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Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid - Women's Review

Retains an impressive focus on lightweight while introducing key features to make it highly versatile
Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid - Women's
Photo: Arc'teryx
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $425 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Highly versatile, breathable, lightweight
Cons:  Expensive, still made of lighter and somewhat less durable fabric
Manufacturer:   Arc'teryx
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 31, 2020
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87
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 10
  • Weather Protection - 20% 9
  • Mobility - 20% 9
  • Breathability - 20% 9
  • Weight - 15% 7
  • Features - 10% 10
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Versatility - 5% 9

Our Verdict

The Beta SL Hybrid is an excellent hardshell for a variety of activities and conditions. It has seen a few iterations in the time we have been reviewing it, and we are pleased with the themes Arc'teryx has settled on in its current evolutionary stage. The "hybrid" part describes how Arc'teryx has placed lighter weight GORE-TEX Paclite throughout most of the jacket, but reinforced high wear areas, like around the pit zips, with more durable fabric. The use of lighter fabric allows Arc'teryx to add back some useful features, like pit zips and two hand pockets, for users more interested in a fully-featured hardshell. This takes an approach to lightweight that we appreciate in contrast to the highly competitive Arc'teryx Alpha FL, which has fewer features but burlier fabric.

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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
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$559 List$325.00 at BackcountryCheck Price at REI
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Star Rating
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Pros Highly versatile, breathable, lightweightLightweight, breathable, fully featured, durableUltralight, breathable, redefines versatility as a very adequate wind shirtGreat range of motion, light weight, great weather protection, versatileHigh quality, lightweight, durable, great value
Cons Expensive, still made of lighter and somewhat less durable fabricNot the lightest on the marketThin, no pockets, not suitable for high mountain use or severe weatherShorter torso length, some features overdoneLess features, somewhat less versatile
Bottom Line Reintroduces key features from the more stripped-down Beta SL to make an impressively versatile hardshell jacketThis is a stellar hardshell for a variety of mountain adventuresAn ultralight hardshell that moonlights as a wind shirt; our dream combo come trueBurly and still lightweight, with thoughtful features that make it very versatileAn excellent hardshell, especially for the cost; it is light, durable, and widely useful
Rating Categories Beta SL Hybrid Norrona Trollveggen Gore-Tex... Norvan SL Hoody Beta AR Jacket Arc'teryx Zeta SL - Women's
Weather Protection (20%)
9
9
7
9
8
Mobility (20%)
9
9
9
8
9
Breathability (20%)
9
8
10
8
8
Weight (15%)
7
8
10
6
8
Features (10%)
10
8
6
8
8
Durability (10%)
8
9
5
9
6
Versatility (5%)
9
7
5
9
7
Specs Beta SL Hybrid Norrona... Norvan SL Hoody Beta AR Jacket Arc'teryx Zeta SL...
Measured Weight 11.6 oz 9 oz 4 oz 13.4 oz 9.5 oz
Category Light weight, athletic fit Mid weight, Regular fit Mid/ light weight, regular fit Mid weight, Regular fit Mid wieght, regular fit
Length of back, from base of neck to bottom 26 in 28 in 26.00 26 in 27 in
Material N42p GORE-TEX fabric with Gore C-KNIT backer technology N40r GORE-TEX fabric with PACLITE Plus product technology 40D GORE-TEX Pro fabric Gore-Tex ShakeDry N40p-X 3L Gore-Tex on body; N80p-X GORE-TEX Pro on arms 40-denier ripstop (N40r) GORE-TEX PACLITE Plus
Pockets 2 hand 2 chest, 1 interior chest None 2 handwarmer, 1 internal chest 2 hand
Helmet Compatible Hood Yes Yes No Yes No
Harness and Backpack Strap Compatible Yes Yes, high pockets Not advised Yes, high pockets Yes
Draw cords 3 hood, 2 waist 1 hood, 2 waist 1 hood 4 hood, 2 waist 1 hood, 2 waist
Adjustable Cuffs Yes, Velcro Yes, Velcro No Yes, Velcro Yes, Velcro
Pit Zips Yes Yes No Yes No
Two-Way Front Zipper No No No No No
Warranty Policy Practical lifetime warranty - Material or workmanship defects will be replaced or repaired at Arc'teryx's discretion 5 year - production and material defects Practical lifetime warranty - Material or workmanship defects will be replaced or repaired at Arc'teryx's discretion Practical lifetime warranty - Material or workmanship defects will be replaced or repaired at Arc'teryx's discretion Practical lifetime warranty - Material or workmanship defects will be replaced or repaired at Arc'teryx's discretion

