Smith Vantage MIPS
Construction: Hybrid as
Weight: 17,6 oz.
Ventilation: Adjustable (21 fans)
What we like: Vantage brings it all together: Comfort, performance, safety and appearance.
What we don’t do: Very expensive.
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Smith is the market leader in ski helmets and his Vantage MIPS is a favourite with serious downhill and alpine skiers. This cover seems to have everything: Comfort, performance, safety and aesthetics of the shoe. Given his impressive resume, I was looking forward to the helmet test in the Pacific Northwest, where he was exposed to strong winds and long cold days. After a full user season, Vantage has lived up to its expectations with a smart feature set, a pleasant atmosphere and general ease of use. In what follows, we will talk about Vantage comfort, ventilation, warmth, features, comfort and size, and much more. To see how it fits in the competition, read our article about the best ski helmets.
When I first wore the MIPS Smith Vantage, I was immediately amazed at its comfort. The soft but supportive inner lining fits well and comfortably over my head, even in a tight position, and from day one I had no pressure or friction points. The chinstrap contains the same plush filling, which does not irritate even cold and dry skin. The belt is also very easy to tighten, loosen and fasten. This may not sound like praise, but I’ve had serious problems with other helmets. For example, my Giro Sheer always seems to have a twisted chinstrap that removes the soft protection from my face and the hard material from my skin. I look forward to wearing the Vantage every time I travel – perhaps the biggest compliment I can get for a cross-country ski helmet.
The Vantage 21 has more vents than most other helmets on the market. For example, competitors such as Oakley Mod 5 (8 vents), Smith Liberty/Level (20 smaller vents) and Giro Stellar/Range MIPS (13 vents) are lagging behind Vantage. It is important to note that the holes are wide and easy to adjust: Vantage is equipped with two separate slides to easily open and close more than half of the vents. Even with the ski gloves on I found it very easy to adjust the two slides – one controls the four vents on the top and front of the helmet and the other eight on the sides and back. In general, thanks to its teddy bear lining and exceptional ventilation, the helmet distinguishes itself by its ability to balance comfort and front and rear use.
Despite the ability to dissipate heat quickly, I found the helmet as hot as its less ventilated structures. When it was closed, not a single train crawled, and Vantage kept my head comfortably warm all season long. However, I must point out that I tend to wear the hood of my Gore-Tex jacket heavily when the wind is particularly strong, which can be responsible for blocking some of the wind. And for those who prefer extra insulation, I’ve found enough space to slide a thin cap or hood under my helmet, although I haven’t had to use it yet.
In an effort to improve security, many companies have begun integrating Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology into their projects. And while some brands have created their own options, such as the POC SPIN system, none are as widely accepted as the MIPS liners. In short, the technology is designed to reduce potential brain damage due to oblique shocks by means of a coating that moves independently of the outer shell. Especially with the Vantage, the only difference is that the size is slightly smaller than the Smiths helmets we wore without MIPS (see the section on fit and size below for more details). Otherwise, you wouldn’t know there’s overtime.
Air casing construction
Another safety feature built into the design of the Vantage MIPS is the distinctive design of the Smith Aerocore cell visible through the openings. This technology is designed to improve energy absorption in the event of an accident and to improve airflow and temperature control. To achieve this design, EPS foam (the same foam used in many mountain biking and mountaineering helmets) is mixed with Coroid, a material consisting of small tubes welded together by thermal welding and designed to break in the event of a collision. These security features are difficult to quantify, but it should be noted that the complementary technologies are very well integrated in a low-profile design.
Boa attachment system
Boa-locking systems are the easiest to use on the market. You may have noticed them on other outdoor equipment and accessories, from snowshoes to shoes. But for every foreigner, the Boa in this case is a simple set on the back of the helmet, which is much easier to put on and take off than any other harness system we use. The scale is locked when locked to prevent unwanted adjustment. In particular, the Smith Boa system is designed with a 360-degree view, both to the front and to the side, allowing the Vantage to fit evenly on your head.
Weighing 17.6 ounces, the Smith Vantage MIPS women’s model has a fairly average weight in the ski helmet market. Compared to the same expensive full-featured models such as Oakley Mod 5 (20 ounces), Smith Liberty MIPS (19 ounces) and Giro Stellar MIPS (19 ounces), Vantage reduces competition, but not significantly. The ultra-light mode with an option like Salomon MTN Lab (13.25 oz) sacrifices features and comfort to appeal to off-road travelers, but if you divide the time between inbound and outbound, the extra weight shouldn’t matter. As I said before, I was happy to have a comfortable lining and easily adjustable vents and a chinstrap, even if they bring something extra.
