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Smith Vantage MIPS Review

Deemed best of the best by our testers, there isn't a better combination of performance available from any model we have tested
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $260 List | $117.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, warm, vents well, style points, compatible with most goggles
Cons:  Pricey
Manufacturer:   Smith Optics
By Sam Piper ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 19, 2019
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85
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Warmth - 25% 8
  • Ventilation - 20% 9
  • Weight - 10% 6
  • Goggle Compatibility - 10% 9
  • Style - 10% 9

Our Verdict

Coming from a company with a long history of protective equipment, the Smith Vantage MIPS excels in every performance metric we test. Its hybrid shell construction, MIPS technology, and easy BOA adjustment wheel lead to the perfect fit without sacrificing weight or protection. Just hold this helmet, and you can tell that its construction is top of the line and durable, making its high price worth it for a dedicated user. The interface between helmet and goggle was as good as it gets, with Smith goggles and goggles of other brands as well. The fit is comfortable and easy to adjust, and we found that it worked with a variety of head shapes and sizes. Ventilation is key for a helmet, and the Vantage provides it in spades. Easy-to-operate regulator switches and ideal vent placement make this helmet a perfect choice on the hottest of spring days or the coldest blizzard. Its sleek, trim design lead to nice lines and make it one of the most stylish helmets on the market. The only drawback is that it costs a lot. But, if you can afford the entry price, you'll get a fantastic product that should last a very long time.

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Our Analysis and Test Results

The Vantage is Smith's top-of-the-line snowsports helmet. In our test, it performed at the top of nearly every category.

Performance Comparison


Alex enjoying testing the Smith Vantage.
Alex enjoying testing the Smith Vantage.

Fit and Comfort


As with most Smith helmets, the Vantage fits a wide range of head shapes, and we found this to be true during our test. The easy-to-adjust BOA wheel system makes it easy for this helmet to form to most head shapes. Adjust at ease without needing to remove your gloves. We found no problem with the earpieces of the Vantage pressing too tightly against our ears, and during several days of skiing noticed no hot spots.


The padding inside the helmet provides a great cushion inside the shell of the helmet. This helmet comes in 3 different sizes as well, which makes it pretty easy to find a size that fits.

Alex testing the comfortable and well-fitting Vantage. After dialing in the fit  this model never bounced or bobbled around atop our heads.
Alex testing the comfortable and well-fitting Vantage. After dialing in the fit, this model never bounced or bobbled around atop our heads.

Warmth


The Vantage scored high in the warmth rating. On the coldest of days, we could feel a little bit of air passing underneath the earpieces, which is its only flaw and one that is hard to correct without the ear pieces being too tight and causing pain. And on those single-digit days, our testers were able to layer a thin beanie or buff under the helmet without any issues. On warmer storm days, however, our testers were able to wear the helmet with nothing on underneath, knowing that most other helmets would have required a light beanie or buff to stay warm.


With a snug fit, tensioned earpieces, and all the vents closed, this helmet was one of the warmest that we tested. If this is a problem and you do end up sweating, the antimicrobial lining will keep the helmet fresh after consecutive days on the hill.
Cruising down the hill on a bitter storm day  but staying warm in the Smith Vantage  shown here in a black colorway we previously tested.
Cruising down the hill on a bitter storm day, but staying warm in the Smith Vantage, shown here in a black colorway we previously tested.

Ventilation


This helmet has one of the highest scores for ventilation in our test group. Twenty-one vents that open and close make it easy to create a climate control for your head. The placement of the vents is ideal as well, optimally creating airflow through the helmet. Smith achieved this by dividing its vents into three groups with two different sliding closure mechanisms. The vents near the front and crown of the helmet are opened and closed by one slider, while the vents in the middle and back of the helmet use a separate slider. The vent sliders on the Vantage were smooth like butter, unlike other models that felt, well, a little janky.


The ability to open and close different sets of vents sets the Vantage apart from several competitors, though in the last year, more manufacturers have followed suit. As we mentioned above, the action on the Vantage's sliders is just much smoother and easier to operate than every other helmet we tested, which makes a big difference on the ski hill.

Rear side view of the Smith Vantage. The sliding toggle on top of the helmet (barely visible) allows you to control the openings of the vents.
Rear side view of the Smith Vantage. The sliding toggle on top of the helmet (barely visible) allows you to control the openings of the vents.

Goggle Compatibility


This criterion is obvious in that it is super important to choose a helmet/goggle combo that works well and creates a great seal. If you're in the market for both a helmet and goggles, it makes sense, if given the option, to choose products from the same company. Although we skied the Vantage with Smith goggles primarily, we found that its shape was conducive to a good fit with goggles from other companies as well.


The goggle strap holder, which keeps your goggles attached to the helmet and keeps them in place, is simple and easy to use. It does it's job without a hiccup.

Side view of the Smith Vantage and testing its compatibility with Abom goggles.
Side view of the Smith Vantage and testing its compatibility with Abom goggles.

Weight and Bulk


For all of its features, 21 closable vents, removable earpieces, MIPS, and the BOA adjustment system, this helmet remains in the middle of the road in weight among our test group. This, combined with its sleek shape and appealing lines, proves that Smith can produce when it comes to top of the line engineering. Speaking of engineering, the Vantage, and its cousin the Quantum, are the only helmets we tested that utilized Koroyd, a material made of stacked, vertical tubes designed to crumple during impact. All of these features add a bit of weight to the Vantage, but whether or not you could tell the difference with it on your head is up for debate.


At just over a pound, we don't find this helmet to be out of the question for backcountry use. Sure, it's not the lightest and isn't an ideal option for ski mountaineering, but for most single-day ski tours, we have no objection to packing along the Vantage in our backcountry kit.

Style


The Vantage has pleasing lines and a sleek, defensive look. We have tested many colorways of this product (black, green, and most recently, matte gray), and the striped, woolen earpieces were a big hit among reviewers. The Vantage comes in a wide variety of colors, from understated earth-tones to louder two-tone color schemes, Smith has you covered no matter what your style. Its small visor did not bother our testers at all; goggles stayed in place well when put up on the brim of the helmet, and the visor added a subtle style change.


Value


Through testing a wide variety of helmets, we have come to the realization that you get what you pay for. Whether you're holding this helmet or wearing it, you can tell the utmost thought went into the design and production. It's well built and has all the bells and whistles, and if taken care of will last you a long while. When considering whether to spend this much money, it's important to remember that one crash can render any helmet ineffective, requiring replacement; but with a helmet, with this many protective features, it only takes one crash to know where your money went.

For the highest-performing model we've tested  we think the price is worth it to those who can afford it. If your budget can't handle the price tag  though  you can still find suitable models for less. They just aren't as supreme!
For the highest-performing model we've tested, we think the price is worth it to those who can afford it. If your budget can't handle the price tag, though, you can still find suitable models for less. They just aren't as supreme!

Conclusion


If you spend a ton of time skiing and can afford it, you'll probably feel that throwing down for the nicest helmet out there is worth it. The Smith Vantage is purely a great helmet, without any real drawbacks in design or performance. For several years running, this helmet is a testers' favorite and our Editors' Choice winner.

Sam Piper