Tried and True Arc’teryx Beta AR
It was love at first sight in 1997 when testers tried on the Beta’s predecessor, the Theta (inset). Until then, we had never called a rainshell “sexy.” The Theta was sleek and clean and precise-fitting, to be sure, but the construction was all business: rugged three-layer Gore-Tex, waterproof zippers (the first ever), and dialed features, like a skull-hugging, one-hand-adjustable hood. The jacket worked so well in the field that we gave it an Editors’ Choice Award in 1998. The latest version, the Beta AR, is even more impressive. Made of Gore-Tex Pro Shell (W.L.’s most durable and breathable waterproof fabric yet), the Beta is a 14-ounce torso-fortress that kept testers dry in Colorado storms above 11,000 feet, with drenching rain and 30-mph winds. And yes, it’s still drop-dead gorgeous. $450; 14 oz. (men’s M); m’s XS-XXL, w’s XS-XL; arcteryx.com.