Best Marijuana Vaporizer
Last updated: Sep., 2017
Marijuana vaporizers here (left to right): Crafty, Grasshopper, VapCap, Firefly 2, and PAX 3.
Hello. My name is Chad, and I think vaporization is the best way to use marijuana. Marijuana vaporization is healthier, safer, and provides greater variety than other consumption methods, such as edibles and concentrates. Vaping technology is always evolving. There are over 2,290 different marijuana strains to try – it's the new wine. Thousands are using this wonderful medicine to increase productivity, creativity, improve mood, and reduce chronic pain. Legalization is occurring. It's all very exciting.
I've gone through a ton of reviews to find the best marijuana vaporizer for most recreational and medical marijuana users. My opinions are based on corroborative reviews from experienced cannabis users. I run this site as a hobby. I hope my research can save you time and money.
Hear me out:
Now, let's focus on vaporizers, or vapes, as they're sometimes called. There's a number of them on the market and some are far better than others. I'm always looking for the best.
Let's look at the contenders...
PAX 3, by PAX Labs, $274.99
Firefly 2, by Firefly, $329.95
DaVinci IQ, by DaVinci, $274.99
Launch Box, by Magic Flight, $119
Grasshopper, by Hopper Labs, $200+
Solo II, by Arizer, $249.99
Crafty, by STORZ & BICKEL, $279
Each vaporizer above has a few things in common. Each one has a receptacle for cannabis, a mouthpiece for inhalation, and a battery for heating. Listed prices are from manufacturer websites and are subject to change.
Next, let's examine what makes a good vaporizer and score each one along the way. At the end, you'll see the winners.
Next, let's score each one across 10 categories...
1. Heat method
Vaporizers use either convection or conduction heat technology. Convection is better. Many users say convection provides full-flavored, healthier vapor. That's because convection heats herbs more evenly without direct contact. Only the air is heated, which heats the herbs. Very few portable devices offer convection because it's difficult to engineer in a small form factor. In comparison, conduction is not as good. It's like your stovetop. Your herbs make direct contact with a heating surface. There's a chance for combustion, and you won't want that unhealthy smoke. You may also have to periodically stir the chamber of a conduction vaporizer to ensure thorough heating.
2. Heat time
Who likes to wait? That's especially true if you're using your vaporizer during a workday, where time is everything. Also, faster heating means less time exposing a potentially conspicuous device.
Manufacturer-advertised heat times may differ from the real-world user results provided below.
- Strong extraction of active compounds
- Vaporizer keeps up with natural inhalation
- Vapor path retains herb's natural flavor
- Adequate oven size (>= 0.3 g) for more hits and fewer refills
- Partially filled oven provides same experience as a full oven
- Moderate or cool vapor temperature for easy inhalation
- Vapor path is isolated from other components
- Oven does not require stirring or shaking
- Can produce big clouds
4. Temperature controls
Different temps = different effects. Interesting stuff.
Did you know that specific temperatures release different types of cannabis compounds? That's one of the benefits of vaping – you control the temp, which means you control the effects! If your vaporizer is set too hot, you can get too much smoke (remember, combustion = toxins). Lower settings are best for medical users who want to avoid the "high" of THC (which is released at greater temps). Look at this detailed temperature guide or download the PDF version for printing. Furthermore, check out this cannabinoid effects chart from Royal Queen Seeds or download the PDF printable version. To prevent combustion/smoke/toxins for novice users, I think vaporizers should be designed to initially use an upper limit of around 400°F (204°C), which can be adjusted later.
- Can accurately meet indicated temperatures
- Adjustable ranges between 300°F (149°C) and 400°F (204°C)
- First-use temperature setting is < 400°F (204°C)
- Adequate temperature display, lighting, or another indicator
A disassembled Grasshopper – the standard stainless steel version.
Vaporizers are often used multiple times every day, so it's important to invest in something that looks good and gets the job done. Note that failure rate is not considered here. There's another section for that.
- Visually pleasing, stylish, does not look cheap
- Premium materials, clean fit and finish
- Looks new despite daily use
- No annoying design problems
The DaVinci's battery is the red thing. Look at the nice flat, braided USB power cable.
All of the vaporizers listed below use batteries. Mainly, batteries provide power to the heating and lighting elements. Battery life is influenced by temperature settings, herb type, and how tightly the oven is packed. Look for a vaporizer that can be used repeatedly throughout the day without recharging. A swappable battery means that you can plug in a fresh one instead of waiting for a depleted one to recharge. Generally, vaporizer batteries are fickle and a common point of failure. Over time, battery performance will degrade. That's why it's really important to pick one that lets you install/swap new batteries vs. one that requires a manufacturer return.
- Long battery life
- Vaporizer is usable while recharging
7. Failure rate
A vaporizer manufacturer ALD Group in Guangdong, China.
Vaporizers create hot temperatures in small spaces near sensitive electronics. There's a lot that can go wrong. Some models fail more than others. To define failure, we're talking about the inability to function as intended; usually inoperable. It can take weeks for a warranty replacement to arrive. That's why having a backup vaporizer is a good idea, especially for medical users. It's worth noting that proper cleaning and care can drastically improve reliability.
Actual failure rates are difficult to determine because they are known only by manufacturers, who are incentivized to keep this information private. We only see user reports. It's possible these reports are from a loud minority of users, but on the other hand, if there's a large number of people saying the same thing, maybe there's a reason why.
Beware of counterfeit products, as they won't be eligible for warranty repairs.
