Recommendations for a vaporizer, hopefully around $150
November 18, 2019 12:31 PM   Subscribe

I live in a state with legal marijuana. I prefer to consume it by purchasing it in flower form and using a vaporizer. I absolutely can't stand reading/watching reviews by people who are weed enthusiasts and regardless I don't know of a reliable source that isn't writing an advertorial disguised as a review. I've purchased two vaporizers that are frustrating to use: dismal battery life, difficult to pack, pieces break off, inconsistent experience.

The vaporizer I have now and dislike is the G Pen Elite Vaporizer. Before I had a KandyPens K-Vape Vaporizer which honestly might be the same damn thing, I bought them 3 years apart and they seem to be very similar ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I'd like to spend $150 or less since I'm only using it once a week at max but am not sure if I can get a quality vaporizer for that, so feel free to recommend other price points. I would probably use it more if I wasn't constantly charging the battery or needing to reload it in a way that feels like a big hassle.

Note, if it matters: THC doesn't work well for me unless it's in tiny doses (less than 1%) with high CBD, so that's all I use to help with my anxiety every so often. To preempt suggestions for other forms: I don't find CBD in any other form does anything for me and my experimentation has been insanely expensive to find this out, so I'm sticking to the vaporizer to consume it.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses to Shopping (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I've used a Pax for years. The Pax 2, which I currently have, is no frills, easy to use, solidly built, cleans easily, and has a good warranty. For your use, it would be more than sufficient.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:59 PM on November 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

Pax 2 works well for the person I know who vapes flower, and is still working fine after 4 or 5 years.
posted by leahwrenn at 1:07 PM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend the Storz and Bickel Mighty or Crafty over the PAX. It’s built like a tank and has fantastic battery life, heats quickly, doesn’t get hot in your hands, and has a generous oven chamber. It’s easy to clean completely, too, which is not something that can be said of the PAX.
posted by odinsdream at 1:08 PM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is not exactly an answer to your question but I went through a many years long process of finding a vaporizer I could actually live with. I ended up with a desktop option rather than a portable and I paid more than you want to pay, especially when you factor in all of the false starts and trashy products I got. All of the portables I tried eventually sucked for some reason or another.

If you want to just buy one and forget about it and never need to think about upgrading, get a Volcano. I have had 2 over the span of about 15 years and they are incredibly well made and solid.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:08 PM on November 18, 2019 [5 favorites]

For what it's worth, the ones I tried include the suggestions above plus many others.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:13 PM on November 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

You're not going to find better, portable unit than what you already have at the price point. Wirecutter lists the G-Pen Elite as their 'budget pick.' They have another listed as 'best pick' but I haven't used it, and haven't really seen it anywhere else.

I personally find the G-Pen elite workable, except for the aforementioned battery life; the only issue there being the same problem as all rechargeable batteries have; is that they slowly lose their charge. I use mine a couple times a week, and they start to dent around the 2 year mark. I've resigned to just replacing it every couple years. The price drops dramatically if you wait for an (uhg) sale around 4/20, which takes the sting out.

Compared to the G-Pen, I wouldn't necessarily say that the Pax products are that great for the price. The build quality is slightly nicer, I guess, but if you're having problems with the other two you listed, you're probably not going to enjoy them for the same reasons.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:22 PM on November 18, 2019

Oh I didn't think to mention this, thanks feloniousmonk for bringing it up: I'm okay with a desktop vs portable, just seemed like the latter were more in line with my budget, but that's not set in stone so I really appreciate your recommendations!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 1:42 PM on November 18, 2019

Pax for portable.

