Portable vaporizers are defined by two things: that they’re portable and they vaporize. Pretty straight forward, right? Well, while that is true, the world of portable vapes actually encompasses a wide range of different units.
Some are better than others, some are more portable than others, and the price range varies a lot from one unit to the next. Not to mention, the best portable vape for one person might not be the best for another.
That’s why we wanted to write this guide. A lot of people, especially those who are new to vaping, have no idea where to start. They know they want a portable unit, but with all the choices out there, they are left with more questions than answers and don’t know which one to buy.
Before we get into it, we need to mention that this guide is strictly for more traditional portable vaporizers and does not include vape pens. Yes pens are portable, but because they serve a slightly different function, they have their own category and we wrote a totally separate pen vaporizer buyer’s guide for those who want a pen.
If you’re unsure which one you need (pen vs traditional portable), here’s a very basic rundown:
- Traditional portables are mostly for dry herb, with only a few of them having the capability to do multiple materials like dry herb and concentrates.
- Vape pens are mostly for concentrates and e-juice, with very few of them being able to properly vape dry herb.
So really, it depends on what material you plan on consuming the most.
If you want something for your concentrates, check out our pen guide here. If you mostly smoke dry herb, keep reading this guide.
The first thing you need to consider is how much money you want to spend. Once you have a budget in mind, it’s easier to start narrowing your choices down.
We’ve broken this guide up into 3 different sections:
- High-end portable vaporizers: If budget is no concern, these are the best of the best and we definitely recommend grabbing one of these.
- Mid-range portable vaporizers: Want something middle of the road without spending too much? These are for you. Not quite as good as the high ends, but better than the beginners.
- Entry level portable vaporizers: If you just want something cheap that produces decent vapor, this is the category for you. Not nearly as good as the high ends or mid-range, but still pretty good units nonetheless.
We also want to mention that these units are in no particular order other than by their particular categories. For example, the first vape listed under the High End category isn’t necessarily better than the 3rd one we have listed. They are just numbered for organizational purposes.
It’s up to the user to decide which one suits him or her best, so check out all the ones we have listed and this guide should help you make a decision.
High-End Portable Vaporizers:
The units in this category are the absolute best portable vaporizers on the market in our opinion. Yeah you will spend a little more for them, but if you’re serious about vaping, you want the highest quality vapor, and you don’t mind spending a little more, you definitely want to go with one of these models.
1. The Pax 3 Portable Vaporizer – $249.99 from Vaporizer Chief
The Pax 3 by Pax Labs, the Apple product of the vaporizer world, has a price tag to match an Apple product. This unit is featured in three colors, which are black, silver, and gold.
The Pax 3 currently comes in at $274.99 and is only available from a few vendors.
It is highly recommended that you buy from a licensed distributor, because Pax will NOT offer a warranty unless bought from a licensed dealer (this is due to the company not being able to secure a patent for their design, leading to Chinese companies making near identical copies). If you don’t buy from a reputable merchant, it is probably fake.
This vaporizer is small, sleek, and highly portable. It is shorter than the height of a smartphone and half as wide (but it is twice as thick). This makes the unit easily pocket-able and easy to transport.
The way this unit works is you load the oven on the bottom with your material of choice, pop the oven lid back on, then push the top of the mouthpiece to turn the unit on.
Then, you’ll see a pulsing purple light, which indicates that the unit is on. To change the temperature setting , you simply hold down the mouth piece, which will bring you to the temp settings, and then you just click through to change.
To get back to the heating setting, just hold down the top of the mouthpiece again until the purple LED lights return.
The PAX Logo on the front consists of 4 flower petals, and this how you figure out which heat setting you’re on.
The heat settings are as follows:
- Temperature 1 ~ 360F (1 Green Petal)
- Temperature 2 ~ 380F (2 Yellow Petals)
- Temperature 3 ~ 400F (3 Orange Petals)
- Temperature 4 ~ 420F (4 Red Petals)
- Temperature 5 ~ Custom (4 Blue Petals)
I would like to briefly talk about the 5th heat setting in which you can set your own desired temperature via the smartphone application. This allows you to finely adjust the temperature in 1 degree increments. This is great for a medical user trying to dial in the effects of their medicine.
