I recently put the Arc’teryx Beta LT with GORE-TEX Pro to the test in cold, windy and wet conditions. Is the latest GORE-TEX fabric all it is cracked up to be? Check out my review below to find out.
GORE-TEX has been a major player in the outdoor apparel fabric market for years. As you might know they make breathable membranes that are used by many brands. You might not know these brands can’t do whatever they want with GORE-TEX products. GORE-TEX carefully oversees all of the brands who use their products to ensure strict guidelines are met. I was able to get a first look at the latest offerings from a few of these brands at the GORE-TEX and American Alpine Club Peek Event.
GORE-TEX Pro is the company’s newest high end product designed for mountaineers, skiers and people who need gear that is extremely breathable and durable. It was developed as part of a 5 year process to create a product that is 28% more breathable with 40 deniers of durability and just as waterproof as GORE-TEX Pro Shell. As you might guess, jackets with GORE-TEX Pro will be 10-20% more expensive than garments with older GORE-TEX products.
GORE-TEX provided me with an Arc’teryx Beta LT jacket to test out GORE-TEX Pro. Since I don’t have a fancy lab to measure if it really was 28% more breathable I immediately took it to New Hampshire’s White Mountains to see how it performed.
The Beta LT is a GORE-TEX Pro jacket with N40P-X shell fabric that is designed to be a lightweight shell for mountaineering with only the essential features.
It has two harness and backpack strap compatible front pockets that are large enough for mittens or other essentials.
There is a small internal pocket.
It also features a helmet compatible hood that is adjustable with a vinyl brim.
The zippers are the smoothest waterproof zippers I have ever used. Speaking of zippers, the Beta LT does not have pit zips which a feature that I once considered a must have. I was hoping the breathability of GORE-TEX Pro would make up for this.
The Beta LT has a very trim fit that will accommodate a thick base layer but not much else.This minimizes bulk and prevents the jacket from getting snagged on things. The fit and features add up to create a jacket that has everything you need for an alpine ascent.
I broke out the Beta LT for the first time on the summit of Mount Mansfield in VT. It was a mildly windy, mostly warm and sunny day; not exactly the weather GORE-TEX Pro was designed for. This weather was not extreme and I knew any shell could handle this task. I was still impressed at how the jacket deflected wind and did a great job of venting heat; sometimes I forgot I even had it on.
I donned the Beta LT a few weeks later on a very cold and windy day as I was about to go above tree line while ascending to the summit of Mount Jefferson and this is where GORE-TEX Pro started to prove itself. The jacket easily deflected 50 mph wind gusts and vented the substantial body heat that I was generating while climbing; I have never had a shell that vented this well before. I felt totally comfortable while ascending to the summit of Jefferson and traversing the ridge to Mount Adams When the wind truly picked up I found that the Beta LT’s hood stood in place better than any other hood that I have used.
I finished that hike feeling truly impressed by GORE-TEX Pro and the Beta LT but I knew I needed to test the jacket one more time before becoming a true believer.
The Beta LT made a third appearance on Mount Chocorua just below tree line with single digit temperatures and sustained winds over 60 mph. Once again it did an excellent job of venting head and deflecting wind as I climbed to the summit and traversed an exposed ridge to descend back to tree line. I have never had a shell that worked so well while ascending, descending and traversing; I was impressed.
The season was remarkably dry this year so I wore the Beta LT in the shower to see how it dealt with water. I also tried pouring a glass of water onto the sleeve and it ran right off the jacket. The DWR treatment deflected water so well that I would have complete confidence using it in a wet alpine situation. I look forward to testing this jacket in the White Mountains this winter and I will let you know how it performs.
In my opinion the Arc’teryx Beta LT is one of the most versatile, breathable and durable shell jackets that I have ever used. My complaints with it are few but I do find the fit to be a little narrow at the bottom which can cause it to ride up.
I also think that GORE-TEX Pro is the real deal. It feels more breathable than anything I have ever seen without giving up any waterproofing. The downside is that GORE-TEX Pro is 10-20% more expensive than other high quality jackets that could still meet your needs. I think the most affordable GORE-TEX Pro jacket is L.L. Bean’s Ascent Jacket at $349. However if you want the best then I believe that GORE-TEX Pro is it.