Of all the developments in the vapor industry in 2015, vape pens are arguably the most exciting. Those who smoke tobacco and dry herbs have long known that vaporizing a substance rather than burning it can release all of the same beneficial compounds without creating smoke, which could go a long way toward reducing harm on the lungs. Until recently, though, tobacco and dry herb vaporizers were niche products that weren’t ready for prime time. For most people, the term “vaporizer” either referred to a tabletop device that filled a giant plastic bag with vapor or a battery-powered device about the size of a power drill that, in spite of its large size, only had sufficient battery life for a few minutes of vaping.
In short, the tobacco and dry herb vaporizers of the past were either too large to be used conveniently, or they simply didn’t work very well. However, things began to change in 2015; the vaporizer industry took some cues from the e-cigarette industry and the vape pen was born.
What are Vape Pens?
A vape pen is a small battery-powered device — similar in size and shape to an advanced e-cigarette — with the ability to vaporize tobacco, dry herbs or oil concentrates rather than the e-liquid used in an e-cigarette. Because vape pens vaporize herbs rather than burning them, they extract nicotine or other compounds from herbs without creating smoke. Some believe that this has the potential to reduce the harm caused by smoking. For smokers, e-cigarettes may have the same benefit since they supply nicotine without combustion. However, the flavor tends to be very different from that of a real cigarette. With the best vape pens, the substance that you vaporize is actually tobacco. This makes the flavor much closer to that of a cigarette.
Pros and Cons of Vape Pens
Vape Pen Benefits
In addition to giving you the true flavor of tobacco without smoke, a vape pen is simply a much cleaner method of consuming tobacco or medicinal herbs than smoking them. There’s no ash to flick away, no butts to discard, no rolling papers to keep on hand, and much less risk of fire. When your vaping session is over, all that you need to do is empty and clean the chamber of your vape pen.
For those who smoke medicinal herbs, switching to one of the best vape pens can also increase your privacy and lessen any stigma that might be associated with the activity of smoking. The best vape pens are easily stored in a pocket or handbag and don’t attract attention the way that a cigarette would.
The V2 Pro series of vape pens — which we’ll discuss further below — has an additional benefit which is still entirely unique as of 2015: the ability to seamlessly transition between dry herbs and e-liquid. If you happen to be a former smoker who has switched to e-cigarettes but also uses medicinal herbs, you can do it all with one device simply by changing the cartridge. Likewise, the V2 Pro is also a “future proof” vape pen in that, if legal regulation should ever make e-liquid difficult to obtain — which seems increasingly unlikely — you can still vaporize loose leaf tobacco with the vape pen that you already own.
Vape Pen Drawbacks
Vape pens have few drawbacks, apart from the fact that most models don’t have the ability to vaporize e-liquid. The best vape pens have precise temperature controls, allowing you to configure the heating chamber for any type of dry herb to extract the beneficial compounds without burning the herb.
Vape pens also lack the flexibility of e-cigarettes in that, by simply using a different e-liquid, you can change the flavor of an e-cigarette completely. The flavor produced by a vape pen will always be that of the herb or tobacco that you vaporize. An e-cigarette still supplies nicotine, but the flavor of the vapor can be anything you could possibly imagine. Take a look at our list of the best e-cigarettes for more information about this.
The Best Vape Pens of 2015
V2 Pro Series 7 Vape Pen
Price: $169.99 | Shop Now
The V2 Pro Series 7 isn’t just the best vape pen of 2015 — it’s one of the most interesting products released to date in the vapor industry. It transitions seamlessly between e-liquid, dry herbs and oil concentrates, thanks to its simple drop-in magnetic cartridge system. The cartridges are much larger than typical vaporizer chambers, the 1800 mAh battery is extremely long-lasting and you can adjust the heat simply by tapping the fire button. The kit includes both e-liquid and dry herb cartridges — with the V2 Pro Series 3, the dry herb cartridge is a separate purchase.
Compared to the other products on this list of the best vape pens, the V2 Pro Series 7 has two drawbacks. When testing the V2 Pro Series 7, we found the airflow of the e-liquid cartridge to be a little tight. For mouth-to-lung inhaling, this isn’t a problem. However, when some people switch to high-power e-cigarettes, they begin inhaling directly to the lungs. The vent holes on the V2 Pro Series 7 e-liquid cartridge aren’t quite large enough for that.
