Article by Jeff Valliere
Smith Vantage MIPS Helmet and 4D MAG S Goggles
Smith Vantage MIPS Helmet
Sizes – S-XL
1lb 3.5 oz./552 grams in Women’s size Large
The Smith Vantage MIPS snow helmet is one of Smith’s top of the line, most feature packed helmets. It is ideal for alpine skiing, snowboarding and backcountry touring. The Vantage is packed full of features (see below) such as a BOA fit system, MIPS, Zonal Koroyd impact absorbing material, hybrid shell construction and 21 (adjustable) vents. While not a featherweight helmet, it is light for all that it offers and the adjustable vents are significant, adding to the flexibility and utility.
Fit for me was tricky and I would highly recommend trying the helmet on before buying, or buying from a retailer with a good exchange policy. Despite measuring my head at 55.5 cm and being certain I needed a men’s medium, I happened to find myself at REI one afternoon and was able to try on the Vantage ahead of time. The men’s helmets have a more round shape than I am accustomed to and in my recommended size medium, that more round shape really compressed my forehead such that it was uncomfortable no matter how I adjusted the BOA. I then tried the men’s large and it was way too big and floppy.
The sales person suggested I try on a women’s helmet and voila, the women’s large fit me perfectly! The colorway options vary slightly between the men’s and women’s, but black, blue and white overlap and I wanted black anyways, so I was really glad I was able to try them on ahead of time.
Styling is subjective of course, but I like the modern look of the Vantage with built in visor, insulated earflaps and a wide range of color choices.
The Vantage is loaded with safety, comfort and adjustability features that in my opinion, make it the ideal choice.
First, once you determine the correct overall sizing, the BOA Fit System makes for really easy and secure fine tuning of fit and is especially handy to adjust for wearing a balaclava or beanie underneath.
The zonal Koroyd impact coverage is light, well ventilated and (reportedly) provides great impact protection. You can see it well through the vents which look a lot like honeycombs. I like that it lets in air, but will still protect from impact or any sticks or branches. Smith uses Koroyd for their bike helmets as well, which I think would be amazing to keep out bugs and bees while still maintaining max ventilation.
There are 21 vents on the helmet, where the 12 largest ones can easily be opened or closed using two sliders, one for the 4 front vents and the other the rear 8 vents depending on your preference. These vents make a HUGE difference, where in the open position, they provide a remarkable amount of cool airflow, but when it gets cold, with just an easy slide of the sliders, you can shut the vents to stay nice and sheltered from the elements.
The sliders are really easy to use on the fly and I operate them frequently depending on output, uphill, downhill or varying levels of wind/cold. Operation is easy, even while wearing mittens.
There are two strategically placed vents at the front of the helmet along the edge of the visor that catch air and funnel the air straight down into the vents of the goggles.
The MIPS system consists of an inner plastic liner which rides independently from the rest of the helmet, with the intention being to reduce the rotational forces caused by angled impacts to the head. I have not yet tested this out (and hope not to), but it makes sense and now insist upon it with any helmet for myself or my family.
The XT2 antimicrobial lining is especially comfortable and helps regulate temperature, not overly hot when it is not really cold and quite warm when it is really cold.
The earflaps are removable, but I will admit that it seems complicated enough that I have not bothered trying, nor have I felt the need to. They are well padded and comfortable, allowing for great warmth and protection from the elements. They do muffle sound a little bit, but not overly so and I still feel very aware of my surroundings. The chin strap is also very well padded and quite easy to adjust.
On the back of the helmet is a very easy to operate strap the helps secure your goggles.
Unlike other helmets I have used that require taking the helmet off to affix/position the goggles, I can easily operate it while still wearing the helmet.
This is particularly handy if you need to remove the goggles for cleaning or swapping.
The Vantage even comes with a nice half mesh bag with shoulder straps for storage/easy carry.
The Vantage MIPS helmet is the best snow helmet I have ever worn. It is incredibly comfortable, well vented/breezy or warm/protective depending on how you adjust the vents, is easy to adjust with the BOA Fit System, has great safety features with the MIPS and Koroyd, plus integrates seamlessly with Smith goggles (and even very very well with other brands). Quality, construction and durability are all top notch. I am confident that in the unfortunate circumstance of an accident, that I will be maximally protected.
