2018 Update: How-To Buy a Vaporizer

Let me show you the best cannabis vaporizers for your needs—and which ones to avoid. There are more choices than ever, and I've written detailed reviews on each vape to help you decide which is the best vaporizer to buy in 2018.

My Favorite Vapes Right Now:

Want more options? Check all my reviews for dry herb cannabis vaporizers.

You can't go wrong with any of these portable vaporizers.

Top Tips Buying a Vape

Crafty is one of many new vaporizers on the market to offer app controls over your phone, via Bluetooth. Crafty is one of many new vaporizers on the market to offer app controls over your phone, via Bluetooth. After installing an app you can control temperature, check battery life and usage, among other features. Remember: this uses extra battery life!

  • Decide what you care about: Size, battery life, vapor production, and maintenance are all important considerations.
  • Portable doesn't mean discreet: Size is an important factor and not every portable is easy to fit into your jeans pocket or conceal in a closed fist.
  • Grinding and loading can be difficult: It takes time to carefully grind and load most portable vaporizers, and spills are likely which wastes costly herb. If you load a vape multiple times per day this cost adds up to frustration.
  • Maintenance matters, especially for heavy-users: Like cleaning a bong and dealing with resin, some vapes require heavy cleaning with q-tips, rags, tiny scrapers and ISO alcohol, while others mostly brush clean.
  • Buy from an authorized dealer: Get a legit warranty if (when) things break. Portable vaporizers wear out over time and need parts replaced like batteries, screens, mouth pieces, and sometimes more complex circuit components. Most reputable companies offer easy replacement options in a warranty.

If You're Buying a Portable Vaporizer

Best portable vaporizers: Pax 3, Arizer Solo II, Mighty, Crafty, Pax 2

Portables typically trade power for size, so if you want a powerful vaporizer capable of large vapor production then you'll want a larger vape with a big battery, otherwise you will be recharging it frequently.

Look for:

  • Long-lasting battery, charge via USB
  • Easy to use controls, especially on/off and adjusting temperatures
  • A good quality heating element; in cheap sub-$100 vapes these elements burn out after a few months of heavy use, which is why I always recommend you avoid these throwaway devices and invest a little more money into a tool that will last for years.
  • Return policy included in your warranty; portables can break and getting a replacement without a hassle is worthwhile. Always buy from an authorized dealer!


If You're Buying a Plug-in Desktop Vaporizer

Best desktop vaporizers: Volcano, Da Buddha

  • dabuddah vaporizer

Da Buddha is a great starter vape.

Both of these desktop units are fool-proof. Da Buddha is the best entry-level vape for people just getting started with vaporizing at home. It's slow to warm-up, but besides that it's perfect in terms of temperature control, ease of use, maintenance and reliability.

  • volcano vaporizer classic

Volcano remains the best, 17 years later.

The Volcano is built like a German tank; they are built to last, with durable parts from a company that has been making the same consistent and high-quality device for 17 years. Cannabis shops in San Francisco all have Volcano vaporizers because they take years of customer abuse and still keep on filling huge bags with delicious vapor. Besides quality, Volcano controls are easy to use with a nice adjustable knob, and the bags fill quickly compared to other balloon-style vapes due to the robust air-pump. Once you enjoy a Volcano bag, it's difficult to enjoy other vaporizers. Volcano will set the bar for your vape experience.

Look for:

  • Most of the device should be cool to the touch, except the heating element itself
  • Easy to use controls, especially adjusting temperatures
  • Fast warm-up in a desktop comes at an extreme price, so expect a plug-in to take 5+ minutes to get fully hot and ready to use.


For Medical Cannabis Patients and Heavy Users

Fastest heating vaporizers: Pax 3, Arizer Solo II, Mighty

I usually recommend medical patients have a vaporizer that's quick to warm-up. Many people I know want fast relief, which is why they prefer vaporizing to eating edibles. Vaping offers them quick relief from sudden back pain, nausea and stomach cramps, or feelings of anxiety, depending on the strain and person.

Battery & Performance

Best battery life in a vaporizer: Mighty, Arizer Solo II, Pax 3

A long-lasting battery means you're spending less time charging, less time worrying about how much time you have left, and generally signals a stronger hitting vaporizer, capable of greater vapor production.

Expecting Large Clouds?

Best vaporizer for large clouds: Mighty, Crafty, Arizer Solo II

Unlike smoking from pipes or joints, not all vaporizers produce big hits of vapor, but some do! Generally you have to spend more to get a quality heating element combined with a battery powerful enough to provide the necessary sustained current. Mighty and Arizer Solo II are two portables that deliver on this promise, but might not fit in your pocket.

Budget Vaporizers Under $100

Best budget vaporizer around $150: G Pen Elite, Pax 2

Skip all of them, save your money! Be prepared to spend at least $150 for the class of vaporizers that won't get thrown in the garbage after a few months. Invest in a tool that will perform one job and one job well, getting you medicated consistently and with ease.

About Waxes and Concentrates

I don't like to medicate with concentrates: the feeling is much different than with flowers/dry herbs. I find controling my dose much easier with dry herbs as well, so I just prefer the more natural, less processed route of vaporizing cannabis. Especially in Berkeley, California which has the highest standards for quality control and health & safety regulations in the United States.

Other Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • Does it USB recharge or require a clunky wall adapter?
  • If USB, does it use the standard mini or micro cable or a special proprietary cable?
  • Is it easy to use, frustrating to turn on and off?
  • Is it Bluetooth capable with phone/app controls or more self-contained?
  • Can I load it easily without spilling/wasting herb? Is it a pain to empty, or require a special tool to empty once cached?
  • Does the warranty cover sending it back to get a new one without hassle?

The End

I hope you enjoyed my detailed 2018 Vaporizer Guide, a buyers how-to guide for choosing the best vape for your needs and budget.

First published: January 31, 2018


  1. Study: Vaporizers Can Drastically Reduce Toxins in Marijuana Smoke
  3. Vaporpedia Wiki
  4. California NORML page on vaporizers
  5. Indica photo on Flickr, Sativa photo on Flickr

✓ Highly Recommended

You can't go wrong with any of these very reliable vaporizers:

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