Smith Vantage 2016 - 2011 Review by The Good Ride

The Smith Vantage might be one of the most expensive helmets out there. Is it worth the price?  We aren’t’ sure but it’s one hell of a low profile ultra light helmet. It hasn’t changed much over the years except the 2014 Smith Vantage has a honeycomb-like texture in the vents and feels like it’s a little lighter.

Ethics Statement: We don’t get paid by the manufacturer to write these reviews.  No one is perfect and we do make money from the “Where To Buy” links below, but this is our best attempt at an honest and objective review from an average riders’ perspective.

 

A couple of things about the Vantage. The Smith Variant is one of the only helmets that have the visor or no visor option.  The Vantage does have some of the best venting out there and a very logical approach to the way it regulates.  You can block off all of the helmet, the front part or the rear part.  Our favorite part about Smith helmets is the goggle venting system. Not much has changed from 2011 to 2012 except for the addition of a BOA Coil for the tightening system near the back so if you can find 2011 have at it.

We haven’t impacted experts so don’t look to us for technical details about impact protection.  We can say from what we understand is the Smith vantage seems to have a hard shell on the top along with in-mold construction. I think they call this Hybrid Shell construction.  On the sides it just seems to be in mold   You can see this separation in the line that separates the upper an lower parts of the helmet like it has a curvy equator.  We aren’t going to talk about these aspects of the Helmet in detail or any of the helmets on The Good Ride.  We can talk about the features and usability of the Vantage though.

Positives– To start off the Smith Vantage is incredibly light.  We didn’t put it on a scale but the Vantage feels almost like wearing a hat.  Right before this, we were tooling around with the Giro G10, Giro G9, and RED Tantrum.  Both felt so heavy compared to the Smith Vantage.  Another thing that makes the Smith Vantage one of our favorite helmets is how low it rides on your head.  It is incredibly low profile compared to almost any helmet out there.  We previously thought the Smith Variant is the lowest profile helmets out there until we got to play around with the Vantage.  We can’t stress how small and light this feels on your head.  After a whole day of riding, you don’t feel like the first thing you want to do when you get to the car or bar takes the helmet off.  This Low profile and lightweight are two of the major reasons to get the Smith Vantage but there are lots of little things that make this helmet great as well.  For example the ability to control the front and back half of your helmet’s venting.  Also, the little elastic pull chord made to hold the goggle strap is much better than many of the rubber or solid plastic goggle strap holder thingers or whatever you call them.  The adjustment system is very easy to tighten or loosen the helmets grip on your head.  The chin strap is nothing special but is very comfortable.  The ear pads are very comfortable, wrap around your ears to protect you from the cold and are also audio compatible. Skull Candy does a good job with Smith Helmets.  It’s nothing exceptional but just as good or maybe slightly better than the competitors’ audio helmets.   The zipper and the way the Skull candy audio inserts work with the ear pads are pretty smart because there isn’t a single part that is exposed to the elements.  Many of the helmets we have tried short out after too many wet days on the hill because they have a plug that is semi-exposed.  For example, the editor went through 3 RED audio inserts with the RED Tantrum because you plugged into a semi-exposed jack.  Very frustrating!  The quality of the helmet liner is not an artwork but it’s very well made for a mass produced helmet.  We like that the visor is small compared to the Smith Variants.  It’s kind of cool aesthetically but also helps a little bit when it comes to shielding your goggles from the snow.  The venting system along the goggle line is the best out there.  Many other companies have caught on to what Smith was doing but haven’t really mastered that.  We have found that previous models, even with visors, do a very good job keeping your goggles de-fogged on really hot or steamy wet days.

Negatives– Our biggest issue with the Smith Vantage is the shell on the top part of the helmet seems to be separate from the shock absorption material inside and you can feel in parts where it seems to be evident.  It’s not terrible but we’d like to see that bond better.  Maybe it’s just an early model we received,  maybe it’s done that way for a reason, or maybe they skimped on glue?  We don’t know for sure but just want to point that out. The vents are one of the best qualities of this helmet but they seem like they are bigger in the pictures than when you get the helmet.  In addition, the vent controls are small and hard to manipulate with or without gloves on.  The chin strap is also hard to adjust compared to other helmets. The Audio portion doesn’t stand up well to wet conditions and the mute/pause button is hard to clip or access.  It would be better to have a mute/pause button on the ear pad it’self and have smith waterproof the whole audio system.  Often times they short out on a wet powder day which usually leaves one or both speakers not working. Sadly this isn’t a complaint unique to Smith. Every helmet company has this issue.

As you can see the positives outweigh the negatives with the Smith Vantage Helmet and they should for this price. When you get a hold of the Vantage you can see how 100+ a day riders (like me) who always wear helmets will be stoked on the Vantage.

So far after 180+days on the hill, the Smith Vantage has held up well and there have been no issues.  It feels so light on the head and is so low profile it makes it easier to wear all the time.

 
Smith Vantage Images

We try to get as many images of the Smith Vantage, but forgive us if they're not all there.

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