CANNABIS CONNOISSEURS everywhere have embraced the vaporizer. These devices warm finely ground cannabis just enough to release THC and other cannabinoids into a shower steam-like vapor. Because you're not burning the plant matter, there is no smoke to irritate the throat, bring on a coughing fit, or stink up the place. Plus there's no spilled bong water (also known as Satan's Piss).
Vaping allows you to modify the effects to a greater degree than traditional smoking methods, too. When you smoke, you burn off a majority of the THC before it's even inhaled, and don't get the full range of terpenes, the oils that give the flower its smell and taste. With a vaporizer, you can get an up, buzzy "high" by using a lower temp, or gain a heavier, sleep-inducing "stoned" effect by raising it. Lower temps will give you a wider range of the flavors as well.
It seems like there's a new vaporizer model released every week, with prices ranging from less than $100 to more than $1,000, which makes choosing the right one an undertaking. Especially when you consider that you usually can't take these devices for a test drive, and there is customarily a strict no-return policy.
The Mercury loves you even more than we love cannabis, though. So to help you avoid buying a vaporizer that quickly becomes a $300 paperweight because it's a too much/not enough machine, we rounded up some familiar stoned faces to help us test out five different models on the market.
We used two strains of organic, sun-grown cannabis by Medicinal Roots in Southern Oregon: Cherry Skunk and Skunk Dog. Each reviewer used one vaporizer per day, and vaped a blend of these two strains each time, in equal amounts for each vaporizer.
Everyone got high. We all learned something about ourselves. (Mostly that we like to get high.) We also discovered that no matter what you choose to spend on a vaporizer, you can get the desired effect. Every device used was effective, so the differences are more about ease of use, variety of features, and quality of design. As a rule, try before you buy whenever possible: Ask friends, borrow vapes, or buy used older models. (Two of the vapes in this experiment were found on Craigslist for less than half their original price.)
We priced each model either by MSRP, or by price matching to gotvape.com (a well-known website with a wide array of vaporizers). Consider any vape purchase an investment in your cannabis use—you will get more sessions from the same amount of flower than you would with a pipe, bong, or joint. By some estimates, in contrast, you destroy up to 80 percent of the plant's THC via traditional smoking methods, and many vape enthusiasts claim to get three times the number of sessions with the help of a quality device.
Whether your goal is more taste, less smoke, or increasing the number of hits you can squeeze out of your cannabis, vaporizers are a great way to get your buzz on. How much you choose to spend is up to you.
$349.00 new from gotvape.com; purchased off Craigslist for $120
PROS: Provided a vapor that had an "artisanal, piney taste," with notes of "floral, fruit, cedar, and spearmint." "Audio senses were heightened," "pain and stress instantly relieved," and it made for "an interesting bus ride home." The Plenty's universally commented upon "power tool-like" appearance was a plus for one reviewer, who reported that it felt satisfying in the hand. The "extra long cord" was greatly appreciated.
CONS: Widespread confusion as to how to load the bowl. Having to pull a trigger to set the temperature was a drag for most reviewers, and one felt like it was more "inelegant than innovative." Also, "there were too many switches," and the device needed a "kickstand to hold it upright." (Duly noted, Amish grandparents.)
Easy Vape Digital Vaporizer
$94.99 new on gotvape.com; free from a friend with little patience ("This thing sucks, I hate it. Do you want it?")
PROS: Every reviewer said they got "very stoned" with this unit, producing a "heavy body stone" that lasted longer than other models. One tester noted there was "a total absence of munchies." The "ease of use" was appreciated by most, and appealed to those with self-proclaimed "Luddite tendencies."
CONS: Slow to heat up. Every reviewer said they experienced the most coughing from this device. It also produced the least flavorful vapor, the most vapor, and made one reviewer feel "very dopey—my attempts to set up a TV resulted in upside-down screws and much extra work." One reviewer also noted that the box vape is "ugly as sin."
Vapir NO2, V.1
MSRP $149.99 (V.2); V.1 model purchased for $60 off Craigslist
PROS: Users liked the "clear, calm high" and "fresh, floral taste." "Small amounts needed to get the effect" were also noted, and those partial to cord-free models gravitated to this model. Easy to use, and produced "very few coughs." One user preferred this to the Plenty, and another noted this would be a great option to take camping.
CONS: Some difficulty in converting from Celsius to Fahrenheit. Slow to heat. One user found the top hard to screw on, and mentioned it would be difficult for those with arthritis or joint issues. Short battery life.
VapeXhale Cloud EVO with Evolver Hydratube
$785 on vapexhale.com
PROS: A "nice, clean high," "easy to use," and "my favorite—really enjoyed how the water hydrated the vapor, making for a smooth, pleasant hit." "Got me VERY high."
CONS: "Awkward, top-heavy weight" leads to "terrifying fears of breaking the glass." Also, price.
Herbalizer Desktop Vaporizer
$729.00 on herbalizer.com
PROS: The design was "beautiful and calming to look at. The interface is VERY easy to figure out. A child could do it... is that a good thing?" The extra long cord was appreciated by all, and heated quickly. Given high marks for its "clean and vibrant taste," all reviewers noted they had "zero coughing." The high was described as "creative," "mentally stimulating," and left one user feeling "very high but also VERY mentally sharp, open and alert and clear."
CONS: Price. One user found the flavor good, but not as good as the Plenty. Another was concerned about its large-ish size, had difficulty loading and emptying the bowl, and said it "took a hot second to figure out how to turn it off." (Accomplished by shutting the lid.) The hose also kinked for one user, who found the taste "rubbery."