Smith 4D Mag S Goggles
5.25 oz./151 grams
$350 as tested with Chromapop Photochromic Rose Flash Lens and additional included Chromapop Storm Yellow Flash lens)
$125 for additional Chromapop Sun Green Mirror Lens
The 4D MAG S is Smith’s top of the line goggle, featuring a rounded shape along the bottom for a wide unobstructed vision, easy magnetic lens changes and exceptionally clear high definition Chromapop vision. The S at the end stands for small, as it is a little smaller than the normal 4D MAG to accommodate smaller faces, or just a preference for a goggle that is not moon landing massive.
Integration with Smith helmets is seamless, creating a perfect seal of protection from the elements.
The included Chromapop Photochromic Rose Flash lens (shown above and below) is Smith’s top of the line lens with a VLT of 30-50%, subtly changing to accommodate for varying light conditions. This is a very versatile lens, working well for me on cloudy days, skiing in the trees where you are in and out of shade/sun and for moderately sunny or partly cloudy conditions. The Chromapop provides an amazing level of clarity and contrast for the type of snow, changes in the snow, irregularities of the snow and definition.
Included are an extra Chromapop Storm Yellow Flash lens (65% VLT) that are made for those cloudy, snowy days where visibility is really tough, where the Yellow Flash brightens things up and provides extra pop and contrast. I was able to test them in a legit snow storm and was very impressed at how well I was able to read the terrain with them vs. other goggles I have used in the past, sport glasses or without having anything at all. Both photos below are of the Storm Yellow Flash.
Smith was gracious enough to provide a 3rd lens, the Chromapop Sun Green Mirror Lens, with 9% VLT. This is their darkest lens and I opted for it because here in Colorado, with the high altitude, abundance of sunshine and wide open snow bowls, having a very dark lens is critical, at least for me to be able to see and to protect my eyes. Some lenses I have used in the past that provided a darker VLT than 12 have felt almost too dark to provide as much usability as I hoped, by blocking the sun well, but muting the snow/trail definition. The Sun Green Mirror Lens however is utterly amazing in that it puts my eyes at ease even in the most blinding post snow storm bluebird days, while providing amazing clarity and the ability to read snow definition and even feels completely at home for short stints in the trees or shade without feeling disorientingly dark.
As you can see in the photo below, the bottom of the lens is curved, which allows for a more expanded range of view when looking down. This expanded range of vision is much appreciated, where it really opens up your field of view. When first trying on the goggles, I did notice some distortion when looking through the lower portion of the lens, but it is minimal and I never noticed that again after the first few minutes of wearing them.
In the photo above, it is hard to describe the brightness after a fresh snowfall on a brilliant bluebird Colorado day, but when I took the goggles off to swap with my wife so she could experience the awesomeness of the Sun Green lens, my eyes would quiver, shudder and tear up, but while using this lens, my eyes were completely at ease.
Above, in order from top to bottom, Sun Green Mirror, Rose Flash Photochromic, Storm Yellow Flash
Integration with Smith helmets is seamless and easy.
The MAG lens change system is very easy and with a few practice runs, can easily be changed out in the field without even having to take them off. On the lower corner of either side, there is a discrete lever as shown in the photo below (shown in the open position). Simply rotate the lever on either side to the open position and the lens is now just secured to the goggle by 6 small but powerful magnets.
There are 6 magnetic points that hold the lens secure, so once the levers are released, you simply pull the lens off of the goggle, reposition the new lens into place in line with the magnets and press either side of the lens into the goggle to line up the notch where the lever then locks the lens into place. With some practice, this entire operation can be performed in seconds.
Ventilation is good and I rarely experience fogging, at least while moving downhill, however I have used them on very snowy days skinning uphill on skis or snowshoeing where I found that high intensity efforts without enough air flow, they will eventually fog (after ~30-45 minutes). But, they are not really made for high intensity exercise.
Included with the Smith 4D MAG S goggles is a nice (huge) hard case where you can also store your secondary lens (I can just barely fit both of my extra lenses there).
Overall I am very impressed with the 4D MAG S goggles. I appreciate the lens quality and Chromapop definition/clarity, the ease for which you can change out the lenses, the variety of lenses offered and the seamless integration with Smith helmets. While they are pricey and definitely not within everyone’s budget, you can be certain that these are the best goggles that money can buy.
Jeff Valliere loves to run and explore the mountains of Colorado, the steeper and more technical the better. He has summited all of the 14ers in the state and can be found on mountain trails daily, no matter the weather, season, conditions or whether there is daylight or not. On the side he loves to bike and hike, often with his family, as he introduces his 12 year old daughters to the outdoors. Jeff was born and raised in New Hampshire, but has called Colorado home for over 25 years. He is 5’9” and 145 lbs.
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Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors’.
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