Vapor Brothers for desktop, if you like me don't like the Volcano because you don't want to smoke weed out of a mylar bag attached to an air blower.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:21 PM on November 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

Ha! feloniousmonk. I was going to say that the portable vaporizers are nothing like I was expecting and totally unsatisfying.
Compared to the college hacking with a soldering iron and a 2-liter bottle. Looks like the Volcano is right along those lines.
Nowadays if I were going to... I'd get a round bottom pyrex flask and put a hole in it for venting and use a blowtorch for heating. But that's a lot like smoking meth out of a lightbulb for most people. But it works really well as long as you're careful.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:30 PM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

All portable flower vapes suck along the parameters described, in my experience, and they are all ridiculously overpriced for what they are. For me, they waste weed without working very well. A tabletop Volcano is the only vape I’ve owned (of most listed above, and I personally hate the Pax models, two of which died on me before they were a year old each, and no, they’re not better than GPens or other cheap vapes, they just cost more and spend more on that advertorial marketing you hate) that actually works. You don’t need a Mylar bag for the Volcano, by the way. You can just use a tube.

I just gave up after a few years and went back to collecting beautiful bongs. Got tired of wasting that much flower only to not get very high.

Granted if you only smoke once a week and need a tiny amount of THC maybe vapes are the solution. Anyone with a higher tolerance or dosing regimen, my advice is don’t waste your money on vaping flower.
posted by spitbull at 2:38 PM on November 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

The bags are the weak point of the Volcano for sure. After a lot of experimentation, I settled on using the easy valve with a reusable bag. I use common reynolds oven bags for the bags themselves. They are much quieter than the official ones and I don't have to worry about food safety with them like you do with randomly sourced replacements. I have added a magma glass bubbler to my volcano, though, before the bag and above the chamber.

For what it's worth I tried several whip style desktop vapes as well as one that is basically a glass bubbler on top of a volcano type blower. The whips were brutal to my asthma and cleaning/replacing the tubes was a bigger headache than dealing with bags. The bubbler style (evo cloud or something like that) broke within 2 days of receipt and the replacement broke a few days after I got it also. At this point I think I have probably tried all of the major contenders as of last year or so.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:46 PM on November 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

My partner likes the Magic Flight Launch Box for this. It's cheap, no frills, and uses AA batteries. Good customer service, too. She dropped hers at one point and contacted the company about a replacement part, and they sent her an entire newer model for no charge.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:51 PM on November 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

tobascodagama: wow, that looks PERFECT for my needs especially because I have plenty of rechargeable AA batteries. I think that's the winner!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 3:10 PM on November 18, 2019

I use common reynolds oven bags for the bags themselves.

I would NOT do this, as oven bags have purportedly killed birds due to (possibly, unconfirmed) containing Teflon OR some other material they are not naming. Regardless, I would not breathe that shit in regularly.
posted by fiercecupcake at 3:21 PM on November 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

If the Magic Flight Launch Box disappoints, I'm another big fan of a Pax (mine's a 3).

This probably applies to all dried flower vapourizers, but in my experience with the Pax3...

Get a good grinder. You want lots of surface area. Having it a little dried out doesn't really affect potency unless it's sitting around dried out for over a week. If you get a 3 stage, you can collect the kif (there's more plant material in this diy kif than true "cold water extraction" kif) and "supercharge" bowls with it.

Take long slow "sips" from it. You want to give it time for the hot oven to vapourize out the volatiles.

You will not be happy taking a few sips, turning off, and expecting to turn it back on again for a few more sips. Pack a new bowl.

The Pax3 has a "half bowl" oven lid.

Pack the ground flower in there tightly.

Frequent cleaning makes it easier to take long productive sips.

My Pax3 is good for about 8 bowls. Recharges very quickly. It also has an attachment for extracts/ concentrates. Works well enough, but not as well as a good specialized concentrates vapourizer.
posted by porpoise at 3:43 PM on November 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

My husband swears by his Arizer Air II, which is on sale for sliiiightly above your price point but close enough for disco. (The Air is on sale for $109 right now, but he's never used that one.) If you have any questions about it, I am happy to ask him.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 5:29 PM on November 18, 2019

You're not going to find better, portable unit than what you already have at the price point. Wirecutter lists the G-Pen Elite as their 'budget pick.' They have another listed as 'best pick' but I haven't used it, and haven't really seen it anywhere else.

