The Best Portable Vaporizers in 2023: The Next Level of Herbs and Concentrates Consumption
If you are smoking your medicinal marijuana, maybe you should reconsider. Today, there is a vastly better way to do it—a more flavorful and, more importantly, much safer way: vaping. So, cast your tobacco, rolling papers, and lighter aside, and join us in the 21st century.
With smoking, herbs and plants are burned to produce smoke. Vaping might look similar, but it’s worlds apart. The term “vaporization” refers to heating materials just enough to release their active compounds, but not so much as to burn them. With no combustion involved, there’s almost zero toxins production, rendering any form of vaping infinitely safer than smoking.
The most popular form of vaping relies on nicotine-infused liquids to provide a “fix” to the casual smoker. For medicinal marijuana, though, you usually have to seek a specialized vaporizer. Although you can find liquids with THC that you can use with typical vaping gear, medicinal marijuana usually comes in solid form. Vaporizing such solids calls for a different kind of device, and for this guide of ours, we found the best of them.
Vaporizers heat solids enough to release the useful substances within them. Apart from being safer than smoking the same solids, they are also more economical in the long run. That’s because they maximize the output of “the good stuff” without wastefully burning it.
You have to consider many factors before choosing such a device, and what we just described is only one of them: providing more “output” without wasting materials. The best of them achieve this by combining two different heating processes, convection, and conduction.
Using an electronic gizmo with different settings and an occasional need for maintenance is inherently more complicated than lighting up a cigarette. Some are thoughtfully designed and use better materials to provide better flavor and maximize vapor production. Others are easier to pocket and come with more powerful batteries, translating to longer uptimes. Many devices might cut down corners in the choice of materials to keep costs lower than premium options. However, despite that, they may still offer a better experience than their pricier counterparts.
We went through dozens of alternatives to locate their products in our list, considering all those and many more factors. We are pretty sure those are the best vaporizers money can buy today, in their respective categories.
So, after this extended explanation, let’s say the best devices themselves that can get you off smoking (and wasting) your herbs.
The Best Portable Vaporizers: Editor’s Choice
Mighty – Best Portable Vaporizer of 2023
Considered the best device of its kind at the time of release, Storz & Bickel’s Mighty is true to its name even in 2023. Although it’s one of the oldest devices on our list, released almost five years ago, it remains one of the best vaporizers and still eclipses most of the competition.
That’s mostly thanks to Storz & Bickel’s thoughtful design, which prioritized performance over looks, health benefits over style, giving as a true classic.
With most of the competition playing catch-up, the Mighty vaporizer has been offering optimal hybrid heat up for half a decade, combining conduction and convection to achieve optimal results.
Its smart electronics offer accurate temperature control. Its batteries can get the average user through the day – and lighter users through the whole week.
So what if it’s made of plastic and looks like a brick? If you are style-conscious, that might be a con. For the rest of us, it also means that it’s built and hits like a brick. Even if it costs much more than one.
- Long uptime
- Stellar temperature control
- A true classic
- It looks like it escaped from Star Trek. The Original Series
- More modern – and affordable – options are available
PAX 3 – Best for Casual Users
It’s been called “the iPhone of vaporizers,” and for a good reason: the Pax is one of the most stylish, performant, but also easy-to-use devices of its kind.
After packing it with around 3g of dry herb – or, if you’re using the reducer included in the complete kit, 1.5g – 2g, you can power the device through its single button, hidden on the mouthpiece. A long press of the same button allows you to choose from four temperature levels, which offer progressively higher heat, increased vapor production, and a more powerful punch. In under 30 seconds, the device is ready to use, its oven up to temperature.
You don’t have to think about turning it off, and the same tech assisting in that also helps cut down on herb waste. Equipped with motion sensors and smart circuitry, the Pax 3 “understands” when you put it down and switches to idle mode, reducing its oven’s temperature to reduce herb waste. If you pick it up, the same tech magic kicks into high-gear, rapidly heating the oven, preparing for your puff. In contrast, if you don’t pick it up for over three minutes, it automatically turns off. Easy-peasy.
