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The Ultimate Guide To Buying Your First Vape

Thinking about investing in a marijuana vaporizer? Make sure to read this guide before you bust out that credit card.

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"Vape" was named Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year in 2014, and although these devices used to vaporize different cannabis products have gained in popularity, buying one can be confusing as hell. There are seemingly hundreds of different options, and if you aren't properly educated before purchasing, you could end up spending a good chunk of change on a vape that you don't even enjoy using. Let's prevent that from happening by arming you with the information you need to find a vaporizer you'll love!

Portable or desktop: Where will you be vaping?

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If you're planning to vape on the go, then you'll definitely want to get a portable device. On the other hand, if you'll likely be vaping at home most of the time, then you might want to go with a desktop unit. Keep in mind, however, that quality desktop vaporizers can be pricey, and although you can use a portable vape at home, you won't be able to travel with it. So if you're new to vaping, then you might want to start with a portable unit, then consider investing in a nicer desktop vape at a later date.

Flowers or concentrates: What do you usually smoke?

Most vapes accommodate either flowers (aka dry herb or marijuana trees) or concentrates (oils, waxes, etc.). There are some portable units that accommodate both, and deluxe desktop models often feature oil attachments. But if you're super loyal to flowers — or have never even heard of concentrates — then you may want to look for a vape that works with only dry herbs. If you're a daily smoker, though, portable vapes may not deliver as strong of a medicated feeling as you may be used to.

"The big difference is that with concentrates you're going to get a more potent hit," budtender Michael Caruso of SPARC told BuzzFeed. "With flowers you have a much lower potency, about 10 to 30% concentrated THC. With concentrates, so the waxes, taffies, shatters, and hashes, you're getting 40% on up to 90 or 95% concentrated THC. So concentrates will require less medicine for you to vaporize, but it's also going to be a more intense effect."

Wondering about the health effects of vaping flowers versus concentrates? Check out this guide for the health-conscious pothead.

$ or $$$: How much do you have to spend?

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You should try to settle on a budget before you start shopping for a vape. Why? Because some of the nicer desktop models cost hundreds of dollars and it can be intimidating. But you definitely don't need to break the bank in order to start vaping, there are plenty of options starting at significantly lower price points.

"If you're looking to vape on a budget and don't want to spend a lot, " Caruso said, "then I'd steer you towards a concentrate pen. For about sixty bucks you can get set up with a cartridge and a battery."

Pre-filled concentrate pens are the easiest, and probably cheapest, option when it comes to vaping. Pen battery and charger packs usually sell for around $20, and concentrate cartridges sell for between $30 and $50. Though you’ll need to be in a state where medical or recreational marijuana use is legal in order to find them pre-filled with concentrate oils.

"They're extremely convenient," Caruso said about cartridge pens. “I love them. The batteries will last a good three days of fairly constant use on a full charge. Oddly enough, they last a long time considering how small they are.”

With a vape pen there are no buttons and no need to preheat. Just inhale, and as you draw air in through the mouthpiece the battery will heat up to release the hash oil vapor. Liquid cartridge vape pens are convenient, but there's no denying the hash vapor has a bit of a funky flavor.

For budget-minded beginners: OpenVape ($20)

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The basic OpenVape sells for $20 in black or white. You can also get a special-edition colored pen for an extra $5. They're super reliable and recharge via USB (as do most of the portable vapes included in this list).

The pen with a touch of class: Cloud V Liquid ($30)

If you're looking for a little bit of a classier option, or live in a place where you can't find pre-filled cartridges, then check out the Cloud V Liquid. It comes in black, white, and two shades of chrome, with a matching cartridge that you can fill on your own. Cloud V also sells solo pen batteries, which can typically be used with most pre-filled cartridges, as cartridges and pens are usually interchangeable.

Quality portable devices that make for a decent on-the-go vape can be a little pricier than their concentrate counterparts. Expect to spend at least $100, possibly up to $300, depending on how durable of a device you need.

Flower vapes are going to be less intimidating if you aren't familiar with concentrates, as loading one is pretty similar to packing a traditional bowl in a pipe. Oh, and heads up, with most flower vapes you should never stuff the chamber full of herb. Only fill about halfway for an optimal vaping experience.

Vape flowers without breaking the bank: G Pro Vaporizer ($100)

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The G Pro Vaporizer is one of the cheaper flower vapes and is a good option for someone who likes the flavor and essence of fresh herb but doesn’t want to spend a fortune. It’s a sturdy unit, but do keep in mind that it only includes a one-year warranty.

Simple, elegant, and easy to use: Firefly Portable Vaporizer ($270)

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It's a little more expensive, but the Firefly Portable Vaporizer comes with a five-year warranty and will withstand frequent use. It heats up instantly with the push of a button and delivers a pure and smooth puff of herb vapor. It's got a magnetic lid, which makes packing the Firefly surprisingly simple.

