There’s no going back to smoking once you’ve tried the AirVape X, the cannabis vaporizer we recommend after spending four years researching more than 50 models and testing nearly two dozen. A great vaporizer provides a relaxing, enjoyable experience from start to finish, and the AirVape X delivers because it’s easier to use than other options. Satisfying to use, intuitive to newcomers, and easier to live with than competitors, the AirVape X provides richer, smoother vapor than anything else in its price range.
The AirVape X nails ease of use both initially and long term: The rim of the heating chamber resists spills by funneling material in, the magnetic lid holds firm but doesn’t get stuck, and over time, the AirVape is easier to clean completely than almost any other vaporizer. The onboard temperature controls and status display are large, intuitive, and easier to use than competitors’ app-based controls, and this model’s USB charging is more convenient than competitors’ charging docks. From the first puff to the last, we found the AirVape X provided richer, smoother vapor than alternates at similar prices and with more of the pleasant flavors that make vaporizers such a treat to use. The Grasshopper has thick, potent vapor, quick heat-up times, charming tactile controls, a lifetime warranty, and an inconspicuous design—but it gets quite hot, and its charging setup and battery life aren’t the best. If you want a discreet design that does its job quickly, get the Stainless Grasshopper. This clever penlike gadget produces potent vapor faster than our other picks, with nearly instant convection heating and simple tactile temperature controls. It holds less material than our other picks but is still perfect for two folks to share.
Easy to use and charming in its simplicity, it produces delicious flavors that are more concentrated than the AirVape. But it lacks those models’ informative displays, its battery life is shorter, and its proprietary charger is not as convenient. The pocketable size and inconspicuous design make it the most easily portable of our picks, and a lifetime warranty is a reassuring detail, as earlier versions of the Grasshopper had some reliability issues. The high-capacity Firefly 2+ quickly produces more intense, tasty vapor than competitors, and it’s attractive and easy to clean—but it’s expensive, and it buries critical info in an app. The Firefly 2+ model’s convection heat produces some of the best vapor—tastier, cooler, and, frankly, stronger—of all of the models we tested. Its easy-to-load chamber holds more ground material than most vaporizers; cleaning the wide, open airway is straightforward; and its capacitive heat-up buttons are simple to activate. Although we like the overall design of the Firefly, it lacks the display of the AirVape, and it isn’t as portable, compact, or discreet as other models. Its price is higher than that of most competitors, it has a bulky charging dock, and the lack of an onboard display makes checking its battery life or temperature an unnecessarily complex process in comparison with our other picks. Satisfying to use, intuitive to newcomers, and easier to live with than competitors, the AirVape X provides richer, smoother vapor than anything else in its price range. The Grasshopper has thick, potent vapor, quick heat-up times, charming tactile controls, a lifetime warranty, and an inconspicuous design—but it gets quite hot, and its charging setup and battery life aren’t the best. The high-capacity Firefly 2+ quickly produces more intense, tasty vapor than competitors, and it’s attractive and easy to clean—but it’s expensive, and it buries critical info in an app. We took the time to interview more vaporizer experts, read more reviews, and try more products firsthand than most regular shoppers ever get the chance to. Aside from enthusiasts’ comments on popular vaporizer forums, we’ve interviewed two industry experts: Bud, the reviewer at The Vape Critic; and Buzz, the man behind the curtain at VaporizerWizard.com. We discussed industry trends, features, and favorites among the dozens of models they’ve tested and reviewed. Both sites include affiliate links for some products they recommend, as explained in The Vape Critic’s disclosure page and VaporizerWizard.com’s disclosure page. Writer Mark Smirniotis has covered vaporizers for Wirecutter for three years, and he formerly worked for an e-cigarette–liquid manufacturer—exposure that showed the trade-offs necessary to make a good device. Co-author Jordan McMahon has overseen dozens of updates on Wirecutter guides, and after long-term tests of our existing picks, he oversaw a new round of comparison testing on the best vaporizers available in spring 2019. If you’re completely new to cannabis or have been a casual smoker in the past, a vaporizer is a great way to avoid the byproducts of combustion and skip the sticky, ashy black mess that’s an inevitable part of smoking joints, pipes, and bongs. A portable vaporizer, dressed in a sleek and discreet housing, feels like something you can bring to a dinner party along with a bottle of wine. Compared with smoking cannabis, a vaporizer will give you a cleaner taste, less lingering odor, reduced throat irritation, no tar-like ash to stain your fingers or fabrics, and more efficient use of your material. If you’re a patient looking to use medical marijuana for symptom relief, portable vaporizers offer additional benefits. A vaporizer for ground cannabis flowers can reliably hit a consistent dosage with precision temperature controls, allowing you to control the effects better. That’s not as easy with smoking or edibles, or when vaporizing stronger concentrates like extracts or oils.
A vaporizer doesn’t eliminate the harmful effects of cannabis use, but research points to harm reduction compared with smoking it.
In four years of research, we’ve considered about 50 vaporizers, mostly based on input from experts at sites like The Vape Critic and VaporizerWizard.com and from customers in enthusiast forums and sites.