Image: Chris Kindred

I 'Reviewed' 7 Cutting-Edge Weed Vapes

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Jul 12 2017, 11:00am

Image: Chris Kindred

We've talked about how cannabis vaporizers have completely changed the way people get stoned. But with so many competing companies, it can be hard to keep up with all the new weed vapes on the market.

I spent three weeks fiddling with some of the more cutting-edge vapes out there to explore what's trending and what's not. My daily smoking rituals had me feeling more like a scientist than a stoner. Disposable THC cartridges designed for a specific high are on the rise, but open-system vapes, in which the user manually adds the liquid, aren't going anywhere, so I sampled seven of the newest vapes around. Here's my take.

Aurora

From Dr. Dabber — $93.95
Vaporizes only oil and wax concentrates.
Is there an app?: No

If you think dabbing—the consumption process that often means using a torch lighter and red-hot metal to get high from nearly pure, gooey THC—is more hassle than it's worth, you're not alone. But my friend swears by wax, so whenever he visits, I'll do a dab or three. Dabbing used to burn the shit out of my throat, but I've gotten much, much better at not coughing till my eyes squirt rivers. Plus, cleaning a dab rig is super sticky and gross.

The goal of Dr. Dabber, a Las Vegas vape company, is to erase the stigma attached to dabbing and concentrates. For me, it worked. Dr. Dabber made me a dabber.

The vape's component parts are magnetic and snap together, so it's incredibly simple and fast to set up. But despite its simplicity, you will find yourself experimenting until you find a perfect balance of heat and terpene flavor.

Image: Troy Farah

Dr. Dabber has three different heat settings and three different dishes with distinct heating rods for packing in wax. According to the Dr. Dabber website, the ceramic rods are better for feeling the draw, quartz rods produce cleaner flavor, and the quartz halo is the most discreet, producing almost no clouds.

I liked the ceramic rods best for the crumble wax I was using. Once I found a heat setting that worked, I found I was using this pen more than all the other vaporizers I tried. It was just the most simple to assemble and go with. I kept it purple—the hottest setting—which makes the pen a little too warm to handle (a problem plaguing most every other vape on the market). You just gotta put the thing down for a second.

For someone who wants to dab without all the frills, or even someone who doesn't want to grind up weed, this is as entry-level as you can get.

Hydrology 9

From Cloudious 9 — $249.00
Vaporizes only dry herb.
Is there an app?: No

The idea of cooling vapor by filtering it through water may seem kind of redundant. Vapor is already a low-temperature gaseous phase. But water filtration is the Hydrology 9's biggest selling point and it's one of the first vaporizers to do this within an enclosed system. (Note: this could also be very bad for our health.)

Image Troy Farah

But vaporizing with water—especially ice-cold water from the fridge—is soooo smooth that I have no idea why this setup isn't more common. Less is more when it comes to water with this vape. You won't be exhaling huge clouds, but it will get you plenty stoned. This thing is heavy enough to knock out someone, but it looks sleek, like some kind of advanced pneumatic tube capsule.

Once you fill the white heating chamber with herb, choose one of the five color-coded heat settings. If you can't remember the difference between flashing yellow and flashing purple, just remember blue is the coolest and red is the hottest.

Instead of pushing a button while you inhale, this thing gives you 120-second 'sessions.' It will start glowing green, then you have two minutes to suck as much as you can.

It's difficult to do, but when reloading the chamber, I somehow managed to accidentally spill some water in the hot chamber, which sizzled but didn't do any noticeable damage. Be more careful than I was, I guess. The Hydrology 9 is technically portable, but I would say its size and function are more reserved for a coffee table at a party. It's definitely flashy enough.

Summit+

From Vapium — $149.99
Vaporizes both dry herb and oil and wax concentrates.
Is there an app?: Yes

The Vapium Summit+ is a small, dark plastic device with three buttons and a mouthpiece that feels like a breathalyzer, but intoxicates you instead. Nice.

Despite having 'vape' in the name, the Vapium Summit+'s sporty packaging could easily blend in among the Bowie knives and kayaks at your local Cabela's. And that's the point. It's part of a growing movement to wrench pot away from its heady stoner stigma and associate it with exercise, the outdoors, and health. If you ever find yourself at the next 420 Games, a Summit+ is likely nearby.

This vape is IP54-grade splashproof ("Now you can vape in the shower!" the packaging reads). So, of course, I tried that. I loaded the bowl, started the water and synced the vape with my phone using the app. The thing got plenty wet while in there and didn't stop working.

Image: Troy Farah

The app is a pretty straightforward program with a precision temperature dial and session timer. Without it, you'll have to gauge the heat with eight different colored lights. Half blue is 320º Fahrenheit, blue is 338º, half yellow is 356º, yellow is… it's obnoxious and complicated. I'm not going to remember that shit.

But if the app is so much easier to use and precise, then why would you want to take this camping? For me, the point of getting outdoors is to not have to look at screens. Not to mention that it's completely illegal to bring pot to a national park, given they are all federally operated.

Weirdly, you can also use this vaporizer for burning aromatherapy extracts, such as chamomile or rosemary. Vapium also makes a version specifically for hunting, but the idea of mixing guns and weed doesn't exactly fill me with confidence.

Read More: A Brief History of Weed Vapes

I also tested the Summit+ dozens of times on dry land, likewise with the included concentrate pads, but overall was not impressed. While this device has some nifty features (such as a built-in pick), it's not as versatile as I'd hoped. I like the direction this company is trying to head, but I don't think it's quite there yet.