The smartphone application also allows you to activate special heating profiles that drastically change the vaping experience.
Boost Mode – This eliminates a lot of the cooling down in-between hits. It keeps the oven hotter for longer, allowing you to achieve much greater vapor production. This is very ideal for the concentrate insert, where you’re looking for the most heat possible to vaporize your oil.
Efficiency Mode – This mode gradually increases the temperature over a session, promoting the optimal efficiency of your herb.
Stealth Mode – This mode cools down the PAX 3 faster while in use, cutting down on the odor typically associated with conduction heating vaporizers.
Flavor Mode – This mode makes the PAX 3 a conduction on-demand heating vaporizer. What this mean is the PAX 3 will only heat your herb when you are pulling air through it. Clouds won’t be as dense, but you will get the maximum flavor and smoothness from the device.
These heating profiles aren’t necessary to the PAX 3 experience and serve as extra features to an already awesome package. If you don’t like the idea of connecting your vape to your phone and managing it through the app, it’s good to note that it’s completely optional and not required.
There’s no real “technique” to hitting this vape, you just take a long, slow draw and you’re done. The best way to hit it is to passively inhale; just breath in slowly, versus sucking hard as you would through a pipe. There is some draw resistance with this vape, but it helps to aid vapor production.
The PAX 3 also has one of the largest ovens on the vaporizer market, (20% deeper in the Pax 3 than the original PAX) and it needs to be packed tightly with up to .4-.5 grams of herb to work optimally. This is good for someone vaping in a group or someone with a higher tolerance.
PAX Labs also includes a “half pack oven lid.”
This lid fills in a lot of the space in the oven, allowing you to load less herb while still maintaining optimal efficiency. This is ideal for someone who will be vaping solo; you can load about .2 of ground herb to fully load the oven with this lid.
PAX Labs also included a new concentrate insert with the PAX 3.
A small dab will give you a good session on average. The session won’t last as long and you won’t get as many draws as you would if you load herb into the oven, but I found each hit you got with the concentrate insert packed a significantly harder punch than vapor produced for dry herb.
Overall, this is the best stealth vape on the market. If stealth and “not looking suspicious” are a must for your vaporizer needs, and you want something a little more high-tech, the Pax 3 is unparalleled. If you don’t mind spending the extra cash, it’s well worth it and you won’t be disappointed.
It’s good to note that the Pax 3 can be a pretty smelly vape on heat up, so stick to the lower settings when vaping in public.
The Crafty and the Mighty are the new portable vapes from Storz&Bickel. They have the quality of a desktop vape (better than some desktops in fact), but in an easily portable package.
If you have the money, GET ONE OF THESE! Seriously, you won’t be disappointed.
There are three main differences between these two vapes: the battery life, the size, and how you change the temperature.
The battery life of the Crafty is about 45 minutes, and the Mighty is about twice that at 90 minutes or so.
The Crafty is about the size of an iPhone 5, and about twice as thick. The Mighty is much larger, being bigger than an iPhone 6+ and roughly three times as thick.
Changing the Temperature:
This is the biggest difference between the two. The Mighty is the easiest to change, because the temp changing interface is on the front of the unit.
The Crafty has a really cool way to change the temperature. There are two pre-programmed settings initially with the unit: Standard and Boost Mode.
The standard temperature is 356 F (180 C). Boost mode, which you activate by tapping the power button twice, bumps it up to 383 F (195 C).
Now the cool part we were talking about is you can actually use a cell phone app that Storz&Bickel came up with to get to many other temperatures (available for both iPhone and Android).
This really allows you to dial in the perfect temperature for you.
And the best part about the app and this vape is it will remember your temperature setting for next time, so you don’t have to mess around with the app every time you want to use it.
Overall, these are the two best portables on the market. It’s basically like having a high end desktop in the palm of your hand.