Sorry, but the G-Pen is a terrible vape and the company that makes it has a long history of shoddy and often dangerous products. The Wirecutter is frequently useful, but this is a great example of the shortcomings of their reviews of niche products (they didn’t successfully separate the marketing/promo materials online from the objective information).

The Magic Flight Launch Box works. It’s slow and finicky, but it works. However, it’s very outdated technology, and by the time you have everything you need to get the most of it (a finishing grinder and power adaptor), you’re going to be at a >$200 price point where you could have gotten something much nicer for the price.

Pax works as well, but it’s very overpriced for what it is (a straight conduction vape). You’d be paying for the aesthetics, and to a lesser extent the good warranty.

Here’s what I’d suggest for less than $150 (all links are to PuffItUp, they have phenomenal customer service and the promo code ‘puffedup’ will save you 15% off the prices I’m listing):

Butane powered portable: Dynavap M, $70 or Sticky Brick Jr, $150

Battery powered portable: Healthy Rips Fury EDGE, $150

Desktop: Arizer Extreme Q, $170 (although I’d honestly save up another $20 and go with a log vape like the e-Nano.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:54 PM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I’d also say the Magic Flight Box is the one honest simple product in the segment preferred by most vapers I know. And maybe GPen quality is lower, but I have had two Pax vapes quit within a year and my crappy GPen lasted much longer. Granted I never use it anymore.

I wouldn’t mess with butane units for a once a week light home user. It’s a real hassle and entails more safety risks.

I think the efficacy of vaping has to do with tolerance levels. I’m a regular daily user and have been for 40 years. I get so little effect from a flower vape that it’s a waste for me. I literally can hardly tell I’ve used it. Same amount of weed in a bong would keep me going strong for hours. I know people who swear otherwise so it’s probably personal chemistry. OP is such a light user, that makes a difference.

Concentrate vaping is a whole different deal for me. But at the moment I think you’d be nuts to do it unless you make the concentrate yourself. Even in a legal state.
posted by spitbull at 3:50 AM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

I have an Xmax Starry which I like quite a bit. I'm also a big fan of the Magic Flight Launch Box.

IMHO, the Xmax is great when you need to be discreet - you can turn it on, it rises to your set temp, puff, turn it off. The battery is replaceable and cleaning isn't too bad once you figure it out.

The MFLB is primitive but it will also last forever. It's less discreet and harder to use on the go. It's a also bit fussier - if you push the battery for too long you'll start combusting, so you need to be attentive. But I like that you can see what's going on in the bowl during heating. The MFLB also has add-ons like the UFO that let you create a vapor bong with a drinking glass.
posted by gnutron at 5:07 AM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

MFLB is the only vape I've ever been truly happy with. The power adapter, while nice, should be considered optional. The finishing grinder is must-have. Traditional grinders will not grind the flower fine enough for the best experience.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:09 AM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've gotten a ton of great suggestions and a lot of options to consider! For what it's worth at this point, another point that's been brought up that I didn't mention: I don't care about discretion, I only use this at home.

I also have a very low tolerance so I can have one-two hits and be done.

I do appreciate the suggestions for vaporizers that are slightly more aesthetically pleasing than I've found before. Thanks so much to all!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 11:23 AM on November 19, 2019

Everyone that I've recommended a Healthy Rips Fury 2 to has loved it. I think I've sold 4 or 5 at this point. You can get it for about $110 at PuffItUp. The only downside is that the battery life isn't great for parties, but I've never had an issue. The battery is also non-replaceable, which is a hard stop for some people. The Fury EDGE linked above is a newer version with a bigger battery and faster charging.

Some vaporizers like the Pax (3?), Firefly and a Storz & Bickel use a phone app to control the device. Apple recently removed all the apps from the App Store, so be aware of that when buying.
posted by revgeorge at 12:09 PM on November 19, 2019

I have both the MFLB and the Dynavap M. These days I use the M pretty much exclusively for two reasons:
1) No fine finishing grinder needed for the M.
2) Using a butane lighter is much less hassle than keeping high current AA cells charged or the power adapter.
posted by Consult The Oracle at 8:53 AM on November 20, 2019

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