The little swinging cap over the oven can grow pretty hot, so be careful. It didn't really burn me, but maybe if you get lost in the woods, you can figure out a way to start a fire with it.

Firefly 2

From Firefly — $329.95
Vaporizes dry herb, oil, and wax concentrates.
Is there an app? Yes

Made from "aerospace-grade materials," Firefly 2 is lighter and smaller than its predecessor and also feels like puffing on a breathalyzer. Yet, as a statement piece, it rivals the PAX 3 and the Da Vinci IQ for Palo Alto supremacy.

The Firefly is incredibly simple. To start, you hold two buttons on each side, which feels like holding a Twinkie. I didn't like that, so using the app I changed it to just one button. Nice. This one has a magnetic lid, so I dropped it a few times (on purpose!) to see how it held up. To my surprise, it didn't fly off.

Image: Troy Farah

If you change the settings in the app, this vape can also take concentrates. But be warned: If you forget to change it back and put in herb, it will catch fire, according to the instructions. (I didn't test this theory.) However, I see only being able to change these settings via app to be a potential problem.

Despite the cheap quality of included cleaning supplies—alcohol wipes and plastic toothpicks—the Firefly 2 is easy to clean. The lid has a clear window, so you can watch your herb go from reddish-green to toasty brown. (Protip: save your vaped weed and use it for baking. In my experience, it will knock you on your ass.)

After heating, the Firefly 2 can get so hot you can't really hold it, but it didn't burn me when I put it back in my pocket. I think in general you have to make sure you don't burn yourself with any vape device. Did I mention this one has a removable battery and comes with a backup? That's really nifty.

Dipper

From Dipstick Vapes— $149.99
Vaporizes only oil and wax concentrates.
Is there an app?: No

The packaging for the Dipper says it was "designed to be user-friendly in every aspect," but I struggled to figure this one out more than all the others. This concentrate-only pen has two different modes: a crystal quartz atomizer and a vertical 'nectar collector'-style atomizer.

Image: Troy Farah

How this works is you hold the pen out like a hummingbird beak, heat up the end by pushing the button and, while sucking, 'dab' whatever wax onto the red-hot tip. If you can do this without feeling stupid, good for you—it's not for me.

However, the crystal quartz one works great. It was consistent and straightforward. It's the other mode I had a problem with. In order to use it, you must switch the mouthpiece to the other end. Hard as I tried, I couldn't fit it over the end, so I sawed the rubber band off with scissors and replaced it (luckily, the device comes with extra rubber bands) and it worked fine.

G Pen Elite

From Grenco Science — $149.95
Vaporizes only dry herb.
Is there an app?: No

For the last five years, Grenco Science has aimed to do more than just make weed pens. The company has collaborated with celebrities and skateboard companies because it wants to be seen as a lifestyle brand.

The G Pen Elite, released in February 2016, is the only vaporizer I know of that has an LED display for the exact temperature and doesn't require an app. Push the button five times to turn it on. Then, dial in the temperature you want, push the button again and wait.

I tried it on 375º F but wasn't getting much until I cranked it up to 400º. That's something I experienced with all these vapes—the low settings weren't cutting it for me, but I always started low and moved up from there, which I recommend.

Image: Troy Farah

Most of the time, this one doesn't give a lot of vapor, but I did get a nice mellow high from it. I took a walk and had some bizarre thoughts and it helped with my back pain.

However, the mouthpiece does get quite hot and can kind of irritate your lips if you're not careful. Overall, the Elite—also Wirecutter's top pick on a recent list—is easy to clean, stylish and still cutting-edge.

Pizzanista! G Slim

From Grenco Science — $59.95
Vaporizes dry herb, oil, and wax concentrates.
Is there an app?: No

It's the stoner's Holy Trinity—pizza, skateboarding, weed—in one little pen-sized vaporizer. This is one of Grenco's collaboration pens, this time with a Los Angeles pizzeria.

The pen comes in a super cool neon pizza box stuffed with nifty schwag, such as magnets and a loading tray. But this one is a case more of style than substance.

Image: Troy Farah

Different canisters take either dry herb, wax, or oil. The wax cartridge packs a powerful punch. I was surprised by how much I could get out of it just from one or two puffs. I liked it a lot, minus all the screwing and unscrewing.

The herb cartridge left something to be desired. A couple times it burned the weed, sending out puffs of smoke—and I know I didn't overfill it. Occasionally, I could get a puff or two, but it was mild. Dry herb just doesn't really work for a cartridge of this size. If you have a little THC tolerance, you're going to be filling this up multiple times. Not exactly an on-the-go option, but significantly cheaper than its competitors.

Bottom line: The Firefly 2 is the smoothest vape on this list, but for most budgets the G Pen Elite will not let you down. If you want to get into concentrates, the Aurora is your best bet because it's simple, reliable, and reasonably priced. The Hydrology 9 is great for entertaining, but as a personal vape it's too bulky and not versatile enough. The rest of these I could take or leave.

What's next for me? I may just stick to my trusty bong, or maybe not. Vaporizing is widely considered healthier and easier on the lungs than old-fashioned decarboxylation. If I'm gonna dab—and I will—I'm definitely going to want a pen. But if I'm going to grind up some weed, I might just want to torch that shit.

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