How to know which one is best for you?
We did a full head-to-head comparison of the Crafty and the Mighty here if you want to check it out, but if you’re looking for the cliff notes, here’s what we got:
If portability is your main concern, go with the Crafty. It’s smaller and more portable than the Mighty is.
If you mostly vape at home and you want a portable style unit with no cords that packs the same punch as many of the desktop units, go with the Mighty.
3. The Firefly 2 Portable Vaporizer – $329.95 from Vaporizer Chief’s website
We just got our hands on a Firefly 2 a couple weeks ago, and after extensive testing, we feel this is easily one of, if not the best portable vaporizers on the market.
While the original Firefly did have some issues, especially in terms of battery life, the new Firefly 2 has completely turned things around and improved on the original in every way.
The Firefly 2 is 55% lighter, 33% smaller, has some of the best tasting vapor out of any portable (and even better than many desktops), charges insanely quickly, and is very easy to carry around due to its size.
It also has replaceable batteries and comes with 2 of them in the box, so you can always have one charged and ready to go.
Another cool feature about the Firefly 2 is the smartphone app that allows you to dial in your temperature, similar to the way the Crafty works.
The efficiency of the Firefly 2 is another aspect that we love. You only need to load up around 0.1-0.2g of your herb (go with a coarse grind instead of a fine grind), and that should be plenty to get you where you want to be.
The Firefly 2 is also capable of doing concentrates, and it does them very well, unlike some other portables who only have the concentrate capacity as an afterthought. You can tell Firefly put the same amount of dedication and quality into the concentrate experience as they did the dry herb experience.
While the Firefly 2 is certainly at the top end of the price range for portable vapes, we feel it’s worth every penny.
This is especially true if you’re looking for a portable that excels at both dry herbs and concentrates – think of it as getting 2 vaporizers in one since you won’t have to buy a separate unit for both materials.
All in all, we’re super excited about the Firefly 2. If you have the cash, get one. You can thank us after!
Mid-Range Portable Vaporizers:
Do you want solid vapor and something that you don’t have to worry about shelling out close to $300? Well, these Mid-Range Portable Vaporizers are going to be just for you.
These vapes offer above average, quality vapor that can hang with some of the “big guys”, but don’t cost an arm and a leg.
1. The Boundless CFX – $167 from Vaporizer Chief
First off for these mid-range portable vapes is the Boundless CFX, a conduction vaporizer. A newcomer to the market, but one who surely has already made a name for itself.
The CFX offers an insanely quick heatup time of around 20 seconds, can be controlled by single degree increments from 100F – 430F, and has a snazzy looking 1.77″ OLED display.
Oh, did I mention it vibrates at temp? Yeah, it does that too.
This device certainly feels very premium and enthusiast oriented.
Powering this vape is a pretty large 2500mAh battery that will last upward of 10x 5 minute sessions, and offers a quick charge feature that will take it from empty to full in 30 minutes.
If you don’t feel like utilizing the AC/DC wall adapter to quick charge your device, you can charge with up to a 2.0 amp micro USB charger.
The oven can be minimally packed, maybe 0.07g even, and produces tasty, satisfying vapor for your session. You can also fit 0.2 grams of coarse ground/fluffy herb in the oven for an intense, cloud producing session.
The vapor quality is above average for this conduction vaporizer and it performs fantastically at this price point.
The Boundless CFX is definitely our new favorite portable vaporizer in the mid-range category.
2. The Boundless CF – $120 from Vaporize Chief
Want all the performance of the CFX, but you don’t care about the bells and whistles like the OLED screen, single degree temp control, vibration, and extra battery? The Boundless CF is perfect for you.
At an even more attractive price, the Boundless CF gives you the same quality vape that its older brother, the CFX does (which is awesome for this price level).
The CF is also smaller than the Boundless CFX, so it could be considered more stealthy or portable as well.
Same oven and performance, the temp scale just starts at 355F and continues in 15F increments to 370F, 385F, 400F, and 415F.
