Arc’Teryx Atom vs Alpha vs Beta jackets – the best ultralight jacket is…

Having tested out and used all of these ultralight jackets, I compare the Atom LT vs Beta LT vs Alpha AR to let you know which is the best Arc’Teryx jacket out there. Lets get right into it.

Arc'Teryx Atom LT vs Beta LT vs Alpha AR jacket - quick review

Arc’teryx Atom LT – best insulated jacket

I use my Atom LT all the time. I take it on trips, to the park, up mountains, and to the sea. Why?

It’s the only jacket I have that’ll stay warm when wet. Thanks to the synthetic fill, this jacket has saved my a$$ really hard in some situations. Sure, you could be with a water-proof Gore-Tex jacket instead, but that’ll only keep the water out – not keep you warm when stationary (trying to sleep, eating, etc).

If you travel without a puffy/insulating layer, then the Atom LT can be that. For full bomb-proof weather resistance in the colder years, I’d combine the Atom LT with the Beta LT or Alpha AR.

Even then, the Atom LT + a merino long sleeve was perfect for continuous winter cycling in wet 0°C snow/rain Berlin winter. It’s light, great for temperatures from -5°C to +15°C, and has really taken a beating.

Arc’teryx Atom LT official store link

Arc’teryx Atom LT Amazon store link

Arc’teryx Atom hoody – even warmer

Fit of the Atom LT vs Atom LT hoody (medium). Measurements – 6’3″, 180lbs.

If you have a reason to want a hood then, well, get the hoody version. The main benefit of this is that it weighs barely anything more than the regular Atom LT and will keep your head very warm – even when compared to a hat/toque.

The Atom jackets also have the best ventilation with the large & soft side vents – great for hiking & scrambling confirmed!

Arc’teryx Atom hoody official store link

Arc’teryx Atom hoody Amazon store link

Arc’teryx Beta – best all-around jacket

Fit of the Arc’teryx Beta LT jacket (medium). Measurements – 6’3″, 180lbs.

If you had to get just one jacket though, let it be the Beta. Since it’s waterproof, has the rain hood, etc – it’s the most versatile (and well-rounded) jacket out there.

It’s not as feature-rich as the Alpha which is more alpine & climbing focused, while the Beta is general mountain/hiking focused.

Still, it’s an excellent jacket and without a doubt a great one to pick up.

Arc’teryx Beta LT official store link

Arc’teryx Beta LT Amazon store link

Arc’teryx Alpha – best heavy-duty jacket

Fit of the Arc’Teryx Alpha SV jacket (Large). Measurements – 6’3″, 180lbs.

The Arc’teryx Alpha lineup is ideal if you’re doing climbing, mountaineering, alpinism, and so forth.

In truth, there aren’t so many differences between the Alpha and Beta jackets aside from some minor fit and pocket differences. Personally, I prefer the Alpha due to the superior pockets and fit for myself, but it’s all up to your own discretion.

Add a puffy insulated mid-layer like the Atom LT and bam, you’re ready for cold climate (-20°C) adventures – whether it be ice climbing or mountaineering.

Great jacket. A little bit on the expensive side but hey, isn’t all Arc’teryx gear?

Arc’teryx Alpha LT official store link

Arc’teryx Alpha AR Amazon store link

LT vs SL vs AR vs SV – what are the differences between the Arc’teryx jackets?

LT – Lightweight

Honestly, the LT lineup is where it’s at! Cheaper, a little lighter/smaller, and just as good and hardy as the AR types, I really like my Arc’Teryx Atom LT and take it practically everywhere with me.

Maybe it’s the affordability which sold (or bought) me, but I’ve had nothing but great longevity and durability from my LT Arc’teryx gear.

SL – Superlight

Ultralight nerd? Welcome to the Arc’Teryx SL lineup – these jackets are ideal for shaving every bit of weight. This can come in handy on especially long expeditions or races.

Of course with lightweight comes the compromise in durability and features. SL variants of Arc’Teryx jackets often have less pockets or features and a thinner/lighter material than the other varients.

I don’t find any purpose to have SL-based items in my wardrobe because I find the LT models to be light enough and well, I don’t like to replace me gear too often.

AR – All-round

More hardy and ‘versatile’ than the LT and SL models of jackets, the AR-styles are better if you’re not quite sure what you want. If you’re picking up your first Arc’teryx jacket, I’d definitely recommend just hopping for an AR model and just be done with it.

Sure it may weigh a 50 grams more and pack a little larger, but it’ll also last quite a bit longer than the other types out there.

SV – Severe weather

If you’re taking on adventures which is demanding of ‘Severe-weather’ style clothing, then what on earth are you doing reading my blog? Hah.

Jokes aside, the SV variants are for when you need your gear to stand up to the abuse you’re putting on it. You take a weight penalty of ~50-100 grams when option for the SV models, which, is honestly nothing at all.

Instead, the SV jackets are quite more expensive than the others – as if Arc’Teryx gear wasn’t pricy enough eh?

Overall though, the SV jackets are thicker, a little heavier, and definitely more durable than all the other models out there. Perhaps this is the one to pick up if you want a ‘buy it for life’ (BIFL) sort of thing. Otherwise, maybe save a few dollars and pick up a different model.


Devils Head Alberta landscape
Guess which jacket I used to climb Devils Head?

Arc’teryx gear is good. Arc’Teryx gear is expensive.

Maybe you’ll feel good by the received trail cred of donning the famed bird logo upon your chest, and maybe you won’t care. After all, it’s just material items at the end of the day.

Regardless, I hope this little guide helped you figure out which is the best Arc’teryx jacket for you and which style to go for. Any questions at all please just leave them down below or on my social media and I’ll get back to you ASAP! 🙂

Consider donating a coffee-amount of coins via PayPal if my article helped you 🙂 

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