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Beta SL Hybrid is a lightweight hardshell, or "super light" according to the SL acronym. It is one of Arc'teryx's more fully-featured lightweight hardshell jackets intended for all-around mountain use. It's an excellent choice as an all-around hardshell for general mountain use. We were confident enough (in its performance and protection) to take it ski touring and ice climbing. We also found it to be light and compact enough for backpacking and comfortable and outdoor-chic enough to wear around town.

Enjoying all the cool weather conditions the Pacific Northwest has...
Enjoying all the cool weather conditions the Pacific Northwest has to offer. The Beta SL Hybrid is a great companion in a range where we say, "if you don't like the weather, wait 20 minutes."
Photo: Caitlin Ames

Weather Protection


The Beta SL Hybrid is a highly weatherproof hardshell jacket. It combines two types of GORE fabrics: Superlight N40r GORE-TEX fabric with Paclite Plus technology in the body which feels better against skin, and more durable GORE-TEX with C-KNIT backer technology to reinforce high wear areas like the pit zips.


This design improves performance across many of our metrics, but in regards to weather, we found it to offer even more burly protection. The addition of slightly more durable fabric in critical areas was more confidence-inspiring for our reviewers when setting out on bigger adventures with a wet or snowy forecast.

The Beta SL Hybrid has more durable fabric in the pit zips and at...
The Beta SL Hybrid has more durable fabric in the pit zips and at the base of the neck, seen here with the different texture inside the jacket.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

Mobility


Arc'teryx has mastered the mobility of stiff fabrics better than any other hardshell designers we have tested. There is not usually any stretch fabric in their hardshells, but they move with you almost as well as a much more supple softshell would. They design and shape the panels of the jacket so it moves with you, and this women's specific jacket has a more trim fit with excellent articulation.


This jacket is meant for activity, which means it is not a loose fit. You can wear light layers underneath, but if you want to wear your bigger down jacket under this hardshell, you'll need to size up. The trim fit of the Beta SL Hybrid makes it an excellent hardshell for ice climbing, ski touring, snowshoeing, curling, extreme coffee-shopping, and any other inclement weather activities. It is excellent for winter aerobic pursuits, but also ideal for summertime mountaineering because of its close-to-body fit.

We took the Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid into the gym "lab" for movement...
We took the Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid into the gym "lab" for movement testing, and it earns top marks for mobility.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

For any technical endeavors, like skiing or ice and alpine climbing, this jacket's StormHood fits comfortably over a helmet, allowing you to move your head around without feeling tight or restricted.

Breathability


The Beta SL hybrid has had a bit of an evolutionary process as we've been testing this series, and we are happy with what Arc'teryx has settled on for this niche. This hybrid fabric jacket combines highly breathable GORE-TEX Paclite with a more durable fabric around the pit zips, both contributing to reliable breathability—either at a slower pace through the fabric, or in a hurry by opening the vents, depending on your exertional needs.


The lightweight Paclite fabric also aids in breathability in a relatively intuitive sense — it's just less fabric to pump excess body heat through. This technology has been one of our favorites for its ability to keep out the elements while remaining highly breathable and impressively lightweight, and even more comfortable next-to-skin. The lightweight breathability also means you'll feel the cold wind a little more than in a robust model like the Arc'teryx Alpha SV.

Weight


The Beta SL hybrid is a bit heavier than another high performance climbing shell in this review, the Arc'teryx Alpha FL - Women's, but the two jackets take opposite approaches to keeping things lightweight. The Beta SL hybrid has more features with lighter weight fabric, whereas the Alpha FL has burlier fabric with more streamlined features.


