Dabbing as a dance is outdated, but as a way to vaporize and consume cannabis concentrates, it’s heating up daily. As a product reviewer, tons of consumer products come across my desk on a regular basis, and vape pens are among them.
Early vape pens focused on vegetable glycerin mixes like the Juul does, but vaping has come a long way from there. Even early dab pens are eclipsed by the quality engineering and attention to detail found in today’s offerings.
Modern dab pens and desktop devices were carefully designed with the end user in mind. Here are the best concentrate vapes I’ve used so far this year.
All-in-One Desktop Concentrate Vape – The Volcano by Storz & Bickel
The Volcano Vape is a high-end vape device that includes all the tools and accessories you need to vape anything – flower, kief, concentrate, or whatever you want. The temperature is limited only by your imagination, and it’s easy to control, heat up, fill a bag with vape, and take your time inhaling the equivalent of a massive bong rip.
You can even squeeze the bag to get more vape-filled air into your lungs faster.
Both the Volcano Classic and Volcano Digit are stainless steel and come with several bags, replacement parts, and cleaning accessories. The plastic grinders are my biggest pet peeve in life (especially when they don’t have a kief chamber), but I can’t fault them for including it for those who don’t have the same hangups (or their own grinder, for that matter).
I have the Digit (sent to me free of charge for review purposes by the manufacturer), and it has an easy-to-read temperature display that’s easily set to C or F. And yes I’m aware 430 is high, but I do actually vape at 380-400 on here because the massive chamber means there’s a lot of surface area to heat.
Even if you smoke, vape, or otherwise consume THC and CBD on a regular basis, a rip from the Volcano will still get you whirling. It did for me after about a decade of being basically permastoned. The downside is it’ll set you back at least $500.
Most Portable Dab Pen – Qloudup Nexus Pro
I actually hadn’t heard of Qloudup before talking to the reps, and I’m glad I got the free pen to review. These dab pens are surprisingly efficient, and for $50, you can’t beat the price. It charges efficiently, includes a ceramic plate atomizer and a quartz coil atomizer, so you can choose the flavor of your choice.
And while Nexus Pro is easy to clean, it’s also easy enough to replace (or even hot swap) each individual piece. Replacement atomizers are $40 for a 3-pack, the battery is $35, and the mouthpiece is $10. You can easily stock up on replacements and still stay cheaper than most dab pens, which typically run over $100.
It’s small enough (and breaks down easily) to fit in your pocket, and it hits hard and fast. I took several dabs and was high in the park within 15 minutes.
The only downsides to the Nexus Pro are the proprietary charger and unusable dab tool. While the pen seems to be made with high-quality parts, it’s obvious the dab tool was an after thought. It’s so thick and clumsy that it’s worse than nothing for handling concentrates. I wonder if the owners of this company even dab.
Best Electric Vape for Dab Rigs – The MiniNail
The MiniNail is a novel product out of Seattle Washington that uses your house’s AC current to heat your choice of quartz or titanium heating elements. They also have a ton of extras, like a massive dab mat, silicon concentrate holder, fancy dabber/carb caps, and more. It’s clear these people are true 710 fans.
And the MiniNail is solid – I’ve been putting it through its paces, and it can handle both low- and high-temp dabbing. It’s very easy to use and removes butane from the situation. The only thing you need to add is the dab rig.
The kit above is a little over $400 with all the extras, but it’s definitely worth the spend (which, I obviously didn’t). And keep in mind that while it’s cheaper than the Volcano Vape, it isn’t a complete system without a water pipe/bong/dab rig/whatever.
Still, everything about MiniNail has been solid, from the build quality to customer service, shipping, and everything in between. It’s a great experience that makes them great ambassadors for the cannabis industry at large.
All-in-One Portable Vape – PAX3
At $250, the PAX3 vaporizer isn’t cheap (although it was free for me to review). But it is sleek, elegant, and surprisingly efficient at vaporizing both flower and concentrates. It takes about half a minute to heat up, and a full session lasts a couple minutes (everything can be customized with the free smartphone companion app).
Once you find the perfect setting, it’s easy to replicate with precision, and the cleaning tools and accessories work well. What I’m not happy with is the proprietary charger, something that’s plagued the vaping industry from the beginning. These companies clearly overestimate their value in our every day lives. If I need a special charger just for my vape pen, I’ll just smoke. You put a barrier that you thought would lead to me only spending more money with you for a charger, but instead it just makes me ditch vaping (or at least your company).
That pet peeve aside, PAX3 is a well-designed portable dab and herb pen that’s also quite discrete. It almost reminds me of a Juul pen, and it’s unlikely a cop will recognize it in most situations. Of course, if you want to be discrete…
Most Discrete Dab Pen – Disposable eCigs
Disposable ecigs are the most discrete way to vape cannabis. While some manufacturers are starting to identify them better as cannabis, they look just like gas station ecigarettes for the most part. In fact, they pretty much are – the only difference is what’s inside, which you can’t see or smell.
I’ve actually forgotten I had a disposable cannabis ecig on me on more than one occasion, where I had to get it through a security checkpoint. Nobody ever questions it because it just looks like a normal ecig.
Although Juul wins for kids looking to vape discretely, disposable ecigs fit into a crowd of millions of adults walking around every day vaping whatever they want.
Easiest Concentrate Vape to Clean – Dr. Dabber Boost eRig
Dr. Dabber keeps things classy with a line of dab equipment that will make you feel like a pro. While it makes several great products, The $160 Boost eRig (which they sent me for free to review) is my personal favorite. It comes in an awesome case that reminds me of my days hanging out with bands, and it has quartz, ceramic, and titanium plates to get the exact flavor you want.
But the best part is once you’re done, you can just pull the glass and plate off and clean them. That’s really all there is too it. Most other dab pens inevitably get clogged because you’re pulling air through them that’s filled with the concentrate vapor. But that’s not what Dr. Dabber’s eRigs do.
Instead, you only pull the vape through the glass, so the glass and the plate are all you really need to clean. Ok, I’m exaggerating a little, you do still need to wipe the top up with alcohol pads regularly. Of course, if you don’t know how to clean glass correctly, you’re going to have problems with this one.
Hardest-Hitting Concentrate Vape Pen – AirVape X
The $180 AirVape X didn’t seem like much to me when they first sent it to me free to review. The cheap plastic case and useless dabbing tool didn’t give the best first impression. But I soldiered through and was pleasantly surprised at how well the air flow made it hit.
I emptied the flower chamber (which lasted surprisingly long, although was more burnt than the Volcano leaves it) and installed the synthetic healthstone to vape concentrates. It hit me like a hurricane. How could this little toy-looking device pack such a powerful punch?
But of all the vape devices I have, this is easily the hardest hitting dab pen I’ve tried so far. You manutfacturers are more than welcome to keep sending them my way.
Most Essential Dab Tool – Dr. Dabber Budder Cutter
The last tool I need to recommend uses a c-cell battery that’s standard in vaping. But it adds tools that make handling concentrates easy. The Budder Cutter is one of many dab accessories I keep around in case a need should arise. And if you’ve been paying attention to these reviews, many of the devices have shit dab tools. Even the good ones could cause your shatter to fly out and cost you money.
Dr. Dabber’s Budder Cutter will be the best $50 you ever spend, if you’re a regular, everyday dabber. It makes handling concentrate as easy as cutting through butter with a heated knife.