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    How to Test a GORE-TEX Jacket Like a Journalist

    Guest Authors
    Guest Authors

    Harriet Folkes and Alex Roddie from Sidetracked Magazine talk through the seven stages of an outdoor editor’s product review.

    The next time you google “best outdoor jackets” and head to an article to find your answer, ask yourself: Has this writer even stepped outside in that garment?

    “You can tell a review has been written from a press release rather than real-world testing if there’s no reference to how or where the product has been tested, and in what conditions,” says Harriet Folkes, Content Writer and Producer at Sidetracked Magazine. “The best reviews come from immersing yourself in the environment the product was built for. It’s the most effective way to really understand what the brand is trying to achieve, both through your own experiences and speaking to others, to form a balanced perspective and tell a compelling story.”

    Image: Phil Jameson

    This scrupulous level of real-life detail-seeking critique is exactly what we saw from Harriet, who has been a part of the world-famous adventure magazine’s testing team for four years, at the recent Arc’teryx Climb Academy. There, she was reviewing the new Arc’teryx Beta Lightweight GORE-TEX Jacket through all kinds of classic Lake District weather and outdoor activities.

    As she made notes, did lunges, pulled down zips, pulled up hoods, opened vents, touched fabrics, and asked our team plenty of questions, it got us wondering what, exactly, goes through an outdoor journalist’s mind as they search for the perfect jacket.

    So with the help of Harriet and her colleague, Sidetracked’s Editor Alex Roddie, we got to finding out. Here are the seven biggest talking points every performance wear test needs to shout about (and how they played into Harriet’s review of the Arc’teryx Beta Lightweight GORE-TEX Jacket)…

    Image: Phil Jameson

    1. THE FIT

    ALEX: “With appropriate layers underneath, I’ll first try the jacket on at home and do a few lunges and high reaches to settle in. Next it’s to the hill, where I’ll look out for things such as moving cuffs or hems that rise up. We’re seeing more readers asking for jackets that fit more ‘realistic’ human bodies – preferably while wearing a fleece or two underneath.”

    HARRIET: “The Beta Lightweight GORE-TEX Jacket is fitted to move with the body, but I was able to wear it both over my fleece without feeling any restrictions, and over just a tee without feeling cold or clammy.”



     ALEX: “Is the fabric construction 2-layer, 2.5-layer, or 3-layer? What are the factual specs and marketing claims for the material? Materials should be selected to perform well for the intended use and at the price point. And any DWR needs to be long-lasting.”

    HARRIET: “The Beta Lightweight GORE-TEX Jacket is an updated version of the best-selling Beta LT, with the main difference being the new GORE-TEX Fabric - a combination of specially selected textiles, a durably waterproof, windproof, breathable membrane, and a water repellent DWR coating on the outer textile. This updated version is made up of a GORE C-KNIT™ backer, which feels soft and comfortable against the skin; a bio-based recycled nylon face made from fibres derived from plants; and a PFC-free GORE-TEX ePE membrane and DWR, for breathable weather protection.”



    ALEX: “I’m always going to consider the function of a jacket’s hood, front closure, ventilation, cuffs, pockets, hem, and hanging loops, and test them at home and on the hill. I’ve found many jackets do a poor job with the hood – I want one that moves freely with the head and provides excellent coverage. I also get a lot of queries about jacket pockets – chest pockets in particular seem to be very popular.”

    HARRIET: “I took full advantage of the adjustable (and helmet-compatible) StormHood, which moved freely with my head, keeping me completely dry, while the wired peak kept the rain off my face. I opted to keep my phone zipped up in the inside chest pocket – out of sight, out of mind – and I found the two front zipper pockets to be easily accessible even while wearing a backpack. After chatting with some of the product team, I learned that to ensure any waterproof GORE-TEX Product meets the GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY promise, the GORE-TEX Brand works collaboratively with its partners. In this case, it worked with Arc’teryx on the design and manufacture of important features including the hood and hem, to ensure these details would stand up to the worst of weather.”



    ALEX: “There’s a massive demand for not only reliable performance, but honesty and realism in marketing claims – the current gulf between the two leaves so many jacket users feeling let down. I’m going to test a jacket in heavy rain and a variety of temperatures in the mountains, often over an extended period and several outings. The toughest test? A fast uphill hike during a downpour while wearing a heavy pack after days on the trail.”

    HARRIET: “When the weather warmed up, the Arc’teryx Beta Lightweight GORE-TEX Jacket could easily pack down into my bag. But that was rarely necessary given how breathable it was – even during moderate hill climbs or scrambles. When the weather turned, rainwater beaded as it should, and was easy to shake off when I got indoors.”

    Image: Phil Jameson


    ALEX: “Customers are putting more emphasis on long-term value. I want a jacket that can be easily cleaned and reproofed and has fabric that’ll stand up to wear without tearing or pilling. Only hard miles under a heavy pack can assess this, so in truth, we rarely have time to test a jacket’s durability as thoroughly as we’d like before a review is due.”

    HARRIET: “Although I couldn't test the jacket’s long-term durability over just one weekend, I gained some insight into the Arc’teryx Beta Lightweight GORE-TEX Jacket’s legacy from those who have: ‘The Beta jacket is the only jacket you will ever need. I recommend it to everyone. It’s lightweight, durable, multifunctional, and looks good on and off the mountain,’ said Clint, an Arc’teryx athlete.”



    ALEX: “Customers want to make more sustainable buying choices and are putting far more emphasis on sustainability. They want to know how a brand sources materials, whether materials are recycled and/or recyclable, what the deal is with the garment’s aftercare situation, and if the brand offers a repair or recycling service.”

    HARRIET: “While recycled materials might be posited as a compromise on performance, the Arc’teryx Beta Lightweight GORE-TEX Jacket delivers on both. The GORE-TEX Fabric, using the new ePE Membrane, is itself Bluesign Approved, which means it has been manufactured to strict safety and environmental requirements, meeting the highest standards in the industry. It’s also free from PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated substances) - harmful chemicals commonly used in DWR (durable water repellent) coatings and waterproof membranes. Arc’teryx offers a fluorine-free, biodegradable DWR treatment that can be applied after each wash or if the jacket no longer beads, too.”

    Image: Phil Jameson

    7. THE VALUE

    ALEX: “Based on all the factors above, I will make a judgment call on whether the jacket is a good buy at the price point. Value is important!”

    HARRIET: “At £450, the Beta Lightweight GORE-TEX Jacket is a significant investment. However, I’d argue its high performance, durability, and versatility justify the cost, especially if it reduces the need for multiple jackets over time.”

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