Vaping: You've seen it everywhere. You've seen vapers blow dense clouds with great satisfaction. You've seen vape shops, which advertise "e-juice" and strange-looking accessories.
Vaping has been around for a while, but the industry is booming like never before, and the tech seems to evolve at an accelerating pace, with new models coming out left and right. Companies are even embracing Apple's strategy of generational updates to their devices, along with varied choices about appearance and design.
Yes, when it comes to the vaping phenomenon, competition is heating up. Whereas just a year or two ago you may have had some general consensus that one company makes the best, most futuristic vaporizer, or that another has designed the must-have vape pen, nowadays there are vapes tailor-made to every user.
Plus, with more people trying to quit cigarettes and more states looking to legalize marijuana, the demand for these gadgets continues to skyrocket. What began as a $20 million industry in 2008 is poised to clear $10 billion in sales in 2017 and potentially overtake the tobacco market further down the line.
So if you're looking to trade in your papers and pipes for something a little sleeker (and likely healthier), here are the smoking hot new devices to check out:
G Pen Elite ($149.95 at Grenco Science)
The G Pen Elite, released in February 2016, is considered by some to be the current gold standard in weed vaping. It's the Wirecutter's pick for "the best portable vaporizer for the most people." Durable and compact, "elegant and powerful," it gets the job done with its precise temperature control and long battery life.
Evan Nison, who runs the cannabis PR firm NisonCo and belongs to the board of directors of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, told Mic in an email that it works a bit better than the once-unchallenged PAX, "doesn't smell as much," and — perhaps most importantly — costs a lot less. The PAX 3 model runs $274.99.
The G Pen Elite's secret to success is probably its fully ceramic chamber, the largest on the market right now, which promises "fast and even convection vaporization" on all sides, as opposed to vapes that just singe half of what you pack in them.
IQ ($274.99 at DaVinci)
Billed as "the world's best little precision vaporizer," the DaVinci IQ debuted in October 2016 and should satisfy any tech geek willing to spend a bit more for all the bells and whistles. Those extras include Bluetooth app integration — meaning you can control it with your phone and track your usage — as well as a replaceable battery so that you're never stuck without a charge.
It also boasts a 10-year warranty and heats up in just 16 seconds, almost twice as fast as the G Pen Elite. Throw in a futuristic light display, different mode settings that conserve energy (not to mention your weed) and a "100% ceramic zirconia air path" that guarantees a tasty flavor to each hit and you're talking a seriously impressive package.
Users caution that it can get somewhat hot with extended use, though that's pretty much universal with vaporizers.
Boost eRig ($149.95 at Dr. Dabber)
For those who prefer to vape weed concentrates — or blast some dabs, per stoner parlance — this is one of the more impressive toys around.
Released at the end of 2015, the Boost is the first portable, battery-powered dab rig ever, with no torch required: A few clicks of a button brings its nail to the optimum temperature, and you can take 30 to 40 hits on a single battery charge. A "no questions asked" one-year warranty applies to every part of the rig except the glass component.
Aurora Vaporizer Pen ($99.95 at Dr. Dabber)
With three heat settings and multiple atomizers, you're equipped to try different oils and waxes, and users love its magnetic connections. The same one-year warranty applies to this device.
Dipper ($149.99 from Dipstick)
The Dipper is a cool up-and-comer and early contender for 2017's vape of the year, praised for its multifunctionality. Not only can this pen vape packed concentrates ("and it's as satisfying as a non-electric dab," according to Nison), but it also works as an electric nectar straw, vaporizing concentrates off a surface using a special heated atomizer tip.
Its modular parts and replaceable tips also come apart easily, which makes keeping it clean a breeze — say goodbye to all that grime and gunk that collects in other vapes. Designed according to customer feedback about issues with the original Dipstick, it's every inch a next-generation advance in getting high.
Finally, for another $19.99, you can cop the DipWhip, a tube attachment that connects the Dipper to a glass piece or rig and lets you dab at home without a torch. Now that's a real treat.
Summit+ ($149.99 from Vapium)
Talk about rugged. The Vapium Summit+, which came out in the fall of 2016, is built to withstand everything from a rainy camping trip to a weekend-long music festival and any other adventure you want to enhance with some bud.
It's IP54-rated splashproof, with additional dust protection, and can operate in extreme conditions — anywhere between 0 degrees and 176 degrees. Like the DaVinci, it can be synced with your smartphone. Its ergonomic, rubberized grip just enhances its sporty feel.
And if you lose power in the middle of a vape session, you can keep on using it while you're recharging it via USB port. (Don't miss out on Vapium's solar charger; it works on other mobile devices, too.) Sturdy as it is, customers also rave about the company's customer service — available by phone or online — which comes along with a two-year manufacturer's warranty. We don't know if anyone has used it while skydiving just yet, but honestly, we wouldn't be surprised.
Hydrology9 (No price yet at Cloudious9)
Cloudious9's Hydrology9 vape isn't even out yet, so you'll have to stay tuned for news about availability and price. For now, though, we can admire its gleaming, sci-fi design and space-grade anodized aluminum alloy body.
This vape's hook is a unique water filtration system, which accounts for its relatively large size (it stands about 6 inches high) and delivers a smooth inhalation experience akin to a typical water pipe, only far more portable. It all comes apart for easy cleaning, and the subtle touches here and there are nice — for example, "a built-in, rotating stirrer" in the oven so that you don't have to open it up to readjust your weed for an even burn.
Time will tell if the Hydrology9 can live up to its flashy concept and aesthetic, but one thing's for sure: There's nothing else quite like it out there, and vapers are wild about innovation.
Correction: March 23, 2017