Arc’teryx Beta FL JacketAfter realising the bike riding potential of this new Jacket from Arc’Teryx Joe Bowman from Bigstone sent it in for us to test over the winter. Designed originally as a ski–touring jacket using the newly developed Gore–Tex Active Shell material this is a highly breathable and lightweight bit of kit. Developed for performance in cold and/or wet conditions whilst exercising (and sweating) hard…
From Dirt Issue 121 – March 2012Words: Jonathan Gregory. Photo: Grant Robinson.
The Beta FL is dual thickness and built up in the shoulder area where you carry your rucksack or bike, rest your pick–axe or carry a sack of potatoes to the shed. I’ve been using the jacket for the past three months whilst riding in predominantly cold and dry conditions.
As far as layering up goes I’ve been wearing the jacket over a single long sleeved base layer with a rucksack on my back. The jacket has next to zero thermal capability but provides an amazing barrier to the wind, and on the few occasions that it has pissed it down, the rain. The new Gore–Tex Active Shell fabric is claimed to be the most breathable Gore–Tex fabric to date and I have to say that out on the trail it performs very well. Pedalling uphill and putting the body to work I generally sweat a lot and jackets in the past have always had issues with condensation build up – the Beta FL is a definite improvement in this area.
As a ski jacket I’m guessing it is designed to take further layers underneath for colder conditions and as such is cut to accommodate. It is roomy, but not overly so. The rear of the jacket is dropped as if it were designed specifically for time spent on the bike and it features a non–detachable ‘storm’ hood…one I’ve not yet had to use on the bike although it has come in handy out on walks. If there is one thing that lets the jacket down then it’s this as I think a removable hood would make it more bike friendly.
It packs down to the size of a large jacket potato, it doesn’t weigh much at 322g, and it goes through the wash well. Each and every time it has gone in looking like I’ve pedalled through a shit–storm and yet it comes out looking like new. It’s quick drying too.
The price is a massive issue here, but you get what you pay for at this end of the scale I guess. Cutting edge fabric technology that looks beautiful, feels great and performs better than any shell layer I have used in the past. It is totally waterproof and very breathable. It’s showing no signs of wear and tear, not yet anyway, and unlike some jackets the zips don’t feel like they’re going to let you down. If you want the ultimate in breathability then the Active Shell fabric is almost certainly another shuffle forwards in the evolution waterproof jackets, but it does come at a price. I wear this jacket all the time, on and off the bike, and it’s one of those bits of kit I still hope to be using in five years time.Price: £350.00 Bigstone 01142 586 688