Many smokers are turning to vaporizers as their preferred way to consume cannabis. It's no wonder that they keep increasing in popularity due to many states legalizing cannabis and increased awareness of how to safely "smoke" it. Below you will find everything you need to know about dry herb vaporizers - what they are, what types are out there, the best models on the market, and what to think about when buying one for yourself.
What Is A Vaporizer?
Vaporizers are an alternative to more traditional ways to smoke cannabis. Though they've been around for a couple of decades, it's only in the last 5-10 years that they've taken off with both everyday and casual smokers. They are usually electronic units (though some use a butane flame for heating) that heat the herb just enough to release the THC or CBD but not enough to burn it. Because of this, little to no smoke is emitted. This can be done with dry flower, concentrate, or liquid. This post will focus exclusively on products designed for smoking the cannabis flower. There are numerous benefits to using a vaporizer over a traditional pipe or bong, but the most salient revolves around your health. Because the plant is not combusting, you are not inhaling any carcinogens, and therefore lowering your risk of harm to your throat and lungs. It's also a smoother smoking experience, and many claim they prefer the taste compared to "regular" smoking.
Types Of Vaporizers
If you're looking to take the plunge into buying a vaporizer, you first need to decide if you want a portable or tabletop style. As the names imply, portable vaporizers are smaller and designed to be handheld, while tabletop vaporizers (also called desktop vaporizers) are larger and heavier and designed to be used on a table.
They also need to be connected to a power source (think desktop computer versus a laptop or smartphone). Both styles get the job done, but it depends on how and when you intend to use it that will decide which way you go. Tabletop styles are also more expensive, so if you're on a budget, a portable model would probably be the best choice for you.
Convection V. Conduction Heating
In traditional smoking methods (joint/pipe, etc.) the herb fully combusts, i.e., catches on fire, and it's that smoke you are inhaling. With vaporizers, the herb is heated to just below combustion until a vapor is formed and it's the vapor you are inhaling, not smoke. There are a few ways vaporizers do this, but the two most common are conduction or convection. Conduction happens when the heating element (usually a coil) is in direct contact with the herb, thusconductingthe heat from the coils to the herb. This method is very efficient, but it can be harder to control the temperature. On the other hand, convection heating heats the air around the herb by heating the sides of the chamber it sits in. The heated air then circulates around the herb, making it easier to achieve the desired temperature. Seasoned smokers usually have a preference, and you'll see below that most models use one or the other, or in some cases a combination of both.
Portable Vaporizers for Flower
Below are recommendations for the best vaporizers for dry flower on the market right now. We've broken them down for you with the retail price, a short description, and the pros and cons of each. In the end, we'll go over general rules of thumb to keep in mind when choosing the right model for you.
When discussing vaporizers, you simply must start with the Volcano. This bad boy has been around for over 20 years and pioneered the entire vape industry. From renowned German brand, Storz and Bickel, it's maintained its sleek and simple design and has always offered an unparalleled vaping experience. This is the only desktop vaporizer for dry herb on our list for a reason - it's the best. Since it's a desktop model, it's best for someone who does the majority of their smoking at home, by themselves, or with friends. You can take it to other locations, but it needs an outlet. It uses convection heating solely for an even heat and a balloon bag system to capture the vapor. This allows you to store vapor for up to 8 hours and is therefore, an efficient use of your herb with none going to waste. Because the price point is so high, you'll most likely want to be a frequent smoker for this to be worth it. If you've never owned a vaporizer before, this one is probably too much, and you should start with a smaller, portable model. But, if you're ready to take the dive, make it the Volcano!
The Davinci Miqro gets strong ratings all around, as does its older brother, the DaVinci IQ. So why does the Miqro get the pick? Simply, it's the best portable vape device on the market, and it fits in the palm of your hand. From design to performance, this little guy packs a punch and is great if you're an on-the-go smoker. Ideal for personal use, you'll only be able to pack about a quarter gram of dry flower in there, so if you're sharing with friends, be ready to reload frequently. It features four temperature options so you can play around with your preferred settings. Some users report sticky buildup in the oven over time that can be hard to clean, but if you're only using it occasionally, it shouldn't be much of any issue. Made from quality anodized aluminum with magnetic doors, you can feel the craftsmanship when you hold it. Davinci is a reputable company that stands by their products. This one comes with a 5-year warranty, which is one of the longest we've seen.
