Smith Vantage MIPS

Price: $270
Construction: Hybrid in-mold
Weight: 1 lb. 1.6 oz. (women's)
Ventilation: Adjustable (21 vents)
What we like: The Vantage puts it all together: comfort, performance, safety, and looks.
What we don’t: Very pricey.
See the Women's Smith Vantage  See the Men's Smith Vantage


Smith is a leader in the ski helmet market, and their Vantage MIPS is a favorite among serious downhill and alpine touring riders. This lid seemingly has it all: comfort, performance, safety, and good looks to boot. Given its impressive résumé, we were eager to put the helmet to the test in the Pacific Northwest backcountry, where it faced high winds and long, cold days. Following a full season of use, the Vantage lived up to its billing with a thoughtful feature set, cozy feel, and general ease of use. Below we detail our test of the Smith Vantage MIPS. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our articles on the best ski helmets and best snowboard helmets.

Table of Contents



When I put on the Smith Vantage MIPS for the first time, I was immediately impressed by its comfort. The soft but supportive liner fits snugly and comfortably even when tightly adjusted on my head, and I’ve had no pressure points or rubbing since day one. The chin strap contains the same plush padding, which translates to no irritation even when my skin is cold and dry. The strap is also very simple to tighten, loosen, and fasten. That might not sound like high praise, but I’ve had significant issues with other helmets. For example, my Giro Sheer always seems to have a twisted chin strap, leaving the soft guard flipped away from my face and the harsh material against my skin. I look forward to putting on the Vantage whenever I’m transitioning—perhaps the greatest compliment a backcountry helmet can receive.
Smith Vantage MIPS helmet (chin strap)


The Vantage features 21 vents—far more than most other helmets on the market. For example, competitors like Smith’s own Liberty/Level (20 smaller vents), Anon Merak WaveCel (19 vents), and Giro Stellar/Range MIPS (12 vents) fall short compared to the Vantage. Importantly, the openings are generously sized and easy to customize: The Vantage has two separate sliders to easily open and close more than half of the vents. Even with ski gloves on, I found it very simple to adjust both sliders—one controls four vents on the top and front of the helmet, and the other controls eight along the sides and back. All in all, thanks to both the plush lining and exceptional ventilation, the helmet is a standout in its ability to balance comfort and capability for frontside and backcountry use.
Smith Vantage (vents)


Despite the ability to quickly dump heat, I found the helmet was just as warm as far-less-ventilated designs. When closed, no drafts crept through and the Vantage kept my head cozy and warm throughout the season. However, I should note that I do tend to don the hood of my hardshell jacket whenever it’s particularly blustery, so that may be responsible for blocking some of the wind. And for those who prefer extra insulation, I found there was enough room to squeeze a thin beanie or balaclava underneath the helmet if needed (this is dependent on where you land on the fit range), although I haven’t had to resort to that just yet.Smith Vantage MIPS helmet (skiing 2)

Key Features

MIPS Liner

In an effort to increase safety, many companies include MIPS technology (short for Multi-directional Impact Protection System) in their designs. And while some brands have created their own proprietary options—like POC’s SPIN system, for example—none have been so universally adopted as the MIPS liner. In short, the technology is designed to reduce potential damage to the brain in angled impacts through a liner that moves independently from the outer shell. In the case of the Vantage specifically, the only difference is a slight reduction in size compared with non-MIPS-equipped Smith helmets we've worn (more on this in “Fit and Sizing” below). Otherwise, you'd hardly know the extra layer is there.Smith Vantage MIPS helmet (inside 2)

Zonal Koroyd Coverage

Another safety feature integrated into the Vantage MIPS' design is Smith’s distinctive, honeycomb-like Koroyd material, which is visible through the vent openings. Made up of tiny tubes heat-welded together, this technology is intended to improve energy absorption in a crash, in addition to increasing airflow and regulating temperature. It’s worth noting that the Vantage’s Koroyd coverage is zonal—if you want the added assurance of full coverage, you’ll need to step up to Smith’s $325 Nexus MIPS—but it’s integrated very well into the low-profile design.
Smith Vantage MIPS helmet (detail)

