our testing over the last several months included a snowy 14,000 ft summit of Mt. Nadelhorn, sport climbing in the pouring rain, and miles upon miles of rainy backcountry treks in the Beta LT. Long story short, this may be our favorite all-around hardshell of the year, but here are our detailed field notes for anyone considering picking this jacket themselves.
(Want to learn more about how we evaluate and review rain jackets? Get the down and dirty details here.)
Detailed Evaluation of the Arc’teryx Beta LT Rain Jacket
While our product testing is always thorough and hands-on, our field test of the Arc’teryx Beta LT was extensive even by our standards, as part of our yearly testing of the best rain jackets. This jacket came with us for our head to head testing in rainy weather alongside several other industry leading rain jackets, but also made it out for some extra credit assignments as noted above. This gave us ample time to test all the important factors we look for in any rain jacket like water resistance and breathability, as well as more nuanced points like durability, extra features, and overall value.
When you pay for a GoreTex equipped Arc’teryx jacket (or any three-layer GoreTex garment for that matter), you’re paying for the best weather protection money can buy, no questions asked. If said jacket fails or leaves anything to be desired, you might as well save some money and just buy a proprietary three layer system option like the Patagonia Torrentshell.
For this reason, our testers pushed the Arc’teryx Beta LT as far as we possibly could in testing its waterproofing, and came away thoroughly impressed. Rain, sleet, snow, and even complete submersion couldn’t stand up to the Beta’s incredible 28,000mm of protection, and we had zero complaints with the jacket’s wet weather performance.
One tester even so far as to note that after a full day of rainy sport climbing, he was the only member in his group to come away completely dry. The jacket cinched down exceptionally well, the hood had plenty of room for his climbing helmet, and both of the Beta LT’s waterproof pocket zippers kept their contents completely dry.
We also felt the Beta LT had one of the more impressive DWR treatments of any rain jacket we’ve tested. Water beads up and rolls off this jacket so quickly we had a hard time capturing a photo of it, and it never seemed to lose any performance over our two month testing period.
Breathability is the cornerstone of versatility when it comes to rain gear. You need your jacket to stay comfortable during less intense activities like simple day hikes, but it also needs to perform when you pick up the pace and things start heating up.
Our testers found the Beta LT’s breathability to be excellent, and among the best overall in our testing. That’s particularly impressive considering the Arc’teryx’s three layer construction, as three layer membranes historically sacrifice a degree of heat management in exchange for maximum weather protection.
Our test jacket never felt outclassed, regardless of whether we were out for a simple walk around town or working hard slogging through deep snow up steep inclines. We particularly appreciated the Beta LT’s dual-zippered pit vents, which were above average in both size and adjustability, allowing us to shed extra heat during strenuous activity.
We’ll also note that the interior fabric liner of the Beta LT was one of the smoothest and most comfortable we tested in the field this year. The jacket never felt cold, clammy, or otherwise unpleasant when we were working up a sweat, and seemed to do a great job wicking and transporting moisture as quickly as we could generate it.
Fit and Comfort
Arc’teryx cuts the Beta LT in a style they call “fitted” which is designed to keep the jacket close to the body from the chest down to the bottom hem of the jacket. They do this to keep extra fabric/bulk to a minimum, yet they also manage to leave enough room for layers and movement by using anatomical shapes throughout the design.
Our testers found the Beta LT worked exactly as advertised in this regard, giving a nice trim look on the body, but also never feeling tight or constrictive. We layered it with a thin mid layer for rock climbing, a thicker down layer for mountaineering, and nothing but a t-shirt for day hikes, and the jacket stayed consistently comfortable across the board.
The aforementioned interior fabric layer also played a large role here, as it feels particularly soft against the skin, even compared to other three-layer models. We also noted that although the Beta LT definitely retains a bit of the noise and crunchiness three layer hardshells are known for, its thinner 40D fabric feels a bit more pliable, which also adds to the all-around comfort factor.
We went into our field test of the Beta LT expecting durability to be a low point of the build. The standard three layer GoreTex construction utilizes a thinner 40D nylon fabric for the sake of lightness and packability, whereas the GoreTex Pro designs like the Beta AR use a blend of 80D and 40D fabrics for added strength.
All things considered, after spending a few months in the Beta LT, we’d still rate the jacket slightly above average when it comes to durability. There’s definitely a notable difference between the Beta LT and bombproof designs like Arc’teryx’s 100D Alpha SV, but for a jacket that’s mainly geared toward typical backcountry hiking/backpacking use, we have no actual durability concerns to report.
Aside from the fabric itself, the rest of the jacket is classic Arc’teryx when it comes to quality. Zippers are tough and problem-free, seams are clean and impressively precise, and each of the adjustments, be it elastic or velco, feels utterly bulletproof.
We’d be tempted to go with something a bit thicker for thru-hiking or mountaineering exploits, but if you’re looking for one hardshell that works well in damn near any environment, the Beta LT’s combination of simplicity and premium build quality will be tough to beat.
