I'M NOT GOING TO FRONT: There have been times in my life when I have been reduced to smoking weed from a soda can. I'm not proud of this, but I'm sharing this information to set the bar real low when it comes to what I actually need to indulge my fondness for green.

In my day-to-day life, I like vaporizers, which is how this whole writing-about-marijuana gig for the Mercury got started. I own too many, including an analog Volcano, a Plenty, an Arizer Solo, an Arizer Tower, an early-model Evolution, and an AroMed. My only excuse is that I use them in my work with Oregon Medical Marijuana Program patients, who may have conditions that prevent them from smoking from a joint, pipe, bong, or... soda can.

So it was with great excitement that I received a review model of the VapeXhale Cloud EVO. A redesign of VapeXhale's Cloud, the EVO is nearly the size of a PBR tallboy, albeit thinner and shorter. It's made from a black composite material that I imagine could stop bullets. There's an on/off switch and a dial to control the temperature. You load a small stainless-steel mesh basket with marijuana and insert it into the opening at the top of the vaporizer. You then attach a mouthpiece hose, or—provided you are down for the extra expense—put on the HydraTube. This is a heavy, thick piece of clear glass that diffuses and cools the incoming stream of vapor, hydrating it while collecting it for bong-sized "rips." Thanks to some badass engineering, the tube can be filled with ice water, giving you the best of both devices—vaporizers and bongs. The HydraTube rests on top of the vape, and you suck in until it's filled with vapor, then remove it and inhale.

So... how did it work, and is it worth the hefty price?

The EVO produced a wide variety of vapor density, from both flowering plants and dabs. The addition of water made each hit smooth and non-cough-inducing, and flavor came through very clearly. It's simple to use, heats up quickly, and is obviously made from top-quality components, evidenced by VapeXhale's three-year warranty. All of this is good.

The bad news? The unit I received retails for $625. Which is less than a digital Volcano, but more than most—although not all—high-end vaporizers on the market. As with any non-essential item exceeding 20 bucks, it's up to the user to decide if there is sufficient value to justify the expense. There are a couple of small things I would tweak (the seam on the unit is a bit unsightly), but I have zero complaints about the quality and consistency of the vapor hits delivered. But if you are new to vaping, this probably isn't the place to start. Try out a lower-end (read: less expensive) model to determine if this is your preferred method of partaking.