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Smith Summit MIPS Helmet Review: Minimalist Backcountry Protection at a Competitive Price

You wouldn’t take downhill skis backcountry skiing, so why would you take a downhill helmet into the backcountry? The new Smith Summit MIPS helmet is created with mountaineering and backcountry adventures in mind.

smith summit backcountry helmet(Photo/David Young)

There are a lot of backcountry skiers and snowboarders out there wearing helmets that are designed for downhill or resort-style skiing. For years, I wore a classic army-style helmet when I started backcountry skiing.

While these helmets technically work, they are not ideal for backcountry adventures. They are heavy, hot, and bulky. That’s why the new Smith Summit backcountry helmet is a perfect fit for your out-of-bounds adventures.

Smith athletes and professional skiers Cody Townsend and Hadley Hammer provided their expertise and input on this new helmet from Smith that is lightweight, ventilated, and easy to carry. With the latest MIPS protection and BOA fit system technology, this helmet is designed to take you in and out of the backcountry safely.

In short: The new Smith Summit MIPS Backcountry helmet has everything you need, and nothing you don’t, to stay safe mountaineering and backcountry skiing or snowboarding. Thanks to the latest MIPS Brain Protection and BOA fit system technology, this lightweight helmet excels in the backcountry.

Maxed-Out Minimalism

Author testing Smith Summit Backcountry Helme
(Photo/David Young)

Perhaps the best thing about this helmet is how light it is. Clocking in at 14 ounces, it weighs almost nothing on your head or in your pack.

The minimalistic design feels more like a climbing helmet or bicycling helmet than a traditional skiing helmet. While many ski helmets are bulky and heavy, the Summit is low-profile, sleek, and subtle.

The Summit helmet comes with an integrated headlamp routing, which secures the headlamp straps to the helmet, for early morning or dusk excursions. It also has elastic side tethers for easy pack attachment. The helmet also comes with a fitted beanie that can be worn under the helmet.

smith helmet headlamp
The headlamp routing on the Smith Summit; (photo/David Young)

This helmet is so lightweight and sleek that it almost disappears on your pack or head, melding into the background so you can focus fully on the backcountry.

BOA Flexible Fit System

Smith Summit MIPS Helmet
(Photo/David Young)

Part of the way Smith accomplishes the lightweight, sleek setup is by making the custom BOA fit system on the back of the helmet packable. This means that when you are not wearing the helmet on an ascent or approach, the flexible BOA system folds down into the helmet, making it easy to pack.

When you put the helmet on, fold the BOA fit system (called the “yoke”) out and turn the dial to fit the helmet to your head. The satisfying click locks the helmet into place. And because it is adjustable, the helmet works well with a thin beanie or cap underneath.

The innovative BOA fit system is something that you see in ski and snowboard boots and shoes, but it is fantastic to see it applied to this helmet.

A comparable ski mountaineering helmet would be Julbo’s The Peak TwiceMe helmet. It also meets skiing and mountaineering safety standards. It differs from the Smith Summit in that it does include removable 3D ear pads. However, it does not have the BOA or MIPS system like the Smith. The Julbo weighs about 14 ounces and sells for $189 (a slightly less expensive option).

MIPS Brain Protection System

smith summit mips helmet
(Photo/David Young)

The heart of this helmet is the technology embedded in it to keep your head safe. The two main components of this are the Koroyd and MIPS impact protection.

The Koroyd shell offers welded tube protection along with ventilation and is fairly lightweight. Combined, this system is designed to absorb the impact of a fall. It will protect against direct hits or angled impacts, ensuring that your brain remains safe. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection and is the gold standard when it comes to head protection.

The Smith Summit helmet is designated as a dual backcountry and mountaineering helmet. It is Smith’s first triple-certified helmet that meets global alpine and international mountaineering standards. The certifications are ASTM’s F2040, European standard’s CE/EN 1077, and the mountaineering helmet certification EN 12492.

The helmet has 33 fixed vents making it a super-ventilated helmet, which is clutch in the backcountry when you are sweating from skinning up the mountain.

Author wearing beanie for ear protections
A fitted beanie that comes with the Summit helmet for comfort, and protection against cold; (photo/David Young)


The Summit has a dozen more vents compared to the Smith Vantage helmet (one of our favorites), which also comes with ear covers and padding. That is one feature the Summit does not have, so if it is cold out or windy, a beanie comes in handy to keep your ears covered.

The lack of ear cover and insulation is really the only drawback with this helmet, aside from the cost. The Summit MIPS is expensive, coming in at more than $200, however, you get a lot for your investment. That being said, it’s a fairly comparable price to other MIPS protection helmets on market ($220-300 for higher-end ski helmets) — in fact, the Vantage goes for $270.

Summit MIPS Backcountry Helmet Specs

  • Weight: 400g / 16 oz. (size medium)
  • Technology: MIPS, BOA Fit system
  • 33 fixed vents for consistent airflow
  • Integrated headlamp strap routing keeps gear in place
  • Beanie and ball cap compatible
  • Price: $230

Check Price at BackcountryCheck Price at Smith Optics

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