Weight and Packability
Given that the Beta LT is supposed to be the “minimalist” option in Arc’teryx’s Beta lineup, less weight and increased packability should be a given for this model. We’re happy to report that the Beta LT scores highly in both regards, especially considering it’s still a three-layer GoreTex garment at heart.
The Beta LT tipped the Wise Adventurer scales at 13.9 ounces as advertised, which is a little over two ounces lighter than the beefier Beta AR we tested it alongside and just over a half ounce heavier than other popular minimalist options like the Rab Downpour 2.0.
In terms of packability, we found the Beta LT to be the most packable of the three-layer jackets in this year’s testing, and only marginally larger than our space-saving 2/2.5 layer alternatives. Ultra-light aficionados may deem it a tad too large/heavy, but we felt the Beta LT would be the best compromise of packability vs. protection for about 90% of hikers.
Historically we’ve found premium touches to be a major distinguishing factor between an Arc’teryx shell and the competition. Despite the Beta LT’s minimalist intentions, Arc’teryx still managed to cram an impressive degree of fit and finish into the jacket.
The zippers, for instance, are all Arc’teryx’s trademark “WaterTight” design, which remove the need for storm flaps or zipper garages anywhere on the garment. This includes both the two hip pockets as well as the pit zips, so no corners were cut in this regard.
The collar is tall enough to tuck your mouth behind in chilly weather, and the attached hood had plenty of room for a helmet during both our climbing and mountaineering trips with the Beta LT. Adjusters at the hood, hem, and wrists all appear identical to the rugged hardware found on the Beta AR, and worked without issue. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that Arc’teryx borrowed the soft brushed suede chin guard from the AR, which is great to have when you’ve got the jacket fully cinched down in bad weather.
Truth be told the only area where the Beta LT’s minimalism became apparent was in the pocket layout, which consists of two simple hip pockets that are perched up high enough to use with a hip belt in place. We found ourselves wishing for an internal or external chest pocket from time to time, but that would also add bulk, expense, and complexity to the design, so we can’t really fault the LT there either.
After spending a few months in the Arc’teryx Beta LT, we’ve come to think of it not only as the best value in the Beta lineup, but as a great value overall. No, it’s not cheap, but it’s still a ton of jacket for the money any way you look at it.
We found the LT to be just as waterproof as its much more expensive cousin the Beta AR, impressively breathable in most any conditions, highly durable, and extremely well made. It’s also reasonably light and packable for a tough three-layer hardshell, and very comfortable as well.
Arc’teryx designed the Beta LT to provide versatile protection without a major weight penalty, and we feel they fully deliver on that promise with this jacket. In no way is this jacket just a “cheaper” version of the Beta AR that’s made compromises on quality to meet a target price. This garment is laser-focused and impressively technical, and served us well across a wide variety of outdoor activities.
With that being said, dropping $400+ dollars on a raincoat can be a tough proposition for more casual users, and we completely understand that. If your wet weather exploits are few and far between, or you don’t mind toting a slightly heavier/bulkier jacket, options like the Patagonia Torrentshell will provide similar protection and durability for much less money.
What We Like
Full disclosure, the Arc’teryx Beta LT is one of our favorite rain jackets we’ve tested in recent memory. We love its outstanding wet weather protection, and we love that it comes without a major penalty to weight or packability.
We also love the jacket’s price point, which is a bit more expensive than your typical high-quality hardshell, but we also feel you’re getting much more than a simple brand name for your money. This minimalist shell still includes an impressive list of premium features and comfort-focused touches, and does it all for significantly less than Arc’teryx’s other popular Beta shells.
What We Don’t Like
Apart from the Arc’teryx Beta LT’s high initial investment, this jacket is hard to find fault with. You could argue that it’s not quite as tough as a GoreTex Pro garment, but it’s also much cheaper and comfortable to wear, without sacrificing much in terms of all-around performance.
Ultimately we felt that its combination of protection, packability, and premium features were well worth the price, and we would absolutely recommend this jacket to just about anyone looking for a reliable piece of gear that’s built to last. With that being said, there have never been more high-quality jackets on the market for under $200, and depending on your budget, several of the other jackets from this year’s field test would make attractive alternatives for less money.
- REI XeroDry GTX: GoreTex reliability at an affordable price. Lacks the fit and refinement of the LT, but gets the job done for your average hiker/camper for less than half the money. Read our full test and review…
- Arc’Teryx Beta AR: Steps up both durability, weatherproofing, and features for a few dollars more. A bit heavier and more rigid, but a bulletproof performer for all manner of outdoor activities. Read our full test and review…
- Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic: A versatile rain jacket with a focus on comfort, breathability, and mobility. Sacrifices some rain protection for a stretchy fit and extra packability. Read our full test and review…
The Bottom Line…
Arc’teryx’s reputation for quality and attention to detail is well deserved. We found the Arc’Teryx Beta LT delivered on all the most important aspects we look for in a rain jacket, yet did it all for much less than most of Arc’teryx’s 3-layer GoreTex offerings.
You can find less expensive jackets out there that provide similar protection, as well as less expensive jackets there that provide better packability. What you won’t find, however, are more affordable models that can touch the Beta LT’s do-it-all versatility or technicality for the price.