BETA LT HADRON HOODY
A featherweight jacket that changes everything.
(This story originally featured in Wild #186, Summer 2022)
By James McCormack
OK, let’s get right to the point here: 2-5-5. They’re the three little numbers that should make you sit up and take notice of Arc’teryx’s Beta LT Hadron jacket, because that’s the weight in grams of this fully waterproof, three-layer Goretex jacket. Well, the claimed weight for a men’s medium anyway, mine actually came in at 264g. Still, that’s very, very impressive; it’s easy to find waterproof jackets three, or even more, times that weight. Granted, many of those other jackets fill a slightly different niche. Nonetheless, compared to many jackets out there, the Beta LT Hadron can knock 500+ grams off your load.
Unbelievably, the Beta LT Hadron isn’t even Arc’teryx’s lightest waterproof Goretex* jacket; the Norvan LT comes in at a scant 190g. But it’s more a running specific jacket; it’s not designed for carrying a pack, has just one small pocket, and has a trimmed-down hood. For trail runners, the Norvan LT looks awesome, but for most users who are looking for an ultra-lightweight allrounder, I think the Beta Hadron jacket—with its ability to carry a pack, its large pockets and its helmet-compatible hood, making it something you can wear bushwalking or skiing or mountain biking—is likely the better bet. That’s not to say you can’t wear it trail running; I have, and it’s done well. But the Beta Hadron’s real beauty is that it’s an all-round jacket that is nonetheless featherweight. It packs down small, too, to somewhere halfway between a beer can and a Nalgene bottle. I can easily fit it in my MTB hydration pack when I’m out riding.
Despite this lack of weight and bulk, Arc’teryx says its newly developed, proprietary Hadron face fabric is exceptionally durable, and rivals other materials twice the weight. I haven’t owned the jacket long enough—nor has it been on the market long enough—for me to know this absolutely for sure, but thus far, I’ve got no reason to argue. It certainly seems abrasion resistant, and I’ve worn it ski-touring, bushwalking, trail running and mountain biking. I’d have zero qualms with taking this jacket out on a three-week trip.
As you’d expect, though, it’s still a relatively minimalist jacket, with a fitted cut, just the two chest pockets and with no pit zips. For some, the lack of pit zips might prove problematic, but I think it’s just one of the trade-offs that are necessarily made to create a jacket this light.
As you’d expect from a Goretex jacket, it’s completely waterproof. Breathability has proved good as well, with the usual caveats being that this depends both on the intensity of exercise, and on the outside air temperature. For regular bushwalking and ski-touring, I never found breathability to be an issue. And even for low-to-moderate-intensity trail running, this remained the case. But once I hit big climbs, either trail running or on the bike, or simply upped the intensity, it definitely got a tad warm and clammy. I want to stress, though, I literally mean a tad, and certainly no more so than I’ve experienced from any similar breathable-yet-fully
I’d like to give a particular thumbs up to the hood design. I can honestly say I’ve never had a jacket where the hood feels so natural. When worn over my ski helmet, it has zero impact on visibility or movement, yet it’s not so big that when worn without a helmet that it flops around. And while the hood has a drawcord adjuster, I’ve honestly never found the need to use it beyond setting correctly the first time I used the jacket.
One thing that’s worth noting is that this isn’t a ‘quiet’ jacket. It definitely has a crinkle factor. When I first put it on, I thought this might bother me, but once I was out on the trail, I immediately found I noticed this only if I actually listened for it. The second I stopped concentrating on it, the sound was unintrusive enough that I completely forgot about it.
Perhaps the biggest downside to the Beta LT Hadron, however, is simply that thanks to global supply-chain issues, Arc’teryx has struggled to get them shipped to Australia. That’s about to change, with a shipment due to land in—hopefully—November/December. Once they do arrive, though, if you’re in the market for a do-it-all waterproof jacket that is game-changingly light, the impressive Beta LT Hadron should be high on your list of contenders.