Climbing Gear Reviews take a look at the new and revised iconic Beta LT hardshell from Arc’teryx – is it still a versatile, iconic mountain shell?
- Brilliant hood
- Superb cut
- Pricey – but should be the only jacket you will need
Kev reviewed the Arc’teryx Beta LT back in 2013, even then that was a revised jacket. The Beta range is a staple of the Arc’teryx range and comprises their most versatile Essentials range of clothing which comprises the Beta AR, and the sturdy Beta SV. So, there will be a jacket for all conditions and there are lower priced than the Alpha range. The LT will however, set you back £400(RRP) so you will want the jacket to be value and last for many seasons.
Kev concluded that it was the most versatile jacket he had worn and gave it 5 stars. We still have that jacket and it is still going strong (my son wears it), in all that time Richie has managed to put one tiny hole it, not bad for a jacket that is still waterproof and great to use.
There is no denying the jacketís versatility, last winter we reviewed the updated Alpha SV. That still remains my jacket of choice if I know conditions are going to be bad Ė I put that on and feel Iím wearing amour that is totally weatherproof. The Arcíteryx Beta LT, however has proved a much more versatile jacket. Totally at home on a hike, scrambling, rock climbing and running. Whatever mountain activity I feel I want to do that day, the Beta LT will be fine for. For my work as a Mountaineering Instructor it is the perfect hardshell.
Itís light enough to fit into the smallest pack, the brilliantly soft feeling Gore-Tex Pro fabric makes the jacket easy to stuff into the smallest of pack spaces therefore allowing a smaller and lighter pack to be taking out with on the mountain. There have been several improvements to the Gore-Tex Pro. They are still using the N40p-X material so the 40 Denier makes it tough enough to withstand those thrutchy chimneys but soft enough for those high reaches and that wear all day feel. In fact, Iíve found the Gore-Tex Pro on the Arcíteryx Beta LT almost as soft as nice to wear as Neo Shell, but more water proof when the rain sets in.
The DWR works well and I found the jacket beaded water for the whole activity Ė even in heavy rain. Iíve been testing it now for a few weeks so itís difficult to report how long it will last. Although Iíve been wearing the Alpha SV for nigh on a year and havenít felt the need to reproof it other than a 20 minute tumble dry on a very low heat.
The cut of the Beta LT has improved a lot with the new revisions. The seams have been reduced both in size and number and the cut cleverly leaves plenty of room for reaching up on those rock moves or tool placements. I would say the cut felt athletic for my Medium frame (even my wider sport climbers shoulders) but I could easily wear it with a fleece or just a baselayer and vest. It worked perfectly with my Arcíteryx Atom SL and they have provided a great combination for fast days out in changeable weather. The extra length at the back of the revised Beta LT is welcome on those windy days when using a pack, running with a waistbelt on and when wearing a harness.
The sleeves lock up nicely with a rubberised Velcro tab which is easy to use with gloves on; the hem cinches up using two normal cord locks on bungy cord. The excellent and improved Stormhood however uses the Cohaesive closure that we saw on the Alpha SV. The cordlock is integrated into the hood, so a quick press by pinching it with thumb and finger releases the lock. This proved great with the Alpha SV and works great with Beta LT, a real improvement on the older system. Good when you are on the move and the wind sets in, no faffing around trying to find the cord lock with gloves on- nice, easy and quick! The Stormhood is as good as on previous models of the Beta LT, versatile enough to fit with a helmet (with a good enough fit for side to side movement as well as up) and with a peaked cap for when itís raining. Iíve been experimenting with using it with a Escapa cap but found the peak too floppy so have gone back to using a hard brimmed cap with it.
Finally the zips and pockets Ė always a tricky call in a jacket. The Arcíteryx beta LT is part of the Essentials range and is designed for its versatility not its climbing specific features (the Alpha range is best for that). That said the jacket is designed for mountain sports and worked well enough in climbing and mountaineering situations. The handwarmer pockets worked well enough with a harness and the majority of the pocket was available if needed. The revised pocket zips are about 15mm smaller and the pocket has been taken from the top of the zip. The YKK Aquacoil are as water resistant as they can be and easy to close with the new RS sliders and solid tabs. As I said the jacket is designed for versatility and a Ďone jacket to rule them allí ethos so the pocket placements work well enough and are accessible when using either a climbing harness or a pack. There is also a zipped interior pocket for keeping a compass, food or a waterproof GPS (because you wouldnít want to keep your very expensive smartphone in there with all that sweat and rain would you?).
The main jacket zip is similar to the other Beta LT but with improved zip tag that works nicely with gloves and wet/cold fingers. It is the usual rip apart zip thatís features so much in Arcíteryx jackets that I find myself doing it on other jackets to find it doesnít work! Once you have used this system to ventilate itís hard to go back Ė so easy and quick. There is a reflective logo on the front Ė it would be good to have some reflective flashing on the back for when you are following in the dark (the back of the hood is a good place).
So, is the redesign work upgrading to? Well, the Arcíteryx Beta LT is definitely an improvement, some of the new features are very subtle but then itís all in the Ďmarginal gainsí ethos that happens when statement products mature. So, if you are a Beta LT user and the jacket is coming to the end of its (hopefully very abused) lifespan then yes, you will find the improvements worth the investment. If you are looking around for an excellent, versatile mountain jacket and want to make an investment then the Arcíteryx Beta LT will be hard to beat.
Click here to go to the Beta LT page.
Climbing Gear Reviews are an independent reviewer of climbing, skiing and mountaineering equipment. Fronted by Kevin Avery, a trainee IFMGA mountain guide and former Gear Editor at UKClimbing.com, alongside Yorkshire based MIA Dave Sarkar, they provide completely honest and 100% impartial reviews. Click here to see their page.