rodfreudenbergwrote a review of Smith Variance Helmet on May 2, 2014
Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I used this helmet for an entire season, wearing it over 20 days in sub-zero temps, blizzards, and sweaty hot conditions. Having taken some blows to the head, I can safely say it provided the best protection of any helmet I've used. However, the helmet is disappointing in many respects. First, it is heavy and at the end of the day my neck is much more fatigued than with my old Giro helmet. In cold conditions, I need a liner, in warm conditions there isn't enough ventilation, and I can not figure how to get the ear pads out without disassembling the helmet. (no instructions provided by Smith). The ear pads are so puffy, that it is difficult to have a conversation with someone on the chairlift. To fix this I opened the ear pad zipper and tore out all of the foam in the muffs. I assume this is what the zipper is for because there is no other apparent use for it other than to destroy the foam in the pads. Now I can hear, but the pads are useless for protection from cold and wind. But since I need a liner when I need ear warmth, it works out fine. The muff should have been designed like those in other helmets with actual holes at the ear canal and easier removal. The lining moves around too easily and provides practically no padding against the substructure. Lastly, with Oakley goggles, the brim pushes down on the arch of the goggle frame. Smith goggles fit better, but it is still an issue. The helmet looks pretty stylish and feels good in the store, but it just doesn't cut it for day in and out comfort and versatility.