The PAX 2 vaporizer is the second generation of one of the best-selling portable vapes of all time, the original PAX (the black one in my pics).
***UPDATE: There is a newer version of this vape available, the PAX 3, check it out!
If you’re not familiar with this unit at all, this is a portable herbal vaporizer that’s excellent as a pocket vape for use on-the-go. The new one is even smaller and lighter than the original, and its brushed aluminum shell gives it a sleeker look and feel.
– 25% smaller
– 10% lighter
– 15% higher capacity battery
– Up to 30% longer usage time
– 4x longer battery lifetime
– Lip-sensing technology
– Deeper oven to heat more evenly
It comes with two silicone inserts that act as mouthpieces now, and you basically just push them into place on top to attach them, there’s no more mechanics that need to be lubricated or frequently cleaned to ensure proper function. So technically this is an improvement, because the retractable mouthpiece is somewhat of a hot zone for issues with the original.
One of the mouthpieces is completely flush with the top of the unit, and the other one resembles the mouthpiece of the original model but it’s a little smaller. I’m not in love with the feel of the one that sticks up so I use the flat one and it’s actually kinda cool. A benefit of using the flush mouthpiece is that you can stand the vape upside-down while you pack the oven, you can’t do that with the other one.
Performance & Vapor Quality
I’m diggin it! When the vape is clean and fresh taking draws is easy and enjoyable, and vapor production is above average so you get nice clouds. I must say that for its size and for being a conduction vape this thing performs really well, but it’s important that the oven stays clean to keep it running in tip-top shape. Once residue starts building up in the oven extra draw resistance can creep in, which isn’t terrible but it will slowly affect the vaping experience. I pop my screen out and give the chamber a quick scrub every few sessions, but I’ll talk more about maintenance in a minute.
The vapor it produces is smooth and comfortable, and definitely a little better than the original. There are 4 temperature settings with this one – levels 2 and 3 seem to provide the best experience in my opinion and at these temps the vapor never really gets harsh unless you draw longer than about 8 seconds.
I’d say the taste is good overall, it’s above average for sure and flavor is improved over the original. It’s better in the beginning of your session but the vapor is always pretty pure, and for its small size the vapor quality is actually pretty impressive.
The oven in the new PAX 2 is a tiny bit smaller but it’s also slightly deeper. They designed the new one this way to maximize the surface area of material being heated which helps it perform a little better.
Sipping vs Ripping
There are two types of PAX users: those who sip, and those who rip. If you’re a sipper, the new model produces more vapor from a short ~2-4 second draw than the original, which is a bit above average. My wife is a sipper, and she was already happy using the original model, so she’s very happy with the new one (happy wife, happy life). Rippers will be pretty satisfied too, generally the longer you pull the more vapor you’ll get and it stays nice and smooth. Either way, drawing slowly is the key to great results.
What I noticed throughout my time using this vape so far is that I personally start off my sessions by taking short sips, but about halfway through I find myself taking longer draws to keep vapor production up.
The original model has above average draw resistance, meaning it doesn’t feel completely free-flowing when you pull from it. Conduction vapes are usually like this because sometimes too little resistance in the draw can actually hinder vapor production. The new one is better in this area and feels more free-flowing, most notably when it’s clean and there’s no residue restricting airflow around the screen.
The oven screen is purposefully made to be slightly larger than the chamber itself, and this is why it always seems to be sticking up a little on one side. After you clean the chamber and put your screen back in there’s an optimal way to do it for the best air flow – you want the screen resting slightly off the bottom over the vapor path hole, and you don’t want to press any part of it down too hard.
So the PAX 2 is said to be able to detect your lips on the mouthpiece and “optimize heat and vapor production” for the best performance. I do think the new model performs better than the original so maybe they’re actually on to something with this, I guess I just don’t fully understand how this is even possible, but hey I’m no engineer! ;)
I asked the manufacturer for an explanation of how this works and here’s a summary:
This feature helps provide more consistent draws and prevents the unit from over-cooking your material when you’re not actively vaping from it. When no draw is detected the temperature in the chamber is slightly lowered so the contents don’t continue to heat unnecessarily (every 20 seconds your lip is not sensed the oven’s temp is reduced by 9°F). Then when it detects your lips on the mouthpiece it quickly heats the oven back up to the set temp to replenish the heat and produce a more consistent draw over a wide range of usage.
Taste, efficiency and vapor production are said to be improved with this lip-sensing feature, and I’d have to agree with that.
With a fully packed chamber, which is somewhere around 0.3g or so, you can expect roughly 15 nice draws. If you sip from it you’ll get closer to 20 draws, but if you rip it that’s pretty much the max. This is fairly average for a portable vape and is roughly on par with the original, maybe a tad more efficient.
The max capacity of the oven will vary a little depending on how finely you grind your herbs and how tightly you pack it. At a minimum, grind your material to a medium-fine consistency, and if you want maximum vapor production grind it up extra fine. Overfill the chamber when you first load it and then tamp it down so that it’s pretty firm in there, you don’t want your stuff loose or moving around cus it won’t work very well like that.
Cleaning & Maintenance
Keeping your unit clean is very important for optimal performance and results. Luckily with the new version there are no mechanical parts in the mouthpiece that need to be cleaned or lubricated like the original, so the process is much less involved.
However, the oven is still an area of concern as it tends to build up hardened residue fairly quickly (for me). Sometimes after just a few sessions I find the draw resistance getting a little harder, so I pop out my chamber screen and give the oven a quick scrape with my pick tool to give it a basic cleaning. The consistency of your herbs, or how finely they’re ground up, can affect how quickly residue builds inside. Generally the finer you grind the more vapor you get but you’ll need to clean the oven more often, so find a happy medium that works for you and gets you the vapor you want.
