It's easy enough to list the best portable vaporizers and give you a reason why you should buy each of them. It's a common thread on many message boards and articles. But what's more important than the final answers are the reasons that lead each reviewer, poster, blogger, and YouTuber to their verdict. Opinions are just that, and unless you understand what your own priorities are and what's most important to you, you will have a hard time settling on what the right portable vaporizer for you is--regardless of how many Top 10 list you read.
Vaporizers are as varied as personal preferences are. No vaporizer will have all the pros and dodge all the cons. Instead of looking for the ultimate answer, it's better to know the right questions to ask when purchasing a portable vaporizer.
So, without any further ado, here's what to look for and ask about when choosing the best portable vaporizer (for you):
I know we just said your priorities may vary, but this really should be number one on anyone's checklist. You're investing in a vaporizer to produce vapor. If it can't do that effectively, then what's the point? The more vapor, the greater the effect. So watch reviews and videos, read comments, and find out from fellow message board members which portable vaporizers actually produce decent amounts of vapor. But do be sure to learn about how to get more vapor from portable vaporizers and vape pens.
One crucial point to make is that smoke is not vapor. Many vape pens have exposed vape coils which actually produce combustion when you place your dry herbs on them. This is totally fine if you're just looking for a convenient, lighter-free solution to smoking on-the-go. It's also fine if you use glass screen filters to prevent direct contact with the vape coil (which allows for vaporization through conduction). However, many people have come to think that the smoke produced from vape pens is vapor--leading to a false impression of how thick and foggy vapor is (or isn't). So please, don't get confused. Vapor is visible, but it is lighter and dissipates more quickly than smoke.
So what makes one portable vaporizer produce more vapor than the next? It's all about what goes on inside the heating chamber. More vapor comes from:
The oils of the plant are a result of heat, so the closer the vaporizer's chamber can get to just below the point of combustion, the more vapor you're going to get. Ideal vape temperature will vary from herb to herb.
Naturally, since vapor is coming from the herbs, the more dry herbs you can pack, the more there is to vape. In general, vaping is more efficient than combusting (read our post about Combustion vs Conduction vs Convection vaping), but that doesn't mean that packing a tiny amount will yield huge clouds. It means that with what you do pack, you will get much more mileage.
Finally, a large, fully packed chamber means nothing if you aren't getting good airflow. Devices that get clogged easily or packing the chamber so full that it blocks the airway will prevent you from getting vapor. You want to be able to pack the chamber full, but properly. Devices that have a heating chamber at the bottom (away from the mouthpiece) tend to have the best airflow.
Flavor may be one of the more subjective qualities for a vaporizer, but what creates good flavor (whether your taste buds are picky enough to detect it) remains mostly objective: the materials of the chamber, air pathway, and mouthpiece.
Of course, dry herbs, wax, and oil themselves have the greatest effect on flavor, but all three of these vaporizer parts can add subtle (and to some, profound) qualities to the taste and purity of the vapor. Glass is the absolute best material to have in a vaporizer because it will not affect the flavor at all--you'll just get the purest flavor of your shatter or wax. However, because they are more efficient at heating up and cooling off, ceramic and stainless steel are commonly used, especially with Dry Herb Vaporizers (for wax vape pens, ceramic is just as popular as glass). While they will detract from flavor just a little bit (really hard to notice), either of these materials will produce excellent flavor.
Keep in mind that glass is usually preferred to use when vaping shatter or wax. That being said, people still enjoy vaping shatter with ceramic coils, like most of our pocket vape pens. Amongst Dry Herb Vaporizers, there are no glass heating chambers, but if you're curious which vaporizers use stainless steel or ceramic, check our list of products below:
Your portable vaporizer or vape pen is only as good as it lasts. Of course, you will want to decide on something that seems durable and sturdy. But, one thing we've learned from cruel, harsh experience: accidents will happen. Accidents come in a lot of forms too. You may drop and break only a small, but necessary part of the vaporizer. Some accidents are entirely not your fault (damaged in transit or factory defects, which is very rare).
While it's important to choose a reliable vaporizer upfront, it's also very important to know where you are buying your vape from. Shopping at stores is ok, but dealing with defects or purchasing vape parts at storefronts can be a hassle because they keep a low amount of inventory and they don't buy directly from the manufacturer. We're not trying to bad mouth brick and mortars. We're just being realistic with you.
If you buy your vape pen or vape parts from an online vape shop like Vape Vet Store, you're in great hands because we're working directly with the manufacturers and keep healthy amounts of inventory. Moreover, we like to inspect all vaporizer products before shipping and make sure orders are packaged discreetly with optimal bubble wrap protection. If you ever have any questions or need tips about your vape pen, we'll answer your question as soon as possible, no matter what the issue is.
