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The best vaporizers for cannabis flower

April 15, 2020
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Cannabis vaporization technology has made leaps and bounds in the last few decades.

Far from the days of modified heat guns, contemporary progress means digitization, integration into the Internet of Things, the transformation of largish tech into smallish tech, and an increasing shift in attention to a Swiss Army Knife approach to design—that is, most flower vapes nowadays also include a concentrate mod, and many are programmed with special heating cycles to better express oils.

But in trying to do everything, some device designers lose sight of herbal vaporization’s central goal: to heat weed to a point between cannabinoid volatility and pyrolysis, and to do so in a manner that’s flavorful, satisfying, and effective.

Below, we look at herbal vaporizers across all categories and classes, highlighting not necessarily the newest devices on the market, but those that do a great job expressing flower and their flavor profiles.

Note: Prices may vary by retailer.

Jump to a section or product:

Tabletop herbal vaporizers

Cordless & portable flower vapes

Looking to vape concentrates? Check out our guide on The best vaporizers for cannabis oil and concentrates.

Tabletop herbal vaporizers

If you know your vape habits won’t be leaving the house with you, tabletop devices present a range of price points and experiences that serve consumers of all types.

These larger vaporizers have historically outperformed portables in flavor, durability, longevity, and ease of maintenance. Experiences ranging from social to solitary are made beginner friendly, while connoisseur options open up new realms of flavor.

Read on for enduring classics, price-slashing alternatives, and under-sung innovations to get excited about.

The Volcano by Storz & Bickel

Best in class

Price: $600 for the Volcano Digital and $470 for the Original

Features at a glance: vapor bag delivery system, forced-air convection heating, concentrate compatibility. Digital only: LCD screen, precision digital temp control. 

What’s to love?

  • Benchmark flavor
  • Stress-free social experience
  • Easy maintenance and operation
  • Reliable manufacturer support

What’s the catch?

  • Higher-than-average price

Sipping a vapor bag with friends is one of the finest ways to enjoy cannabis, so let’s start with the iconic Volcano.

While other devices mimic the Volcano’s functionality and do a good job approximating the experience for less money, none match in build, reliability, and manufacturer experience.

First brought to market in the year 2000 by German manufacturers Storz & Bickel, the Volcano is the de-facto standard for flavor preservation, easy social sessions, and potent vapor effects. At the core of the experience is the Volcano’s forced-air, convection-heating technology, enabling luxurious clouds that can be enjoyed at your own pace thanks to the bag-and-valve delivery system.

The device sends an even heat through your ground herb and the resulting vapor is collected in a plastic bag—which puffs up like a plume from your coffee table. The flavor is multi-dimensional and long-lasting, and the effect-delivery is efficient and potent.

Additionally, the learning curve is minimal and lots of how-to videos are peppered throughout the internet, so you shouldn’t have any trouble gathering the info you need to pull excellent vapor from your maiden voyage onward.

This benchmark flavor and social experience tops this list for $600 for the Volcano Digital and $470 for the Original—an analog version that lacks an LCD screen and digital temp control.

While other devices mimic the Volcano’s functionality and do a good job approximating the experience for less money, none match in build, reliability, and manufacturer experience.

If you’ve got the money and don’t want to make any concessions on your vaporizer purchase, the Volcano is posed to please.

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Extreme Q by Arizer

Best value

Price: $170

Features at a glance: Interchangeable vapor bag and whip attachments, convection heating, three forced-air speed settings, full digital temp control, digital display, remote control, aromatherapy attachment.

What’s to love?

  • Better-than-average flavor performance
  • Affordable tabletop convection
  • Enhanced vapor control via variable fan speeds and precision temp control
  • Vapor bag or whip cloud delivery

What’s the catch?

  • More toy-grade than pricier competitors
  • Cheap build quality on glass parts might necessitate replacement costs down the road

The Extreme Q is a price-slasher tabletop herbal vaporizer that delivers a cloud similar in quality to that of the Volcano but for less than a third of the cost.

Arizer has been around for a long time, they support all their releases with full lineups of replacement parts, and I’ve come to expect excellent flavor and exceptionally reasonable prices from this brand.

Like the Volcano, the Extreme Q employs convection heating and is compatible with a set of included vapor bags. The social experience and pace are roughly the same.

Also included is a whip for direct draws and a bowl attachment for aromatherapy, plus a remote control that provides quick temp control and variable fan speeds to augment the performance of the Extreme Q’s forced-air function. Where the Volcano only offers one fan speed, the Q’s three fan settings can enable greater control of vapor production.

