High Life: Pax Baltimorona

The Pax 2 vaporizer, reviewed

I first thought of writing about vaporizers because the technology was changing so quickly (and because I was an aging, weak-lunged stoner trying to get away from so much combustion). The gulf between the first bulky or dangerous vaporizers I used and the new models was immense, so I wanted to try to see what was out there. I discovered that among the products I tried, the gulf between the Pax, which I found to be the superior model, and the others was equally profound.

At least for a while. But after I'd had the Pax for a while, I began to run into a few problems. The Pax is a small cylindrical tube. You pack one end and on the other there is a mouthpiece. When you press it in, it releases a spring, pops out, and turns the machine on—creating enough heat to suck the THC moisture from your plant matter. Except as I used it more, the mouthpiece got stuck more and more often.

Once, at a party, I wrestled with pliers trying to get the thing to pop, certain that my considerable $200 investment was going to be gone. I managed to get the mouthpiece out—only a bit chipped by the pliers—and started keeping it cleaner and using the lube the manufacturer recommends to keep that mechanism working.

There were a few other problems, mainly related to the pull. It is the bane of all vaporizers. You want to feel the weed. But often it just feels like sucking air. And while, with the Pax, you really get a clear taste of the weed, you still sometimes wonder if you're really getting something or if it is like smelling your bud in the baggy—pleasant but ineffective. It has to be packed exactly right to really get a solid flow.

And in the past couple of weeks, it has started to get a bit wobbly on the charger so sometimes it doesn't actually click and charge.

I hadn't written about these complaints yet, but was waiting to see how things panned out. Then I got an email from the manufacturers of Pax asking if I'd like to try the new model. Hell yeah, I would!

The Pax 2 is a good bit smaller and sleeker than the first one. And it eliminated the mechanism of the extending mouthpiece altogether. Instead, there is a flat rubber mouthpiece with a slight slit in it on one edge, like a reed instrument. You press down on it to turn it on and off and to change the heat. (They say there's some sensor in it to help the pull, but I'm not sure how that actually works.)

While it eliminates the mouthpiece problem, it sort of creates another one with putting your mouth directly on the tube. Something just feels a little grosser about it, especially with the rubber mouthpiece. Just don't share if you have a cold sore. I know you put your mouth on the original Pax too and on a joint or whatever—but I happened to notice someone's lip crud after I passed it around, and something about it was a little less than appealing.

The Pax 2 also has a deeper bowl and seems to draw better. And as for charging, you lay it flat on a dock rather than standing it up and it kind of magnetically clicks in.

It really is a beautiful machine. But it's expensive as hell ($279.99 on their site). So the question a good buddy asked: "Is everyone with the Pax 1 going to run out and get Pax 2?"

Not unless they are weed dealers with a lot of disposable income. It is better, but not that much better. More like: People who have the Pax 1 will get the Pax 2 when their Pax 1 breaks, and they will be pretty psyched about the changes.

It was the perfect time to get the new Pax because there is a wide variety of kick-ass weed going around town. I picked up four different kinds—under 9 grams total—last week, including Sour Grape, Grape Ape, Blue Diesel, and LSD. The LSD is the best weed I've smoked in ages, with a strong lemony taste that really comes through with the Pax 2. And for me, it has one of those uppy highs that get you working. But my buddy said it made him stupid stoned. Which reminds me, all criticism falls into a certain subjective realm, but weed criticism more than most. Enjoy. And don't be stupid.

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