First Impressions

Need a lid for this year’s ski season? Look no further than the Smith Variant helmet. I spied this beauty in a shop last year and had to have one. The cosmetics are killer, the feature list long and the fit outstanding. Out of the box, the Smith Variant delivers all-round, all-season performance and protection with enough customization features to satisfy just about anyone.


The Smith Variant comes in two flavors, with brim and without. Once you’ve made that call, pick your look. This year, the Variant comes in eight different color combinations from basic black to white and a range of other options. I chose with brim in a color combo from last year’s lineup in matte black, blue and photog (a cool b&w print on the ear pads). The equivalent look from this year is what’s known as black rise & fall.

Feature wise, the Variant packs ‘em in. First, the helmet has a slightly rubberized exterior finish, very unique. Two levers allow independent adjustment of airflow to suit the conditions. If it’s cold out, lock them down. If it’s warm, open them wide. Ear pads can be removed for spring skiing too. And if you really want to trick the helmet out, there’s an optional Skullcandy™ audio package for another $50.


I’ve tried a lot of other helmets and most of them look – and in most cases are – enormous. Not the most attractive thing IMHO. The Variant appears downright svelte in comparison, a definite plus. The fit is right on. And talk about comfortable. At just over a pound, you barely notice it’s on your head. The mesh lining adds to the lightweight and comfortable feel too.

Customizing the fit is easy thanks to a range of adjustments starting with the chin strap and continuing with a locking mechanism behind the head.

Final Verdict

The Smith Variant is hard to beat. Not cheap at $160 for the non-audio version but definitely worth it. And if you are all into being matchy-matchy, get yourself a pair of complementary Smith goggles to go with your Variant. This year, it’s the Stance line (or if you find a great deal on last year’s model, go for the Fuse).

Thanks for reading another outdoor gear review from GearGuide. Written by Matt K.