Great flavor retention
Fast heat time
Small and discrete - great for out-and-about smoking
The Arizer Argo is a great all-around portable model with little to complain about. It uses a combination of conduction and convection heating within a packed borosilicate glass tube, so it boasts consistent vapor quality. It has a relatively short battery life - about 90 minutes - but given that this is one of the smallest portable models on the market (not much taller than your standard lighter), it's pretty impressive and holds its own. Because of its size, it can be harder to keep clean, and the bowl size is on the smaller end, but loading is simple (it can hold a quarter gram, but most users feel an even smaller amount produces a better vapor). The unit comes with two glass mouthpieces, which you can preload for extra convenience on the go. It's only compatible with dry herb, so you'd need another device for concentrate. It features a handy pop-top glass mouthpiece that hides nicely inside the body of the unit when not in use, which makes it even safer for carting around in your pocket.
Nice LED display
Fits in the palm of your hand
Powerful, swappable battery
Excellent vapor quality
Parts of the shell are made of plastic, which some people don't like
The Pulsar APX 2 is an easy to use vaporizer that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand and is a great entry-level model. It features a silicone cooling system, ceramic oven, a larger chamber, five temperature settings, and reliable construction. This is an updated model from Pulsar that now includes an LED display screen for temperature readouts and a faster heating time. It no longer has the capability to use with concentrate - only flower - so if you are looking for a versatile vaporizer, this might not be it. That said, most people recommend keeping a separate vaporizer for concentrate to maintain the quality of experience. The ceramic chamber uses convection heating for an even heat and vapor experience. It comes in a variety of cool patterns and colors. The Pulsar company cares a lot about their customer base and used their user feedback to decide how to improve this model, updating the mouthpiece, airflow, and construction. A solid vaporizer for a reasonable price.
The Yocan Evolve-D features sturdy and durable construction and has a powerful battery for its size, which provides 3-6 hours of vaping. A dual pancake coil conduction heating system lends itself to even heating for a pen-style vape, though you cannot adjust the temperature. It also features a cool spring-loaded mouthpiece that ensures good coil contact every time. Compared to other conduction units on the market, this one earns top marks all around, though some feel conduction heating decreases the herb's flavor. For more frequent and seasoned users, this might not be the best choice, but this will be your best value purchase for someone new to vaping. There are a number of pen style units on the market, and many of them are poorly constructed. This one won't last years and years, but it will serve you well and introduce you to the world of vaping. A great entry-level choice for someone not looking to spend a ton of money, and it comes in a number of cool colors to choose from.
Made of 100% stainless steel, the Dynavap 2020 "M" Vaporizer is an excellent middle-of-the-road choice for occasional users who value portability. Because it uses a butane flame for heating, you never have to worry about charging a battery, but you do need to carry a lighter with it (though it's so small adding a lighter in your pocket doesn't add much more bulk). Because there is no internal heating mechanism, it does take some time to get it fully heated thus making it a less discrete model. If you're in a public space using a butane flame for 30 seconds or more, it's not always easy to hide. If this is an issue for you, opt for an electronic model. Manual heating ensures that you don't waste herb, but you are in control of the flame so obtaining the optimal temperature will take a few tries if you're used to battery-operated vapes. Despite its size, the Dynavap is quite powerful and delivers a strong, full vapor. This slightly upgraded model comes with a more secure "Captive Cap" which ensures the cap stays in place while in your pocket or transporting it.
Easy to use
Fast heating time for a butane flame vape
On-demand, heating means you don't sacrifice herb
Ideal for microdosing
Don't need to worry about battery life or keeping it charged
The Hydrology9 Portable Vaporizer is an innovation in the portable vaporizer world and is one of the few out there to use a water filtration system. It uses a conduction heater that can lead to a milder flavor. The chamber size is on the smaller end which can be frustrating for some given the overall size (much larger than most portables. This one comes close to being a table top model if you ask me). If you are a frequent user this might not be the best choice for you, but if you're looking for something different or a bit of a "showpiece," the Hydrology9 could be your next vaporizer. Because of the water filtration, this is an excellent system for someone looking for a milder experience as the flavor and vapor tend to be lighter. That said, Cloudious gets props for always pushing themselves to innovate in the vaporizer market. It's certainly fun to use and to look at with its lightsaber-esqu vibes. The oven holds about a gram of herb, so it can be enjoyed with friends with only a few repacks.
