The Smith Optics Variant Brim and Smith Variant snow helmets are exactly the same except for the short brim, one video reviewer points out. However, the Brim version gets much more attention from users and experts. Most like the brim for its look and the way it helps keep snow off the top of goggles, but a few users complain that it gets in the way of flipping goggles to the top of your helmet if the strap is short.
Reviewers praise the Variant Brim for its excellent ventilation and adjustable top-side vents. It also has a ratcheting fit adjustment that most owners like, although a couple grumble that the rachet mechanism is too fiddly. Even those users who find small issues with this helmet -- for example, one gripes that the goggle lock in back rattles on an older version -- still end up raving about the light, secure protection the Variant Brim offers.
Most of the snow helmets we analyzed had far more expert reviews than user reviews. The Smith Variant Brim runs contrary to this trend with more than 200 owner comments and a 4.5-star rating out of 5 on Buzzillions.com, plus more than 20 reviews each on SierraTradingPost.com and Amazon.com. The Variant Brim gets an enthusiastic video review from a Park2Peak employee, and an anonymous reviewer with ShredTalks.com also gives it a thumbs-up.
A Park2Peak employee reviews the Variant Brim's features, noting that it's exactly the same as the Variant minus the brim. He praises the helmet for its super-durable "bombshell construction," X-Static liner and ratcheting fit adjustments, and calls the Brim one of the most comfortable helmets they've ever seen in the shop.
Review: Smith Variant Brim Helmet Review 2011, Park2Peak, Sept. 14, 2010
More than 20 owner-reviewers give the Variant Brim a 4.6-star average score out of 5, saying it "looks and feels great" and is the "best helmet I've had." The venting system cools quickly in hot weather, but the helmet's padding makes it "toasty" if you close the vents. The only negative comment was a complaint that the adjustment system is fiddlier than Giro's wheel-based adjuster.
Review: Smith Sport Optics Variant Brim Helmet - Snowsport, Contributors to SierraTradingPost.com, As of Nov. 2011
Most Amazon.com users are very happy with the Variant Brim helmet, giving it 4.7 stars out of 5 in more than 20 reviews. They praise its snug, comfortable, adjustable fit, and like how easy the vents are to adjust. A few owners complain that the brim gets in the way of goggles with short straps, one grumbles that the chinstrap is too long and another that the helmet is too thin.
Review: Smith Optics Variant Brim Snow Helmets, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Nov. 2011
More than 200 user-reviewers give the Variant Brim an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. While the vast majority appreciate its comfort, ventilation, protection and adjustability, a very small percentage of the overall pool complain that the helmet is too heavy or difficult to adjust.
Review: Smith Variant Brim Helmet, Contributors to Buzzillions.com, As of Nov. 2011
An anonymous reviewer lists a few observations after using a 2009-2010 model of the Smith Variant Brim for half a season. Pros include its light weight, adjustable vents and helmet-goggle integration. The only cons listed are minor details: The older helmet's goggle lock rattled when riding, and wearing earbuds with the ear pads was uncomfortable.
Review: 2009/2010 Smith Optics Variant Brim Helmet Review, Editors of ShredTalks.com, Feb. 23, 2010