- Compact and Sleek
- Easy to use
- Smart temperature and auto-off
- Four temperature settings
- Premium device = premium cost
- Demanding users may want more control
- Can get hot while using
Arizer Solo 2 – Best Uptime
The Solo 2 by Arizer is a portable atomizer for home use, however strange that might sound. You see, although it’s more portable than Storz & Bickel’s Mighty beast, it’s also a much more delegate device. Plus, its vapor path is made of glass and is almost as long as the whole device. One careless move and you can shatter it to smithereens. That’s why despite its relatively compact frame, we consider it mostly an indoor device. That you will also have to babysit.
As far as performance goes, though, it’s up there. It’s almost on par with the Mighty vaporizer for close to half the price. It’s a well-built device with an easily accessible interface, insanely long uptime, and accurate temperature control that combines conduction with convection for top vapor and flavor production. Its weak point, the glass path, is actually a conscious choice from its creators since it also helps boost flavor. So although it is a con for portability, it strangely also a pro as far as usage goes.
Do you think the Mighty vaporizer looks like a paleolithic brick that should have stayed in 2015? Would you prefer a sleeker, more modern-looking device, but without compromising in performance and smarts? Then, this one’s for you.
- Ultra-long battery life
- Its long glass path gives a boost to flavor
- Easy to carry, but you’ll probably be afraid to do so
- Accurate TC and hybrid heating for great vapor and flavor production
- Its long glass path can be its weak point
Davinci IQ – Best Value
Look, we know it, Davinci’s IQ is not the latest and greatest. It’s been superseded by the newer IQ 2, which offers a nice upgrade over the IQ. A “nice upgrade” that allows you to use it for both herbs and extracts, offers even more precise temperature control, and the ability to track how you’re using the device. Those “nice features” are the primary differences compared to the “plain” IQ, and the reasons it costs a tad less than $300. And that’s why the older IQ remains a great choice.
Nowadays, you can find the “plain” IQ for 100 less than the IQ 2, or even lower. Tracking the way you vape for better dosage control is a nice feature to have. So is being able to adjust the amount of airflow. The new IQ 2 is also easier to clean but also somewhat larger and heavier.
Still, the “plain” IQ remains a premium device that’s now available at a more affordable price, making it the more enticing option. Their actual performance is pretty close, to the point you won’t feel like you miss something if you don’t need the features of the IQ 2 – and, to be realists, most people don’t. The first IQ is similarly smart, and you can control it through Bluetooth and an app on your smartphone. A huge plus is that both devices take removable 18650 cells (“batteries”). By buying more cells and an external charger, you can swap a depleted cell with a charged one. This allows you to keep using the device without waiting for it to charge or be tethered to a wall.
That’s why we consider the first Davinci IQ one of the best vaporizers you can buy today. Despite being an older device, it remains one of the best performers in flavor and vapor production. If you can spare the cash for the new and improved IQ 2, it’s worth also looking into the Mighty vaporizer, which performs even better in those regards.
- Yesterday’s premium vaporizer available today at an affordable price
- Smart features, connects to your smartphone
- Precise temperature control
- Removable 18650 cells = Unlimited battery live
- Annoying cleaning process
- The newer model is a better (but also pricier) all-rounder
Did you fall in love with Storz & Bickel’s Mighty vaporizer, its performance, its looks, practically everything about it, except its price? Or, maybe, its weight and size? Does having a more compact, lighter, and more importantly, cheaper version sound great? Well, you’re out of luck.
OK, we’re overstating things for humor’s sake. You see, the Crafty+ is precisely that: a cut-down version of the al-Mighty, that offers similar performance and features at a more realistic price while prioritizing portability. But those were the good news.
