Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket Review
We took the Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket to 26 different countries over 14 months. We traveled from the chill of Reykjavik in Iceland right through to Shanghai, China passing lots of different climates on the way. We can tell you this, the jacket is 100% worth the investment if you know how to look after it.
The most valuable piece of advice we can give to anybody considering a round the world trip, invest in good shoes and a good jacket.
We chose the Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket due to the outstanding reviews and reputation of the brand. We put it under the ultimate test of endurance in multiple climates and we were not disappointed.
Where we took the Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket
Iceland (-10°C, heavy snowfall, heavy rain)
Climates don’t come more extreme than rugged Iceland, the jacket had its first test in Reykjavik during the height of Winter (February).
Snow poured down every single day and the temperature, at its lowest, was minus 10°C. The jacket is made with the lightest and most packable GORE-TEX® fabric, N40r GORE-TEX® that protects from the heaviest of downpours.
We also took the jacket on the South Shore Adventure tour with Reykjavik Excursions.
The jacket was never off during our 14-day visit to Iceland and you wouldn’t even know it was snowing or raining with the jacket on.
A simple brush of the hand got rid of the gathered fluffy snow and the rain beads rolled right off. No wind passed through the jacket whatsoever.
Greenland, Arctic Dog Sledding Expedition (-45°C)
The biggest test of all for the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Jacket was during a 2-day dog sled expedition from Ilulissat in North Western Greenland to Atartup Illuara, Nunatarsuaq.
Man, it was cold! Greenland was experiencing an unusually cold winter and it hit its peak as we arrived, minus 42°C. We’ve never felt anything like it. The temperature hit -45°C during the dog sled journey 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
The wind chill made it almost unbearable, and there was nowhere to hide other than inside the jacket (paired with a thermal undercoat).
And it worked! No air came in (with the pockets firmly zipped), no snow or ice came through, it was like a wonderful blue safety shield.
Note, the jacket is not warm on it’s own, it’s only desgned to be an outer shell. If you buy a size above, you’ll allow plenty of room for a thermal coat underneath, do not rely on this jacket to keep you warm, especially in dangerous arctic conditions.
Berlin, city walking (10°C)
The Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket is perfect for city walking, particularly in winter. The jacket is lightweight (315 grams (11.1 oz)) and it’s a windbreaker, which means no air will come in during an unexpected breeze.
If it becomes a little warm, there are zips underneath the armpits that will allow cool air in. Carefully articulated patterning and gusseted underarms provide freedom of movement without adding bulk.
The Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Jacket is flexible, unlike some waterproof jackets that restrict movement. The only downside, it doesn’t pack down very well when it’s taken off. We were carrying it awkwardly in museums, cafes, etc. It would have been better if it packed into a small bag.
The pockets are brilliant for carrying everything you need for a day out wandering the city. There’s plenty of space for a camera, wallet, phone, cards, and plenty of room for sandwiches or snacks.
Beijing, the Great Wall of China (1°C)
It was windy and freezing during our visit to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China.
The wall is high and it was icy which put the jacket under another big test after using it for 10 months, non-stop.
Again, the jacket worked as it should, keeping out the light snowfall and icy breeze. The Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket is perfect for day excursions due to it’s light weight.
Yellowstone National Park (rain, sun, cold, humidity)
Out of everywhere we visited on our round the world trip, nowhere had weather as inconsistent as Yellowstone National Park.
We’d be camping at high elevation where it was freezing, then we’d be walking by humid hot springs and bubbling mud pots, then the sun would decide to shine right after a heavy rainfall.
In either scenario, the jacket never let us down, we even slept in it on a freezing night camping in the wilderness.
Fuego Volcano expedition, Guatemala (Humid, cold)
We were exclusively invited to spend a night at the Fuego volcano observatory in Guatemala during monsoon season. We battled the heaviest of rain and thunderstorms to get there, sat out overnight in temperatures at almost 0°C and heated up at sunrise while we watched rock of lava being spewed out of the volcano’s tip.
We kept the jacket on the whole time and sat through the full experience comfortably with no complaints on the climate at all. It really is a versatile and reliable jacket.
Chicago, ice skating, city walking (-5°C)
During our round the world trip, we popped by Chicago to soak in the Christmas atmosphere and we all know Chicago is bitterly cold in winter.
We enjoyed a couple of hours ice skating in Millenium Park and the Arc’teryx Beta SL was perfect for this activity. The flexible material allowed plenty of movement and it didn’t damage when we fell, on numerous occasions!
Paired with a thermal coat, the Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket provided every protection needed while wandering the ‘Windy City’.
Washing and Reproofing
We wish we had thoroughly read the Arctery GORE-TEX washing and reproofing instructions before we washed the jacket. After around 11 months, after everything the jacket had been through, it became a little dirty and smelly. We had to wash it.
This was our first GORE-TEX jacket and due to our lack of research, we ended up effectively ruining it. We washed it on a 40° cycle and didn’t dry/reproof it properly. It was then the jacket started to fail, it wasn’t as warm as before and it certainly wasn’t waterproof, as we learned the hard way during a monsoon in Hong Kong and heavy rain in New York.
The jacket let so much water in as a result of bad maintenance. Because of this, we wouldn’t recommend buying an outer shell jacket that requires careful washing and reproofing maintenance for long-term backpacking trips.
If you have the correct resources with you on your trip i.e. proofing spray, a tumble dryer, it’s probably not the best choice of jacket. Carrying the reproofing spray could be a problem for budget backpackers like us due to liquid restrictions in airports. It’s also rare to find a tumble dryer and a washer with appropriate temperatures.
Before washing the jacket, it was perfect, it is a little high maintenance after using it for a long period of time.
Overall Review of the Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket
Multi-climate, great protection in all elements tested from -45°C to +26°C.
The jacket dries really fast.
Lightweight, perfect for traveling long-term.
Durable shoulders – we were always carrying a daypack, a camera strap or a heavy backpack, there were no signs of wear whatsoever.
Lots of useful pockets.
The zips are nice and long and very durable.
100% Windproof, tested in -45c wind chill in the Arctic Circle, no leakage.
100% Waterproof until we washed it and failed to reproof it properly.
Colour maintained very well, even after it was washed.
The underarm zips are ideal in hot and humid countries.
The hood is a perfect shape, no rain got in our eyes in the harshest conditions.
The tightening strings were perfectly located on the hood and at the bottom of the jacket.
Doesn’t pack or fold down easily. We’d love to see it fold into its own pocket or a small bag.
A thorough reproofing process should be followed, may not be ideal for long-term backpacking.
Our recommendations if buying the Arc’teryx Beta SL Jacket
Buy a size up if you’re planning on wearing a base layer or two.
Use the inside secret pocket for money or valuables.
Open up the armpit zips in humid climates.
Read the wash and reproofing instructions thoroughly before buying.
For more information, see the official Arc’teryx spec.
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