There are some clear winners when it comes to dry herb vaporizers, some losers, and a lot of middling options. If money was not an object, you probably already know which one you would buy. Most people have to set a budget, however, and that makes choosing the best dry herb vaporizer a littler trickier.
Top 10 Dry Herb Vaporizers
People who vape dry herbs know that sub-standard devices burn herbs. They might work great with wax or liquid, but grind up some dry stuff, drop that in the chamber, and it’s a whole other story. You get combustion no matter what the manufacturer says. That’s why none of the vaporizers in this top 10 list is a pen vape. There are portable vaporizers and desktop items worth your money.
Choosing the Best Dry Herb Vaporizers
I want to point out a few things. Most of the items on this list cost more than $200 and the top price is over $700. I haven’t stuck with desktop items: just because it plugs into the wall doesn’t mean a vaporizer is of superior built by default.
What you pay gives you some clues as to a machine’s worth, but don’t let prices distract you from salient factors such as materials used (medical grade plastic, ceramic, stainless steel, or glass), digital controls, and how easy a device is to empty, clean, and refill. You’ll find out more when you investigate individual models listed below.
1. Pax 2
A Pax 2 is small and light. Herbs go into a bottom-loading chamber covered by a magnetic lid. High-tech insulating materials have been applied to maintain a consistent temperature and a motion sensor switches the element off when you aren’t using the device. The Pax 2 vaporizes herbs: it doesn’t burn them. A tough outer coating ensures long-lasting performance from this adjustable, ergonomically-shaped portable, rechargeable device.
In the same category is a larger, heavier portable vaporizer product made from stainless steel. Access the herb chamber and pathway using a unique method: take off the lid. When the lid is attached, it forms a pathway with grooves seen underneath. Just remove the magnetic cover. Whereas the Pax 2 uses a built-in battery, you can take the cell out of a Firefly and recharge while inserting a fresh one so vaping isn’t interrupted for long.
This is the original top-end vaporizer for dry herbs; a forced-air device which the makers (Storz & Bickel) have upgraded, so that now you have a choice between the Digital or Classic (analog). Both employ balloons to help people with reduced lung capacity enjoy a tasty vape. Storz & Bickel applied a ceramic heating element covered in steel for the best of both worlds: great-tasting vapor and consistent heating. It’s expensive, but according to vapers who bought their first Volcano years ago, you probably won’t notice any difference in performance five years after buying this well-made plug-in unit.
4. Davinci Ascent
Some portable vaporizers are as good as many desktop mods. The Davinci Ascent gives lots of those mains-powered machines a run for their money with its precise digital controls and excellent vapor flavor. To access herbs, just twist the pivoting base. There’s no fishing around in a tight, dark space: clean thoroughly but with ease.
5. The Plenty
This could be called a hybrid vaporizer: portable to a point, that point being the length of a cord. Plug the Plenty into a wall socket and watch it heat up to full power in about 2 minutes. There is an orange dial for choosing temperature; a curling hose which cools vapor, and a dial at the very front showing your temperature. Some people say it looks like a drill. I would say the Storz & Bickel Plenty Vaporizer resembles a gas pump in orange and black but without the unpleasant aroma of gas to go along with it.
6. VapeXhale Cloud Evo
If you can afford $450, this is one of the best investments you can make in your vaping equipment. The VapeXhale Cloud Evo is a tall volcano shape (like the Arizer Extreme Q) which was made for use with water attachments and tubes: in other words, it’s flexible, but still an herbal vaporizer. It’s not physically beautiful — just plain black — but works very well and is simple to operate. Flick the on/off switch and turn a dial to choose your temperature.
In some people’s eyes this is probably the very best vaporizer around, but there is one slight problem: okay, 700 problems (dollars that is). Yes, the Volcano is expensive — so is the VapeXhale Cloud Evo — but the Herbalizer makes both of those vaporizers sound positively economical with its $730 price tag. It’s worth the price, don’t get me wrong. A halogen bulb heats your herbs, wax, or concentrates cleanly and efficiently. There are digital controls for precise operation. All the parts you need are stored on board. Designers from NASA were responsible for this incredible machine which accommodates direct draw, hands-free, or balloon-style inhalation.
