For me the makings of a good hardshell jacket, is if I barely notice I’m wearing it. So, with the revised Beta LT Jacket, have Arc’teryx achieved just that?
In short, yes, the Beta LT Jacket is such a piece. Lightweight, durable and flexible with a full coverage helmet-friendly hood, it features all the things you need, without any of the superfluous clutter of many other modern hardshells.
I’ve never been a huge fan of hardshells as I generally find even the best to be sweaty, overfeatured and bulky so it’s been nice to find out that the Beta LT is quite the opposite. I’ve used it for about 3 months now in a variety of conditions and for a variety of activities and it’s quickly become my “go to” shell for all of these things. I’ve used it mountaineering in the Alps on windy, snowy days; I’ve used it in heavy downpours whilst fell running in the Lake District and I’ve used it mixed climbing in the most challenging of weathers on Ben Nevis. In all of these activities it has proved its worth.
So why do I like it so much? Well, as mentioned earlier, the beauty of this jacket is its lightweight and simplicity.
The Beta series of garments from Arc’teryx are designed for all round use and from the activities I listed earlier, the LT clearly cuts the mustard here. LT stands for lightweight and at 355g for a 3 layer Gore Tex Pro Shell jacket, few can dispute the fact this jacket is light. It feels light when it’s on too, adding to that “don’t know you’re wearing it” sensation. Yes, there are lighter jackets out there but remember, lightweight is always going to have a trade off in terms of durability, or lack of. And in terms of this, the Beta LT is holding up nicely. I mean, it’s been scuffed on granite chimneys and taken shouldered ice tools on mixed routes, with not so much as a mark.
The “supple yet durable N40p-X face fabric” adds to this durability. It is a softer fabric than I’ve witnessed on a lot of hardshells so seems to have less of the annoying rustle factor. This means it is nicer to wear. It is not stretchy, nor a softshell but the cut of the jacket is so good that it moves with you and doesn’t restrict you.
Arc’teryx market the jacket as being “Trim fit, with e3D patterning, Hip Length” and I can confirm that it fits within all these parameters. The length is great, fitting nicely under a harness without riding up. The trim fit layers perfectly over a baselayer and light midlayer such as the Cerium LT Hoody or equivalent Coreloft piece, but there would be little room for anything else. As this is more of a ‘fast and light’ style product, then it isn’t the shell to go for if you want something you can layer lots of insulation layers underneath, although there is nothing stopping you up-sizing I suppose, though I can guarantee there are other products with a different cut that fulfill this need more readily.
The e3D patterning provides a tailored fit and means that the jacket does not ride up whilst climbing. The sleeve length is perfect and has great articulation. The velcro cinch cuffs are simple and low profile and the work well under or over gloves.
The “WaterTight™ Vislon front zip” works smoothly and seals out the elements effectively, relinquishing the need for a bulky storm flap. All zippers have glove friendly tabs and run very smoothly. The Beta LT features a simple, 2 chest pocket design, both closing neatly via water tight zippers into zipper garages to help keep things dry. I don’t think a jacket needs more pockets than this and in terms of an alpine climbing shell, I think one pocket would actually be enough, although this may not be in keeping with the all round mantra of the Beta garments. The Beta LT also features one small internal pocket, which is a nice feature and one I like to use for my car key, something I always like to keep on my person these days after hearing about a friend of mine who kept his in his pack and dropped the pack from his bivi spot on a winter ascent of the Frendo Spur in Chamonix!
The final thing that makes this jacket so good as far as I’m concerned is the hood. It is so well designed and easy to adjust. It fits perfectly over a helmet and doesn’t feel like it’s compressing your neck when you put it up. It also works well without as the drawcord adjusters cinch it down and reduce the volume effectively. I can never understand why manufacturers would produce jackets for climbing or mountaineering without a helmet-friendly hood, but I have seen many. Thankfully this is not one of them.
So, to conclude: The Beta LT jacket is a superb lightweight 3 layer hardshell. It is so versatile, simple and comfortable I now use it for all mountain activities, from running to mixed climbing. My current favourite shell and a full five star garment!
NOTE: The Beta LT is also available for women. View it here.
- Price: £350
- Find out more as well as where to buy this jacket, at the Arcteryx website.