Of course, there are reasons to consider the Volcano: the Q’s build feels toy-grade next to its pricier competitor, while its ecosystem of glass attachments and swappable parts are of a quality that could use improvement where durability and craftsmanship are concerned.

That said, Arizer has been around for a long time, they support all their releases with full lineups of replacement parts, and I’ve come to expect excellent flavor and exceptionally reasonable prices from this brand. The Extreme Q is no exception.

Cloudious 9 by Hydrology 9

Hydrology9 vaporizer by Cloudious9

(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Integrated water filtration

Price: $160-199

Features at a glance: water filtration, anodized aluminum and borosilicate body, five pre-set temps, porcelain heating chamber, concentrate compatibility, leather carry case.

What’s to love?

  • Water filtration/cooling
  • Attractive design and carry case
  • Cordless operation and portability

What’s the catch?

  • Average flavor performance
  • Unintuitive operational procedure

The Cloudious 9 is a cordless robot bong with water filtration at the center of its design.

If fully-integrated water filtration, attractive design, and a fun experience are what you’re looking for and you don’t mind sacrificing some flavor, you’re in good hands with the Cloudious 9.

A sleek, anodized aluminum and borosilicate glass cylinder offers five temperature settings, a porcelain heating chamber, and the ability to handle oils with an included steel pad. It makes a little light show of colored LEDs while in use and comes with one of the nicest carry cases I’ve seen for a vape—sturdy leather, with quality stitching and attractive brass buttons.

While it’s tough to envision many out-of-house use cases where the Cloudious 9 would be appropriate—hence why it’s included in the tabletop section of this guide—it is battery powered and the manufacturer has gone to considerable lengths to affect portability and fashion with the Apple-inspired design and carry case.

The downsides? You’re looking at a somewhat unintuitive operation and steeper-than-average learning curve, as well as a firmly average flavor experience—awesome for a few hits with a strong chance of popcorn after that.

But if fully-integrated water filtration, attractive design, and a fun experience are what you’re looking for and you don’t mind sacrificing some flavor, you’re in good hands with the Cloudious 9.

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Mr. HotBox by Mr. HotBox

Best crossover vape

Price: $549.99

Features at a glance: unique titanium herb oven, e-nail functionality, removable external heating coil, digital control station with LCD screen, concentrate compatibility via add-on quartz and titanium nail attachments.

A not-included water pipe is required.

What’s to love?

  • Best-in-class flavor performance
  • Water filtration/cooling
  • Durable materials
  • American-made, and by people who use their own devices

What’s the catch?

  • Formidable price tag
  • Steeper-than-average learning curve
  • Requires a not-included glass bong, bubbler, or similar device

If you’re primarily an extract consumer but want a device that really kills it with flower, do look closely here at the Mr. HotBox flagship tech.

Considering the excellent vapor quality, industrial-grade materials, and hand-built American manufacturing, it’s not surprising that Mr. HotBox comes at a high price.

The Mr. HotBox is an excellent e-nail with an innovative flower attachment that transforms the control station and tethered coil tech into an herbal convection vaporizer—like a little pizza oven that drops into a traditional glass rig’s 14mm or 18mm female joint.

The flameless torch technology was designed with the dabber in mind and hand-built in Washington state by an owner-operated team of inventor-machinists.

The Mr. HotBox requires a bit of experimentation and a few bowl packs to master the techniques necessary to pull adequate vapor, but the rewards to be found at the end of the learning curve are well worth the trouble: a cool, tasty-to-the-last-hit vapor that has rewritten my personal standard for flavor preservation and overall satisfaction.

Considering the excellent vapor quality, industrial-grade materials, and hand-built American manufacturing, it’s not surprising that this device comes at a high price: $549.99 will get the herb oven kit onto your coffee table. Keep in mind, the quartz and titanium nails are sold separately.

Should you need a little help getting over the price barrier, Mr. HotBox offers financing and payment plans.

Cordless & portable flower vapes

Identifying an ideal portable flower vape is tricky, mainly because as devices get smaller, compromises are made and flavor can be sacrificed.

Portables that achieve good flavor and effects tend to be larger than something you’d want to carry in your pocket. I’ve started to refer to these devices as “cordless” rather than portable because I feel it’s a more accurate description for vapes that are battery powered but not exactly pocket-sized.

Meanwhile, as cartridge technology challenges the utility of the once groundbreaking flower vape, these devices must shrink to compete and innovative to achieve new performance benchmarks.

The happy news is that you don’t have to sacrifice portability for flavor or the other way around in today’s market. Along the road to these contemporary achievements are options to satisfy your personal priorities, whether they be price, size, build quality, performance, or flavor.

