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Arcteryx Alpha SV vs Beta SV

Original Post
Billy Pilgrim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 0

I live in an environment of pervasive rain. Clouds so low we walk in them, amidst old-growth forest. Most hard shells that claim to be waterproof are proven deceitful, or at least eventually impotent, in this saturating clime. As such, I am looking for a heavy duty shell that might withstand the rain's kind onslaught. I am interested in the Alpha SV due to its burlier fabric, but am wondering if any have thoughts on the Beta vs the Alpha? Or perhaps I should be looking in another direction altogether? I've done Guy Cotton and Grundens before, and am hopeful to find something as impervious to water, though that might breath just a little. Any thoughts will be met with appreciation.

Chad C · · Seattle, WA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

The Alpha SV and Beta SV are going to be similar jackets besides the fact that the Alpha has a longer cut and a heavier face fabric. Both jackets will perform well, but the heavier the face fabric the less the jackets will breathe. If breathability isn’t your number one concern I’d go with the Alpha SV.
But if you’re looking for a jacket and the only use will be for rain I’d consider a Beta LT or AR unless you live in a colder environment where you need the SV.
One thing to remember is the Alpha SV and Beta SV are overkill for 99% of activities and just because they cost more doesn’t mean they are more waterproof. The cost difference is for the weight of the nylon.

Billy Pilgrim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 0
Chad Coragiulo wrote: The Alpha SV and Beta SV are going to be similar jackets besides the fact that the Alpha has a longer cut and a heavier face fabric. Both jackets will perform well, but the heavier the face fabric the less the jackets will breathe. If breathability isn’t your number one concern I’d go with the Alpha SV.
But if you’re looking for a jacket and the only use will be for rain I’d consider a Beta LT or AR unless you live in a colder environment where you need the SV.
One thing to remember is the Alpha SV and Beta SV are overkill for 99% of activities and just because they cost more doesn’t mean they are more waterproof. The cost difference is for the weight of the nylon.

Thanks Chad. My experience is that any of the LT series of Arcteryx coats do not withstand the level or saturating rain and sea spray I am frequently in. Looking for something I can wear in all day rain that won't let water in. Was hoping the burlier fabric would equate to more waterproof--you're saying this isn't the case? Further, in my experience, no hard shell rain coats really breath all that well. If I'm hiking I need pit zips to really dump heat, even though I know that pit zips actually make a jacket less breathable. I have just never found a hard shell that is waterproof and breathes well. And I am prioritizing waterproofness now. Though not to the point of rubber rain gear.

JaredG · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 1
Billy Pilgrim wrote: I live in an environment of pervasive rain. Clouds so low we walk in them, amidst old-growth forest. Most hard shells that claim to be waterproof are proven deceitful, or at least eventually impotent, in this saturating clime. As such, I am looking for a heavy duty shell that might withstand the rain's kind onslaught. I am interested in the Alpha SV due to its burlier fabric, but am wondering if any have thoughts on the Beta vs the Alpha? Or perhaps I should be looking in another direction altogether? I've done Guy Cotton and Grundens before, and am hopeful to find something as impervious to water, though that might breath just a little. Any thoughts will be met with appreciation.

Check out the Columbia OutDry jackets.  I've only had mine briefly, but it seems pretty waterproof.  They don't use a DWR coating because the waterproof membrane is on the outside.

Philip Nesbitt · · Fairfield, CT · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 72

How does Beta SL Hybrid compare to either of these models ? 

Billy Pilgrim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 0
Philip Nesbitt wrote: How does Beta SL Hybrid compare to either of these models ? 

In my experience that’s a great coat if waterproofing isn’t your top concern, rather more focused on breathability. 

Kevin Mcbride · · Canmore AB · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 433
Billy Pilgrim wrote:

Thanks Chad. My experience is that any of the LT series of Arcteryx coats do not withstand the level or saturating rain and sea spray I am frequently in. Looking for something I can wear in all day rain that won't let water in. Was hoping the burlier fabric would equate to more waterproof--you're saying this isn't the case? Further, in my experience, no hard shell rain coats really breath all that well. If I'm hiking I need pit zips to really dump heat, even though I know that pit zips actually make a jacket less breathable. I have just never found a hard shell that is waterproof and breathes well. And I am prioritizing waterproofness now. Though not to the point of rubber rain gear.

The LT series uses the same gore pro membrane as the AR and SV. if that failed you rubber rain gear is the next step

Chad C · · Seattle, WA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0
Philip Nesbitt wrote: How does Beta SL Hybrid compare to either of these models ? 

The Beta SL Hybrid is more of an emergency shell. Its a great jacket for majority of activities and is going to be a good jacket if you are just using it for hiking, walking around town or other activities. 

It has Gore-tex Paclite instead of Gore-tex pro which means it won't breathe as well, but it does have pit zips to dump heat. It does have heavier fabric reinforcement in high abrasion areas as well.
Billy Pilgrim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 0
Kevin Mcbride wrote:

The LT series uses the same gore pro membrane as the AR and SV. if that failed you rubber rain gear is the next step

So the thicker density fabric is entirely separate from waterproofing abilities?