Long battery life
Not great to travel with, on the bigger side
Doesn't work with concentrates
Flavor can be lacking
Though the battery lasts a long time, it takes a long time to recharge, about 3-4 hours
The Firefly 2 Vaporizer by far one of our more popular Dry Herb Vaporizers currently sell on our site, but it's such a solid product we simply couldn't leave it out. This company is known for its superior craftsmanship and reliable, outstanding performance. Yes, it's on the higher end of vaporizers, so it's unlikely this would make a good entry-level model for anyone. This is most likely for the seasoned, frequent users who have enough experience with vaporizers and are now ready to shell out the big bucks for the highest quality product. Though this is a portable model, it's not nearly as small as some of the others on the list and won't fit comfortably in your pocket. If you're looking for ultra-small and discrete, this is not the vaporizer for you. But, if you're looking for a consistent, smooth, and powerful vaping experience, the Mighty fits the bill. Customers report using the same model for several years without a decline in performance, so though the upfront price might be a lot, you won't be replacing it any time soon. Compatible with both dry herb and concentrate.
Easy to use
Hybrid convection/conduction heating system
Clunkier than other portable models
Slow heat time
How to Choose the Best Dry Herb Vaporizer for You
Where Will You Use It?
What kind of smoker are you? Mainly at home? Out in the woods? In the city? Like to travel? While only one tabletop vaporizer made it on our list, a larger model might be the best investment for you if you primarily smoke at home, are a frequent smoker, and like to entertain. It's more money upfront, but desktop models tend to last longer (because you're not carting them around as much), and if it's your primary method of smoking, it will more than pay for itself in the long run. If you are only a casual or semi-regular smoker or like to smoke on the go (out playing frisbee golf or walking around town with your buddies), you'll probably want to opt for a portable model. While these can definitely be used in the comfort of your own home as well, they're designed to fit in your pocket, be lightweight, and easy to travel with.
How Frequently Do You Smoke?
Are you a regular smoker? One hit wonder? Social smoker? Your answer to these questions can help you determine how large a unit you want, ideal chamber size, and battery life. If you are an infrequent smoker and only wanting to dip a toe into the vaporizer world, you might want to consider one of the pen models as a good entry-level vaporizer. If you are a seasoned smoker but want a handheld option, you should consider shelling out for one of the higher end portable models. If you frequently smoke with other people, you'll want to choose a slightly larger vaporizer with a bigger chamber size so you don't have to keep repacking. Maybe you already own a couple of portable vaporizers, and a tabletop version seems the logical next step for your level of consumption.
How Much Can You Spend?
If you're new to the vape world, you may blanch at the sticker price on some of these models, but when you invest in a good vaporizer, you get what you pay for: a healthier, cleaner, more consistent smoking experience. That said, not all of us have $400 to drop. If you're able to, see if you can try out different portable models that friends may have before you buy to see what you like. If you prefer to micro-dose, a vapepen model with a smaller chamber might be right for you, and these are on the cheaper end. However, if you are already spending money consistently on good herb, it's probably time to spend money on a quality vaporizer. A good vaporizer costs some dough because of what it offers, and odds are if you're in the market, you've already tried other methods and you're ready for a change. Spend the money if you can, and you'll walk away with a product that will serve you well for a long time.
Vaporizers certainly aren't the only way to smoke, but there's a reason why they keep growing in popularity. Many users say that once you go vaporizer, it's hard to smoke any other way. The ease of use, portability, reduced irritation for your throat and lungs, and discrete nature contribute to this trend that doesn't look like it's going anywhere. Do your research before you buy and think seriously about how you will most commonly use it, and you shouldn't go wrong. Happy shopping!
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