WildSnow Girl’s Arc’teryx Beta FL Shell Jacket Review

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Arcteryx Beta FL jacket.

Testing Arcteryx Beta FL jacket this past weekend. Colorado's warm temps have resulted in early season semi-corn snow conditions, albeit with some hidden avy danger we were careful to avoid. Click all images to enlarge.

What could be better than plane tickets to Europe? Answer: Chic new clothes for the trip that will cause the typical, effortlessly elegant, European gal to sneak an envious peak through her dark Pradas. Could happen since a box from Arc’teryx arrived on my doorstep.

Inside was the Beta FL jacket, a breathable, waterproof, minimalist garment for outdoor pursuits. This piece is a beauty, in a hue as brilliant as a bluebird sky. And, as Coco Chanel said, a girl must be two things: classy and fabulous. Well, the Beta FL makes me both.

But since I’ll actually be using this jacket for “outdoor pursuits,” a test of its functionality is necessary. The perfect opportunity arose when Lou and I ventured out for a ski tour in the West Elk mountains of Colorado.

Lou is playing around with a new camera.

Lou is playing around with a new camera and captured the brilliant bluebird sky hue of the Beta FL.

Spring is my favorite time to ski and the day promised to be a good one. Already 42 degrees, windless and warming in the early morning, I started out in a light wool top, knowing I’d heat fast from the climb. But weather can fluctuate faster than the Hemline Index. Having a reliable shell in your pack assures those changes will be manageable.

The top of the peak was breezy and corn snow slopes glistened below. I was sweating and cooling off fast. I put on the Beta FL. It passed the first test: windproof and breathable. Moisture wicked away and the shell didn’t feel clammy at all. In fact it had a silky, smooth feeling, more like a comfy top.

Lou and I often use radios to communicate slope safety as we ski down one at a time. He went first, then radioed back for me to go. After confirming the message, I slipped the radio neatly into a front pocket. Two front pockets are thoughtfully placed to work with a pack, making them easily accessible (though why they are not larger is mystifying). The zippers are water tight but narrower than usual, which I found easier to zip. I noticed as I schussed down that I felt comfortable. The fabric moved easily, added a slight bit of warmth and didn’t make noise. All I had left to do was concentrate on enjoying the lovely, crystal clear day.

West Elk Mountains, Colorado.

One more photo, then I'll stop. Yay, a couple of nice days skiing semi-corn snow.

The Beta FL (medium) weighs 10.3 oz, not the lightest of the lightweight shells out there, but almost. The extra grams come from building in more durability. It is made out of GORE-TEX Active, exceptionally lightweight and breathable, designed to suit high output, fast and light pursuits. The fabric is nylon denier, plain weave with superior durability-to-weight ratio. Areas prone to abuse, such as shoulders, hips and lower sleeves are reinforced to increase durability. Storm hood is minimized in size to save weight but roomy enough to fit over a helmet (albeit snugly). Reflective strips on forearms and hips aid visibility on early morning starts and late evening finishes. A bit more weight is a reasonable trade-out for extending the life of this exceptional jacket.

Arc’teryx FL series is a line of minimalist garments designed reduce mass while still providing protection in variable weather conditions. This is a piece that will get a lot of use in any country I go. It will be in my pack whenever I’m outdoors, whether skiing, hiking, biking, climbing, or following Lou to his favorite pastry haunts in Austria.

Famed Italian fashion progettista Valentino Garavani said “I know what women want. They want to be beautiful.” Arc’teryx knows that too.

Almost forgot! Shop for it.

Comments

7 Responses to “WildSnow Girl’s Arc’teryx Beta FL Shell Jacket Review”

  1. Lou March 26th, 2012 9:53 am

    I don’t know about these WildSnowGirl posts. All the sudden Google is picking some pretty strange advertisers for the inventory they’re filling over on the right. I hope it’s amusing. Later today I’ll block some of the more obnoxious ones. For now, I’m laughing. As for Lisa’s review, I hope you all enjoy a different perspective. Trying to balance things like my last two techo posts. Lou

  2. Maciej March 26th, 2012 11:57 am

    Lisa, I love your writing, and hope that you’ll be posting on WildSnow more often!! As a guy, the review of a women’s shell doesn’t have a whole lot to do with my personal gear, but I still read this piece all the way through purely because it was a fun read.

  3. Lisa March 26th, 2012 1:57 pm

    Maciej, thanks for your encouragement. I hope to keep it going.

  4. Joe John March 27th, 2012 10:23 am

    Lisa, I will have to get one of those for my ski bunny. The blue bird sky color looks really cool on that Spring ski day you had there. Let us know how it does in that Euro Pow Pow. I wish I was going!!

  5. Jim March 27th, 2012 1:49 pm

    I recently went through the process of deciding which new shell to buy.
    I tried Westcomb’s Sketch LT Hoody with Neoshell, Arcteryx Beta FL with Active Shell, and Mountain Hardwear Quasar using Dry Q Elite. The Neoshell felt the softest, but like the Active Shell, felt somewhat thin. The specs show the NeoShell and Dry Q Elite have .05 crm air permeability which allows dampness to dry better while moving and not feel clammy initially. Dry Q three-layer Elite has 30,000mm waterproofing; Neo Shell has 10,000mm waterproofing, .05 cfm of air permeability, Activeshell has 20,000mm waterproofing, but no disclosure on air permeability. Ultimately, fit and features trumped the fabric. I ended up with the MH Quasar because I liked the 9 oz weight, no pit zips or pockets and pullover design and Shark color which I can use in the summer also. My pack/front pack covers the zips and the zips inhibit motion, fit, and packability. I can never find which pocket my energy bar or cam was hidden in anyway. The DryQ Elite fabric felt a bit burlier, though it did have a very slight crinkle when moving compared to the Neoshell, but nowhere near the cardboard like Proshell in my Arcteryx Alpha SV. I didn’t like the multiple fabric patches and colors on both the Neoshell and Activeshell jackets where the heavier fabric was used in heavy wear areas on elbow and shoulders. Westcomb was difficult to deal with as a business returning the product and shipping from Canada compared with normal US outfitters. ymmv.

  6. John Shoresurf March 29th, 2012 10:51 pm

    Great photos. Adventure and excitement.

  7. Andy August 9th, 2012 7:01 am

    Hi!

    Just want to check if this is the new jacket color for fall 2012?

    Thanks!

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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