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ArGo by Arizer

Arizer ArGo and accessories

(Photo courtesy of Arizer)

Truly portable convection flavor

Price: $175

Features at a glance: Convection-conduction heating, full digital temp control, LCD display, concentrate/oil compatibility, pocket portability, swappable battery, included carry case, interchangeable glass vapor paths for pre-packing your on-the-go tokes.

What’s to love?

  • Best-in-class flavor performance from a pocketable device
  • Competitive price
  • Carry case and additional glass vapor paths

What’s the catch?

  • Plastic isn’t for everyone
  • Draw resistance and corresponding technique can present a learning curve for the uninitiated

Before trying the ArGo—the newest portable in Canadian manufacturer Arizer’s lineup of price-slashing, flavor-preserving flower vapes—I held the opinion that truly pocketable flower vapes just can’t do anything other than make popcorn smoke or burn your lips off.

Selling for a very competitive price, the ArGo is a truly portable flower vape that expresses herb in a satisfying, flavor-rich manner.

Having basically given up my search for a portable flower vape that does flavor without requiring concessions of usability, I was elated to try Arizer’s ArGo. Selling for a very competitive price, the ArGo is a truly portable flower vape that expresses herb in a satisfying, flavor-rich manner.

Like Arizer’s Solo, Air, and follow-ups to those models, a glass tube is packed with herb and submerged into a heating chamber.

Using the same combination of conduction and convection heating technology employed across Arizer’s cordless designs, the ArGo preserves flavor for the duration of the vapor cycle. The first few hits are still the tastiest, while the rest slowly deliver your remaining terps alongside cannabinoids.

While the plastic construction probably isn’t for everyone, you’d be wise to consider the ArGo if you’re looking for a flavorful flower vape that will slide into any pocket.

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Solo by Arizer

(Photo courtesy of Arizer)

Best cordless flavor for the money

Price: $100-$150 depending on retailer

Features at a glance: Convection-conduction heating, seven pre-set temperatures, interchangeable glass vapor paths, aromatherapy dish attachment, carry case.

What’s to love?

  • Excellent flavor performance
  • Pre-set temps that work
  • Affordable
  • Easy maintenance

What’s the catch?

  • No swappable battery
  • Cordless but too large for a pocket

If you’re looking for the best flavor for the least amount of money, look no further than Arizer’s Solo. It retails for as low as $100 and does a shockingly good job where flavor and functionality are concerned, thanks to Arizer’s combined convection-conduction heating technology and swappable glass airpaths.

Despite the name, the Solo is perfectly shareable, as you’ll be seeing moderate to high flavor preservation throughout a cycle.

Offering seven pre-set temperatures, easy maintenance, and cordless functionality, it’s a great device for around-the-house sessions—and despite the name, the Solo is perfectly shareable, as you’ll be seeing moderate to high flavor preservation throughout a cycle.

A more feature-rich and slimmed-down version, the Solo II, is available for an extra $70, adding precision temp control, LCD screen, and a swappable battery. I personally prefer the flavor of the original Solo, and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for an exceptional performance and sturdy build from a budget vape.

Tera by Boundless

Top pick for cordless convection

Price: $200

Features at a glance: Convection heating, full digital temp control, LCD display, concentrate/oil compatibility, water pipe attachment, swappable battery, fast charging and heat-up times.

What’s to love?

  • Excellent flavor performance
  • Solid build quality
  • Swappable battery
  • Competitive price
  • Low-to-no learning curve or special techniques required

What’s the catch?

  • Doesn’t fit comfortably in a pocket
  • Smaller devices provide a similar flavor performance

Not only is the Tera one of the few top-loading cordless convection vapes to do a great job expressing flavor, but due to a low-resistance draw and simple, intuitive operation, it’s also one of the easiest to master without previous vaporizer knowledge.

The Tera is standout convection flavor and beginner-friendly operation from a feature-rich, contemporary vaporizer.

Taking into consideration the Tera’s swappable battery, water-pipe and concentrate compatibility, full digital temp control, and speedy charging and heat-up times, it rates very high next to competitors at $200.

The Tera is marketed as portable and could certainly stow away in a purse or backpack, but it’s just a little too plump to fit comfortably in a pocket. Other devices on this list rate higher for true pocket portability.

What you’re getting here is standout convection flavor and beginner-friendly operation from a feature-rich, contemporary vaporizer—and for about $100 less than competing products that offer a similar experience.

Runners up: Ghost MV1 (improved materials and build quality, plus smartphone connectivity for an extra $100), Mighty by Storz and Bickel (benchmark-but-similar convection flavor for an extra $150).