This one is especially important if you're on the go a lot without the time or means to recharge the device. Some vaporizers use external batteries, so you can travel with a backup. Other vaporizers just have really long battery life (up to 2 and 3 hours, depending on the temperature setting). But some vaporizers are only going to last 1-2 hours tops at the highest temperature settings.
It's SUPER IMPORTANT you understand what the "mah" of the battery is when comparing vaporizer batteries to each other. For example, if you are in the market for a Dry Herb Vaporizer, you can buy an AGO G5 Junior, which has a battery capacity of 360mah. The AGO G5 is 650mah. Then you have more powerful vaporizers with longer battery life such as the E-Clipse, Apex 2, and Stoner Joe Vaporizer. The "mah" for them is 2200. So you can see that the higher the "mah", the more powerful the battery and the more functionality the vape pen has.
If you are in the market for a wax vape pen, the "mah" varies a lot too. The pocket vape pen and Atmos Junior has 360mah. The Yocan Evolve is 650mah. Then there are much more powerful wax vape batteries that last much longer, such as the Yocan Evolve Plus (1100mah) and the Yocan Pandon (1300mah).
Oil vape pens are much different than dry herb vaporizers and wax pens. You need very simple batteries to connect to the oil cartridge. Our stylus battery is 280mah. It lasts a decent amount of time, but you will need to recharge if you use it very frequently for 3 hours. The 510 thread battery for oil (looks like a pocket vape battery) is 360mah, which definitely lasts a bit longer than the stylus battery. Lastly, you have the SteamCloud Mini. That battery is 650mah and lasts almost the entire day. Check out our oil vape pens page to learn more.
You should also take note of how the device charges. If the vaporizer uses a standard charging port (like a Micro USB plug found with most cell phones), then even if you're on the go, you may be able to charge the vape at a friend's house, in the car or at the office. If you are looking to buy your own dry herb vaporizer and wax vape pen, it might make sense to buy both vape pens that take the same charging cable. Plus you'll be less confused.
Finally, battery life is much less important if you know you'll be using the vaporizer mostly at home, where you can always keep it charged. The impact of the battery life will be even less if the device allows you to operate it while it's charging, so keep a look out for that.
Most portable vaporizers are going to require some sort of maintenance. And maintenance requires patience. Whether it's cleaning or replacing filters, polishing out heating chambers, or getting the build up out of an air pathway, you're going to have to perform some sort of up-keep with your vaporizer. Some vaporizers are easier to maintain than others.
Dry Herb vaporizers generally need very little maintenance. The only vape part you'll need to clean is the mouthpiece screen filters. All you need to do is use a cleaning brush to remove any residual dry herbs.
Wax Vape Pens are a pain in the butt to maintain. If you have a pocket vape or an AGO G5 junior, the mouthpieces can get clogged after using them for several months. Also, the coils will need to be replaced every couple months. If you own a Yocan Evolve, Yocan Evolve Plus or Yocan Pandon, they come with coil caps and prevent shatter or wax from shooting up and getting stuck to the mouthpiece. The vape coils are very high quality and usually last longer than vape coils used in the Pocket vape or AGO G5 Junior.
Personally, I wouldn't say that maintenance should keep anyone from buying a great vaporizer, but that's just me. As mentioned in the very beginning, preferences and opinions are going to differ. So if you know you don't want to deal with cleaning and caring for a high-maintenance vaporizer, then do yourself a favor and ask around before making the plunge. There are definitely options out there that are a piece of cake to take care of.
Finally, there's the price tag. Ideally, your vaporizer will be with you for a while, so if you have the money, it's a good idea to invest it in a good vaporizer (one which has the qualities above that are important to you). You do get what you pay for to a certain extent, but not all inexpensive vaporizers are bad (some are quite good), and not all expensive vaporizers are worth the money. Below is a basic list of vaporizers in our store ranging from $29.99 - $149.99.
Our advice is to start with questions 1-5. See which portable vaporizers make it onto your list based on those important (or perhaps not-so-important to you) qualities. After that, if you're down to just two or three that are all about the same, then let price decide. If the vape pen you want is out of your budget at the moment, it might be worth it to just save up a little longer--you don't want to buy something for less only to be more let down than excited.
But having said that, there are many great, affordable vaporizers out there, so hopefully price won't be a problem.
So no, we did not end this list with "The Ultimate Portable Vaporizer Ever!" Even if we did, it would likely be an outdated recommendation within a couple year's time. The selection of vape pens is always changing, and that's part of the excitement and fun. But the core of what shapes a person's opinion of a vaporizer does not change.
Hopefully, these questions will help guide you as you decide on your next portable vaporizer. In case you want to know about vaping in general below are some related articles that can help you learn more about vaporizers and vaping.