It’s a bit harder to make conclusions about the durability of the laminates, but I would say that Gore Pro is more durable and protective. The face fabric is heavier, the lining layer is woven, and the fact that Gore Pro is not a stretch fabric should also make it more durable. Stretching over time will break down the DWR, laminates, and even shell and liner fabrics. A stretch jacket will never be as durable as a non-stretch version of that same jacket. And the sandwiched ePTFE of Gore Pro may also make it more durable and protective than NeoShell.
Years of field testing will tell us for sure, but with respect to waterproofing, it’s hard to ignore Gore’s track record and their 100% waterproof guarantee. We know that NeoShell has an approximately 10,000mm waterproof rating. I would hazard a guess that Gore Pro is closer to 15-20Kmm, so where NeoShell might leak in wet conditions in high pressure areas (ie, leaning hard on your elbows in a puddle), Gore Pro will not leak under any such circumstances.
In sum, a jacket made with NeoShell will work great in all but the harshest, wettest conditions. The laminate is light, flexible, and super breathable.
Gore Pro jackets, I believe, are much better suited for harsh and wet conditions, or where staying dry is absolutely paramount to safety (i.e., high altitude mountaineering and extreme alpinism).
However, as far as pants are concerned (which are generally subjected to more wear and tear than a jacket), I think the added durability and protection of Gore Pro would make for an excellent choice in the majority of conditions, both wet and more arid. (And we are dying to test out the Mountain Equipment Kamchatka Salopette to test this theory.)
For Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, interior BC and even the eastern coast of the US, I think a NeoShell jacket offers plenty of protection for 4-season play in the mountains. And even for wetter climates like the west coast of the US, Japan, Alaska and the Alps, I think a NeoShell jacket provides enough protection for 80-90% of conditions.
Only in the most brutal, wettest conditions would I hesitate to grab a NeoShell jacket. For the worst of the worst, a Gore-Tex Pro jacket is the clear choice.
Fit of the Mountain Equipment Centurion and Tupilak
Mountain Equipment has done a great job with these jackets, especially with respect to the way they fit. They are the perfect length in the body, the sleeves are contoured well, and the cut provides enough room to layer without being unnecessarily bulky.
So often companies make either slim or regular cuts—regular cuts for the casual user, and slim cuts in the higher end pieces—but the Centurion and Tupilak each occupies a perfect middle ground for everyday use in the mountains. The best compliment I can give to the fit of a particular piece is that I never think about it when I wear it, and I almost never think about the fit of either of these jackets when I wear them.
The Centurion and the Tupilak have an identical cut, but they do fit slightly differently because of the fabrics. The Centurion feels a bit slimmer because the fabric is softer and drapes easier over the body. The Tupilak fits slightly wider just because the fabric has more structure, causing it to feel a touch shorter in the body. But again, despite these minute differences, the fit of each jacket is superb overall.
The only small fit issue I experienced is that there is a bit too much room in the waist of the jackets, as some fabric bunches when I buckle my pack’s hip belt, but I have a very slim, 29” waist). I think most people shouldn’t have any problem with the width at the hip of these jackets.
One important point to mention about the fit of these jackets is the hood: it’s huge. The hood of the Centurion and Tupilak will easily fit around a climbing or skiing helmet, and it has a uniquely shaped, high collar. The collar extends to just below my nose when the jacket is fully zipped, and offers a huge amount of coverage on the sides of the face. All of this means that the hood does a great job in harsh conditions (they don’t call it a Super Alpine hood for nothing). But at the same time, because of the well-placed, 3-way adjustments on the hood, it is easy to cinch down for milder conditions.
Though more of a design feature, the Centurion / Tupilak’s hood also has an awesome brim. Usually the brim of a hood is either laminated stiff plastic or wire, but the Centurion and Tupilak have an adjustable wire brim. And the best part is that the wire has very little memory. In other words, it doesn’t get all kinked after stuffing your jacket into your pack, and it is fairly easy to straighten out, which I really like. (I hate a wire brim that you can’t get to lay flat).
Overall, I would say that the Centurion / Tupilak have a great fit for ski touring, ski mountaineering, resort skiing, and alpine climbing. For ski touring specifically, they are the best fitting jackets I have worn to date.
Features of the Mountain Equipment Centurion and Tupilak
The features on these jackets are minimal, including two zip pockets on the chest, one interior zip pocket, and standard hem adjustments. The exterior zip pockets are just big enough for skins, but if you have wider skins (110mm waist +) you will have to jam them in.
The interior pocket is small and a bit of an awkward shape. My phone fits in the pocket fine, but I don’t like putting it in there because it is hard to get to. The pocket is a tall and skinny rectangular shape that sits right under the left breast pocket. To access it, I have to unzip the jacket’s main zipper pretty far, which is not ideal.
Other than that, these jackets are pretty bare bones on the features. The only thing I wished they had is a powder skirt, but that’s just a personal preference.
Gore-Tex Pro vs Polartec NeoShell, which is right for you? It depends what you’re doing and where (i.e., in what sort of climate / conditions). For those of us that don’t live in super wet climates, NeoShell makes for a great jacket. For those in extremely wet climates or those who are pushing the limits in environments where staying dry is paramount, Gore-Tex Pro is a great call.
As far as the Centurion and the Tupilak, I give them both two thumbs way up. With a great fit and minimal feature set, they are no frills jackets that will work for just about anyone playing in the mountains. Mountain Equipment hit a home run on these shells. If you need a winter shell, don’t overlook the Centurion and Tupilak. They have become my go-to winter shells, and I doubt that will be changing anytime soon.