Eden and Gaia by Linx Vapor

(The Linx Gaia, Courtesy of Linx)

Affordable, attractive, pocketable convection

Price: $99 for the Eden, $159 for the Gaia

Features at a glance: Convection heating, quartz herb chamber, glass vapor path, concentrate compatibility, speedy heat-up times for quick sessions. Gaia only: full digital temp control, LCD screen. Eden only: four pre-set temps, single-button operation.

What’s to love?

  • Pocket portability
  • Competitive price
  • Quality materials
  • Great build
  • Solid flavor performance

What’s the catch?

  • Better flavor can be achieved elsewhere

Sometimes, innovative design can get lost behind underthought aesthetics. Not here with Linx’s line of truly portable, fashion-forward flower vapes.

Visually unified by attractive and durable, paint-free metal finishings and minimalist trim, Linx products offer better-than-average flavor by way of a convection-heated quartz chamber and glass vapor path. This flavor-preserving technology is under the hood of the stylish Gaia, as well as the newer Eden.

Where the Gaia can effortlessly hide away in your palm, the Eden is somewhat larger—cylindrically shaped like a squat Highlighter, but the better performer for flavor and price.

Selling for $159.99, the Gaia features an LCD screen and full digital temp control, while the Eden sheds the screen and offers four pre-set temps for an extremely competitive $99.

Both stand out for build quality, better-than-average flavor at low temps, and an attractive design sense that you can take with you. Though you might get slightly tastier vapor from an Arizer device or Boundless’s Tera, you’ll either be paying a bit more, trading metal for plastic, or sacrificing true pocket portability.

Runners up: MIVA 2, PAX 3, and the Firefly 2

Grasshopper by Hopper Labs

Top pick for stealth convection

Price: $225 for stainless steel, $265 for titanium

Features at a glance: Pen form factor, convection heating, stainless steel or titanium body, magnetic charging ring, silicone lip protector, temperature dial enables adjustments from 266°F to 410°F. 

What’s to love?

  • Better-than-average flavor performance
  • Extreme portability
  • Extreme durability
  • Easy maintenance

What’s the catch?

  • No swappable battery
  • Mouthpiece gets hot

For the last few years, Hopper Labs’ Grasshopper has taken up permanent residence in my backpack.

The pen form factor and executive styling renders it invisible as a consumption device next to my writing tools.

The pen form factor and executive styling renders it invisible as a consumption device next to my writing tools, while unlike other flower pens, it employs true convection heating for greatly improved flavor.

Designed and built by a team of ex-aerospace engineers in Colorado, the construction is industrial grade—offered in stainless steel and titanium, with a number of colored finishes to choose from—and the magnetic charging ring is a slick touch of design.

Keep in mind, you’ll need to use the included silicone lip protector, as the mouthpiece can get hot to the touch. Meanwhile, even though the Grasshopper is the best flavor performance you’ll find in a flower pen, newer devices rival its portability and functionality for less money.

Related

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Xs GO by AirVape

Best price-slashing portable

Price: $69

Features at a glance: Top-loading design, partially isolated ceramic herb chamber, five pre-set temps, combined conduction-convection heating, built-in stir tool, ergonomic grip, 45-minute charge time, easy single-button control. 

What’s to love?

  • Extreme portability
  • Easy operation
  • Not-a-huge-deal-if-you-lose-it price

What’s the catch?

  • Flimsy build quality
  • Lots of plastic
  • Average flavor

If extreme portability and affordability are your central concerns, AirVape’s Xs GO could be your glass slipper.

The price and take-it-with-you form factor seem almost purpose-built for festival season or rough-and-tumble weekend trips.

The Xs GO is roughly the size of a lighter and retails for $69. Next to competing portables, the price tag and diminutive form factor are welcome developments—offering an alternative to devices like the PAX 3 that can sell for hundreds more and, despite app-enabled controls and the like, perform similarly from a vaporization standpoint.

Given the price, the tradeoffs shouldn’t be surprising: the plastic-y build quality feels a bit cheap next to other devices in the AirVape lineup. Additionally, the flavor experience is firmly average and within the realm of popcorn if you don’t get your milling, packing, and temperature settings just right.

While the Xs GO isn’t as tasty as other options on this list—and certainly not as sturdy—the price and take-it-with-you form factor seem almost purpose-built for festival season or rough-and-tumble weekend trips; a formidable price-slasher next to more feature-rich devices that offer similar flavor and functionality.

 

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Matt Stangel's Bio Image

Matt Stangel

Matt Stangel is Leafly's Oregon Product Specialist. His cannabis-related writings have appeared in The Guardian, Willamette Week, Cascadia Magazine, and elsewhere—links to which are available at Cannapinions.com.

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