The second drawback of the V2 Pro Series 7 is its lack of precise temperature control. The VaporFi Stratus and DaVinci Ascent — both mentioned below — offer temperature control in single degree increments up to a maximum of 430 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternatively, the Pax 2 vape pen — while expensive — offers a ten year warranty and is largely considered the “iPhone of vape pens.” So, one of those vape pens might be a better option if you have no interest at all in e-liquid vaping. If you want the best possible combination of both worlds, though, the V2 Pro Series 7 is it.
PAX 2 Vape Pen
Price: $279.99 | Shop Now
As we mentioned above, the PAX 2 vaporizer is largely considered the best pure vape pen on the market. Although it lacks precise temperature control, it does allow you to select from four different temperature settings. The PAX 2 also has some innovative features that help to conserve battery life as well as your herbs. Using a combination of motion and touch sensing, the PAX 2 detects when you’ve taken a break in your vaping session and automatically lowers the oven temperature. The simple, attractive light on the front functions as an easy-to-understand interface letting you know the battery status and oven temperature. It even has some pre-programmed party games.
The PAX 2 has a huge vaporizing chamber, heats up evenly in less than a minute and charges fully in three hours or less. The vapor path is constructed solely from medical grade materials. In our opinion, though, perhaps the biggest selling point is the ten year warranty. We know of no other company that guarantees you can buy a vape pen in 2015 and continue using it through 2025. That’s a value that we believe is worth the slightly higher price compared to other vape pens.
VaporFi Stratus Vape Pen
Price: $129.99 | Shop Now
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With a 2200 mAh battery and adjustable temperature range up to 430 degrees Fahrenheit in single-digit increments, the VaporFi Stratus is one of the cheapest vape pens on the market that still gives you full control over vapor temperature and excellent battery life. The Stratus features an all-metal vapor path, an extremely pocketable design and a bright, readable OLED display.
The VaporFi Stratus preheats in less than a minute and features several ventilation slots on the sides to keep your hands cool while vaping. In addition, if you decide that it isn’t the best vape pen for you, you can send it back within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.
V2 Pro Series 3 Vape Pen
Price: $59.99 | Shop Now
Like the V2 Pro Series 7, the V2 Pro Series 3 has a drop-in cartridge system allowing it to vaporize e-liquid, dry herbs and oil or wax concentrates. The V2 Pro Series 3 comes at a much lower price point, though — the trade-offs include a smaller battery, smaller cartridge capacity and lack of temperature control. When vaporizing dry herbs, the V2 Pro Series 3 maintains a temperature of about 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the vaporizing temperature of the V2 Pro Series 3 is slightly lower than that of the Series 7, the Series 3 does have an additional benefit in the form of its extremely small size. In fact, the Series 3 is smaller than many e-cigarettes and weighs just 1.9 ounces. That’s a far cry from the battery powered vaporizers of the past. While we believe that the V2 Pro Series 7 is a superior option if the ability to vaporize dry herbs is your priority, the V2 Pro Series 3 actually functions slightly better when vaporizing e-liquid. This is because the airflow of the Series 3 e-liquid cartridge is less restricted, allowing for direct-to-lung inhales. However, with its larger oven, higher-capacity battery and higher vaporizing temperature, the V2 Pro Series 7 is a better vape pen for vaporizing dry herbs.
DaVinci Ascent Vape Pen
Price: $199.99 | Shop Now
Unlike the other vaporizers featured in our list of the best vape pens of 2015, the DaVinci Ascent takes none of its design cues from the e-cigarette industry. The Ascent is a more traditional vaporizer, which means that it has a slightly larger size than some of the other vape pens on this list. With the increased size, though, comes increased battery life — up to three hours of continuous vaping. The Ascent is also the only vape pen on this list that features an all-glass vapor path. From the heating element to your lips, nothing but glass touches the herbs or the vapor.
The Ascent features single-digit temperature control up to a maximum of 430 degrees Fahrenheit. It supports essential oils as well as dry herbs and carries a two year limited warranty. The package includes extra glass stems and mouthpieces, glass oil jars, a carrying case, a water tool adapter and free shipping to the United States, Canada and Europe.