Kevin Mcbride · · Canmore AB · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 433
Billy Pilgrim wrote:

So the thicker density fabric is entirely separate from waterproofing abilities?

Yessir. The face fabric protects the membrane from wetting out and abrasion. Although once the face fabric is wet the breathability goes to hell. This is when a hardshell will start to feel wet due to sweat 

Chad C · · Seattle, WA · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0
Billy Pilgrim wrote:

So the thicker density fabric is entirely separate from waterproofing abilities?

On Gore-tex Pro shells there are 3 layers. The face fabric (nylon), the gore-tex membrane, and a nylon rip stop. The face fabric is basically just there for abrasion and tear resistance. The face fabric will not be waterproof, but it will be water resistant and will be coated with DWR which is what makes water bead on the surface. The gore membrane is going to be what is waterproof and what is there to prevent the jacket from fully wetting out. If you want to see what the gore membrane looks like then search the Arc'teryx Norvan SL. The nylon ripstop is there for comfort (kinda, it is more comfortable than paclite), but is also there so that if the shell gets ripped, lets say by an ice axe then the rip stop in theory will stop it before it gets to your skin.

As I said earlier, the price difference between an Alpha SV and Beta SV is essentially the density of the nylon face fabric. The heavier the material the more bomb proof the jacket will be in terms of abrasion resistance and the ability to not rip.

In theory an Alpha FL, Beta LT or Beta AR should perform just as well as these jackets as far as "waterproofness" goes.

Another thing to note is the care routine of a Gore-tex shell. Make sure you use a performance wash on it and reapply DWR every time you wash it (before you dry it). Based on the environment you described in your original post I would probably wash and reapply DWR about every 1-2 months. 
Eason Zh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2019 · Points: 0

I videotaped myself in Iceland wearing a Zeta LT jacket while it’s storming. The jacket was rather impressive considering the price point and the quality. I guess if the zeta LT can handle the stormy Iceland in May, it can handle your misty environment. Hope that helps. If you need my video as a proof, leave your email below and I’ll send it to you. 

mpech · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 2
Billy Pilgrim wrote:

Thanks Chad. My experience is that any of the LT series of Arcteryx coats do not withstand the level or saturating rain and sea spray I am frequently in. Looking for something I can wear in all day rain that won't let water in. Was hoping the burlier fabric would equate to more waterproof--you're saying this isn't the case? Further, in my experience, no hard shell rain coats really breath all that well. If I'm hiking I need pit zips to really dump heat, even though I know that pit zips actually make a jacket less breathable. I have just never found a hard shell that is waterproof and breathes well. And I am prioritizing waterproofness now. Though not to the point of rubber rain gear.

You want to stay dry hiking in all-day rain and sea spray? The problem isn't the jacket, its your expectations. No clothing system can do what you are looking for. Many systems, however, can keep you wet but warm and comfortable...


Best
Matt
AlpineIce · · Upstate, NY · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 255

You may want to review Gore's Shakedry technology, "a new 'permanently beading' waterproof/breathable membrane technology from Gore-Tex that eliminated the need for a DWR-treated face fabric and that purportedly wouldn’t wet-out. If true, that’d be a big deal, because it would solve one source of failure of modern rain shells."

MyFeetHurt · · Glenwood, CO · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 10
mpech wrote:

You want to stay dry hiking in all-day rain and sea spray? The problem isn't the jacket, its your expectations. No clothing system can do what you are looking for. Many systems, however, can keep you wet but warm and comfortable...


Best
Matt

This. Waterproof and breathable (in any meaningful way) is a unicorn. You can stay dry for a while if you are basically sedentary. But eventually your own latent heat will escape into the inner jacket, hit the cool waterproof layer and condense on the inside. Then you will think the jacket is leaking. There is no realistic way around this fact. 

The same thing happens on non waterproof layers, but to a lesser extent. A Houdini will wet out from the inside noticeably if it is cool and you are working hard because while it breathes much better than a gortex jacket it still doesn't actually breath well at all. Same principle as condensate forming on a cold surface like a window on cold day or a glass of cold water.
Billy Pilgrim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 0
AlpineIce wrote: You may want to review Gore's Shakedry technology, "a new 'permanently beading' waterproof/breathable membrane technology from Gore-Tex that eliminated the need for a DWR-treated face fabric and that purportedly wouldn’t wet-out. If true, that’d be a big deal, because it would solve one source of failure of modern rain shells."

Thanks for the helpful input!

Layne Zuelke · · Baton Rouge, LA · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 30

I’m a sailor do I know wet. Look at GIL. Gil 0S1, 0S2 and FG2. Or hell go for the 0S3 and be done with it. Great jackets. The “yes I just stepped off the boat from my round the world bid” look just adds to appeal.
The truth is that most of the moisture on the interior of Gore Tex jackets is from perspiration. The humidity level builds up and cannot escape due to the high level of external moisture during heavy rain. If interior moisture can’t escape you just soak from the inside out. There’s really no perfect solution. Pit zips help if it’s not a deluge. As do wicking layers if the temp is low enough. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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