Continuing with our coverage from Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, brings us to Smith Optics. These guys have been making killer sunglasses and goggles for years and recently entered the helmet market with a great lineup of functional, stylish and durable snow helmets. Those who remember about 5-6 years ago, Smith used to make ski poles–freaking awesome ski poles, I might add. Well, I still use their poles and am already sold on their Slider technology, so I’m interested to see how the Interlock system works and how well their helmets breathe and function on-snow.
Smith now offers a full line of integrated sunglasses, goggles and helmets for skiing and snowboarding and a full lineup of moto goggles. Their technology and style always leads the pack. Here are a few of the top items to look for this fall and winter.
Smith Interlock Trace Sunglasses
In an effort to build on the super-successful Slider series, Smith is now changing the game in interchangeable sunglass lenses. As the pioneer in the marketplace, Smith seems not to be content with their current, proven technology and are paving a new road. Interlock claims to be the re-invention of interchange lens technology and from the looks of things, I say “amen.” The Interlock demo really spells out how these glasses work and just how easy it is to change the lenses.
A straight in and out with the lens after a quick twist of the sunglass arms is a much easier lens change. Looking at the lenses of my Slider Pivot’s yields circular scratches from sliding the lenses in and out of the frames. On the surface, the Interlock technology looks to improve on that by eliminating the twisting action found in some of the Slider models.
For more information, check out our complete review of the Smith Trace Interlock sunglasses. The MSRP on these babies is $139.
Smith Phenom Goggles
I’ve got several pair of the tried-and-true Smith Cascade goggles in my closet. They are great to have around when anyone needs to borrow a pair of helmet-compatible and functional goggles. Stemming from those old Smith Cascade goggles is an entire lineup of functional and truly helmet-compatible goggles. Looking at the Smith Phenom goggles, they look like what the 10-year evolution of the Cascade should be with smoother lines, reefined looks, articulating outrigger pivots for extra helmet compatibility (a.k.a. hinged strap), a sweet spherical lens with Vaporator venting technology and a Porex filter.
The Phenom goggles come with a sturdy zipper case and soft sleeve to boot. Out of the box, the Phenom looks to be some of the sweetest goggles on the market today… hopefully they can stay fog-free this winter during a deep powder day at Alta and on backcountry tours when I’m sweating like a wrestler before weigh-in. Look for a review of the Phenom goggles this winter. These are retail priced at $130.
Smith Variant Brim Helmet
If you’ve ever tried to match up the right goggles with the right helmet, you know how frustrating it can be. Sometimes you’ve got a wind gap right on your forehead because the top of the goggle and the brim of the helmet don’t match up correctly. Other times, the non-hinged goggles simply don’t fit when stretched around your lid, leaving you with dual air gaps on either side of your eyes. Neither of these scenarios bode well for a fog-free and comfortable day on the slopes. Realizing this, Smith jumped into the helmet market with a distinct advantage over the competition–they were also the industry-leader in goggles. When Smith says their goggles are helmet compatible, they’re not kidding. Of course they’d love for you to match their goggles and helmets together 100% of the time, the reality is that it won’t always happen that way, so their goggles will fit with most any helmet better than any other goggle on the market.
Now back to the Variant helmet… this thing simply looks awesome. The outer shell looks and feels more solid and much more durable than many other helmets on the market today. None of the noggin-protecting, but easily damaged foam is visible and the whole package looks years ahead of other helmets on the market. As one who sweats his fair share on the slopes, the dual sliding AirEvac vents open 16 vents to provide proper airflow with the goggles and ventilation for your noggin. The jockey-like brim on the helmet just adds to the package and provides a little extra glare and snow protection. I’m interested to see how all these vents and airflow works under the less-than-optimal conditions in the backcountry. Look for a review of the Variant Brim helmet this winter. $150 isn’t cheap for a lid, but your brain is priceless, isn’t it?