Smith Vantage ReviewApril 8, 2012
- Two sets of easy-to-use vents for climate control
- Boa Fit System provides an easy, snug, adjustable fit
- Low-profile design and lightweight construction
- Slight brim to deflect the sun and wind
- Not easily dented or cracked by mild impacts
- Elastic goggle strap that isn’t easy to operate with the helmet on or with gloves on
- High price for a helmet without audio
This is a first-class helmet with great fit, great venting for excellent climate control, and all the accoutrements the avid snow rider would want and expect. At $180, its Smith’s highest priced helmet but that price is comparable with other top-of-the-line models, making it a fair value for the quality it delivers.
A helmet’s most important characteristic – for both comfort and safety – is the fit. The BOA Fit System is the best micro-adjust fitting system of all the helmets I tested. There is a dial on the back of the helmet that tightens or loosens a small strap around the back half of the helmet. It delivers a very comfy and secure feel.
Smith has smartly split the vents into two zones, front and back, allowing for independent control of both sets of vents. Each zone has settings for open, half-open, and closed. This results in exceptional climate control inside the helmet. The vents are easy to use, even while wearing thick mittens, allowing for on-the-fly adjustments to keep it from getting too hot or too cold inside the helmet. This is one of the few helmets I felt confident adjusting the vents anytime, anywhere, even without stopping my run. It would be even better if the vents on the back of the helmet could be closed for the super-cold days but those four vents are permanently open.
The most noticeable drawback is the strap on the back of the helmet for keeping goggles attached. This strap is an elastic band with a leather pull on the end that fastens under a plastic clip. It is hard to operate with gloves on and never quite felt secure without visually checking to ensure it was locked down. Not a deal-breaker shortcoming but a feature that could use improvement.
As with most premium helmets these days, the liner is removable and washable as are the ear covers. Smartly, the earpieces zip open to allow for the insertion of audio headphones (sold separately). I’d hoped that a helmet at this price point would come with audio included but the Skullcandy audio inserts sold separately by Smith run $50-$200 (MSRP).
The Vantage is lightweight yet feels solid and durable. Smith uses a “Hybrid Shell” construction that combines a tough outer shell inner with a lightweight inner mold. Hitting branches at moderate speed made a cracking sound but did not crack – or dent or damage – the helmet. Multiple days of on-mountain testing in trees and steeps resulted in some scratches but no dings or harm.
Other quality points on this lid include a brim that is not too big but juts out just enough to look good, shield the sun, and deflect the wind. The chin strap has a pad for comfy fit and the pad works well regardless of the how the user adjusts the strap. This should not be overlooked as many helmet strap pads only function properly in a small range of sizing. It was easy to adjust the chin strap and the BOA micro-adjust, as well as the vents, on the lift or on the side of the run.