The bad news is that this “cutting down” has also taken a significant toll on the device’s battery life, which offers a fraction of its big brother’s (or other alternatives’) uptime. Its lower price is still relatively high, rendering this another premium device. The difference between the Mighty and the Crafty+ is less than $100. So, if you can afford to spend that amount of money on a vaporizer, you might as well go for the bigger and better option.
- Performs just as good as the Mighty
- Light and compact compared to its big brother
- Top temperature control
- At that price, it’s better to go for the Mighty
- Limited uptime
Mig Vapor The Four Vaporizer
You might have noticed that most of the devices in our list cost enough to be considered an investment rather than a simple purchase. Thankfully, technology improves, and today you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to purchase an awesome vaporizer. Want a great device for around $100? The Four from Migvapor more than fits the bill.
Yes, we’re talking about a single device. By Migvapor. Its name is “The Four.” There aren’t three more hiding in its package.
Like the much more expensive PAX, The Four Dry Herb Vaporizer prioritizes ease of use. The device is equipped with a single button. Different click combinations can turn the device on and off or change between its five different temperature settings. There’s one for everyone, starting 374°F and up to 428°F. Most people, though, will probably stick with the first four settings, leaving the last one for those who love inhaling chili peppers.
Admittedly, you can’t reasonably expect a device like The Four to perform better than a much more expensive option like the Mighty. As far as value goes, though, getting 80% to 90% of a top model’s performance at less than 1/3rd of the cost is, for all intents and purposes, a steal.
- Very affordable
- Easy to Use
- Punches higher than its cost
- Not the best vapor and flavor production
- Long charging times due to micro USB in the 21st century
- Very affordable
- Easy to Use
- Punches higher than its cost
- Not the best vapor and flavor production
- Long charging times due to micro USB in the 21st century
Firefly 2+ Vaporizer
An upgraded version of the much-beloved Firefly 2 vaporizer, the Firefly 2+ has one primary difference you can instantly feel compared to its predecessor: more airflow. It’s not a dramatic change, but it’s enough to be felt and solves what many people consider Firefly 2’s main problem. Still, its airflow remains closer to a cigarette than a bong.
Although you wouldn’t mistake it for a USB flash drive, the Firefly 2+’s shape and design make it look and feel more compact than it is. Unlike hybrid devices, it only uses convection heating to produce vapor. Firefly Vapor somehow managed to grand the Firefly 2+ with almost instant heat-up, without needing assistance from conduction heating (that can also waste some of your precious herbs).
The flavor and vapor production are at the very top, coming close – or, for some, even exceeding – Storz & Bickel’s Mighty. Theoretically, the Firefly 2+ could be at the very top of our list. But it isn’t, and that has to do with its actual use.
Despite its top performance in flavor and vapor production, it’s not as consistent as other devices. Its pure-convection approach saves on herb consumption. However, it also means that the finer your herbs are ground, and the tighter they’re packed, the more you have to stir them for even extraction. The “outer” herbs form a barrier that doesn’t allow the hot air to reach the substance in the middle. Inadvertently, this also leads to a constant drop in flavor and vapor, as more and more “used” herbs “taint the mix”.
Add to that its less-than-great uptime, that although better than options than the Crafty, it’s still half than what other similarly-priced (and performing) options offer.
- Fantastic flavor and vapor
- Smaller and lighter than Firefly 2
- Feels more compact than many alternatives
- Very easy to clean
- High draw resistance
- Not-so-great uptime
- A gradual drop in performance while in use
Mig Vapor SubHerb Target Mini Kit
If you need the utmost flexibility at the most affordable price, look no further than the SubHerb Target Mini Kit. You see, unlike all other options in our list, this isn’t a device created specifically to vaporize herbs as an all in one unit. Instead, it pairs Vaporesso‘s popular Target Mini mod with MigVapor’s SubHerb herb vaporizer as a kit.