The integrated 1500mAh battery and the same 2.0 amp ready micro USB charging port as the CFX power this small powerhouse.
Battery life is around 8 sessions per charge.
The best way to describe the differences between the CFX and the CF is the CFX is geared toward vaporizing enthusiasts, while the CF is for those who just want function and don’t care a ton about form and “extras”.
3. FLYT LAB LiFT – $149.95 from Vaporizer Chief
FLYT LAB has us taking flight today with the LiFT, a small hand-held convection style vaporizer that is very easy to use, durable, concealable, and heats up in under 60 seconds. It’s built like most vaporizers, a small cylinder that resembles a marker, button in the middle, with the mouth piece at the top and the bowl/oven underneath it hidden by a screw on cap.
What’s in the Box?
– LiFT Herbal Vaporizer
– FLYT Lab Power Plug
– FLYT Lab Mini USB Wire
– FLYT Lab Tool Set
– FLYT Lab protective rubber case
The LiFT is super small and portable, it can fit in a pocket or handbag with ease. Designed like about 80%, of all the other vaporizers on the market, the LiFT has one button on the face of the unit, mouthpiece on top of the unit with the bowl underneath and is shaped like a marker. The mouthpiece, if the bowl/oven is empty, can be pushed down into the bowl/oven for extra damage protection. FLYT Lab also included a protective rubber case that you can put on the outside of the unit and mouthpiece for extra damage protection, it also absorbs a lot of the heat while in use as well. The ceramic bowl/oven is located under the mouthpiece and is decent in size and burns product evenly.
Ease of Use
This unit is very simple and easy to use, start by grinding your dry herb between fine and course and pack the ceramic bowl/oven located underneath the mouthpiece of the LiFT. Pack the product down but not too tight as it will restrict the airflow and cause blockage of vapor while drawing from the device if packed too tightly. The LiFT turns on like most one button vape devices, you press the button 3 times and it will power on. The LiFT has 3 temperature settings that are color coded, as follows:
BLUE is LOW TEMP 180-190C (365-375F)
YELLOW is MID TEMP 200-210C (395-405F)
GREEN is HIGH TEMP 215-225C (415-425F)
To select the temperature you want to vape at, simply wait for your color choice as the device scrolls through all the colors, then press the button once on the color of your desired temperature, once it appears. The light will turn red as it heats to your desired temperature and change back to the solid color you chose (BLUE, YELLOW, OR GREEN) once it’s done and ready for use.
FLYT Labs claims the LiFT battery lasts 13 to 20 sessions before dying depending on the Temperature you’re vaping your product at, in my experience this estimate is pretty accurate. I didn’t get an exact count on the sessions while using the LiFT but I used it for sure was well over 10 sessions before the battery died. It takes 3 hours to charge and FLYT Labs recommends giving the LiFT the full 3 hour charge every charging session.
Entry Level Portable Vaporizers:
Entry level units are vaporizers that you get if you just want to try vaping, but don’t want to break the bank. Most people who are new to portable vapes like to start here to get a feel for it before spending money on a higher end unit.
The three we recommend all cost less than $120, so they are very affordable but still produce good quality vapor. These are models that will get you into vaping, but you will probably upgrade from them down the road once you decide vaping is for you.
Stealthy smooth classy and sleek with limited bells and whistles this unit is straight to the point. It is a great portable unit that fits in the palm of your hand comfortably. It’s rigid rubber casing and airflow design helps keep the device nice and cool where you grip it. It has 3 buttons POWER and 2 Temperature buttons (+ & -) with a small display screen for battery life and temperature. It has simple access to the oven through removing the mouth piece off the top of the unit and is very easy to pack you can scoop dry herb into the oven with ease.
The CFC Vaporizer
CERAMIC HEATING CHAMBER (OVEN)
This decent size Ceramic Conduction oven can hold around .3 to .4 grams of dry herb easily. Located under the mouthpiece the oven uses Ceramic Conduction to combust your dry herb evenly every session with great quality vapor.
