I like ski gears made by Smith, their goggles especially the I/O series are really great. While Smith has a word of mouth for its optical products, its ski helmets are also impressive — they are stylish, durable, with cutting-edge technology, and most importantly keep us safe during skiing.
Smith Vantage MIPS Helmet is one of the best ski helmets on the market. Besides the MIPS system that enhances safety, the BOA fit, and superior ventilation system all make it a great choice for all-day skiing.
In this review, I’ll go deeper into how you may benefit from these features, what I like or dislike about this helmet. I also clear some confusions you might have in the FAQ section below, for example, who is it best for? Is it worth the high price? How to choose the right size? Read on for more!
Note: the “Quick Summary” section serves as a high-level conclusion. If you want to learn more, navigate through the “Table of Contents” to jump to the right section.
Smith Vantage MIPS is super comfortable, stylish, lightweight, and comes with great ventilation ability. But it’s not a helmet for everyone (I’ll explain later). In my opinion:
- Smith Vantage MIPS is a GREAT choice for those who are willing to pay a bit extra for safety — better protection. If you are an advanced or professional skier who devotes a lot of time to skiing, this helmet is for you. Also, if you want to upgrade your current gear, this is the one.
- If you are a beginner skier or you’re on a budget, Smith Vantage is probably NOT for you as it’s pricey and you’ll be better off with a basic helmet to get started. Once you master skiing, you can then upgrade later on. So for now, consider these cheaper options: Smith Holt, Giro Ledge MIPS, and Bern Watts.
Smith Vantage Helmet: Basic Info
You may wonder how a helmet could be made from an optical company? Well, Smith is one of the pioneers in providing advanced eyewear and helmets of outdoor. They put great efforts on high-end technologies for seeking excellent performance in outdoor activities. As Smith said,
“experience is everything.”
Smith Vantage is ski helmets with superior technology to protect you and help you gain fantastic experience in skiing or snowboarding. Every detail makes it outstanding.
Smith Vantage integrates the MIPS system into its helmets to enhance protection. From out shell to inside lining, you will feel that it’s tough and hard outside but inside it’s very soft and comfortable.
You won’t feel much pressure on your head when wearing it. What’s more impressing is its ventilation system — which has 21 adjustable vents for maximum airflow, regulates the temperature and makes you feel ease and comfortable. Furthermore, it’s compatible with snow goggles, audio and action cameras.
Is MIPS Worth It?
MIPS is a technology short for Multi-directional Impact Protection System.
This tech can be used to reduce the rotational force to your brain by absorbing and redirecting rotational energies from angled impacts to the head. You can read this article to learn more about how MIPS works to protect your head.
Smith Vantage is one of the helmets using this technology to enhance safety when you skiing. With MIPS, the outer shell of the helmet and the liner are separated by a low friction layer — we call it MIPS layer. In case you fall down and your head hits the ground, this MIPS layer allows the outer shell to slide in the opposite direction. This helps reduce the rotational force and better protect your brain.
This video has more:
Smith Vantage MIPS Helmet: Detailed Review
Construction & Safety
Usually, there are three types of snow helmet construction. The traditional one is ABS, another one is in-mold, and the third one is Hybrid in-mold. ABS is known for durability, which makes the shell tough and anti-dent. The in-mold shell is very light and enhances comfortability. Comparing to ABS and in-mold, Hybrid in-mold construction combines the features of durability and lightweight.
The construction of Smith Vantage is Hybrid in-mold. The top part of the Smith Vantage shell is made of ABS material and the down part near the ear pads is made of in-mold material. This design helps full protection. It also has great durability and it’s extremely lightweight. When you wear it for skiing, you barely feel its existence. In the nutshell, it’s a helmet that you can wear the whole day.
One more thing, Smith Vantage is a series that integrates MIPS, a technology for reducing the rotational force to your brain and protect your head when you fall down the ground (as I just explained right above). Especially when you ski faster and faster, wearing a MIPS helmet can protect you better. You know, in the ski area, although you are good at skiing, it’s still not easy to stop or avoid other people who hit you from the backside and fall down. Many times a helmet is a life-saver.
Quick note: the MIPS system is not always available depending on the helmet color you select, make sure you check different colors to see whether it’s with MIPS or not.
You won’t like to feel sweaty when wearing a helmet in skiing, right? That’s why good ventilation system can help as it increases the airflow and regulates your temperature.
Vantage MIPS Helmet has Smith’s ventilation construction called Aerocore, and they have AirEvac system building in the helmet as well. Aerocore construction is combined by using EPS and Koroyd. EPS is a material that can drain heat out. Koroyd is a breathable material that takes in the cool air and lets the heat go out. Besides regulating the temperature, Koroyd can enhance the impact resistance as well. AirEvac system with 21 vents is to generate maximum airflow and constantly pull the heat out. Smith Vantage allows you to adjust the AirEvac system, e.g. full ventilation, half, or you can even close it when you don’t need it.
