How to Buy a Vaporizer

Choosing between the different types of marijuana vaporizers involves trade-offs in size, price, design and ease of use.

The main things to consider when comparing vaporizers:

Plug-in or Portable?

Standard Plug-in

  • dabuddah vaporizer
  • hotbox vaporizer

Da Buddha and Hot Box are good starter vaporizers.

Standard Plug-in vaporizers are electric units that typically sit at home on a table or desk. They use whip tubes to deliver vapor from a heat source to your mouth. Because the heat source is so powerful they are capable of delivering very strong and consistent hits of vapor. Most plug-in units are warmed-up and ready to use in 3-5 minutes. Herbalizer, the most expensive desktop unit, is fully hot in under 10 seconds, but you pay a premium for that speed and precice temperature control.

Forced Air

  • herbalizer vaporizer review
  • volcano vaporizer classic

Our favorite forced-air vapes are Herbalizer and Volcano Classic.

Forced-air vaporizers are also plug-in electric, but use bags to hold vapor and fans to inflate the bag. Bags allow the vapor time to cool, so these units are best for people with lung and breathing problems. Bags are also very good for sharing with friends.

comparing plug-in vaporizers in size and shape

Plug-in vaporizers compared.


  • pax-vaporizer
  • magic-flight-launch-box-vaporizer-mflb
  • Crafty
  • Mighty
  • arizer-solo
  • Firefly

Our favorite portables are the Mighty and Crafty, Pax, Magic Flight Launch Box, Arizer Solo, and Firefly.

Portable vaporizers can be carried in your pocket for discreet, any-time medication. Most portables run on rechargeable batteries, but a few use refillable butane gas. Most portables are warmed-up and ready to use after 1–2 minutes, but a few have super fast warm-up times under 10 seconds.

comparing portable vaporizers in size and shape

Portable vaporizers compared.

Whip Tubes or Bags?

vaporizer whip tube

Whip tubes are made of glass or food-grade plastic (so they’re safe to put in your mouth). With a tube, you’re drawing hot air into your mouth like using a straw.

Take slow and steady hits and you’ll avoid any harsh heat and just feel warm vapor. Be careful not to breathe out through the wand or you might blow herb into the heating element which may burn and cause smoke.

vaporizer bag

Bags are made of plastic and collect vapor. Typically a fan inside the vaporizer pushes air through the herb chamber/screen compartment, filling the bag with cool vapor.

Bags allow the vapor to cool, making them perfect for people with throat and breathing problems like acid reflux, asthma or bronchitis. Bags are also great for sharing in groups because you can pass it around and take huge hits from it like a bong.

Convection vs Conduction

Convection vaporizers use hot air, herb never directly touches the heat source as hot air passes over the herb to release active ingredients. As you inhale, you can regulate the temperature and strength of the vape hits by controlling how hard and fast you inhale (pull) air.

Convection vapes include: Volcano, Da Buddha, Magic Flight Launch Box, Arizer Extreme Q4, and Hot Box.

Conduction vaporizers use a hot surface, herb is heated by direct contact with a hot metal plate (or oven). As the plate gets hot it releases THC cannabinoids from the herb inside but only for the parts actually touching or very near the heat source. Frequent stirring or shaking these types of vapes helps evenly distribute the heat across your herb load. Typically easy to clean and affordable, conduction vaporizers have fewer parts and complexity.

Conduction vapes include: Pax, ioLite, Wispr, and VaporGenie.

Analogue Knobs vs Digital LCDs and Buttons?

detail of knob on the Volcano vaporizer close-up of Da Buddha vaporizer knob Herbal Aire2.0 temperature knob

Knobs are easy to use, intuitive, and have fewer parts to break over time. A knob always remembers its place, so you can set it and forget it for a certain strain and consistency of pot.

buttons and LCD on Volcano digit buttons and screen on Airzer Extreme close-up of buttons on Vapir NO2

Digital screens and buttons have their use for dialing in an exact and precise temperature and keeping it there. Often vaporizers with digital LCDs have other compelling technology inside that combined with the buttons make for a consistent and reliable experience.

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