With the recent introduction of the GORE-TEX® Active Shell, Arc’teryx is a perfect partner-in-crime to bring it to market with the Beta FL Jacket. With the promise of true breathability, I was stoked to give the new Active Shell a whirl.

Arc’teryx Beta FL Jacket Features

  • Built with GORE-TEX Active Shell Fabric
  • Highly-breathable, simplified design
  • Fully-adjustable Storm Hood™
  • Athletic fit, with e3D patterning
  • Soft brush-lined collar
  • WaterTight™ zippers
  • Hip length cut
  • Weight: 11.4 oz
  • Colors: Black, Cardinal (tested), Citron, Squid Ink
  • MSRP: $450

Arc’teryx Beta FL Jacket Review

For years, GORE-TEX has been considered the pinnacle of outdoor fabric performance. The classic GORE-TEX 3-layer shell has been a key part of major expeditions and adventures worldwide. And while the standard GORE fabrics have always been waterproof and breathable, they have always leaned more towards the waterproof side than the breathable side.

Several years ago, the market was awakened to a new reality by the introduction of eVent Fabrics, which promised equal waterproof protection while offering superior breathability. A front line battle ensued and years later, GORE has launched a new lightweight, waterproof/breathable fabric: Active Shell.

The folks at W.L. GORE describe it this way:

GORE-TEX® Active Shell laminates combine a lighter, thinner GORE-TEX® membrane with fine denier performance textiles to deliver the ultimate 3-layer solution for the Active consumer. On the liner side, a proprietary lamination technology integrates the backer textile directly into the GORE-TEX® membrane allowing for extreme breathability and excellent next to skin comfort.

The streamlined laminate package, together with GORE’s scientific system level approach to garment design brings a completely new, never before seen level of comfort performance into the world of waterproof apparel.

To sum it up: This stuff is built to breathe. Now, over the past few years, other fabrics have come on the scene and have blown me away with their true breathability, so how does the Arc’teryx Beta FL with GORE-TEX Active Shell compare?

Arc’teryx says that this shell was built for backcountry skiing and GORE says it is built to handle aerobic activity — sounds perfect for backcountry assaults. But, this year has been an off year in Utah, so my backcountry skiing has been very limited. So, to give this jacket the full breathability test, I’ve been trail running in it. I figure that’s about the best test of breathability I could throw at it.

I’ve run in a variety of conditions from 20-degrees and snow to 55 degrees and rain and the Beta FL has kept me comfortable throughout. The exterior sheds the elements with the best of them — that part was a no-brainer. What’s astounding is that this jacket breathes so well. Part of the function of this jacket is owed to the lightly-brushed lining that disperses the sweat across the fabric for speedy evaporation. No matter how hard I pushed it, I couldn’t get it to bead up on the inside.

The rest of the jacket is pretty bare-bones, but with the details only Arc’teryx provides. The fit is athletic, but with a size Large, I have enough room for an insulating mid-layers without feeling restricted. Additionally, the sleeve length is nice and long to maintain the critical cuff/glove seal — even in extreme movements. The attached hood is perfect and easily-adjusted.

The one backcountry ski trip I did take it on yielded equally-solid results with breathability and weather protection aplenty. The only downside was the  smallish cuff diameter, which made it difficult to slide on top of some of my thicker, non-gauntlet gloves. The front zipper doesn’t have quite the same look as most waterproof zippers, but it is a WaterTight Vislon zipper. As you can see below… it is indeed waterproof… no question there.  Not a drop penetrated the jacket after several minutes of puddling.

Bad focus, but you can see the puddle pooling up on the waterproof zipper.

The only other minor gripe is the lack of a nice chinguard when fully zipped. I know, this isn’t a frontside jacket, but just a little brushed material on the chin goes a long way, in my opinion.

The Good

  • GORE-TEX Active Shell is weatherproof AND breathable
  • Brushed inner lining rapidly wicks moisture away from your skin
  • Outer fabric is lightweight, yet durable
  • Good sized pockets are easily accessed with pack on
  • Sleeve length is just right to keep out the elements
  • Reflective piping adds a nice touch for night activity
  • Stuffs into its included stuff sack for a minimal footprint

The Bad

  • Cuff diameter is on the small side for some gloves
  • It can get stinky after a few uses
  • All this goodness comes with a hefty price tag

Bottom Line: Arc’teryx Beta FL Jacket

GORE-TEX took their time launching Active Shell and the Beta FL is a killer shell to showcase all it has to offer. There’s no question why Arc’teryx is considered the pinnacle of outerwear and the Beta FL is an amazing hardshell for everything I do in the backcountry.

Buy Now: Visit Backcountry.com

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.


  1. Kris Hathaway on

    Hey Jason! Great review and perfect timing for the post. I’ve been considering this jacket for months…just might go for it thanks to your testing…

  2. Sounds like a great jacket. I’ve been using Haglöfs Endo Active Shell for the past six months, which is made from the GORE TEX Active Shell material.

    I’m amazed by how well it has worked. I’ve used it in everything from -30 celcius degrees and snowstorm in the Alps, to +33 degrees in Sri Lanka during a rainstorm.

    Because I travel a lot I wanted a jacket that I could use year round, whether I’m in the tropics or the snowy Alps – this one did the trick.

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  4. Stephen Todoro on

    Great review! Just ordered one today & can’t wait to put it to the test. I’d add that I’ve known several people who have either owned or tested the eVent waterproof products and their main gripe was the durability vs. Gore was substantially less. For the brief time I considered checking them out I realized that if they were better, Arc’Teryx would be using them! 🙂

    • No doubt Arc’teryx is the best there is as far as overall quality and choice of materials. I can’t say if Gore Active or eVent fabrics will be more or less durable than each other, but I can say that each functions extremely well. In the end, you won’t be disappointed with this jacket!

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