Since half of the kit is a regular vaping mod, you can freely remove the atomizer, which is the other half of the equipment specializing in herbs. Then, replace it with a typical atomizer compatible with Nicotine vaping juices. The atomizer connects to the mod through an industry-standard 510 connector.
This modularity makes the SubHerb Target Mini Kit the best choice for those also trying to cut down or altogether quit smoking. It also means that even if you don’t like the atomizer it comes with, you have hundreds of other 510-compatible options available.
- Normal vaping mod and herb vaporizer combo
- Can also be used with atomizers for nicotine liquids
- Very affordable
- Good vapor production
- Not the most flavorful
- More complicated than dedicated herb-vaping solutions
Best Portable Vaporizers: Specifications
|Portable Vaporizer||Material Compatibility||Bowl Capacity||Temperatures||Price|
|Mighty||Concentrate, Dry Herb||0.25 g||105°F (40˚C) – 410˚F(210˚C)|
|PAX 3||Concentrate, Dry Herb||0.3 g||360°F (180˚C) – 420˚F(215˚C)|
|Arizer Solo 2||Dry Herb||0.15 g||122°F (50˚C) – 428˚F(220˚C)|
|DaVinci IQ Vaporizer||Dry Herb||0.3 g||250°F (121˚C) – 430˚F(221˚C)|
|Crafty+||Dry Herb||0.3 g||104°F (40˚C) – 410˚F(220˚C)|
|Mig Vapor The Four||Dry Herb||1 g||356°F (180˚C) – 428˚F(220˚C)|
|Firefly 2+||Concentrate, Dry Herb||0.15 g||200°F (171˚C) – 500˚F(215˚C)|
|Mig Vapor SubHerb Target Mini Kit||Concentrate, Dry Herb, Liquids||2 ml||200°F (100˚C) – 600˚F(315˚C)|
You know that vaporizers work, but maybe you’re wondering how they work. Or perhaps you’d like to know all the things we considered to end up with the products on our list. If you want to learn more about those little magical devices, we’ve got you covered.
How do Vaporizers work?
We all know that smoking works thanks to Prometheus’ gift to humankind (AKA: fire). By burning herbs (like tobacco and marijuana), we can inhale the produced smoke, containing some of their active ingredients (like Nicotine and THC). The problem, though, is that this way, we also inhale many nasty chemicals that can be vastly detrimental to our health. That’s where vaping enters the scene.
Some fine folks realized that you don’t have to burn the materials we’re using if you want to inhale “the good stuff” contained within. You can merely heat them to the point where those substances are released. This helps avoid the production of unwanted chemical substances, like Arsenic, Benzene, Carbon Monoxide, and Formaldehyde, released during combustion. And that’s how vaping was born.
Thus, vaping – and vaporizing – refers to the process of heating materials “just enough” to produce vapor instead of smoke. You still get all the benefits, by the way, and there are even studies showing that vaping can be more potent than smoking the same material.
Some devices specialize in vaporizing dry herbs and aren’t compatible with other materials. You may find tips and tricks online for many of them showing how to use them with concentrates instead of dry herbs, but the official (and our) advice is to avoid it.
Concentrates may at the very least make a mess of their vaporization chamber (“oven”), or, at worst, liquefy, find their way inside them, and wreck havoc on their internals. In a worst-case scenario, this could lead to a short and make them go kaboom. In short, “use your device as you’re supposed to.”
Vaporizing concentrates (also known as “wax”) usually calls for another type of atomizer. Those devices are generally easier to clean (because concentrates make, by default, more of a mess compared to dry herbs). They usually rely less on heated air and more on contact with a heated area (see Convection VS Conduction VS Hybrid Heating) to produce vapor.
The term “concentrates” usually refers to processed marijuana or hash extracts. It is apt since their THC content is much higher. For that reason, new users would better avoid them, or at least take it very slowly. Whereas vaporizing herbs can release from 10% to 25% of THC, vaporizing concentrates sees that number jump to 70% – 80%.