You’ll notice that the “screen” is not really a screen at all, it’s more of a stainless steel plate with grooves around the edges. These grooves are where the air flows through to the mouthpiece, so when they get a little gunked up with residue it can make it a little harder to pull from.
So this is all I find myself having to do to keep it running smoothly, and then every dozen sessions or so it’s time for a more thorough cleaning. This is easy – first remove the mouthpiece and pop out the oven screen. You can do this by dampening one of the pipe cleaners they include with a little isopropyl alcohol (which they also include) and pushing it down the vapor path until it pushes out the screen at the bottom.
This will simultaneously clean the stainless steel vapor path itself where residue builds, and the next step is to scrub the oven a little with that iso-dampened pipe cleaner. The chamber will be easier to clean if the vape is warm, so this is good to do right after a session. Give the screen a quick once-over also to remove any buildup, and the silicone mouthpieces can be quickly wiped clean with a dampened cotton swab.
Charging & Battery Life
This is different with the new model, it takes a little longer to charge now but the battery lasts longer.
Fully charging the battery to 100% will take between 2-3 hours if it’s completely depleted, and from a full charge you can expect at least 90 minutes of usage before it dies. It’ll last a tad longer on the lower heat settings – on level 2 I’ve been getting around eight 12-minute sessions which is not too shabby.
The original had just 1 hour of battery life but it also only took 1 hour to fully recharge. I personally charge all my vapes after every session or two under normal circumstances, so I kind of valued the short charge time of the original more than the longer life of the new one. However, this is really personal preference, 2-3 hours is really not an extremely long charge time, it’s pretty average.
They don’t include a USB wall adapter in the retail box (they’ll have one you can add-on) but these adapters are pretty universal so chances are you have one lying around somewhere already (have an iPhone?). If you happen to have the original PAX already the wall charger that’s included with that one can plug into the new model’s charger as well (see picture below). My original unit is pretty old though, I believe if you got yours more recently the charger looks a little different.
The output of the adapter you use will affect how long the battery takes to charge. If you charge via USB through a computer for example you’re looking at about 3 hours to 100% charge. However, if you use a 2A wall adapter then charge time to 100% is reduced to about 2 hours.
It also now has a magnetic charger that attracts to the contacts on the back of the unit instead of charging through the mouthpiece area like the original – this design is more streamlined and I like it, it’s pretty sleek. The cord that it comes with is very short but it does use the standard micro-USB adapter so getting extra cords or just longer ones is not an expensive endeavor.
The PAX warranty is one of the best in the biz, if not the best. They cover defects for 10 years and they’re not just all talk, they actually provide excellent customer service and support. Everyone who’s contacted me about getting their unit repaired or replaced has been very happy with their quick turnaround.
What I Don’t Like
The oven screen should have been improved more. It doesn’t look like it fits properly and the fact that the corner of it sticks up a little just makes it feel less luxurious to me for some reason. More importantly, you still need to clean the oven & screen regularly to keep it in tip top shape, which I was hoping wouldn’t be a concern anymore. Hopefully the manufacturer is able to work on this and come out with improved screens in the near future.
Odor – there’s a smell emitted from the oven when the vape is on that is a little on the strong side. The original has the same issue, and some other portables do too, but most people would argue that it kinda limits the stealth-factor. I only notice an odor when I’m actively vaping from it, for me the unit is pretty odorless when cooled down and not in use, but I’ve gotten a few reports from people who said the mouthpiece area trapped more odor than they’d like. No vapes are going to be completely odorless, but if I had to pick which models smell more than others I’d say this one falls a little on the smelly side.
What I Like
Performance is pretty damn good considering how small this thing is. The amount of vapor you can get and the quality of it is definitely above average for a portable, and it does perform a little better than the original (when it’s clean :P). I really like how it performs well with both short and long draw durations, this allows people with different draw styles (like my wife and I) to both have a good experience when vaping together.
The simpler mouthpiece design is actually pretty smart and a really big advantage of it will be how many issues it avoids. I do think the retractable mouthpiece of the original version is cool, but it does have its fair share of drawbacks.
What I Love
This is basically the most portable vape I’ve reviewed so far aside from pens. It’s tiny, it weighs nothing and it fits anywhere. When I leave home and want to take a vape with me this is one of the first models I think of.
The new outer shell looks sleek, has an elegant feel and is overall way more solid than the original – I’d definitely consider this one sexier and more luxurious. I love the minimalist design of the outside also, it’s super simple but a pleasure to hold and use.
Battery life is pretty awesome at 90 minutes of usage before it dies – If you figure a typical full session is 10-15 minutes then you can get upwards of 9 sessions or so on one charge, which is a lot of vaping :)
It’s super easy to use too, first-time vapers should have no problem getting good results quickly (just be sure to pack the oven properly).
Lastly, their warranty and support rocks. I would say they sit well-above most other companies in the service department, so if you’re worried about something breaking or not working in the future, don’t be.
So… is it worth the price?
Yes, and even more so now that the price has been reduced to $200 (it was originally $280 when I posted this review).
It’s a very well-rounded, good looking, good performing vape. It has also proven to be extremely reliable, I’ve received virtually zero defect complaints and the original unit shown in my review still works like new.
I also still enjoy mine as much as I did when I first got it and it’s now summer 2016, so it’s definitely a solid choice and I think you’ll be really happy with it.