When it comes to portable vaporizers, there are a lot of options available depending on your budget as well as both your discretionary and performance needs. Two heavyweights on the higher end of the price spectrum provide similar features and experiences: The Firefly 2 from Firefly and the Pax 3 from Pax Labs. Both devices claim to be the best out on the market, and since they each offer similar features, it’s only fair to put these two against each other head-to head.
Which portable vaporizer comes out on top? I broke it down to three main operational aspects people tend to consider for portables vapes: heating performance, functionality/ease of use, and overall vaping performance.
Both the Firefly 2 and Pax 3 boast that users will be able to further customize their desired temperature settings using a phone app that’s free to download and connect with Bluetooth.
- Firefly 2: Allows you to choose among six settings (starting with low concentrates), with an additional tuning slider that allows you to add a little extra boost of power
- Pax 3: App provides a temperature spectrum ranging from 360°-420° that you can conveniently scroll through to select the temperature you want
- Firefly 2: Once your desired setting is chosen, the Firefly 2 heats up in a very snappy 3-5 seconds
- Pax 3: Once your desired setting is chosen, it takes around 10-15 seconds to reach it
- Firefly 2: If you decide not to download the app, the Firefly 2 defaults to a medium-high heat setting
- Pax 3: If you decide not to download the app, you can still cycle through five heat settings (starting with low concentrates) on the Pax 3 by pressing in on the mouthpiece
Even though the Firefly 2 boasts a much quicker heat-up time, in my opinion the additional temperature selection function puts the Pax 3 over the Firefly 2, as you still have a wider range of temperature control on the Pax 3 whether or not you’re using the app. Although the apps for both devices were easy to connect to and use, the Pax 3 provides a wider range of options outside of the app by giving you the option to change settings on the device itself. Additionally, the Pax 3’s 10-15 second heat-up time isn’t much of a deal-breaker.
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Winner: Pax 3
Ease of Use
The Firefly 2 and Pax 3 both use clever design features that make using either device very straightforward and simple.
- Firefly 2: This process is as easy as removing the magnetic faceplate, dropping a pinch of your herb of choice into the small chamber, replacing the faceplate, and then placing either one or both of your fingers (depending on your settings in the app) on the side sensors to start the heating process before inhaling.
- Pax 3: The chamber is cleverly located on the bottom of the vaporizer itself, requiring just a simple push on one side of the bottom to pop open the oven lid. Once you open the lid, simply load your ground herb of choice, snap the lid back on, and then press the mouthpiece to turn on the Pax and start its heat-up process. When the petals on the body of the Pax 3 all turn green, the vape is ready to use. A quick press and hold of the mouthpiece turns the Pax 3 back off.
- Firefly 2: Simply place one of the three included concentrate pads into the chamber before loading your concentrate of choice, then select the concentrate heat setting in the Firefly app.
- Pax 3: The Pax 3 requires replacing the normal herb oven lid with the concentrates insert accessory. Select the desired temperature setting, or you can also press and hold the Pax 3 mouthpiece and then press it again repeatedly to reach a higher setting without using the app.
When it comes to functionality and ease of use, the Pax 3 and Firefly 2 are virtually tied. However, I will give a slight edge to the Pax 3 because it has a slim advantage in the different ways you can use and operate it. Even though it’s incredibly easy to use, the heating sensors on the sides of the Firefly 2 pretty much restricts you to holding it hotdog-style, which doesn’t always make for the most discreet use.
With the Pax 3, however, the unit is slightly slimmer, and its rounder frame along with its buttonless design allows you to hold it any way you like. The flat extra mouthpiece that’s included also makes for complete discretion when taking pulls. That plus the fact that you can cycle through temperature settings without having to reopen the app gives the Pax 3 the slight nod in this category.
Winner: Pax 3 (by a slim nug)
Both the Firefly 2 and Pax 3 provide an enjoyable vaping experience when it comes to inhaling that delicious vapor.
- Firefly 2: I was consistently impressed with how quickly it heated up my bud; after just a few seconds, the light was green and I was all set to inhale. However, sometimes it seemed a bit too quick, especially in the very beginning of the session. It felt like the herbs hadn’t been heated up for long enough, but subsequent draws usually brought that nice and tasty vapor.
- Pax 3: The Pax 3 likes to take a little more time in heating up towards your set temperature, and it can feel a little warm in your hand, too, depending on how high you have your heat set. However, the cool thing about the Pax is its lip-sensing function in the mouthpiece that causes it to either quickly boost its heating or cool down depending on if you’re beginning or ending your draw. This helps you get the most out of your bud while also keeping it from burning up too fast, as the Pax 3 can sometimes get hot on the higher settings.
- Firefly 2: The app has a power tuning setting that allows you to give yourself an extra boost for more flavor and stronger draws—it helped me maximize the small amount of herb resting inside.
- Pax 3: You can cycle between different power settings in the app to give yourself a more curated vape experience. Settings such as Boost, Stealth, and Efficiency made a noticeable difference in how much vapor I wanted to produce and how long my nug lasted during those vape sessions.
- Firefly 2: You aren’t going to blow any real clouds with the Firefly 2, but you will get a consistent vaping experience thanks to its small and circular heating chamber. The chamber only holds about a pinch’s worth, which can sometimes leave you with a burnt taste after a few decent pulls.
- Pax 3: Vapor production with the Pax 3 can be substantial at times if you have your settings right, but you can also go for more flavor and adjust settings accordintly. Either way, I was always left baked and satisfied using the Pax 3.
I found the Pax 3’s vaping experience to be more powerful and enjoyable overall than the Firefly 2, and even though my sessions weren’t as consistently flavorful as the Firefly 2’s, the Pax 3 had me feeling higher and more stoned in general. The slightly larger chamber allows for more bud and thus longer sessions, but the additional settings in the Pax 3 app gave me a ton of control over what kind of vape experience I wanted to have.
The Firefly 2 gave me a consistently tasty experience, but I was sometimes left feeling a bit unsatisfied and not as high as I wanted to be after some sessions compared to the Pax 3. I also felt that the Pax 3 was easier and more discreet to use.
Winner: Pax 3
Final Verdict: Pax 3
When it comes down to it, the Pax 3 edges out the Firefly 2 as being the overall better portable vaporizer. Both devices are very similar in their function and performance, but the Pax 3 offers just a bit more at about $55 less than the Firefly 2, making it the victor in my eyes.
The Pax 3’s app design gives users more flexibility than the Firefly 2’s app in creating the best individual experience, and it also comes with some fun games to serve as high time-wasters while you’re using the unit. It’s is also better designed to be used discreetly virtually anywhere you find yourself thanks to the auto-draw function and its buttonless design, whereas the side sensors on the Firefly 2 dictate that you hold it a certain way.
Ultimately, though, you can’t go wrong with either product, as both the Firefly 2 and the Pax 3 are setting the standard in sleek portable vape technology. The original Firefly was designed to get the most out of every cannabinoid present, and the Pax 3 is an impressive improvement over its previous generation, the very solid Pax 2. If these brands mark the future of portable vaporizers, I can’t wait to see what comes next.