Wet storms, freezing fogs, and light so flat it looks like a piece of printer paper—skiing in the Pacific Northwest can be goggle hell. No wonder PNDubbers have never actually seen Sasquatch, everyone's too busy squeegee-ing goggles and switching out their low-light lenses.
Luckily the guys and gals over at Smith thought of the upper left corner of the U.S. when they designed their newest goggle, the Vice. Cut from the same cloth as their popular I/O, the Vice features an oversized lens, but adds a bit of sturdiness with a beefed-up frame. No aesthetics lost here, but a solid boost to overall durability (Read: they'll last past the first season).
The Vice battles the elements with Smith's 5X Anti-Fog Inner Lens, which, combined with the patented Porex technology in the Vaporator lens, keeps lines of sight clear no matter how wet the goggle's interior or exterior gets. That means a tumble in deep snow doesn't ruin your vision and keeps your day rolling. Three-layer DriWix face foam helps regulate moisture as well and provides about as much comfort as you're going to get in a goggle.
My one issue with the Vice is the interchangeable lens system. Coming from the Smith I/O, which was a relatively brainless snap-in, snap-out for lens change, the Articulating Outrigger Positioning System was harder to get used to. Essentially this means the clasps connecting the frame to the band pivot to release the lens, with a series of snaps along the frame's outside edge freeing it fully. It's still relatively easy, but the I/O is definitely a quicker process, and much better for a mid-run emergency change.
That being said, the Vice syncs nicely with the full gamut of Smith helmets, including its revamped Vantage. The Vantage features AirEvac 2 technology to eliminate the dreaded goggle gap, a vented brim to keep snow off the top of goggles while allowing air flow, and a mitten-accessible dual regulator system that adjust 21 vents, managing temperature and preventing goggle fogging. It also has an elastic along the back for securing your performance eyewear on the fly.
But what really sticks out is the weight of the brain bucket. At 500 grams, the Vantage is impossibly light. This is due in large part to the new Aerocore technology in the helmet. The technology employs Koroyd, a patented tubular protection material between outer and inner shells that, on top of increasing air flow and decreasing weight, absorbs up to 30 percent of the energy impact during a fall. It's crazy to think, but by increasing protection the helmet has actually reduced its bulkiness.
The Vantage is arguably the highlight of the helmet market this season and paired with the chargeworthy Vice, they form quite the one-two punch. If you're looking to protect your noggin and get rid of that full head of steam, here's a couple of clear cut options for you this winter.