Choosing a portable vaporizer
With so many different portable vaporisers on the market, it can be hard to know where to start! Portable vaping has really hit its stride in the past year, and new models are coming out faster than even we can keep up with them. With so many options, how do you know which vaporiser is right for you?
In this instalment of our video buyer’s guide, we're walking you through all of the things you should consider when buying a portable vaporiser. Size, battery life, maintenance, budget and vapour quality are all covered, as well as some of our favourite picks from across the range. Watch the video and keep reading down below for a complete run-down of all the most important questions you should be asking before you buy a portable vaporiser.
Firstly, do you really need a portable vape?
If you use your vape every day, or even multiple times a day, a desktop vaporiser may be better suited to your needs. Portable vapes are a great choice for less frequent vapers and people who want to be able to take their vaporiser out and about with them. They are a good option if you want something small, discrete and pocket-friendly, or if you only expect to vape a couple of times a week.
We often recommend that frequent vapers consider a plug in vaporiser, as they are generally more reliable, long lasting, and able to deliver the kind of results a heavy vaper is looking for.
If you will be using your vaporizer at home every day, a desktop vaporizer is a better option because:
- They are easier to use
- They are more reliable
- They are built for regular use
- They never need to be recharged
- They are generally capable of more powerful extraction
- They have greater cooling capacity for more comfortable vapour
If you are a frequent at-home vaper who has your heart set on a smaller hand-held unit, we definitely recommend choosing a larger portable like the Arizer Solo 2 or the Mighty vaporiser, as they are better able to withstand heavy use.
Alright, now that you have decided a portable unit is definitely for you, here is the first thing you should consider: vapour production.
In portable vaporizers, it is quite common for smaller units to have less efficient operation and worse quality vapour. The smaller the unit, the more you sacrifice on vapour quality. This is because smaller units tend to have smaller heating chambers and less powerful batteries to support them. They also tend to have more restricted air paths, and as such most work using the conduction heating method. Conduction generally produces thinner, hotter vapour results as opposed to the cooler, denser and more comfortable vapour produced by convection.
Larger units like the Mighty have better air intake and are able to produce more powerful convection heating, resulting in efficient extraction and high quality vapour. They also are better able to regulate temperature inside the chamber for consistent results.
Different types of portables have different maintenance requirements, ranging from very low maintenance to very high maintenance. Once again, it seems to be some of the smallest units that are the worst offenders, with closed-off air paths that are difficult to access and clean.
The way a vaporizer is designed plays a huge part in how easy it will be to maintain. This is incredibly important to consider, as the easier your vape is to maintain the longer it will last. A vaporizer that is full of built up residue and debris will start to experience problems, and may start to smell and taste bad as well. Not to mention, the more you have to take the unit apart and put it back together, the faster the parts will wear and need to be replaced.
Some small portables, like the PAX models, have a closed-off design that makes the air path difficult to access. These units can also have really narrow air paths, which will accumulate residue faster and need to be cleaned more frequently. Some other units, like the original DaVinci, have a herb chamber that is difficult to access, which can make it hard to fully remove all debris.
On the other hand, some other vaporizers like the Arizer Solo, Arizer Air, and the Mighty, come apart easily so that all components can be cleaned with no issues. Their herb chambers are also very easy to access. Overall, a simple or modular design that pulls apart easily is the key to whether or not a vaporiser will be difficult to clean or maintain down the road. Units that have a simple chamber and draw stem will tend to be easier to clean than a unit that doesn’t allow full access to the air path.
When it comes to portable vaporisers, size does matter. If discretion is important to you, then you will probably be tempted to buy the smallest vape you can find. However, our general advice is to go with a larger portable vaporizer if you can stand it.
Smaller portables tend to be less reliable, less efficient, and they also have inferior cooling capacity which can result in hot or harsh hits. If being able to fit the device in your pocket is not terribly important to you, a larger portable vaporizer will most likely provide a better quality experience.
Another important factor to consider when looking at a portable is how often you can expect to recharge the batteries. A lot of manufacturers will claim their portable vaporizer has the longest battery life, or will quote an impressive estimated battery life. However, these claims are often misleading as they are based on continuous use at a temperature much lower than what most people would use their vaporizer at. Using your vaporizer on high heat settings, taking big draws, constantly turning the device on and off, and even the ambient temperature inside the room can all affect the longevity of your vaporizer’s battery life.
The battery life of your unit is often directly related to its size, as larger units are able to fit higher capacity batteries. Generally speaking, a very small vaporiser like the Magic Flight Launch Box or the Crafty+ may only provide 1-2 uses before the battery needs to be recharged, whereas larger units like the Mighty and the Arizer Solo can provide 3-5 full uses or up to 60 minutes continuous use before they need to be charged.
Some vaporizers, such as the Arizer Air, Prima and the MFLB even use externally rechargeable batteries. This is a huge advantage, as you can easily swap your dead battery with a fully charged spare and keep vaping. This is also a big plus as it means you can always replace the battery if you have noticed that battery life is beginning to deplete, whereas a lot of vaporisers do not have user-replaceable batteries.
The durability of your portable vaporiser may or not be important, depending on your specific needs. If you intend to use your vaporizer mostly at home, then a unit with a glass draw stem or a digital display is probably ideal. However, if you intend to use your vaporizer on-the-go and will be taking it out of the house or carrying it in your pocket, then you may wish to opt for a unit made from more durable materials.
This is actually an area where the smaller units tend to outperform the larger ones, as they are smaller, lighter, and often made from aluminium or heat-resistant plastics with no glass in their construction. They also often have fewer electronics and do not have an LCD screen. This makes them far more durable in situations where they may be dropped or need to withstand some (light) abuse.
Finally, the last thing to consider in a portable vaporizer is temperature control. There are generally three kinds of vaporizers in this category: units that have digital temperature control and an LCD screen, units with several pre-set temperatures, and fixed temperature units that cannot be adjusted.
Portable vaporizers like the Mighty that use digital temperature control are the most precise and accurate units available. They are ideal if you are an experienced vaper who wants complete control over your experience, or if you really need to precisely monitor what temperature you are vaping your material at.
Pre-set temperatures are the most common method of temperature control, and are generally the easiest to use. If you are totally new to vaping and have no clue which temperature you like, a unit with pre-set temperatures is actually a great option. Within this category, there are different levels of control, from the Arizer Solo which has a whopping seven temperatures to choose from, to the Crafty+ which allows you to select two.
Vaporisers like the Firefly2 do not have any form of temperature control, and instead rely on the user’s technique and draw speed to regulate their vapour. These vaporizers often have a bit of a learning curve and are not very efficient, meaning you will need to use more material to get good results.
Our top picks
Congratulations, you have made it to the end of our portable vaporizer run-down. Still not sure which vaporizer to choose? Here are our top recommendations from the budget, mid-range and high end lines.
Budget: Flowermate V5.0S
High End: Mighty