For me, Arc'teryx has always been the symbol of a true outdoor pro — someone who values performance over anything else. Sure, it's expensive. But ever since I started spending serious time outdoors (and since I started developing my own style), the brand has been an aspirational milestone. Wearing Arc'teryx doesn't actually prove your adventure bonafides, but people are less likely to question you if you roll up to the base of a 10-mile, fourteener summit attempt rocking a shell from the brand.
In 2021, and now into 2022, Arc'teryx has seen a huge rise in its following, one owed to a boom on TikTok and the emergence of GORP in the style world. If you spent any time online last year, you probably saw someone wearing an Arc'teryx jacket in their shower, proving that water does, indeed, just bead up and roll right off the jacket. (But do they actually know what Gore-Tex is?) It's not just TikTokers, though. You can't forget trailblazers like Nicole McLaughlin, the up-cycle legend who is taking the idea of mainstream GORP and flipping it on its head by making one-of-a-kind gear that is no less than capital-F "Fine art".
So, the brand is just as popular as ever. Only problem? It's still price-prohibitive for many outdoor enthusiasts. This is where its newest shell, the Arc'teryx Beta Jacket, comes into play. The Beta takes everything you'd expect from an innovative, cutting-edge brand like Arc'teryx and pares it down into a simple, high-performing shell that's suitable not only for year-round battles with precipitation, but might actually have the best value of anything in the brand's lineup.
Versatility Is the Name of the Game with the Beta Series
The Beta Series from Arc'teryx is the brand's line of all-around mountain shells that are built to take on any adventure, in (virtually) any conditions. While there is a broad range in price from the lower-tiered Betas to the top-tier Beta (the currently sold-out Beta SV jacket is a whopping $675), they all serve the same function: kick ass in rain, snow, sleet and wind.
The Beta features everything you need without the frills: it's made from highly breathable, waterproof Gore-Tex fabric with Gore C-Knit backer tech, keeping you cool and dry when things take a turn for the worse. It's light enough, even, to be comfortable over a t-shirt on a relatively muggy summer day in the Northeast. Whether you're taking on a summer thunderstorm in the mountains or need to stave off winter showers, the Beta is adept.
The fit is a bit roomy, which lends itself well to layering in the colder months. I was able to rock a down jacket underneath mine with no issues.
The Arc'teryx Beta Stands Out, But Isn't Obnoxious
Lots of rain jackets and shells you see out there are straight-up ugly. It's all too common to see sheer, swishy numbers that only come in weird colors. This — or rather, getting away from it — is one of the ways Arc'teryx really steps up the game.
The Beta comes in standard black, grey and navy, but it also comes in lime green, burnt orange and an eye-popping royal blue. I was skeptical of having a bright blue jacket at first, as I'm more of a neutral, earth-tone type of guy, but the blue (a.k.a. Fluidity) is undeniably good. It might be easier to tell yourself that you don't really care what your performance gear looks like, but let's face it: we all want to look good, whether we're hiking upstate or roaming the streets of Brooklyn.
It's Simple — Maybe Too Simple For Some
For testing, I wore this jacket mostly in a city setting; I spend most of my time there. I don't need a lot of bells and whistles — I just want to stay comfortable and dry. The Beta, perhaps unsurprisingly, excels at this.
Its two pockets are at the perfect location on the body for resting your hands or stowing a few essentials — they're high enough that you won't have to worry about your keys or some snacks swinging around near your waist. The hood feels weighty and doesn't fly off at the first gust of wind, thanks to a simple elastic pull. I also love the velcro at the wrists; it feels like it will last forever and adds a premium touch that you really notice compared to other jackets.
With all that said, if I was wearing it in the outdoors, a bit more utility could be of use. There are only two pockets and no pit zips, which could come in handy for someone who easily overheats.
To make a comparison, you can get the decked-out Patagonia Triolet jacket for the same price. It has pit zips, internal pocketing and a couple of extra pockets at the chest. In fact, the only quality the Patagonia jacket might be lacking is the cool factor that Arc'teryx embodies so well. I don't mean this as a backhanded compliment; one of the major selling points for the Arc'teryx jacket is that it really does look good and adds style points to your 'fit, whether you're just schlepping to the grocery store or climbing in Yosemite.
Arc'teryx Beta Shell Jacket: The Verdict
It may not seem like $400 is a great deal for a rain jacket, and I'll admit, it's a lot at first glance. But the thing is, it's just plain better than the cheaper jackets out there. The Beta blends modern tech with clean lines, making it the ideal jacket to wear every time there's a chance of precipitation or excessive winds.
I haven't owned much in the way of Arc'teryx in my life, but the pieces I do have are going to last forever — the Beta very much included. Spend a little bit more now and you won't regret it. Turns out decades of outdoor athletes, and those kids on TikTok, weren't wrong.