“Hey, I’m looking for a new portable vape and I’m not sure which model to choose, what’s the BEST one in your opinion?”
My short answer is normally this:
There’s no one vape that can be considered the best for every single person, but out of the models I’ve reviewed so far there are a few that I believe stand out among the rest. Out of these few models, each one has unique qualities that sets it apart from the others. Let me explain…
First and foremost, I’m going to be talking about portable herbal vaporizers here and not “pen vaporizers,” which are mainly designed for use with oils and concentrates. From my experience up until now, pen vapes that claim to vaporize herbs really just combust them in a convenient way, meaning it’s still smoke – not vapor. If you’re looking for a vape that works well with oil or wax check out the Omicron or the AtmosRx.
*** UPDATE Nov-2013: DaVinci released a new vape and I’ve added it to this list of best portables.
*** UPDATE Dec-2013: I got my hands on the new Firefly and it’s a good one so I added it below.
When it comes to vapes made for herbs these are the models I like and recommend most out of the units I’ve reviewed so far: Firefly, Pax, Solo, Ascent, Launch Box, NO2.
The Firefly is the newest of the bunch and manages to squeeze out a very high score overall.
This is not necessarily the best vape to carry around with you, although you absolutely could if you wanted to, I feel it really shines as a cordless home unit or a travel vape that can be conveniently stored and transported.
The build quality of the Firefly is impressive, it feels really solid and has a very sleek finish. It’s also efficient with your material since you don’t have to pack a lot in the herb chamber, and the vapor you can produce with it is top notch quality, very tasty and potent.
It’s not the easiest to use for beginners, there is a little bit of a learning curve involved because of the technique required to get the best performance (which I talk about in my review). However, after a little practice anybody could become an expert with it.
The Ploom Pax is another one of the highest rated portables I’ve reviewed with every aspect of ownership considered.
If I was forced to choose only one portable vape to be left with, and all the others would be taken away, I’d pick this one. I’m talking about true portables for use on-the-go, because I now rate the Firefly a hair higher overall but it hasn’t surpassed the Pax as my go-to vape to carry around with me when I leave home.
What I like most about it is its sleek design, small size, and ease of use. Whenever I leave home and want to take a vape with me this is the model I choose most often.
So if you’re looking for something to comfortably carry around with you and easily use on-the-go, the Pax is what I recommend. You can also pre-pack this one before leaving home so that you don’t need to carry your material with you separately, which is very convenient.
You do have to clean your unit and apply a tiny drop of mouthpiece lubricant about every dozen sessions for best performance, so I made a cleaning tutorial for this vape recently where I show the whole procedure (it’s not too difficult).
The Arizer Solo is another popular model that I think is good, and as far as how it compares to the other top models it’s fairly similar in terms of performance.
It’s easy to use and produces good quality vapor but it does have a fairly strong draw resistance to contend with, it’s the hardest to pull out of all the models I’ve reviewed.
It feels like trying to suck a really thick milkshake through a straw – some people (like myself) find this resistance a little irritating and uncomfortable, and some people don’t seem to mind it much.
As far as true portability this one doesn’t score very high in that area, it’s a bit on the large and bulky side and isn’t really meant for use on-the-go.
I usually recommend the Solo for people who plan on using it mainly inside their home, but just don’t want to deal with cords. Now that I’ve reviewed the Firefly though, that model I feel is a little better overall so that’s really my first recommendation for cordless home use, but this one is still good.
The DaVinci Ascent is the only portable I’ve reviewed aside from the Solo that has a glass vapor path, and it actually does one better by having a glass-lined ceramic herb chamber also.
The taste of the vapor it produces is nice, not blow-your-mind great but a tiny bit better than the non-glass models. However, it’s still not the most comfortable vapor, I find it to be a little on the warm side and halfway through my sessions I tend to get a little scratchiness in my throat.
The vapor is also on the lighter side, meaning it’s not very dense, but this vape still manages to provide a good experience.
It does have a fairly long battery life which is nice just keep in mind it seems to take about 4 hours to fully recharge after it dies, which is kind of a long time.
I basically consider the Ascent a more portable version of the Solo, the vapor just isn’t quite as dense or comfortable.
It also works best when the herb chamber is fully packed, and it holds a lot of material, so I would only get this one if you typically like to pack a lot at once.
The Magic-Flight Launch Box is the least expensive of the bunch, but I think it’s a good quality product and I still use mine to this day in certain situations.
This one is very small and quick, but utilizes a fairly basic design with few moving parts.
There’s a little bit of a learning curve at first before you really dial in the best method of using it for the results you want, but if you have a little patience I think you’ll find it’s a decent performer.
The MFLB is the vape you want if you’re someone who likes to take just a few draws at a time, spread out over a longer period.
It’s strength is the fact that it works well with very small amounts of material, and it heats up/cools down very quickly.
The way I typically use mine nowadays is I pack it and set it on my desk so that throughout the day I can quickly take a draw or two whenever I feel like it, without having to wait for my vape to heat up and without the risk of wasting any material.
There are many ways and many situations in which the Launch Box can be used, but I normally recommend it to people who say they’re only looking to vape a small amount at a time.
Lastly there is the Vapir NO2, which I don’t recommend as often as the others but still feel is a decent performing vape.
This one is physically the largest of all the portables I’ve tried, so its portability is limited in that regard.
I wouldn’t normally take the NO2 anywhere with me outside the home, but if that’s not an issue for you I think it’s easy to use and it has some small advantages over the others.
It doesn’t have much draw resistance at all, it’s fairly easy to pull from this one, and that I like.
You can also use it while it’s plugged in and charging, which you can’t do with the others (unless you buy a separate power adapter for the Launch Box).
There is a little bit of cleaning and maintenance required to keep the NO2 fresh and working properly, but if you like the other aspects of it I wouldn’t let that hold you back.
If and when I review new portable vaporizers that I like and recommend I will come back and update this post accordingly.