Features


The pit zips in the Beta SL Hybrid zip from the center out. We tend...
The pit zips in the Beta SL Hybrid zip from the center out. We tend to prefer ones which unzip from either end, but this design works well enough.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

The Beta SL hybrid is a relatively fully featured hardshell, an impressive feat for the light weight of the jacket. The main feature that sets this jacket apart from others in this review is the use of pit zips in addition to lightweight, super breathable GORE-TEX Paclite. The pit zip design is also notable: There are two of them which come together in the middle somewhere, allowing you to fine-tune exactly where along the vent you want to ventilate. We have a slight preference for the double pit zips that each unzip from the opposite end, as we find that design best promotes airflow and limits the chances of getting precip in through the open vents.


Otherwise, the jacket has excellent and thoughtful features that make this a very useful and adjustable jacket. The StormHood is helmet-compatible, highly adjustable, and has a stiff, laminated brim to help keep precipitation out of your eyes. The bottom hem adjusts on both sides of the jacket, and the cuffs feature a light and simple velcro closure that allows you to slide the jacket under gloves or secure them over the top of your gloves.

The generous StormHood on the Beta SL Hybrid fits over a helmet and...
The generous StormHood on the Beta SL Hybrid fits over a helmet and cinches down to fit well without one.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

The pocket and pit zip zippers are all waterproof, but Arc'teryx advises that one should not place items that can be terminally damaged by water in these pockets; be sure you have a waterproof case for your phone if you plan to carry it in one of these pockets. The main front zipper has a storm flap to make it waterproof instead of the waterproof laminate treatment on the other zippers. We like this application in the front zipper because it is easier and smoother to operate, and in the very long term, we find these types of zippers to be more durable than the stickier waterproof zippers.

The two side pockets are excellent and placed high enough that you can access them when wearing a harness or backpack hip belt. The jacket does not feature a chest pocket, which we love, but the hand pockets are high enough they almost fill that role.

The external adjustment point on the hood make it easy to adjust...
The external adjustment point on the hood make it easy to adjust with gloves on.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

The hood on the Beta SL Hybrid is roomy enough for a helmet but cinches easily to fit snugly without a helmet, making it a great jacket for a variety of activities in the outdoors, including skiing and ice and alpine climbing. It's also excellent for rock climbing in the desert when there's a risk of thunderstorms; this is a jacket that is light and compact enough that it makes sense to take it with you almost everywhere.

Durability


The Beta SL Hybrid is made using a thoughtful blend of lighter weight fabric and more durable fabric in areas of higher wear. Arc'teryx uses mostly Paclite from GORE-TEX, and added the more durable N42p GORE-TEX with Gore C-KNIT backer technology to high wear areas like the pit zips.

A glimpse at the inside of the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid...
A glimpse at the inside of the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid showing the use of more durable fabrics around the pit zips and at the base of the neck.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti


Versatility


We appreciate the approach this jacket takes on versatility and utility. This is likely to be a good fit for many users. After some evolution of this jacket through the years we've been reviewing it, we've seen it turn into a shell that is versatile enough to keep up on all of your adventures, lightweight enough to earn a spot in your backpacking or climbing pack, and still durable to earn its keep in your wardrobe.


The Hybrid is good for regular use (not just emergency use), and more fully-featured for aerobic pursuits like snowshoeing, and technical pursuits like ice climbing. It is also a great cut, making it comfortable and easy to layer with light baselayers or a very thin puffy jacket underneath. It doesn't add too much extra bulk that the jacket gets in your way or feels massive, cumbersome, or just less stylish for use around town, on your daily commute, and running errands in inclement weather.

Value


The Beta SL Hybrid is a very spendy hardshell jacket, as are most things from Arc'teryx. As you may be aware, however, Arc'teryx has an excellent track record for making high-quality products; with this in mind, if it's an important layer for your life, we think you'll love this one and get a lot of miles out of it, in a variety of conditions and climates.

Conclusion


The Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid is still comfortable for those time...
The Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid is still comfortable for those time when the sun breaks out for a brief visit during your daily adventures.
Photo: Lyra Pierotti

The Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid is one of the lighter jackets in this review, especially for the amount of features, and not at the expense of any of our performance metrics. The Hybrid has slightly more durable fabrics, which give us the confidence to use it in a variety of conditions and for a wide range of activities. It also features pit zips which make it more versatile when it comes to climate and level of activity.

Lyra Pierotti