There's a decent chance that at some point, you'll have to send in your vaporizer for repairs. In most cases, if the device is defective, a warranty ensures free repair or replacement. If it's your fault, even if it's an accident, the warranty won't apply (except with the Magic Flight). You'll want a device with a long warranty that covers as many trouble areas as possible. I prefer a five-year warranty, minimum. You'll probably move on to a new vaporizer by then.
When shipping your device out, make sure to get tracking with signature confirmation. Also, remember to also properly clean your device and use one or more airtight containers or packaging methods.
9. Customer support
Show me your superior communication skills.
Even if you have the best warranty in the world, if your customer support is horrible, I won't want your product. I need to be able to easily get in touch. Honest, direct, expedient, and polite communication should be expected. Keep me in the loop. It also helps if you reach out to the community on social media, but one contact method shouldn't be any more reliable than the next. If I call your phone number or send an email, I expect the same support quality and turnaround time.
When contacting customer support, they may try to renege on the warranty or repair. Do your homework ahead of time. Find other instances of the same problem and where support stepped in to help. You can mention that you're active in online vaporizer forums and you want to provide a good review. Don't threaten or come off too crass, though.
The PAX 3 is easily concealed.
Stealth is achieved via a small form factor or disguisable design (i.e. a pen) and suppression of cannabis odor (both in use and idle). Regardless of the stealthy design, you're still going to hold an object to your mouth and puff it. Perhaps the best stealth design resembles a conventional electronic cigarette. Regarding odors, I am only considering those present when the vaporizer is not in use. Scoring based on in-use odor is unfair because each device is used differently.
A stealthy vaporizer is important for several reasons. For example, even if your state allows recreational marijuana, public consumption is probably illegal. California's fines range from $100 to $250. Colorado enforces a similar $100 fine. Always check local laws. Secondly, in cannabis-illegal states, a stealthy vaporizer may prevent visual discovery during a paraphernalia search. Note that a trained canine's olfactory abilities have no trouble detecting cannabis. Finally, you may have reasons to hide your medical needs or hobbies from friends or family. Always clean your vaporizer to prevent residual odors and store it in a smell-proof case.
Be careful – vaporizers such as the Crafty, PAX 3, DaVinci IQ, and Firefly 2 communicate with a mobile app via Bluetooth. It's possible for someone nearby to discover your concealed vaporizer when accessing their phone's Bluetooth settings. If possible, disable the vaporizer's Bluetooth.
Finally, the conclusion and winners...
First, a word about the rating system. I try to fairly compare vaporizers using the ten attributes listed above. Note that not every attribute is mathematically quantifiable. Scores are based on subjective human reports, which vary. Not every device will exhibit the same performance characteristics, good or bad. Product users tend to be more vocal with complaints. Therefore, my ratings tend to be harsher than others. To decide the winners, I simply add up all of the attribute scores for each product. Consider the scores to reflect "best all-around vaporizer." The scores are not weighted because my priorities may be different than yours. What you consider most important (e.g. failure rate) may differ from others' preferences. In such instances, I recommend finding what's most important to you and comparing each vaporizer based on the research above.
Note that current award designations are subject to change at any time as new products become available and are reviewed. Check back every so often. Award winners may use the award images (svg) freely and in perpetuity, including on websites, packaging, etc. I can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Best Vape Award
Purchase the Grasshopper
The Grasshopper vaporizer by Hopper Labs is the clear first-place winner. This best-in-class portable battery-powered vape stands out for its sleek design, portability, stealthiness, very fast heat time, and great vapor quality. For cooling purposes, I recommend purchasing the titanium version with the Performance Front-end (PFE) accessory. I also recommend picking up at least three extra batteries. Unfortunately, there's a chance your device may fail. To avoid some issues, clean it properly and regularly. The Grasshopper's reliability needs significant improvement and is continuously addressed by Hopper Labs. A backup vaporizer is highly recommended until this young company irons out all the bugs in its product line. That said, it comes with a lifetime warranty. The customer support is dedicated and will work with you to get a replacement unit as soon as possible if the need arises.
Great Vape Award
Purchase the Solo II
The Solo II is the best portable vaporizer for home medical use because of its bright OLED display, easy-to-use controls, graspable size, rugged build, and excellent vapor quality. I consider it to be semi-portable, as it's too big to fit comfortably in a regular pocket. Vaporization uses both convection and conduction. While charging, the Solo II is fully operational and can actually gain a charge. That's a big plus for forgetful folks or those who need scheduled medication. There are very few instances of the device failing, so it's a great primary or backup vaporizer option. The warranty and battery charging speed could be better. The vapor path may mix with internal electronics, but Arizer claims the air pathway is completely safe. Many users attest to clean vapor quality. After purchasing, be sure to take it through a dry run to get rid of any plastic taste or odor. Get a black mouthpiece because the regular clear one will easily look dirty.
Great Vape Award
Purchase the PAX 3
The PAX 3 is currently the best full-conduction vaporizer available. It provides satisfying vapor, a compact build, looks nice in the hand, stays cool during use, has a lengthy 10-year warranty, and customer support is generally good. Considering the PAX 3's popularity, there are few failure reports. The various heat modes will get the job done for most users. As with any vaporizer, battery performance will degrade over time. With enough use, you'll have to send in your PAX 3 for battery replacement (possibly at cost). The charging dock's loose grip on the PAX 3 needs improvement. Although it's not a part of the rating criteria, many users like the PAX 3's ability to also vaporize extracts (also called concentrates). Beware of fakes – only purchase from authorized dealers, as linked to here.
Recommended Vaporizer Accessories
At the very least, you're going to need a grinder and a good storage container. A grinder grinds up your cannabis into small pieces to use with your vaporizer. A proper storage container keeps your cannabis fresh and contains the smell. Like vaporizers, some are better than others! Take a look at my recommendations...