Vaporizer Buying Guide
Not sure which vaporizer to pick? We’ve done the research for you and broken down your options in this guide.
We recommend you read this entire guide before making a choice. It won’t tell you exactly which vaporizer to pick but will help guide your way. There are a few main things you should understand before you pick one.
What are you waiting for? Start reading…
There are four main categories of herbal vaporizer: desktop, cordless home portable, pocketable and pen. There may be a little overlap since a pen is technically pocketable, but when it comes down to it those are your choices. I’ll walk you through each of them as they stand today:
Desktop: These are the vaporizers that sit in your house and need to plug into the wall to work. The benefit of desktop vaporizers is that they generally have the best vapor quality and functionality for the price. The downside of desktop vaporizers is that they can’t really go anywhere without a lot of hassle. Generally speaking, you will only be able to do bags from a desktop unit too.
Cordless home portable: These vaporizers are considered portable, but can’t go much farther than your house. This could be because they’re too big to be considered pocketable or have pieces that break easily if you take them anywhere. They’re generally awesome if you want a vape to walk around the house with and not be anchored to a plug.
Pocketable: These are vaporizers that can be thrown in your pocket without too much worry. Pocketable vaporizers have made a big splash in recent years. It used to be tough to find a good vaporizer that has enough battery life and is built well enough to withstand a pocket. Now, there are plenty of options for a vaporizer user to try out.
Pen: While often confused with e-cigarettes, pen vaporizers work with herbs and concentrates (not necessarily ejuice). There aren’t many options currently when it comes to pen vaporizers since it’s hard to heat up herbs in such a small space. What you’ll find with a lot of herbal pen vaporizers is that they’ll just burn the herb instead of vaporizing it—which completely defeats the purpose—but there are a couple that actually work well. That being said, there are lots of pen vaporizers that play well with oil. If you only want to vape oil, take a look at some pens.
Just like with cars, there are cheap models that won’t last very long (that can also potentially be dangerous), luxury models that work like a dream, and everything in between.
If you’re just starting out you don’t need to spend a fortune to start vaporizing—there are good options that start at as little as $100. Just don’t cheap out too much because there are bad vaporizers which simply won’t perform as promised and will burn instead of vaporizing.
As you spend more money, generally the vaporizers get better functionality, deliver better flavor, are better built and have better warranties. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for!
3. Delivery methods
When it comes to the way you inhale from a vaporizer, you have three main options:
Whip: Whips are generally made of bendable silicone tubes that you inhale from. Most desktop vaporizers have a whip as their primary delivery method (some have multiple). They allow you to inhale a meter away from your vaporizer. Usually one end of the whip is a mouthpiece while the other is a ‘wand’ that holds the herb in the vaporizer.
Bag/balloon: Depending on who you talk to, it’s either a bag or a balloon but they’re the same thing. Bags are filled up on the vaporizer and then removed and attached with a mouthpiece. From there you can inhale from the bag and pass it around the room if you’d like! The Volcano Digit is the original bag vaporizer that people still adore.
Direct draw: This means you’re inhaling directly from the vaporizer unit itself, the mouthpiece is attached to the vaporizer. This is the case with almost every portable vaporizer and with select desktop units. Some will have removable stem pieces (like glass or wood) and others will be permanently attached to the vaporizer (with pens).
4. Power source
Vaporizers don’t just heat themselves! Something needs to power them in order to heat the contents and create vapor.
For desktop vaporizers the majority of them will be powered by electricity via a plug in to your wall. They don’t go anywhere with you so there’s no reason they can’t just be plugged in which makes them pretty easy to use. There are a few desktop units that are powered by butane so keep an eye on them.
For portable vaporizers the majority of them are powered by batteries. Not all batteries are created equally so keep an eye on battery life if you’re looking for a portable unit. There are an increasing number of portable vaporizers popping up that are powered by butane—which means you need a butane lighter to power them—they don’t use electricity.
Pass-through charging: This is an important concept to understand if you’re looking for a battery powered portable vaporizer. If they have pass-through charging that means that they can be used while plugged in and charging. If they don’t, you have to wait until they charge to use them. This can be really annoying if it’s your only vape and you have to wait an hour or two to use it.
5. Heating methods
Almost all vaporizers rely on either conduction, convection or a mix of both to produce vapor. We’ll walk you through what they mean:
Convection vaporizers rely on hot air to pass around and through the herbs which generates vapor.
Conduction vaporizers heat the herbs through direct contact with a heated surface.
Generally speaking convection is the preferred heating method since it produces better vapor quality and is more efficient with your herbs. Conduction vaporizers are usually cheaper since there’s a higher risk of combustion but are faster to heat up. Take that with a grain of salt though, there are some fantastic conduction vaporizers on the market right now.
What are concentrates you ask? They are oils or waxes that can be vaporized. Oils are generally used with vaporizer pens while waxes usually need a larger chamber and vaporizer to work.
Most of the vaporizers on this website are meant for herbs so don’t expect them to work with concentrates. That being said, some of them can work with oils and waxes. Look under the ‘technical specs’ part of each vaporizer page to see if they are compatible.
7. Speed and convenience
Speed and convenience mean two different things for desktop and portable units.
For desktop vaporizers, it basically comes down to heat up time. If you’re impatient make sure there’s a fast heat up time. Some can take a while to heat up and start producing vapor.
For portable vaporizers, there are two different types. The first type heats up instantaneously which are ready to go as soon as you press the button. They’re perfect if you want short and quick sessions. The second type of portable take between 30 seconds and a few minutes to heat up and aren’t instantaneous. They’re usually better for longer sessions of use.