Sunday, April 24, 2011

Gear Review - Smith Optics Vantage Helmet

My buddy Mike, his blog is here, has been telling me I should have a bad review on a piece of gear at some point.  The only problem is that I don't really buy bad gear.  However I try to be fair when it comes to reviewing each feature of any equipment and try to talk about the great features and some features that could be improved.  One of these days I am sure I will rip some crappy gear...today is not one of those days though.  The Smith Optics Vantage Helmet is probably the most complete helmet ever.  I have used the Sandbox Brain Bucket and the Smith Optics Hustle helmet, but this new helmet is better than both.  Smith adjusted their vents, made the liner more comfortable, added BOA as the adjustment system and improved their goggle/helmet integration...as you can see in the picture.  I got to use this helmet for the first time at the SIA On Snow Demo during the trade show back in January.  I got the red helmet and the new red sensor lens from STP's Smith Optics rep at the show.  The combination is sick!


Ventilation is probably the most important part of any helmet and Smith designed this helmet perfectly.  Adjustable vents are the key to keeping you warm or cooling you down and they have to be easy to adjust and have enough of them to regulate those temperature changes.  This two piece helmet has 21 vents!  The helmet also features  Dual Regulator vent controls.  This means the front and rear vents are controlled by two separate switches.  Each switch then has 3 positions, closed, halfway open and fully open.  The Vantage helmet also features a BOA closure on the back for adjusting the fit of the helmet.  Even with all these features the helmet still weighs just under a pound!
Two stage adjustable vents on the Smith Vantage.  Key to
improving your ski/snowboard experience.

Even though this is the best snow helmet I have ever worn there are still a couple things that could stand to be fixed.  I think that a perfect score for a helmet has to include a place for your goggles to rest right above your forehead.  This makes it easy to take them on and off, cool down your face and not have them stuck behind your helmet making you fumble to get them back on.  The Vantage does not do this well.  You have to precariously rest them half on the visor and hope they don't slide back and flip over.  The only other thing this helmet needs is a flat enough spot to mount a helmet camera.  There are other mounting options when using a camera, but a flat spot does not exist on this helmet.  This forces me to use a goggle strap mount for my camera and that does not make it super sturdy.  Overall, it is not a huge deal, but it is an easy thing to fix for updated models.

Final Say:
Best all around helmet I have ever worn for ski/snowboarding.  It is low profile, comfortable and ventilates extremely well.  If you can overlook the one or two small things it does not do well, you will be very impressed.


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