Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Review 2019

  • Day Hiker

Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid Men's

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Last updated: 2019-03-21 07:55:00

Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Overview

Born in the Canadian Coast Mountain wilderness, Arc’teryx was founded by adventure-seekers who were accustomed to rainforest levels of, well — rain. The new Beta SL Hybrid rain jacket is the latest in waterproof protection from the wet-weather experts at Arc’teryx.

The Beta SL Hybrid rain jacket is newly released lightweight weather protection from Arc’teryx comprised of the Paclite Plus membrane by Gore-Tex, an updated material from the well-used Paclite, a favorite for breathability and its light weight. This hybrid 2.5- and 3-layer rain jacket comes with stronger durability and enhanced breathability over the Beta SL, primarily through two different face fabrics that are tailored to wearing a backpack and high exertion areas. The jacket remains as light as a fistful of dinosaur feathers — Arc’teryx’s bird namsake — and performs well.

You’ll experience weather protection from all directions in the upgraded Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid rain jacket.

Due to its all-around upgraded excellence, we have named the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid rain jacket our Premium Pick for Day Hikers.

Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Breathability
  • Waterproofness
4.5

Summary

Lightweight and durable, the Arc’Teryx Beta SL Hybrid is an excellent rain jacket for day hikers and backpackers alike. With two face fabrics for specialized use, oversized pit zips, and Arc’teryx’s full range of rain protection features, this is active wet-weather armor at its finest.

While we prefer full 3-layer rain jackets like the Arc’teryx Zeta LT for wilderness backpacking expeditions — they’re simply more durable and reliable over longer periods of time — the Beta SL Hybrid would work well for folks who aren’t experiencing terribly rainy weather. We find that day hikes or backpacking trips with lighter packs in fair conditions are where this jacket excels.

See the full Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid review below!

Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 12.7 oz. (360 in g) A decently lightweight jacket. Not the lightest out there, but certainly not the heaviest.
Layer 2.5- + 3-Layer The Beta SL Hybrid uses 2.5-layer material in much of the jacket for increased breathability and reduced weight, and the 3-Layer material in high-impact areas, specifically the chest and shoulders. You can see the fabric difference by color. More on rain jacket layers in our Guide.
Waterproof Membrane Gore-tex PacLite Plus, Gore-Tex C-KNIT PacLite Plus is new, and aims to better the original Paclite, known for impressive durability and breathability for the weight and style. Gore-Tex’s C-KNIT membrane is extremely soft to the touch for a rain jacket, and is used in high impact areas on the Beta SL Hybrid.. More on rain jacket waterproof membranes in our Guide.
Face Fabric N40r, N42p Arc’teryx’s specific code for the fabrics above.
No. of Pockets 2 hand pockets There are just two zippered hand pockets on this minimal jacket.
Pocket Placement Above Waistbelt/harness The pockets are well above any waist belt or harness, making them excellent for use with a backpack.
Pit Zips/Vents Yes Two large pit zips help to vent heat when going uphill. They use WaterTight zippers, which keep water out, but are hard to open in freezing temps.
Water Resistant Zippers Yes All zippers on the beta SL Hybrid use Arc’teryx’s WaterTight technology, which keeps a significant amount of water outside the jacket.
Storm Flaps No Due to the above zippers no storm flaps are necessary.
Packs Into Itself? No It packs down quite small, but doesn’t specifically pack into a pocket.
Hood StormHood, 3 Adjustments The classic StormHood from Arc’teryx features a stiff and deep brim. This jacket has three adjustment points for a perfect fit.
Fit Slim/Trim The Beta SL Hybrid is a trim, athletic fit, but is slightly oversized so it can layer with plenty underneath.
Seams Fully taped All seams are fully taped for increased water resistance.
Manufacturer Warranty Limited Lifetime Arc’teryx has an excellent warranty policy. If anything fails get in touch.
Retail Price $399.00 A high price for a high quality, unique rain shell. You’re paying for the advanced Gore-Tex membranes and Arc’teryx attention to detail and fit.

Gear Review of the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid

Origins: Easing You In

February’s low altitude snow accumulation was followed by the more typical rainfall of the Oregon Coast Range during my trip out to the Alsea Falls Recreation Area. Snowmelt dripped from the trees above, doubling the deluge of precipitation flooding the snow-packed trail, engorging the Alsea River and making for some explosive waterfalls. The hike was cold, wet, and beautiful.

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A wet, cold, and beautiful hike. The Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid performed well, and kept me hyper visible.

The Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid was my wet-weather armor, fending off freezing rain and falling snow clumps. This abundantly moist hike would not have been half as enjoyable without a reliable rain jacket to protect me from the dark forces of winter.

Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid review gif

The Beta SL Hybrid performed so well at Alsea Falls that I took it for another venture high into the Cascade Range. A mix of sleet, snow, and rain fell from the heavens during the weekend I spent snowshoeing to backcountry shelters near Willamette Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail.

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

It was a hard-fought battle against all things wet during these outings, but the Beta SL Hybrid proved to be a solid shell against all forms of foul weather, including the ferocious snowball fights I had with my wife. I’d still say she won (because she’s my wife), but I came out drier than her in the end.

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The Beta SL Gore-Tex Paclite Plus on the left, and a lesser membrane on the right. This is what real rain protection looks like.

Raindrops and snowballs bounced right off of the Beta SL Hybrid’s Paclite Plus membrane and its durable water resistant coating. With watertight zippers, velcro wrist straps, and enough adjustable cords to hogtie a horse I was able to lockdown this jacket like a castle under siege. No dark forces of winter were allowed in without my express consent.

