Gregwrote a review of Smith Vantage Helmet on July 12, 2011
To start, the Vantage has a beautiful appearance with a very low profile compared to other helmets. I owned a Giro G10 for a long time and hated wearing it because it was bulky and I felt like it was something mommy got me to keep me safe when I started riding my bike. The Vantage absolutely does not do that: the lines are sleek and crisp while still retaining an undeniably cool look. The low profile also makes the helmet incredibly light: I have at times forgotten that what I was wearing on my head was a helmet and some sort of stiff hat. Compared to other helmets I tried on in my quest for the perfect helmet, the Vantage was among the lightest and that really counts for something over the course of a long day. Smith did not sacrifice safety to bring about the low weight either: the Vantage's hybrid SL shell construction complies with all major safety standards out there. The dual-density EPS liner will keep your brain intact without straining your neck.
Let's talk tech, something the Vantage has in spades. The first is the dual zone vent zones. I cannot emphasize how nice it is to have the front and rear vent areas be separately adjustable. If you get hot, open them all; if you want to cool off but don't want the wind on the top of your head, open the back and close the front; if you want something in between, set both to halfway (and there's a halfway notch in each zone's slider so you can set it without seeing it). The clip on the back is a new bungee and tab system instead of the plastic strap and snap system which is infinitely less of a hassle to use. It keeps your goggles just as secure but is makes adjusting goggles so much easier.
Oops ran out of space in that paragraph, gotta keep talking about the features in another one! Liner: perfect. It's called X-static and it's moisture wicking and silver-threaded to be anti-odor. I sweat like a dog when I'm skiing hard, so keeping my head dry is a priority that the Vantage meets. Earflaps are detachable for the spring and are already set up for your earbuds. Yeah, no need to buy a custom system, you can run your own buds into the waterproof flaps. The boa adjustment system ensures a snug and comfortable fit and all the other straps allow you to fiddle around until it's just right. I also appreciate the chin pad on the strap. If there's an industry-standard feature for a helmet, the Vantage has it, it does it better and it brings a few new toys to make it the best.
Beyond simple features, the Vantage brings with it the excellence that is the hallmark of Smith's products. The Vantage integrates perfectly with Smith's goggles (I personally use Smith's Phenoms) to virtually guarantee no fog and no gaper gap. The fit is pretty much perfect and shows the care that Smith has put into delivering an excellent skiing / riding headwear experience. You also get Smith's fantastic customer care. If something on it breaks because of poor manufacturing, send it and Smith will take care of you. If you smash your head and it saves your brain, they will replace it at significantly reduced cost. Pretty much, if you have beef with their product, Smith is going to do everything they can to make you happy, which is not something that all companies will do. Remember: you buy the company's service as much as the company's product.
An astute reader will notice that I am only gushing positive things, and that is true. The immediate downside of the Vantage is the pricetag which is why I only gave it four stars in value. At $180 retail--and you will probably pay retail on the Vantage--that is a lot to ask for on top of skiing's already astronomical costs. The Variant runs $60-70 cheaper and most helmets run in the $50-90 range. Only a select few models exist at this price point which does make it a somewhat hard sell when reasonable helmets exist for substantially cheaper prices. My answer is that the abundance of features, the fantastic construction, the lightweight low-profile design and the assurance of Smith's customer-oriented service make the helmet worth it. For a serious, aggressive skier like myself, this is hands-down a worthwhile investment. For a casual skier or someone just getting into snowsport who needs a helmet (you need a helmet!), the Vantage is a harder sell. The features are undeniably nice, but it was hard for me to drop nearly $200 on a helmet and I knew that I was going to make the most of out it. In the end, it is a decision they must make for their own circumstances.
In conclusion, I firmly believe the Vantage is the best helmet on the market. There might be some helmets that have a more park-oriented look and there are a few models competing at the price point that have unique applications, but the Vantage is without a doubt the best buy in the market overall. It has fantastic overall design and is loaded with features. On top of that, it's expressly designed for Smith goggles which are unquestionably some of the best and most popular optics on the market as well. Anyone who wants a helmet that meets the needs of the best, most aggressive skiers yet still distinctly improves the day of anyone who wears it needs to get their hands on a Smith Vantage.
(And as a disclaimer, I am not a rep, I just really love this helmet and wrote this review for a non-retailer site's contest and thought I would crosspost it over here.)