Vaporizer Round-up: Launch box, lolite, Puffit, and Pax

City Paper

Vaporizers have revolutionized the world of the weed smoker. They not only make pot healthier (no combustion) and tastier (you really taste the weed rather than the burning), but they also make it more convenient. With the right vaporizer, you can smoke almost anywhere (outdoors). Especially with all the nicotine vapes out there, you don’t look weird at all walking up Charles Street or standing out in front of a bar. And with the right vape, it hardly smells at all. (Note: Paraphernalia is still illegal and you can still go to jail for having any of the items mentioned here, so don’t be a fucking idiot and if you are underage, stop reading now.)

That makes it the perfect gift for your stoner friend, lover, or family member. But finding the right vaporizer can be tricky. The first vaporizer we ever used was a homemade thing that involved a mason jar, a hockey puck, and a light bulb. The technology is changing quickly and they’re rapidly improving, but they are expensive and there are some shitty ones out there. Luckily for you, we’ve tried nearly all of them so you don’t have to.

The Magic Flight Launch Box ($119) is a simple wooden box with a bowl on one end and a mouth hole on the other. You stick a battery, which produces heat instead of electricity when it connects, into another hole and it heats your weed. We had one and it worked OK, but often the battery got too hot and combusted the weed, and once, it would not cool down and started smoking and we had to run and throw it in a bowl of water and dump that in the dirt. We’re not really ready to burn down the house, so the Launch Box was retired. 

The original Iolite ($129) is considerably more sophisticated—it looks sort of like an Apple product (Ted Danson’s Graydon Carter-based character on HBO’s short-lived but great “Bored to Death” used one of these). It uses butane, which is a real pain in the ass. You have to fill it and then let the gas warm back up to room temperature. And it often just doesn’t draw well. You feel like you suck and suck and suck without getting much vapor. 

Both the Iolite and the Launch Box have a power-source problem, but the new generation of vapes have really got the battery thing down. There is the Puffit ($83.99), which looks like an asthma inhaler and has a USB charger. It’s a nice device, but it’s still sort of hard to draw sometimes and you’re not sure if you really got a good hit or not. And once you’ve taken a hit, it reeks in your pocket. It’s OK, but still not great.  

We were wondering if we would ever find a vaporizer we could really love, but then we discovered the Pax ($249.99). It’s expensive as fuck, but this one really is like a sleek modern Apple product. A bit bigger than a tube of lipstick, it fits perfectly in the pocket and looks pretty much like a tobacco vape. When you pop the mouthpiece out, it heats (and you can easily adjust the settings—generally, use the lowest on the first tokes and as it gets closer to being cashed, turn up the heat). Unlike every other vaporizer, it draws nicely, in such a way that you can actually see the vapor coming out of your mouth. And it comes with a charger that you sit it down on at night (it holds a charge for a day or so). It’s got a pretty deep bowl too, so if you pack it pretty full, you can get through a whole wedding or whatever kind of event you need to go to without reloading. It is a beautiful, beautiful device. Just be careful: If the cops bust you with it, you get the fine and lose your expensive-ass toy. 

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