Comfort & Warmth
Smith Vantage not only has these superior ventilation build-in systems, but it also offers the soft liner that can keep you comfortable and warm.
The fleece lining, fleece ear pads, and fleece chin strap are all provided to maximize comfort. One thing I really like is that they make the chin strap padded. The ear paddings of Smith Vantage are removable so as to protect your ears from cold and snow. With an adjustable ventilation system, it’s easy to close the ventilation and keep warm-up, you can also slide to open the ventilation to exhaust heat out.
Smith Vantage is compatible with goggles, especially Smith made snow goggles. It’s no surprise that Smith makes goggles and helmet to work together as an integrated system. This enables you to have a smooth experience by wearing them as together they help enhance anti-fog and ventilation. Also, Smith Vantage has a goggle integration lock to hold your goggles tight. Speaking of this, I recommend wearing the same brand goggles and helmets just to ensure the precise fit. And it’s best that you try before buy.
There are many helmets that are audio compatible. Some even have pockets in the ear pads, and this helps you to put the audio device there. Smith Vantage is one of them which fits with Outdoor Tech audio chips 2.0. Chips 2.0 is a universal wireless helmet audio format. You can easily connect them to your device by Bluetooth, to meet the needs for call, music or audio. It makes your hands free to answer the call, play music.
A kind reminder: don’t focus on the phone or audio while in skiing. Watch out and be safe!
Action Camera Mounts Compatibility
Many of us would like to record and capture some moments during our skiing or snowboarding. The moments you do the turns, curving, jumping and the powders you slide in the air, they are all worthy to be saved. You may also want to shoot the video and share the ski tips and guides with friends and families. Smith Vantage is compatible with most action camera mounts. GoPro is a great choice to capture those precious moments. Hero 6 is the latest version released in 2017, while GoPro 5 Black is also a good option. You can set GoPro with GoPro kits in your helmet. You can get a feel for how this kind of video looks by watching this clip shot by GoPro.
Size & Fit
When choosing a helmet, you have to get the right size. A good fit is essential in making you feel comfortable especially during all-day skiing, as well as keep you warm and for better protection. Smith has its own revolutionary fit system called The Boa 360 Fit, just to make your head full warp from all angles.
Smith Vantage also offers different sizes, from small to large. Small size fits 51-55 cm, while Medium 55-59 cm, and Large 59-63 cm. It’s best that you get to know your skull size first in order to choose the best one that fits. For example, if your skull size is 59cm, get the Large one (59-63 cm), as you can adjust the size to smaller and make it fit. Getting the Small one, you probably will feel tight as it squeezes your head. Once again, best to try helmets of all sizes on your own before you buy.
What I like about Smith Vantage MIPS
Every detail of this helmet makes you feel it cares about you. And it’s so light that when you wear it during skiing, you may even forget it’s on your head. Here are the things I like:
- Safety – MIPS is great in enhancing protection.
- Lightweight – 18 oz (500g), again I won’t emphasize too much on this.
- Effective ventilation system – 21 vents are adjustable by using one hand.
- Chinstrap with fleece pad – They care about the experience.
What I dislike about Smith Vantage MIPS
I don’t really have many dislikes, expect the price and color options:
- The Vantage is a great product, but the high price tag was the main factor that made me hesitated for a while before finally making the decision to get it.
- Limited color for MIPS features. If Smith can offer more color options with MIPS, it would be perfect.
Is the helmet audio compatible? Can I put the audio chips in the ear pads?
Yes, Smith Vantage is compatible with audio chips, you can insert the wireless headphones.
My skull is 55 cm or 59 cm, which size should I choose?
Better go with size up. You know, there are three sizes for you to select: Small (51-55 cm), Medium (55-59 cm), and Large (59-63 cm). If your skull size is exactly 55 cm, you should choose Medium, because this helmet is adjustable so you can adjust it to a smaller size and make it fit. Likewise, if your skull size is exactly 59 cm, go with Large.
What are the best alternatives to Smith Vantage MIPS?
Here are a few that you may like:
Smith Vantage MIPS Helmet offers great protection, all head fit, adjustable and high effective ventilation. It can keep you warm and comfortable all day. Besides, it also cares skiers who have the need for phone calls, audio and videos during skiing by offering the audio and action camera compatibility.
However, I’ve to admit that it’s on the pricey side that may hold many buyers back. Another con is that not all colors are with MIPS technology. Overall, I really like Vantage MIPS and I recommend it.