Quality and sustainability of buildings
After a very extensive testing season, I am happy to announce that the durability of the Vantage helmet is not a problem. The inner lining shows no signs of wear or loose seams and no other parts of the helmet show significant signs of wear (which is to be expected when using a rigid ABS plastic upper and inner structure). The only part of this helmet I had a problem with was the lock on my back – I had to get used to the elastic and hook system compared to the pressure systems I know better. But once I got used to it, I liked the safe and the comfortable lock.
Adjustment and calibration
Normally I wear small ski helmets, but I thought the size of the Vantage would only be comfortable if I set the Boa system to the best possible fit. Because there was no room for beans or a hood underneath, I decided to choose a feminine product that suits me perfectly. It is large enough to hold a hat, but can also be stretched to rest firmly and comfortably on the head thanks to its excellent tensioning system. It should be noted that the female version is only available in small (head circumference 51-55 cm) and medium (55-59 cm) sizes, while the male Vantage MIPS version is available in large (and small and medium) versions to complete the range.
Other versions of Smith Vantage
For this report we tested the female version of the Smith Vantage MIPS, but the helmet is also available in the male version for the same price. The men’s model is identical to the women’s model in all respects, except for colour and size. As mentioned above, it is available in three sizes: small (51-55 cm), medium (55-59 cm) and large (59-63 cm). Vantage helmets for men and women were previously offered in versions other than MIPS, but will now be phased out until the 2019-2020 season. If you can find one of the sold versions, we have discovered that the non-MIPS version works a bit better than the more comfortable MIPS model.
What we want in
- The ear, cushions and chinstrap are soft and provide good support.
- The ventilation of the station is impressive, with 21 vents, but the station is still warm enough for cold days.
- Bright enough to provide all-day comfort.
- The Boa tensioning system is very easy to use and ensures that the helmet fits well over the entire circumference.
What we don’t do is.
- For $260, the Vantage is one of the most expensive ski helmets on the market.
- The MIPS coating seems to make it a bit small, so the fence may have to be bigger.
- The elastic/hook-shaped support at the back requires some use (but I liked the system in the end).
Vantage is a solid jack of all markets at home and has been wearing our ski helmets for several seasons. One of its current competitors is Oakley’s MIPS Mod 5, which shares many design features with the Vantage for $20 less. Both helmets are made of durable ABS plastic for extra protection at the top, an adjustable ventilation system (Oakley has eight vents), a Boa button and MIPS technology. Model 5, on the other hand, is 2.4 oz heavier, with less cushioning in the lining and fewer vents that emit heat less quickly. For superior overall performance, comfort and ventilation, we give Vantage our approval.
Externally, the new Smith Liberty and the men’s level are very similar to the Vantage, but for a lower price ($200 with MIPS). The line offers the same ABS and in the form of a design with an Aerocore part on top of the cover, and we found that the lining is just as soft. However, Liberty changes the dial of the Boa to its own design, is poorly ventilated and weighs about one gram more. For those who are only connected to the station, we think that freedom is almost an ideal choice. But if you spend some time out of town or in your backyard, the Smith Vantage is the best break.
Quantum MIPS headsets are at the top of the Smith headsets and offer almost all the possibilities they offer. Important differences from the Vantage are an integral helmet with Aerocore (on the Vantage it sits only at the top), an extended ABS plastic part on the side and back of the head for better protection, and a magnetic buckle that we found comfortable and safe. The distribution and adjustment of the fit is a random draw between them, although the weight increases with a quantum of 5+ ounces (note that we have not noticed any increase). After all, we love Quantum, but it’s hard to justify the extra $40 for additional upgrades.
The latest premium alternative is the Giro Stellar MIPS (and MIPS for men), which offers an extremely versatile adjustment system. The two-piece adjustable case is easy to adjust with a scale that allows the case to be enlarged or closed around the head. Another nice feature is the magnetic chin strap (not the standard Vantage closure), which makes it easier to put on and take off the gloves. But Smith always wins on the ventilation front, and we prefer their softer interior (especially the Stellar/Range ear cushions are not very comfortable). Finally, we give Vantage the advantage of superior comfort and performance at the same price.
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