New Arc’Teryx gear is always a treat—AT’s design is always smart, the quality bomber—and the Vancouver-based outdoor company has announced a new jacket coming down the pipe this Fall, the Beta FL/UL. We here at NN had the opportunity to test the jacket out here in Whistler, abusing it on our daily commuter cycles in the Valley, on rainy hikes, and day-to-day around the Village. Needless to say, the Beta FL/UL is a smart, elegant piece of work.
Designed for maximum breathability while still retaining the properties of a waterproof shell, the jacket uses Gore-Tex’s new Active Shell 3-layer laminate. This is the lightest 3-layer laminate yet from Gore-Tex, as it “integrates the backer textile directly into the Gore-Tex membrane allowing for extreme breathability and excellent next to skin comfort.” Perhaps this is Gore-Tex’s answer to eVent, a competitor’s fabric gaining popularity on the Wet Coast for its focus on breathability over strict waterproofness. In any case, the feel of the laminate is soft and supple next to skin, and the jacket overall was very light, packing down into a small, nylon tube.
Waterproofness was certainly not an issue. Like all Arc’Teryx shells, all seams are meticulously taped. The jacket repelled all precipitation with ease. In terms of design, the jacket is quite minimalist. It features:
- an encompassing hood with brim and adjustment drawstring
- a very high collar
- two hand pockets
- thin reflective taping (presumably for cyclists and night-walking pedestrians)
- a drop-seat hem (presumably again for cyclists)
As for breathability, the jacket certainly breathed well, especially compared to ProShell, and the lightness of the jacket was a big plus for athletic activities. However those of us using it for even moderate output activities—such as commuter cycling—felt that the Beta FL/UL’s range could be extended by increasing ventilation possibilities. One hardcore daily cyclist who spends two hours a day riding from one end of Whistler to the other felt that the jacket would be ideal if it included pit-zipped ventilation. The rest of the design certainly cries out “cycling,” so we wonder if a different jacket might be in the works to address this kind of athletic user.
For the time being, this jacket works well for those not working up a terrible sweat, or who just need a lightweight waterproof-breathable to throw on in the midst of outdoor athletic activity when a downpour hits. The design of the hood and high front collar speak to this need—though it is too long for alpinist use, the jacket will work well as a lightweight belay piece on multi-pitch climbs. The Beta FL/UL seems to work best as a stop-and-go piece best put on during rain and then stripped off before moving on.
The new Beta FL/UL is available through Escape Route in Whistler and Squamish.