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The five best cannabis vape cartridges

Published on July 8, 2021 · Last updated September 3, 2021

People love vaping weed because of its health benefits, portability, and discretion. There are many different types of vaping systems: 510-threaded cartridges that work with most batteries, pods or cartridges that only work with a specific company’s hardware, disposable pens that get tossed as soon as you finish, and the list goes on. 

So how do you find the best one? Combining quality weed, extraction skill, and vape hardware, whatever experience you’re looking for, we’ve got a list of the best vape cartridges money can buy.

And if you can’t find these or simply don’t want them, down below we’ve got some tips on how to find a high-quality cart that’ll set your mind and body straight.

PAX Era pods

The Pax Era portable vape pen loaded with cannabis concentrate
The Pax Era portable vape pen. (Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

PAX has been a leader in the vape pen game for years now. They have a slew of vape products to pick from, but their PAX Era is the belle of the ball. 

Their technology is heralded for its extremely smooth and flavorful hits, and their app is acclaimed for its personalization, allowing temperature and dose control throughout each session. 

PAX has partners in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. So pretty much, if you live somewhere where cannabis is legal, you can definitely find a nice distillate, live resin, or solventless rosin PAX Era pod at a dispensary nearby.

What is a cannabis vape cartridge?

Raw Garden live resin cartridges

raw garden vape cartridge
(Courtesy of Raw Garden)

These Raw Garden 510 cartridges are delicious. Even more than delicious, they’re effective—they will get you high as hell. 

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An issue with vape carts in general, for people who reaaallyyy smoke weed everyday like Nate Dogg told you to, is that the high doesn’t really get you that high. It’s just a lil’ tooter to keep you going until you get back to some actual flower or dabs. Well Raw Garden’s live resin cartridges will get you HIGH.

Their vape batteries are powerful and long-lasting, and work great with DMT vape cartridges too. Just an FYI.

Airgraft 2 live resin pods

airgraft vape
(Courtesy of Airgraft)

Airgraft is a Canadian company that operates in California. At some point, they’ll operate across the nation. Their claim to fame is a revolutionary vaping system that only heats, never burns, your oil due to the way heat is cycled through the battery and chamber. 

The reason they’re on here is because both their Airgraft 2 vape system and vape pod go hard. Especially that Papaya Live Resin pod, ooohweee, it’s so damn tasty. Plus the effects punch like a dab. Truly, it only takes a couple puffs from the Airgraft 2 to get you extremely zooted.

Anatomy of a vape pen

Airo Pro AiroPods

Leafly's favorite vaporizer, leafly faves, AiroPro, cannabis concentrate, marijuana, vape
(Courtesy of Airo Pro)

The Airo Pro is f*cking amazing. It’s another proprietary system that only works with its own battery and cartridges. The battery is awesome because it vibrates when you hit it, allowing you to measure doses. 

Although you can only buy their AiroPod cartridges for it, you won’t be disappointed with their oil: It tastes amazing, it’s fun to vape, and there are a whole lot of options, including CBD oil, distillates, live resins, and a botanical strain terpenes series. 

Cherry on top is that they’re available in multiple states: California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona.

Olio 2nd press solventless rosin cartridges

olio vape cart
(Courtesy of Olio)

TASTEEEEE, is what I have to say about these carts. Olio in Colorado makes a variety of extracts for people who love dabs and vape pens alike. On the vape side of things, they produce solventless rosin, 2nd press solventless rosin, live resin, and CBD 510-threaded cartridges. 

Their 2nd press solventless rosin carts are some of the most flavorful 510 cartridges I’ve ever come across. Rosin is pressed using heat and pressure, and the process creates leftover oil—which is then pressed and bottled into rosin carts, hence “second press.”

The result is some super flavorful vapor, and if you’re in Colorado, you should definitely give it a try. Pro tip: their Purple Marmalade cart is the right answer.

Honorable mentions: 

The best vaporizers for cannabis flower

How to find a quality vape cartridge

Quality vape carts guide from Leafly (Leafly)

There are hundreds of vape cartridge options out there. If you don’t like any of the above carts, here are some tips on how to find a high-quality cart that’s right for any mood or feeling.

Type of vaporizer and battery

Choosing a vape cart starts with the type of battery you have. If you want the flexibility of 510 cartridges and access to the widest range of oils, you might want to get an upgraded battery like a Vessel Expedition that will last you a while and offer different temperatures. 

If you’re going to go with a closed-pod system like PAX Era or Airo Pro, you’ve already made your hardware decision and will be limited to that brand’s types of oils.

Cannabis oil

The most important thing when finding a quality vape cartridge is if you want THC or CBD. There are other cannabinoids, but for the most part, THC and CBD are the most common. The industry isn’t at a place yet where producers are developing CBG, CBN, and other minor cannabinoid products at mass scale. 

That said, THC gets you high and CBD doesn’t—but will still make your body feel good. Learn more about the two here.

Potency and terpenes

When you look at the package of a cartridge, look at two main metrics: THC/CBD percentage and terpene percentage. Essentially, the amount of THC or CBD will tell you how powerful the experience will be, while the terpene percentage will let you know how flavorful it’ll be. If the package tells you specific terpenes, then you’ll also have an idea on how the high will make you feel. 

As a rule of thumb, the higher the THC/CBD percentage, the stronger the high will be; the higher the terpene percentage, the more flavorful and dynamic the vape oil will taste.

And you usually can’t have both: If you get a vape cartridge with 90% THC, expect that the flavor will be nil or there will be artificial flavor additives; if you get one with 18% terpenes, expect that it will explode with tasty vapor, but the effects might not punch the hardest.

Extraction method

Everything about the quality of vape cartridges starts and ends with the oil. You don’t need to be a cannabis scientist, but know that how the oil was made will influence its taste and effects. 

Distillates, live resin, rosin, etc., all have their own flavor profile and experience. Educate yourself of the wide variety of extraction methods that make concentrates here, as well as the different types of vape oils here.

Producer and processor 

Once you learn basic vape tech and oil types, the next thing you should look out for is who’s making the oil in the cartridge or pod—that includes producers growing the flower for source material and processors extracting oil from the bud. 

Knowing specific producers and processors will give you an idea of the standards and quality of your oil. If you love a company’s flower or dabs, you might love their vapes as well. 

Purity and color

Oils can come in a wide variety of colors, and usually, the more golden-amber the color, the better. If the oil inside’s got a sweet, golden-amber color that looks like a Tree Sap IPA, you’re good.

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Danté Jordan
Danté Jordan
Danté Jordan is a cannabis writer based in Los Angeles. He's written for Leafly, Weedmaps, High Times, and many more publications.
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