You’ll be hard-pushed to find a better performing jacket for all seasons and many outdoor activities, but this one comes at a high price
Fully waterproof, windproof and breathable
Adjustable hem, cuffs and hood
Pit zips to dump heat
Plenty of pockets
Built-in RECCO reflector
You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.
Arc'teryx Beta Lightweight Jacket: first impressions
When it comes to weather extremes, you usually have to choose between light weight jacket and high performance, but in the Beta Lightweight, Arc’teryx have achieved a waterproof jacket that delivers both. Using the full protection of Gore-Tex in a light, breathable shell jacket, you can be as comfortable wearing this at high altitude on a glacier trek as you can on a soggy, lowland hike. Technically speaking, this is a hardshell jacket, offering full wind and water protection in what the brand calls an environmental shelter, but the fabric is as light, breathable and pliable as your favorite softshell, making this jacket extremely versatile.
• List price: $500 / £450
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s sizing available
• Sizes: Men’s XS - XXL, Women’s XXS - XXL
• Materials: Gore-Tex
• Weight: 11.6 oz/ 330 g (women’s small)
• Colors: Solace, Fika, Sky Groover, Black, Forage, Jungle maze, Serene, Wicker sapphire, Phenom
• Best use: Hiking, mountaineering, winter sports
This jacket comes a little lower at the back, giving you great coverage when you want to sit down in the wet grass for a break, and the right size leaves plenty of room for layering. In addition to the breathable 40D Gore-Tex fabric, the Beta Lightweight sports pit zips for when you start to get steamy in rainforest conditions, though we’ve yet to need them this summer. Two zipped hand pockets plus one small inner pocket provide about as much storage as you’d want or expect from a jacket like this, while an adjustable hem, cuffs and hood help you seal out a cold wind on a blustery day. The peaked hood offers great coverage and cinches tight when the wind kicks up.
As we all know, there are environmental issues when it comes to Gore-Tex, but Arc’teryx is a leader in finding solutions, such as their ReBird program which helps to repair and recycle their garments. The price of this jacket is certainly eye watering, and there’s no doubt that it will make many think twice, but we’re confident in the performance of this high quality jacket and think you’ll be pleased with it in all seasons.
Arc'teryx Beta Lightweight Jacket: in the field
I already own a couple of really lightweight waterproof jackets that are great for hiking, so I certainly wasn’t actively seeking a new one, nor did I think one could come along that would outperform the others. That said, I’ve been wearing the Beta Lightweight jacket now on rainy Scottish Munros, high up on an alpine glacier in the Alps and even for bike rides around the city and it’s been hard to take it off.
Here’s how it performed:
Sizing and fit
I’m a small and tested a small and I’d say that it fits true to size. It does have a naturally slightly baggy fit and comes down lower at the back to cover my bum. I wouldn’t recommend sizing down even if you like a more streamlined look, however, as I’m finding that I have plenty of room to layer this over a fleece if I need to.
Weather protection and breathability
When it comes to weather protection, I’ve so far tested this out against a harsh cold wind high up in the Alps, in rainforest-like conditions on lower summer trails in Chamonix and on a very wet and windy Munro in Scotland. It absolutely seals out the wind and rain, especially when you fasten the cuffs and cinch the hood properly. The peaked hood does a good job of protecting my face from a driving rain too.
It’s not an insulated jacket, but worn over a very light fleece pullover and a merino wool T-shirt, I was more than warm enough on a cold glacier. That said, I’ve found that it’s surprisingly breathable too, even when I’ve been hiking up a near-vertical slope in humid conditions. In fact, I’ve yet to need the pit zips. Full marks for both weather protection and breathability.
Comfort and flex
There aren’t any annoying scratchy details anywhere on this jacket and it has enough give that I can move around, take my backpack on and off, reach for my ice axe and raise my arms over my head while wearing it.
Weight and packability
I only have one jacket that is lighter than this one, and the difference between the two is just 30 grams. For the weight, you won’t find a higher performing jacket than this and it packs down well to about the size of a water bottle, even with the stiffer peaked hood.
Features and versatility
The main features are three zipped pockets, including two hand warming pockets which are big enough for my phone and one inner pocket which is really only big enough for keys or credit cards but still handy.
In addition, this jacket comes equipped with a RECCO reflector, in case you get into difficulties in the backcountry.
As for versatility, this can definitely be worn for everything from wet summer hiking to high alpine snow sports if you just wanted lightweight protection, though I’d stop short at wearing it for trail running as it’s a little too loose. I’ve also been pulling it on as my go-to jacket for riding my bike around the city, and I’d trust it for traveling too.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.