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Snow, rain, sleet, all stood up to the Beta SL Hybrid.

Digging Deeper

That consent was of course given in times of heavy exertion for the sole purpose of ventilation. Any Pacific Northwesterner will know — a hard hike in the rain usually leaves you drenched, either from the outside or the inside. The 2.5-layer membrane is fairly breathable, but sweat is still a threat even in freezing temperatures. It’s like a double agent — your own sweat will sometimes work for your benefit, but under the right circumstances it will betray you, suffocate you, and leave you colder than if you were without a shell.

1-Arc'teryx-Beta-SL-Hybrid-review-snowshoe-backpack
Here’s to looking perky, but know that during strenous uphill, even in freezing temps, you will start to sweat. The Beta SL had good venting options to combat this.

Compared to the original Paclite membrane used in our former Premium Pick for Day Hikers, The North Face Dryzzle, which I also reviewed, the updated Paclite Plus has better airflow and is more forgiving. Paclite Plus feels modern, more advanced, and makes the Beta SL Hybrid a better rain jacket.

I was glad the Beta SL Hybrid had large pit zips, though the watertight zippers were difficult to operate with a single hand (which is all you have when your other hand is up in the air to allow access to your armpit). When I did get the pit zips open they were a welcome source of heat relief.

Arc'teryx-Beta-SL-Hybrid-review-pit-zip-stretch
Sweet relief.

During dry periods the main zipper (which uses Arc’teryx WaterTight design) and StormHood can be opened wide for ventilation as well. While it was wet, the StormHood performed admirably with its stiff brim and three adjustment toggles. The main zipper’s chin guard and the jacket’s collar are lined with a soft felt that is a pleasant comfort not often found on lightweight rain jackets.

2-Arc'teryx-Beta-SL-Hybrid-review-hood
The Beta SL Hybrid has a deep hood with a stiff brim and lots of adjustments points. In short, it rocks.

Weighing in at about 12.7 ounces and packing down to the size of Chipotle burrito, the Beta SL Hybrid is a great lightweight rain jacket for day hikes or even longer backpacking excursions.

Comfort – 4.5 Stars

This is near as good as it gets for feeling cozy inside a rain jacket. Synthetic nylon may be a bit more forgiving than a suit of armor, but it can still feel stifling at times. Arc’teryx engineered the Beta SL Hybrid to feel sturdy like a rain jacket should while remembering that humans are creatures of comfort. The soft felt against your chin and neck is a nice touch.

Arc'teryx-Beta-SL-Hybrid-review-winter-wonderland
Feeling good.

Durability – 4.5 Stars

The shell is thick enough to withstand backcountry bushwhacking, but I’d avoid sharp thorns. The chest and shoulders have a stronger fabric, mostly to deal with constant rubbing from a backpack, and the lighter material is what will typically catch on rough branches and rocks. All of the zippers and cords feel sturdy and well-made.

Under a bombardment of wind, rain, and snowballs the Beta SL Hybrid held strong and I would expect it to do so for a long time to come.

Breathability – 4 Stars

The Paclite Plus membrane breathes well for a waterproof membrane, but more ventilation is required for strenuous hiking. Large pit zips paired with an adjustable hood and hem allow for adequate breathability.

Arc'teryx-Beta-SL-Hybrid-review-back-of-hood
The adjustable hood and zippers allow for decent breathability, not to mention the Paclite Plus membrane.

Waterproofness – 5 Stars

Never wet out, never surrender! Zippers sealed tight, cuffs strapped down, seams that cannot be breached — this jacket is impenetrable. I appreciate the long hem and the high, waterproof pockets that are still accessible while wearing a backpack. Simply great design.

Fit

The medium was slightly oversized for my 5’10 180 lb frame, but in a good way. The extra length kept my hips and hands better protected in foul weather, and the bit of extra room underneath was great for layering a puffy jacket and maintaining good ventilation. The hood is large enough to fit a fluffy winter hat, however, a helmet may not make the cut.

Arc'teryx-Beta-SL-Hybrid-review-full-body
A solid fit that’s slightly on the large side for Arc’teryx to allow for layering.

Grievances

The sole negative experience I had was when I single-handedly failed to operate the pit zips. There was a break during a downpour when I realized that I had been hiking uphill for some time, and I suddenly felt the dire need to open up the pit zips before I turned into a walking puddle of sweat.

The heat was rising, but I couldn’t get the pit zips to open by myself. I tried with all my frozen-fingered might and felt like I was trying to scratch an itch I couldn’t reach — the zipper just wouldn’t budge! I had to ask my wife to open the pit zips for me.

The pit zips seal tight and are difficult to operate, especially when the jacket is new — you’ll have to be patient with them.

Final Word

Bad weather protection at its finest. The Arc’Teryx Beta SL Hybrid is a lightweight rain jacket that’s comfortable to wear and will protect you from the elements like a piece of hydrophobic armor.

Where to Buy Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid

We tested the Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid rain jacket in a men’s medium. There is a women’s version of the same name, and it’s exactly the same except for fit and color.

Arc’teryx currently offers the Beta SL, a non-hybrid version, but it is being phased out. They have opted for a dual-fabric design that takes the durability and 3-layer components of a more advanced shell and upgraded the Beta SL to the new Hybrid version.

Compare Arc’teryx Beta SL Hybrid prices below.

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arthur mcmahon bio pic

Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It's as simple as that. Whether it be in the mountains, on the beach, or along the city streets -- he believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. He and his wife chronicled their journey in their book Adventure and the Pacific Crest Trail. They now regularly travel into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest seeking new trails to hike. Follow his adventures at arthurmcmahon.com and on Instagram.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.