The CFC Heating Chamber (Oven)
Boundless says that the unit can last 12 to 15 sessions with a full charged battery (Sessions being 5 minutes long based on power up to automatic shut off). It’s possible depending on the temperature you are using it at, however we started each session at 385°F gradually increasing the temperature to 410°F and we were able to last 10 sessions with the CFC which is still in my opinion something to brag about. Along with it’s lasting battery life it also has a fast charge time. The CFC charged from completely dead to having a full charged battery in an hour and half to 2 hours. All in all the battery on this unit is more than decent for a portable unit and almost a steal at it’s price.
HOW TO USE
This vaporizer like it’s cousins in the Boundless C series is very easy to use. You remove the mouthpiece at the top of the unit to reveal the oven, pack it with .25 to .4 of dry herb of your choosing (Boundless recommends to grind herb finely before packing but a little less than fine is okay as well as long as you don’t pack it too tight, as it can block the airflow) and put the mouthpiece back on. To power on the unit just hit the power button located at the bottom of the device 5 times rapidly and it will display the boundless logo on the display screen once it’s on. It heats up extremely fast, so fast that it is ready for use in 20 seconds after powering it on. Select your temperature with the 2 buttons located above the power button (+ & -). It is set to read the temperature by °C (Celsius) but if you would like to change it to read the temperature by °F (Fahrenheit) simply press the “+” & “-“ temperature buttons at the same time and it will change immediately in the display. Once it heats to desired temperature it’s ready for use. Enjoy!
2. Magic Flight Launch Box or MFLB – $119 from Vaporizer Chief
Another great entry level vape is the Magic Flight Launch Box (MFLB). If you’ve been researching portable vapes for any amount of time, you’re bound to have come across this one. It is one of the smallest (and simplest) units on the market, and it is perfect if you need to be stealthy.
The MFLB is three pieces: the box itself (which holds the heating screen), the batteries (which are specific to the MFLB, and you need to use the kind that come with it or take the covering off other ones), and the glass or acrylic stem (you choose when buying the unit).
The unit also comes in a variety of wood types and has different patterns that can be put on the acrylic shield, so it is a very customizable unit.
This unit is powered by the battery, which heats the trench to vaporize your herb. The trench holds around 0.2-0.3 grams, optimally. There will be a learning curve with this vape as well, with draw technique and with how long to hold the battery down. However, it’s not all that complicated and you will catch on very quickly.
The video below should help with that. At around 3:20 he goes over how to hit it correctly, and I highly recommend watching this to help with your technique. You don’t need a whip like he has, but this is the correct way to hit it to avoid burning material:
Now, this unit does cost a bit more than the Vapor Genie coming in at around $119 if you buy it new, but it’s a better unit than the Vapor Genie is.
Another thing to keep in mind is most people tend to keep this vaporizer for as long as they vape, so this won’t be something you buy and get rid of down the road once you upgrade. A lot of people use their MFLB when they need something quick and stealthy on the go and they have other units for other situations.
Another thing I really like about the MFLB is how versatile it is for being a cheaper unit. You can get some extra accessories like a whip attachment and even a water piece whip that lets you hook it up to your water pipe.
Overall, the MFLB is a great vape that will do its job. If you need to be discrete and stealthy, and don’t mind a bit of a learning curve, no unit will suit you better. It’s a very good deal at only $119.
To wrap things up, there are a lot of portable vaporizers on the market and they each have their pros and cons. For most people, price is the main factor when considering which model they want to buy.
If money isn’t really a concern and you want the best of the best, choose any of the 4 high-level units mentioned in this article depending on which one you feel would be the best fit for your situation.
If you’re brand new to vaping and want to just get a feel for it before spending a lot of money, choose from one of the entry level portable units.
We hope you found this guide useful and it’s helped you narrow down which portable vaporizer is best for you. If you want to see more detailed reviews of each portable unit individually, check out our in-depth portable vaporizer reviews here.
Any questions? Feel free to post them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!