Chris Townsend reviews a Gore-Tex jacket that’s made with good attention to detail and works well for year-round use.
The latest version of the Arc’teryx Beta LT waterproof jacket is made from standard Gore-Tex and has pit zips. The previous version lacked the latter but was made from Gore-Tex Pro. Also omitted from the earlier style are an inside pocket and Coahesive hood drawcord adjustments.
The fabric change means the jacket probably won’t be as tough – W.L. Gore says Gore-Tex Pro is the most durable Gore-Tex – and so less suitable for technical mountaineering and scrambling. I don’t think it makes any significant difference for hillwalking, standard Gore-Tex is just as waterproof and just as breathable as Gore-Tex Pro. The addition of pit zips is good for ventilation, especially as they are easy to use, unlike some. Inside pockets can be useful but I don’t regard one as essential. In severe conditions I won’t be opening the jacket anyway. The Coahesive cordlocks have been replaced by standard ones just inside the collar. Tightening the hood is still easy as you just pull the drawcords to do so. Loosening the hood is a bit fiddlier though.
The hood is a big helmet compatible one but can be cinched down quite well over a bare head. It moves well with the head and the big stiffened peak gives good protection. It’s not fully rigid though and can deform a little in strong winds. The hood moves with the head for good side vision.
The two pockets are roomy and will hold maps. The bottoms are cut off by a hipbelt though. The pocket bags are Gore-Tex so if any rain penetrates the water-resistant zips it won’t get inside the jacket. The front and pit zips are also water-resistant ones. I’ve not had any leakage through them.
The Beta is described as having a Trim Fit. This meant the medium size was too small for me. As this looked like a jacket I would wear over a thick fleece or an insulated top I jumped to the XL size to test. This is indeed quite roomy though it’s only a little bigger than the medium size Rohan Ventus waterproof jacket I reviewed in November. The sleeves are very long, which I don’t mind as it means I can pull my hands inside them. The cuffs are quite wide, which is good for ventilation and for pulling over gloves. They can be cinched tight when needed.
Arc’teryx describe the Beta LT as “all round mountain apparel” and I think it is a good balance between weight and performance. I’ve worn it in several winter storms, and it’s been fine. The weight is quite low (the LT stands for Lightweight) but the jacket’s not too light to cope with winter storms. The fabric, whilst quite thin, isn’t soft, which helps give it a degree of stiffness that’s welcome in a blizzard. The fabric crackles a little, like many Gore-Tex ones, but I haven’t really noticed this when wearing it. Being Arc’teryx it’s well-made with good attention to detail and also quite expensive. I think it’s worth the money if you want one waterproof jacket for year-round use.