Boa Tensioning System

Boa closure systems are the easiest to use on the market. You’ve probably spotted them on other outdoor gear and accessories, from backcountry snowshoes to footwear. But for anyone unfamiliar, a Boa is a simple dial—in this case, on the back of the helmet—that tightens and loosens much easier than any strap system we've used. When tightened, the dial locks in place to prevent unwanted adjustment. Smith’s Boa system, in particular, sports a 360-degree design that targets both forward and lateral fit, helping the Vantage conform evenly to your head. 
Smith Vantage (boa)


At 1 pound 1.6 ounces, the women's Smith Vantage MIPS has a fairly average weight within the ski helmet market. Compared to similarly premium, fully featured models like the Smith’s own Liberty MIPS (1 lb. 3 oz.) and Giro's Stellar MIPS (1 lb. 3 oz.), the Vantage undercuts the competition, but not by much. Going ultralight with an option like the Salomon MTN Lab (12.9 oz.) sacrifices features and comfort to appeal to ounce-counting backcountry-goers, but if you split your time between in- and out-of-bounds, the extra weight shouldn’t matter much. As I mentioned above, I was glad to have the cozy liner and easy-to-adjust vents and chin strap, even though they add a little bulk.
Smith Vantage (skiing with avy pack)

Build Quality and Durability

After a very full season of testing, I’m happy to report no durability issues with the Smith Vantage MIPS. There’s no fraying or loosening of any stitching in the liner, and there are no obvious signs of wear on any other part of the helmet (which is to be expected with a tough ABS plastic upper). The only part of this helmet I’ve had a problem with is the goggle lock on the back—the elastic and hook system proved a little hard to get used to compared to the snap systems I’m more familiar with. That said, once I was accustomed to it, I grew to like the secure and user-friendly lock.
Smith Vantage (goggle strap)

Fit and Sizing

I typically wear a small in ski helmets, but I found that size was only comfortable in the Vantage when I adjusted the Boa system to the largest possible setting. Given that left no flexibility for a beanie or balaclava underneath, I decided to go up to a women’s medium, which fit me perfectly. It is large enough to accommodate a hat but can also tighten to fit my head snugly and comfortably thanks to the superb tensioning system. Finally, it’s worth noting that the women’s version is offered in three sizes (small, medium, and large) that should work for those with heads between 51 and 63 centimeters around, while the men’s Vantage MIPS ranges from small to extra large (51 to 67cm).

Other Versions of the Smith Vantage

For this review, we tested the women’s version of the Smith Vantage MIPS, but the helmet also comes in a men’s version for the same price. The men’s model is identical to the women’s version in every way but color and size. As mentioned above, it is available in four sizes: small (51 to 55cm), medium (55 to 59cm), large (59 to 63cm), and extra large (63 to 67cm). Both men’s and women’s Vantage helmets used to be offered in non-MIPS versions, although those have been mostly phased out (Smith still has a couple options available). Finally, Smith sells the Vantage Round Contour Fit, which boasts more width at the rear and a shorter length to accommodate rounder head shapes. Importantly, it’s only available in a non-MIPS version but retains an otherwise identical feature set to the standard Vantage.
Smith Vantage MIPS helmet (goggles)

What We Like

  • Great build quality, and the liner, ear pads, and chin strap are soft and supportive.
  • The Vantage has impressive ventilation with 21 vents, but it’s still plenty warm for cold days at the resort.
  • Lightweight enough to provide all-day comfort.
  • Boa tensioning system is very easy to use and gives the helmet a snug fit all around.

What We Don’t

  • Very expensive at $270, although overall build quality lines up well with the price.
  • The MIPS liner seems to make it run a little small, so those on the fence may need to size up.
  • The elastic/hook goggle attachment at the back takes some getting used (but I wound up liking the system).

