Looking for more vetted cannabis recommendations? Check out our guides to weed strains, rolling papers, bongs, storage containers, grinders, electric weed grinders, and cannabis apps.
With the number of states legalizing cannabis increasing — and the number of medical marijuana patients going up — it’s never been easier to access the healing properties of cannabis. However, ripping a bong or hitting a pipe can draw unsavory reactions, whether from pesky landlords who would catch a whiff from an open window or roommates who can’t take the lingering smell (no matter how much air freshener you use). Vaporizers offer a level of discreteness. Even better, vaporizing weed can get you higher while using less product. We tested an assortment of weed vaporizers — some are compatible with flowers, some are compatible with concentrates, some are compatible with both — to identify the ones that are worth your green and the ones that will wreck your green. So whether you’re looking for a dry herb vaporizer, a vape for concentrates, or a vape that works with both, these are the 12 best weed vaporizers on the market.
Probably. According to Mitch Earleywine, professor of psychology at the University at Albany, SUNY, and author of Understanding Marijuana, data from his lab shows that switching to vaporizing decreases respiratory irritation and increases lung volume in heavy users. And, compared to using oil vape pens that work with a 510 thread battery and a cartridge, there are proven health benefits to ingesting cannabis via herbal and concentrate vaporizers. However, Earleywine says to keep the temperature low to prevent lung irritation.“Those who are careful not to overheat the plant are bound to see respiratory irritation improve in as little as a month,” he says. “Those who crank up the temp likely do not benefit.”
“Users suggest that they are accustomed to smoking and knowing the magnitude of the effects fairly quickly, often within a minute,” he says. “In contrast, they describe vaporized cannabis as ‘a creeper,’ in the sense that the subjective effects get larger over the first 15 minutes or so. Many claim their first use of the vaporizer led them to ‘over-medicate,’ so to speak.”
There are also significant ethical considerations to ingesting cannabis. BIPOC are still disproportionately affected by petty drug crimes while states legalize marijuana. Work toward restorative justice by making regular donations to mutual aid groups that help incarcerated people or organizations like the Last Prisoner Project, which works to permanently reverse the injustice toward those who have suffered criminal convictions due to the War on Drugs. Additionally, you should support companies that donate to or have cannabis criminal justice reform initiatives in place.
How does vaporizing weed work?
Unlike bongs, pipes and joints, which use a direct flame as the means of releasing the cannabinoids in marijuana, convection and conduction vaporizers use heat.
Conduction vaporizers use direct heat contact to release the cannabinoids in marijuana. However, the direct heat means that there’s a possibility you could burn your weed. These devices tend to be cheaper, portable, heat up faster and tend to be easier to use.
Convection vaporizers, on the other hand, use the transfer of heat — think of it like cooking something in the oven — to heat up the cannabis. Instead of directly heating the weed, heating elements in convection vaporizers heat the air, which is forced around and through the herb. Convection vaporizers tend to be more expensive and less portable than their conduction counterparts but provide better vapor quality and flavor along with even heating.
Hybrid vaporizers use both convection and conduction.
What’s the difference between dry herb and concentrates?
Dry herb refers to pulverized weed, which is placed into a weed vape, then cooked at a certain temperature until vapors are released.
Concentrates are exactly what they sound like: concentrated weed that can come in many forms. The plant is treated so that only the desired compounds from the weed are extracted, hence its condensed form.
It’s difficult to say one is better than the other. With dry herb, you have to deal with carrying around all that herb, but it’s also mellower than concentrates. Concentrates are more discreet, but because of the way they’re treated, it’s possible that they can become exposed to heavy metals, toxins or carcinogens. Concentrates also provide a much more potent effect on the user.
New and Upcoming Releases
Our recommendations are based on real-world testing. Here’s a snapshot of a new weed vape our testers are considering for future updates to this guide.
Pax Mini: Announced alongside the Pax Plus (more on that in a bit), the Pax Mini is the smallest device ever released by the brand, making it the most discreet and portable yet. It also works with the Infused Flower pucks, comes with the Experience Modes, and still boasts ultra-fast heating and a solid 2+ hour battery life.
How We Tested
Gear Patrol Staff
After scouring the internet for weed vape enthusiast websites and the general weed vape community, we found a handful of vapes we wanted to get in hand and test. Of those we got in hand, we paid close attention to the build, ease of use, design and quality of vapor. A few factors we had to look out for was whether it took dry herbs, concentrate or both, as well as whether it used convection, conduction or hybrid heating. Battery life is important to the overall rating of a weed vape, but we found that despite all of these vapes’ overall excellence, the battery was always a pain point whether it didn’t last very long or it took a while to charge. This list will continue to change and be updated as new weed vape models hit the market.
Numerous accessories and attachments for custom vaping
Even smaller than previous generation, if only a bit
Still very expensive
Only incremental improvements over Pax 3
Compatible with: dry herb, concentrate
Heating type: conduction
After more than six years on the market, the industry-leading Pax 3 weed vaporizer has finally, officially been supplanted by the next generation from the same brand. Called the Pax Plus, this vaporizer can still do everything that its predecessor can do — smoke both dry herb and concentrate, swap modules on the fly, work with a single push of a button, heat to exacting temperatures, super simple USB charging, etc. — but it does all of them just a little bit better. It’s also slightly smaller, the pieces are easier to swap out, the instructions are clearer … the list just keeps going.
It’s worth noting, however, that our reviewer found that the changes, while numerous and varied, are somewhat incremental. That is to say, users of the Pax 3 will probably find the Pax Plus to be very familiar and, perhaps, even a little lackluster in its suite of upgrades. Still, the 3 was such a great weed vape that to improve on it at all is an achievement. And that makes the Pax Plus worthy of the top spot on our list.