Our favorite portable for flowers: Pax 2 ($280)

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When it comes to portable vapes, it doesn't get more beautiful than the Pax 2. Not only is it a quality vaporizing pen, but the device itself is simply stunning. “There are others that are cheaper, but they won’t last as long,” Caruso said. "The Pax 2 is going to last a long time. It’s definitely worth the cost.”

“It’s my favorite portable vape,” he continued. “The flower vaporization element is amazing.” I've been able to try out the Pax 2 — as well the original Pax, which now sells for less than $200 — and can also attest to how well they work. If you're looking for a reliable device for smoking flowers both on the go and at home, then I definitely recommend Pax vaporizers.

Concentrate vapes are a bit cheaper than flower vaporizers (you can expect to spend between $50 and $100) but will require a little more knowledge about herbal concentrates. Loading a concentrate vape can seem intimidating, but it's totally simple once you get the hang of handling waxes.

I actually find concentrate to be a more convenient option if you're vaping on the go, as you don't need to grind up herb, which can be messy and time-consuming. Instead, just scoop in a bit of wax before you leave home, then push the button to vape when you're ready. Super easy!

The affordable option: Dabstix Kit ($40)

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If you’re looking to get a low-priced portable vape for concentrates, then consider purchasing a Dabstix. They have a Dual Coil Standard Kit, which at less than $40 is definitely one of the most affordable concentrate vapes out there. They also sell a Trifecta Kit (pictured above) for about twice that price that comes with attachments for flowers and liquid concentrates. Keep in mind, however, that Dabstix batteries only come with a six-month warranty.

More reliable for a few dollars more: Dr. Dabber Ghost ($85)

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The Dr. Dabber Ghost is the self proclaimed “original low-heat vaporizer pen.” Its titanium technology heats up slowly so that you don’t get a burnt taste in your mouth while vaping. The Ghost Kit comes with the necessary essentials to get you going, plus an indestructible ball for storing your concentrates.

A hundred bucks well spent: KandyPens Black Edition ($100)

The Black Edition vaporizer from KandyPens gets my recommendation when it comes to portable concentrate vapes. The kit comes with the pen, a charger, a copper titanium coil atomizer (plus a backup), a dab skillet, a brush, and extra mouthpieces. The batteries have a lifetime warranty, but more importantly, vaping with KandyPens Black Edition is a reliably enjoyable experience!

Desktop — or tabletop — vaporizers are sturdier, a little more expensive, and need to be plugged in. Making them not portable. But if you're a stoner with some extra cash to spare, then a high-quality desktop vape could make for a rather enjoyable investment.

Vape at home like a pro: Volcano Classic ($479)

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If you're looking for a sturdy vape that will withstand regular use, then consider a Volcano. Personally, I prefer the Volcano Classic Starter Set with a dial knob. It comes with everything you’ll need, including an orange grinder! For another $120 though, you could get a model with a digital temperature control. At SPARC they actually have the Digit models in their vape lounge, so I've been able to use both, and honestly it's not worth the extra money IMO.

The ultimate splurge for stoners: VapeXhale ShowerCap Starter Kit ($715)

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“The VapeXhale is far and away one of the best vaporizers out there,” Caruso said. “It offers a water-filtrated vapor hit, so you can get a bubbler piece that goes on top of your vaporizer. It’s amazing. And it’s really unmatched in its ability to vaporize cold water hash. You get the flavor, you get the effect, and it’s a full draw. It’s wonderful.”

VapeXhale makes premium vaporizers, and they definitely aren’t cheap. You can get a basic model for under $500, but if you’re going to splurge and buy a VapeXhale, I recommend going for the ShowerCap Starter Kit, which comes with a glass HydraTube and an essential oils attachment. It's an expensive kit, but the VapeXhale makes for a great vaping experience! It's refreshingly similar to that of a bong, but cleaner, and it delivers a smooth, more concentrated vape. Plus all of their products come with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a three-year warranty.

Do your research!

Like with any decent-sized purchase, make sure to do your research. Things like multiyear warranties are pretty standard on legit vapes these days, but always check the fine print! Also, make sure to check shipping and handling fees. They can definitely add up.

Think about accessories.

If you're already making an order — and paying for shipping — then you might as well add on an accessory or two. For concentrate vapes, consider getting a few skillet tools if your vaporizer doesn't come with any. "They're essentially like little dental tools with plates on them," Caruso said, "and they make it easier to work with the concentrate." Another must? "A good grinder if you're getting a flower vape. You want maximum surface area, definitely get a grinder if you don't already have one. They aren't that expensive."

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