Also referred to as “hookah pens,” oil vaporizers are closer to the more popular vaping gear used to vaporize liquids. Instead of Nicotine, though, they specialize in HTC.
Although both oil and liquid vaporizers work similarly, they differ in size. Oil vaporizers are usually smaller and use thicker liquids.
Most people vape to quit Nicotine, not to get high. Thus, the most popular type of device – and the one prominently referred to as “vaping gear” – is all about Nicotine. Instead of heating herbs or wax-like materials, though, they use liquids infused with Nicotine.
You can find liquids with THC instead of Nicotine, but that isn’t yet as popular as using dry herbs in a vaporizer explicitly designed for that purpose.
3-in-1 Vaporizers: Herbs, Oils, Dabs
As their name states, 3-in-1 vaporizers don’t specialize in a specific material and can vaporize herbs, concentrates, and oils. Usually, though, this means that they underperform when in direct comparison with devices specializing in the material used.
If you want to smoke a cigarette, you first have to light it up. Similarly, to vape a material using a vaporizer, the device heats it in its vaporization chamber/oven. Newer devices can be ready to go in seconds. However, older models, and primarily conduction-only ones, could take minutes to get up to speed.
Sessions Per Charge
You might see many people using the term “Sessions per Charge” when talking about vaporizers and how long their charge may last. However, this is a useless metric since it’s not constants that define it, but variables.
This sounded vague, so allow us to explain.
Let’s say that two people are vaping on two identical and fully charged vaporizers. Let’s also assume that the device supposedly offers five sessions per charge. If “a session” was based on constants, a single charge should last the same amount of time for both. The problem, though, is that we humans aren’t identical, and each of us prefers different things.
So, the same term, “session,” might translate to ten 5-second puffs at full power for one person but three 2-second puffs at low power for another. The first person would have been vaping at max power for a total time of over 50 seconds, while the second would have used their device at low power for less than 10 seconds. Each of those “sessions” would have vastly different demands from the device’s battery. With no definition of what “a session” constitutes, their meaning varies from person to person. Thus, they can’t be trusted as a metric of a device’s uptime.
Convection VS Conduction VS Hybrid Heating
There are two different approaches through which vaporizers produce vapor by heating a material: convection and conduction.
Convection vaporizers force a stream of hot air on the material.
Conduction vaporizers heat the surface that is in contact with the material.
Both approaches don’t burn the material with fire, and the second, conduction, is the older of the two. Today, on its own, it’s considered suboptimal since it can cook the material that is directly in contact with the heated surface.
Many modern vaporizers use a hybrid approach, utilizing both methods to achieve optimal results. Conduction has the benefit of being quicker, while convection is less wasteful since it doesn’t cook the material. Convection also tends to produce more flavorful and potent results. Hybrid vaporizers usually start with conduction to heat the material to a level before vapor production. Then, they finish the process with convection, for that final stretch that leads to vapor production.
The Right Temperatures
Most vaporizers work within a specific temperature range, which usually begins at 320° F and go up to something less than 450° F. Lower temperatures would hardly produce any vapor. Higher would risk combustion of the material.
All vaporizers worth considering give the user control over the operating temperature, but they are not equal. Some offer a limited number of temperature presets, while others allow granular control. The best are more accurate and precise and can also account for temperature fluctuations, resulting in a smoother vaping experience.
Pens VS Portable VS Desktop
Another way to categorize vaporizers is by their size and portability combination.
Pens are the most compact of the bunch and are primarily used for vaping oils. Their small size also means that they come with a small battery but pack enough power to vaporize at least one pre-filled oil cartridge or re-filled tank. Combined with how oils are easier to turn into vapor, they can usually last you the whole day.
Portable vaporizers are larger devices and are mainly designed for vaporizing herbs and concentrates. They also have more powerful batteries, but producing vapor from solids also demands much more power. With mild use, they can get you through the day, but many heavier users find they have to recharge theirs once or twice per day.