Smith Vantage MIPS helmet (exterior)

Comparison Table

Helmet Price Construction Weight Ventilation MIPS
Smith Vantage MIPS $270 Hybrid in-mold 1 lb. 1.6 oz.  Adjustable (21 vents) Yes
Oakley Mod5 MIPS $270 Hybrid in-mold 1 lb. 8 oz. Adjustable (11 vents) Yes
Smith Liberty MIPS $220 Hybrid in-mold 1 lb. 3 oz. Adjustable (20 vents) Yes
Smith Nexus MIPS $325 Hybrid in-mold 1 lb. 3 oz. Adjustable (24 vents) Yes
POC Obex BC MIPS $270 In-mold w/ ABS shell 1 lb. 1.6 oz. Adjustable Yes
Giro Envi Spherical $270 In-mold 14.1 oz. Adjustable (16 vents) Yes

The Competition

The Vantage is a strong all-around performer and has been at the top of our ski helmet round-up for multiple seasons. One standout competitor is Oakley’s Mod5 MIPS, which shares a lot of design features with the Vantage for the same price. Both helmets sport tough ABS plastic along the top for extra protection, an adjustable ventilation system, a Boa dial, and MIPS technology. That said, the Mod5 has less cushioning in the liner and doesn’t regulate heat as well due to its fewer openings and simplified design. The latest model is also fairly heavy at 1 pound 8 ounces and best suited for lift-accessed terrain when weight isn’t a huge factor. For overall superiority in performance, comfort, venting, and versatility, we give the nod to the Vantage.

On the outside, Smith's Liberty and men's Level look very similar to the Vantage, but at a more palatable price ($220 with MIPS). The line offers the same ABS and in-mold construction, includes a section of Koroyd along the top of the lid, and has a similarly soft feel inside. However, the Liberty swaps the Boa dial for an in-house design, has inferior ventilation, and adds about an ounce in weight. For those sticking solely to the resort, we think the Liberty is a near-ideal choice. But if you spend some of your time in the side or backcountry, the Vantage is a better all-rounder.Smith Vantage MIPS helmet (skiing)

Sitting atop Smith’s helmet lineup and packing just about every feature they offer is the Nexus MIPS. Key differences from the Vantage include the entire helmet using Koroyd (the Vantage only has it towards the top), an extended section of ABS plastic along the sides and back of the head for a boost in protection, and a magnetic buckle that we found to be convenient and reliable. Ventilation and fit customization are a draw between the two, although weight and bulk do go up slightly with the Nexus (for more, see our in-depth review here). In the end, we really like the pricier design, but it’s hard to justify the added $55 for only incremental improvements.

Moving outside of Smith’s collection, POC has a strong reputation in the park and ski touring worlds, and their Obex BC MIPS is a standout in backcountry toughness and safety. For the same price as the Vantage, the Obex boasts a polycarbonate shell with ABS plastic at the top, an EPS liner to keep weight low (both helmets check in at 1 lb. 1.6 oz.), and an intuitive 360-degree fit system that functions similarly to the Vantage’s Boa dial. Like the Smith, the POC also includes adjustable vents to tailor airflow, although the Vantage has a more generous layout for staying comfortable on warm spring days. On the flip side, the Obex includes small but thoughtful safety upgrades like an ID chip that stores your medical and emergency contact information and a Recco reflector for transmitting your location to rescuers. In the end, we think the Vantage balances its priorities a bit better, but the Obex is close behind and arguably the better-looking option.

A final alternative is the women's Giro Envi Spherical (and men’s Grid Spherical), which is the lightest option here at a feathery 14.1 ounces. Other highlights include good temperature regulation with 16 adjustable vents and excellent protection thanks to MIPS’ Spherical technology, which is designed to keep weight and bulk low while still guarding against rotational impacts. We also love the plush removable liner and magnetic chin strap (rather than the Vantage's standard buckle), which makes it easier to take on and off while wearing gloves. That said, the Envi falls short of the Vantage in durability with a less hardwearing in-mold construction, making it the less appealing option for those who spend a lot of time at the resort. In the end, given their identical price, we give the edge to the Vantage for its more well-rounded performance at a very small weight penalty.

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