The Neoteric Shell is First Ascent’s top of the line ski shell. Constructed with Polartec® NeoShell®, the jacket is designed for everything from lift-accessed powder to backcountry heli runs. In September 2013 the jacket won Outside Magazine’s coveted “Gear of the Year” award.
The jacket is built around Polartec’s Neoshell membrane. NeoShell is a unique fabric that offers the stretch of a soft shell with the waterproof and breathable performance of a hardshell. Its unique construction allows moisture to easily escape, while remaining waterproof. This makes it ideal for highly aerobic activities such as mountaineering, ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing.
The First Ascent shell utilizes a relaxed fit with a longer cut in the torso. The powder-skirt zips out and the jacket features two sets of pockets on the front, one pack friendly pair and a pair lower down that are more ergonomical to stuff your hands into when riding the lifts or walking to the corner store.
Of note, the jacket is prominently branded with the Eddie Bauer logo on the left breast. The First Ascent logo is featured on the left arm, but is much less noticeable. This is a departure from the branding scheme Eddie Bauer/First Ascent has been using. Their products, such as the First Ascent Haines Ski Touring Pack have always had the First Ascent logo as the primary logo, with the Eddie Bauer logo present but less prominent.
Clearly this has no bearing on performance, but for the image conscious skier it could be of some concern. It would be ignorant to think that many skiers are not image conscious, and while the Eddie Bauer brand certainly communicates quality and tradition, it does so in a tweed jackets and cashmere sweaters way, not a high-end technical outwear sense.
- Easy access bicep pocket.
- Recco® Reflector.
- Fully seam sealed.
- Stormrepel® DWR finish.
- Helmet-compatible hood.
- Hidden hood adjustments, nice touch!
- Two harness and pack compatible pockets up high with two hand warmer pockets down below.
- Extended pit-zips.
- Removable powder skirt for those who like them and also for those who don't.
- Interior chest pocket with media port on the right side and an interior mesh goggle pocket with wipe on the left.
The Neoteric Shell is a great jacket. The Neoshell membrane is, as always, fantastic. A slight bit of stretch, a very comfortable, supple feel combined with outstanding waterproof-breathability make for a bomb-proof touring piece.
The jacket really has only two drawbacks. First, for a dedicated ski-touring jacket, the fit of the jacket is excessively large. Not only does it hang too far below the waist, the extra fabric in the torso (presumably intended for additional layering) billows out. This fit would be ok for purely skiing in the resort, but when the jacket has to be squished down into as small a space as possible in your pack it makes it a bit tough to manage.
Secondly, and also an issue of space and weight, is the heavy, high durometer face fabric the jacket uses. The heavy 80D face fabric (similar to the North Face Free-Thinker jacket we reviewed earlier in the year) is simply too much. While the extra strength and durability is nice (especially when skiing the trees), it is very unnecessary for a backcountry jacket. Its great for smashing through branches in the resort all day, but just too much in the backcountry.
We were big fans of the dual pockets on the front, as the lower, non-pack friendly ones were great for keeping hands warm in the parking lot or when walking around town. The interior media-pocket functioned well, as did the zip out powder skirt.
Overall, the Neoteric shell is a fantastic jacket with a few heavy design choices that make it less than ideal for backcountry skiing but thats probably the way First Ascent (or is that Eddie Bauer?) meant it to be.
For other First Ascent reviews give a click on over here for a review of the First Ascent Seaba Heli Guide Jakcet , the First Ascent Frontpoint Jacket Review here , the First Ascent Hyalite Jacket review here and the First Ascent High Season Wind Shell Jacket review here. And for her, the review of the First Ascent BC-200 Harshell Jacket is here and the First Ascent Downlight Hooded Jacket review is over here.
Weight: Reg 1.6 lb
Fabric: Polartec Neoshell 3-layer, 5 oz, 80D nylon
The jacket’s colours are both fashionable and resistant to dirt and wear. Construction feels sturdy and secure. The two sets of front pockets are great, one pack-friendly pair and one more comfortable pair is a great addition. The only downside to this is that it does make the jacket heavier. The Neoshell fabric is much quieter and less crinkly then many Gore-tex jackets, and the slight bit of stretch is a great bonus. The removable powder skirt adds functionality for those who will not solely be wearing the jacket skiing.
The longer and more relaxed fit not ideal for ski touring. It fits very large.
The 80D fabric is unnecessarily heavy for ski touring in our opinion. The hood could be slightly more fitted and trim. The image conscious skiers may not like the prominence and primary branding from Eddie Bauer.
Fit / Mobility 1/2
Waterproof / Breathable 2/2
Quality / Price 2/2
This is only our opinion. Do you disagree? Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Join the discussion in the forums here, and let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.