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MacGyver pipe challenge: Four contestants make one-hitters out of everyday objects

September 6, 2017

The resourcefulness of cannabis enthusiasts never ceases to amaze. Get a group of seasoned consumers into a room with scant available resources and watch them figure out how to smoke a bowl using nothing more than some random items within arm’s reach and a little ingenuity. Whether from trial and error, lurking in the stoner engineering subreddit, or countless hours binge-watching MacGyver reruns, these makeshift maestros are precisely the heroes you need when you’ve got a baggie of your favorite bud but forgot your rolling papers or pipe at home.

Speaking of MacGyver (or MacGruber, if you prefer the SNL spoof version), the sandy-mulleted secret agent was the source of inspiration for Leafly’s latest challenge. The rules of the game were simple: four volunteers confident in their canna-crafting abilities would smoke a strain, then choose their construction materials from a table full of random household objects. Each builder would have 15 minutes to construct and test a functioning one-hitter, and while nothing was in danger of exploding once the timer hit zero, the stakes (and our contestants) were nonetheless high because bragging rights and the sweet taste of victory were on the line.

Behold, the 2016 Leafly MacGyver Challenge.

“I’m confident this will work.”

Contestant #1: Fermin and His ‘Once You Pop, the Smoke Don’t Stop’ Bong

Strain Smoked Pre-Construction: Dr. Who via joint

Items Used:

  • Pop can
  • Cylindrical chip container that rhymes with “dingles”
  • Paper clip
  • Pen
  • Stickers
  • Gum (for chewing, not for construction)

Time Needed: About 13 minutes


“Looks like it does bubble...still got some chips in it.”

Right off the bat, Fermin showed he was ready to compete by tackling a makeshift water pipe in under 15 minutes. While he impressed our judges with such a bold move (and for being “on brand” with the many Leafly sticker decorations), he learned the hard way that a chip container isn’t exactly waterproof, which may have sunk his chances of winning.

Judges’ Feedback:

“It’s got a good solid, sturdy construction and shape…it does leak a lot.”

“I'm gonna try and use stick gum as my bowl piece.”

Contestant #2: Maria and Her ‘Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Gum’ Bubbler

Strain Smoked Pre-Construction: Durban Poison via joint

Items Used:

  • Paper clips
  • Two types of gum
  • One plastic gum container
  • Straw
  • Duct tape
  • Rubber bands
  • Pen

Time Needed: 15 minutes


“Crushed it, guys. Fucking crushed it.”

Not to be outdone, Ms. Maria went full MacGirlver and cleverly chose some subtle but scrumptious flavor enhancements. First, she used a fruity gum container as the base of her bubbler, then she fashioned the bowl piece out of some minty chewing gum. The end result: a tasty yet understated smoke that got the judges’ attention.

Judges’ Feedback: 

“Oh my god, it’s…ohhhh, points for the mint!”

“Should we name it? His name’s Greg.”

Contestant #3: Sam and ‘Greg’

Strain Smoked Pre-Construction: Romulan via bubbler

Items Used:

  • Acorn squash
  • Jump rope handle
  • Rubber band
  • Duct tape
  • Melon baller (aka “The thing I broke!”)
  • Stickers
  • Gum (for decoration)
  • Tiny oblong breath mints (for decoration)

Time Needed: 11 1/2 minutes, plus three minutes to decorate “Greg”


“What the–what is this kind of squash? Do you eat these?”

Sam was hellbent on turning a fall gourd into a ganja device, and not even a broken melon baller would stop him from bringing his vision to fruition (or “vegition,” as it were). Instead, he fully embraced his inner MacGyver and used the mangled kitchen gadget as the bowl piece for Greg. Feeling triumphant, he even vowed to roast some of Greg’s seeds for later consumption. (He didn’t.)

Unfortunately, one major drawback to using an acorn squash as a functioning pipe is the built-in wetness that comes with the gourd’s goopy insides. The judges knocked off points for this undesirable attribute, but they appreciated the pipe’s “rigid” feel.

Judges’ Feedback:

“I don’t like the moisture…it feels like the community pipe.”

“It's like a natural bowl once you uncover this...”

Contestant #4: Nick and His ‘Pied Pepper of Highlin’ Pipe

Strain Smoked Pre-Construction: Romulan via bubbler

Items Used:

  • Paper clips
  • Bell pepper
  • Paper towel roll
  • Clear tape
  • Stickers
  • Pen

Time Needed: 12 minutes, plus three minutes for testing…and retesting…and retesting


“I can definitely tell that I smoked something. I like that.”

Perhaps Nick had music on his mind when he surveyed the available construction materials, ultimately reaching for a fat bell pepper and a paper towel roll to build something that a flautist could use to jam out a stoned solo. Unfortunately, the pen proved too narrow to draw a satisfying pull, leaving our judges frustratingly clear-headed (although they did concede that Nick’s creation has “got personality in droves” and loved its “character”).

Judges’ Feedback:

“No, I can’t get anything…maybe we have to MacGyver this one!”

And the Winner Is…


“Dude, that is money in the bank!”
Judge Jeremiah, after testing Maria's gum-bler

Maria’s gum-bler won the judges over with its minty freshness and “kickass” fruitiness. Not only did our panel keep going back for more hits, the judges loved its minimalist design and ability to “hide in plain sight” without looking like an obvious stoner device. Congratulations, Maria! MacGyver would be proud.

Rebecca Kelley's Bio Image

Rebecca Kelley

Rebecca is the Content Director at Leafly, where she oversees Leafly News production and other content projects.

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