Finally, desktop vaporizers are, as their name states, not meant for taking out and around. They are designed to stay at one spot and use a wall socket as their power source.
Ease of Use
The more features a device offers, the more it allows you to customize the vaping experience to your liking. At the same time, though, more features add to a device’s complexity. Finding the optimal balance between features and ease of use is a matter of personal preference, and one person’s favorite vaporizer might be another’s worst nightmare.
For example, those who love the simplicity of vaporizers like the Pax would probably hate something like the IQ, deeming it overly complicated. However, both are top choices for different types of users, depending on their preferences and priorities.
It’s worth noting that “ease-of-use” doesn’t only have to do with the way you use a vaporizer when vaping but also with its maintenance. Some devices allow you to take out the whole vaporization chamber, wash it, dry it, and return to using them. Others expect you to disassemble a contraption into smaller parts and clean them individually.
Flavor is quite significant for a great vaping experience. Some devices produce excellent flavor, thanks to their use of quality materials in their vaporization chamber, coils, and air path, as well as their accurate temperature control. Others can’t help but mute the flavor, and since that happens for precisely the same reasons, the only “fix” is an upgrade.
More vapor and thick fluffy clouds might feel more fulfilling, but they can also give you away when you’re trying to be stealthy. The amount of vapor produced depends on many different factors, like the material used in the vaporizer, the amount of airflow, and the device’s power setting.
One vaporizer might feel closer to a cigarette-smoking experience, another to a hookah, and another allow you to adjust it to your liking. In most cases, devices designed from the get-go for a particular type of airflow are better at it. Still, adjustable options are more versatile and allow you to switch styles at will.
Usually, reduced airflow translates to better flavor and a more pronounced hit, but many people prefer to “breathe in” their vapor.
Battery Life & Charging
Some vaporizers look like behemoths compared to more compact options because of the larger, more powerful batteries inside them. Such batteries might need more time for a full recharge but also grant the device extended uptime.
Modern devices use newer batteries and smarter charging circuits, which can significantly speed up the charging process.
Paying more for a vaporizer doesn’t guarantee that it’s made from higher quality materials. You can find high-end models made primarily out of plastic. It also doesn’t mean you will get the best possible vaping experience, for the technology improves, and newer mid-level models have caught up on past top performers.
In most cases, though, you do get what you pay for, and you shouldn’t expect a $50 device to dethrone a $350 one.
Although vaping can have side effects, its source is always the material used and not the device or process itself. For example, you can get a buzz from Nicotine or a high from THC, but you would feel the same if you smoked the same materials instead of vaping them.
With vaping, though, the experience might be somewhat different. Vaping doesn’t cause the “throat hit” off smoking because it lacks combustion. It also feels smoother and lighter during inhalation. Studies have also shown that it can be more potent when vaping cannabis, and even more so when using concentrates high on THC.
Although vaping doesn’t smell as much or as bad as smoking, it still produces distinct odors – especially when vaping weed. If you are considering switching from smoking to vape weed undetected, don’t.
If smoking cannabis is illegal where you live, so is vaping it. It’s the same as with Nicotine, where a “No Smoking” sign in most cases refers to both smoking and vaping, even if it doesn’t expressly state so.
It’s also worth noting that if you were thinking of switching to vaping cannabis because you’ve heard it doesn’t show up in any tests, again, don’t. It does. Drug tests check for the existence of substances in your body, not for how they found their way there.
We hope you’ve found your first or next vaporizer among our choices. If not, we tried to provide all the information you might need to locate the best one for you. We’d love it if you told us which you went for and if you are happy with your choice, in our comments section below.
This guide on different vaporizers is amazing. All the reviews and product specifications are really helpful for a beginner like me. I think I am going to buy Arizer Solo 2, looks decent plus falls in my budget.