Smith Variant Brim 2013 - 2011 Review by The Good Ride

The Smith Variant Helmet, fits very well, can vent better than most or all helmets and might be one of the best helmets out there maybe with the exception of it’s lower profile higher priced brother the Smith Vantage.  A great alternative to the Giro G10. A little heavy compared to the others in its price range but the Smith Variant makes up for that with a low profile and excellent venting.  Probably our only real complaint is the Frequency doesn’t have steel mesh at the top which keeps snow out when you take a digger.  The goggle vent really does help and now most companies seem to add this feature to their helmets as well.  We still feel Smith does the best job when it comes to Goggle venting. The 2011 and 2012 are almost identical with the exception of a new BOA tightening system for 2012.

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.

The Smith Variant is a great all-around helmet with a few features unique to the industry.  The two strongest points about this helmet are:

1.  The low profile size.  They really shrink down the size without compromising safety which doesn’t make you feel like a bubble head.  If the industry follows Smiths shrinkage lead many more people will start wearing helmets and hospitals in mountain towns are less crowded.
2.  The venting is exceptional.  There are numerous vents that can open and close with a sliding mechanism at the top.  What takes this above the rest of the industry is the vents they created for your goggles.  It’s a brilliant idea and is one of the reasons why we feel this is a good ride favorite.

Some of the things we wish Smith could do to improve the helmet.
1. The sound quality is good for helmet audio ear pads but they don’t have a mute button on the ear pad itself.  It is not easy to find the mute button hanging off your chin and we find we use it a lot.  There have also been a lot of complaints about the earpads quality and build with the 08-09 models.
2.  When you open up the vents there is no real barrier between the vent and your head.  This means if you take a digger and smack your head into the snow it will get stuck in the vents and it’s rather hard to get out.  Some companies but a metal mesh across the top so if you do take a digger then you can brush it off and nothing will get inside.

A review from a former rider.

Now, for all you people that hate to wear helmets like me then Smith Helmets are for you. To note, I have a big head so when I see some of these different brands that made me look like Rick Moranis from Space Balls. Smith helmet was a godsend for me, they have a great low profile without sacrificing any safety or comfort.

For the Variant Brim, it is hands down the best helmet that I have ever used. One big thing to note here, this is not just snow helmets this is also for biking, kayaking and rafting as well so that is a pretty big deal in my book. Some of the features that make this helmet so great are its’ versatility. It can be your all-weather helmet, with the ability to shed those earmuffs and open all the top vents it can go anywhere and accommodate almost any weather condition. I have used while hiking in the backcountry and with the vents and earmuffs taken off it is totally compatible and breathes like a champ. It is also great for those hot spring days as well. Most helmets you sacrifice one or the other, either coolness or warmness, but not the Variant. I have used this on some super cold days in Utah, with the snow dumping and the wind howling.

The Variant Brim fit most goggles perfectly, except a few ones that are a little too crazy styled. The brim seems like a gimmick at first but it actually ends up being pretty useful when going into the sun, or when the snow is flying, it keeps your goggles clear and dry. What else can I say about this, ooh it well made! I have taken a couple of big diggers with this and not a single problem has surfaced. So all I can say is, if you are in the market for a new helmet this is the one for you.

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List Price US $160
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