Expert Review: Smith Vantage MIPS Helmet
This review is my honest opinion of the helmet, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2021.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the helmet, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2021.
The Smith Vantage MIPS helmet is a top of the line helmet and a top performer in protection, ventilation and comfort—perfect for any backcountry, resort skier or snowboarder.
About the gear
- Model: 2022 Smith Vantage MIPS Helmet
- Size: Large
- Height: 6’
- Weight: 190 lbs
- Head circumference: 59 cm
- Goggles: Anon M2
- Experience: 30 years snowboarding
- When I bought this helmet: November 2021
- Days tested: 50 days
- Where I’ve used it: Eastern Oregon Backcountry, Mt Hood, Mt Bachelor, and Anthony Lakes
- How I’ve used it: Backcountry and resort in just about every condition imaginable.
How it performs
What I was looking for
I didn’t wear a helmet in the backcountry and had an old Red Helmet I used on the resort. I became aware that I was being reckless by not wearing a helmet in the backcountry too, and I needed a resort helmet upgrade. I was looking for a helmet that is lightweight with great ventilation for the backcountry, and is also very comfortable and provides good protection for the resort. I also wanted a helmet with adjustable vents and the MIPS system for the extra concussion protection. Price wasn’t a factor for me, as head protection pays for itself.
Why I chose this gear
I was impressed by other reviews as well as the vast list of features of the Vantage MIPS, including: a robust 21 adjustable vents, the MIPS system, and the Zonal Koroyd. I had it narrowed down to the Vantage, the Salomon MTN Lab Helmet, and the Anon Nova MIPS. The Vantage MIPS won out with the best mix of ventilation, weight, and protection.
What I love about it
- Protection: With the combination of the MIPS system and Zonal Koroyd, this is some of the best protection you can get for safeguarding the noggin and drastically reducing chances of concussion in a bad wreck. I had one high speed multi-somersaulter in the backcountry and took a straight hit to the helmet on hard snow. I came away without a concussion or broken helmet, so I was stoked.
- Comfort: This is a really comfortable helmet. I have a strange head shape but the Vantage’s use of minimal padding, and the BOA fit system, works to get it securely planted on the head without any pressure points. It also comes in a contour fit for those of us with round heads, which is a great feature.
- Fit system: The BOA fit system is the best. It’s really easy to use and I was able to really crank it down to the head when needed. It can also be done with one hand.
- Breathability: The Vantage MIPS is an extremely breathable helmet with outstanding ventilation. There are 21 well-placed vents all over the helmet and two vent adjustment levers on top of the helmet. The wearer has the option of leaving it all the way open or closing half or all of the vents. This allows one to really adapt the ventilation to the conditions.
- Earpads: They are more minimalist and pretty basic, but they are still good earpads. The earpads are comfortable and pretty warm, and they are also removable.
- Goggle compatibility: Smith made this to be compatible with their helmets and will fit better and vent with Smith goggles. My Anon M2 goggles work well with it but a wider goggle may have issues.
- Weight: At 1 lb 1.6 oz, it is really light, much lighter even than most resort helmets, and it rivals backcountry helmets. The helmet feels light on the head and light in the pack. Its lightness is surprising considering the amount of protection this helmet offers.
- Durability: A strong outer shell with anti-concussion systems in the inner makes for a really durable helmet. Mine has made it through some big wrecks unscathed, and with no real signs of wear after more than 50 days of use.
- Quality of Materials: This is a really high-end helmet. From the outer shell, to the MIPS and Koroyd, Nanosilver performance lining, and BOA fit system, the Vantage MIPS has top quality materials all-around.
- Style: This stylish helmet has a small brim and a low-profile, modern look.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Sizing: This helmet is on the small side. I have a size 59 cm head and should fit medium and large sizes, but the medium was too small to wear and the large fit well. The MIPS version is a snugger fit than the non-MIPS, so it would be a good idea to size up if for anyone who measures in between sizes.
- Liner: The liner is extremely breathable and low profile, with padding in the right places for comfort. It is made of quality materials, but it scrunches up a bit in the back of the helmet and is not a seamless fit. I don’t feel this when wearing it, but it can be seen and that’s not what you expect from a top-end helmet.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment in this helmet was a bluebird day in the backcountry on variable snow with patches of windblown powder and wind-affected hard pack. On a transition from pow to hardpack, I caught a rear edge at high speed. It sent me inverted and I landed on the crown of my helmet on hardpack before going into a few uncontrolled somersaults. I stood up dizzy but without a major concussion that would have made the four-mile trek out very difficult. I was very impressed with the impact protection of this helmet.
Value for the money vs. other options
The Smith Vantage MIPS is an expensive helmet, but it’s one of the few helmets that wearers can effectively use for both backcountry and resort. The Vantage is lighter and much better on ventilation than comparable resort helmets like the Anon Nova and POC Obex. It also offers much better protection than top backcountry helmets like the Salomon MTN lab. The POC Obex BC MIPS is the closest competitor in terms of protection and weight, but the Vantage has much better ventilation.
The Smith Vantage MIPS is a superior helmet for mixed backcountry and resort use, or for the hardcore resort rider that needs the ventilation breathability and top-end protection.