8. Silver Surfer
Where performance and style come together, you find the Silver Surfer by Seventh Floor. Admittedly, appearances don’t have much to do with application, but a desktop vaporizer is going to sit in the middle of a dresser or table, so it should look good there. The Silver Surfer operates smoothly once you determine where to turn the dial, which is a trial-and-error sort of experiment. Choose one of the many bright colors and possibly some engravings to create a work of vaping art.
9. Puffit X
What genius thought of making puffer-shaped vaporizers? An inhaler is probably the only item one can inhale from out in the public without arousing suspicion or inviting argument; hence, it makes the perfect shape for an herbal vaporizer. The Puffit X is actually cheaper than the others listed here at around $160, so it’s the one exception and the only forced-air portable device around.
10. Extreme Q
Finally, let’s talk about the Extreme Q by Arizer. There are other good mods out there but too little room here to list them all. Use a balloon or whip and controls are either console or remote. The Extreme Q is a light but sturdy desktop device costing about $240 using glass parts for vapor that tastes clean and is an overall economical choice.
As tempting as they are, pen vapes pose several problems. There is little room between the heating chamber and coil. That cannot be helped. Being small and inexpensive adds to their convenience and popularity, but with so little space, herbs are going to burn.
When herbs burn, you get the same problems you had when you smoked. If you are going to buy a pen vape, conduct a lot of research and don’t take the manufacturer’s word for their quality. Find out what reviewers have to say.
The other problem with a pen-style vaporizer is that owing to their tiny chambers, consumers refill herbs almost constantly. Then there is the battery size which, by necessity, is also fairly small. They can be surprising, however, and sometimes powerful enough to last half the day.
If you can find a pen vape with adjustable temperature settings, that will possibly solve the problem of overheating vapor. A variable voltage battery like the iTaste VV V3.0 comes into its own in this respect. Consumers can get started with a pen vape and atomizer for under $100.
A portable vaporizer, not a pen-style variety, is small yet manages to convey heat around herbs (convection) instead of using conduction to heat them. That little bit of extra space makes a big difference to the flavor of your materials. Select a model which allows you to set the temperature and offers greater control over the experience. You find that a good item, using a ceramic heater and glass-on-glass is more expensive than its competitors. Ceramics and glass are clean, although steel is durable.
Atmos makes a popular pen vape and has also launched a portable vaporizer known as the Transporter. It resembles an anodized flask but its soft rubber mouthpiece is far more comfortable than the mouth of a bottle. This looks lovely, interesting, and easy to use with its one-button temperature control. Time will tell if it works as well as it looks.
The Firefly, however, has justly earned its place among the best handheld vaporizers. Captivating aesthetics give way to a practical design on the inside. The Firefly’s lid is magnetic so it comes right off for complete access to the entire vapor pathway and chamber for thorough cleaning.
Heat your herbs to as much as 400F in 10 seconds just by pressing a button. Its rechargeable battery can be removed, so when it finally runs out of charge cycles, only the battery needs to be replaced, not the entire Firefly for $249.99.
For the Table
If you could spend any money you wanted on a vaporizer and you were not concerned about portability, the first device that comes to mind would probably be the Volcano Digit. This is the yardstick; the pinnacle. Every other vaporizer is measured against this device, particularly forced-air units.
The Volcano is quiet, sleek, and efficient, achieving temperatures of between 104F and 446F in a short time. The balloon inflates with vapor so consumers can inhale without effort. Just one purchase will probably last a consumer his entire life: that’s German engineering for you.
The Digit (rather than the Classic analog Volcano) sets a precise temperature for herbs and also oils. Air is sucked in, filtered, and pumped up into the balloon. The Volcano’s base will cost between $400 and $550 (analogs are cheaper than digital vaporizers) but valves and balloons can be replaced.
Most people cannot afford $500 for a vaporizer, even if the overall cost is reduced by never having to buy a new one. For the average person, a Silver Surfer or Arizer Extreme Q would make an excellent compromise: great engineering and attractive devices that plug into a wall socket. Although mains power limits users to their sofas or kitchen tables, with a tabletop device you have the luxury of choosing whip or forced air inhalation and a device providing constant power.