A run-down of the best e-liquid, dry herb and wax vape pens, from the cheap-but-effective options to the pricey but worth it.
Vape pens have gone through tons of changes over the past decade. While they were originally eGo-like, small pens with basic clearomizers, they quickly evolved into thicker, more capable devices that were basically indistinguishable from vape mods, and now the rise of pod systems has changed what people picture when they think of a vape pen. And that’s not even all, with dry herb vape pens, dab pens, CBD pens and much more, finding the best vape pen for your needs is more complicated than ever before.
However, the good news is that with all of this variety comes more and more options, and more devices that really stand out from the crowd in terms of what they can do. We’ve broken down the best vape pens in each category to make it easier to find the right one with your needs, with links to more detailed lists for each category too.
E-liquid vape pens are the original type of vape pen, as a way to get nicotine without the risks that come with combusted tobacco. Most e-liquid vape pens these days are either “pod style” (like the JUUL) or bigger devices that still offer the one-button operation that classic pens did. There are tons of options out there, but here are some of the best. For more options, check out our recommendations for the best vape pen for e-liquid.
The Vinci from Voopoo is well worth considering if you’re looking for the best vape pen for e-liquid, since it combines the simplicity of a pod system with features you’d expect from a mod. The design is right in line with most modern vape pens, with a tall battery section (with a display screen and controls on the front panel) and a 5.5 ml pod and mouthpiece combination in the top. It comes with an in-built 1,500 mAh battery, which can easily see you through a day of vaping at the power settings available with the device. You can use it both automatic (puff to vape) and manual mode (press a button to vape), and it has simple “plug and play” coil installation to keep vaping as simple as possible.
The Vinci offers variable wattage vaping at up to 40 W, which isn’t huge compared to mods but it’s a great feature for a vape pen, and you can also set a custom power curve so the power changes through your draw. The kit comes with two coils: one 0.3 ohm mesh option (rated at up to 40 W) and one 0.8 ohm dual coil (rated for between 12 and 18 W), as well as two options for airflow you switch between by reversing the pod. The result is a high-performance vape pen that gives you plenty of options in terms of features while still keeping the platform beginner-friendly. You can pick it up for $27.95.
The Sky Solo Plus from Vaporesso is the best vape pen for e-liquid if you want something more traditional than a pod system. It’s a thick, tube-shaped device that falls somewhere between a mod and a vape pen, coming with a huge 8 ml capacity sub ohm tank that easily competes with complex mods in terms of performance, but still having a basic, single-button operation. It runs on an integrated 3,000 mAh battery, which is much better than most vape pens out there and easily enough to vape through an entire day on a single charge.
The Sky Solo Plus has a single-button interface, with an LED light around the edge to give you an indication of the remaining battery life. The power output from the device just depends on the remaining charge, but with the two 0.18 ohm mesh coils included with the kit, the performance you get is pretty hard to fault. The tank has a top-filling system too, which makes it pretty easy to fill up, and the tank is also built directly into the top of the vape pen, so it’s about as simple as possible to use. The Sky Solo Plus costs $19.95.
Smok’s Nord series has included tons of great rechargeable vape pen turned pod-style devices, and the Nord 4 builds on what made the previous versions so successful. The design is right in line with previous versions, although the leather-fronted versions definitely give it a bit of classier look, and the display screen and adjustment buttons being on the side keeps the main body from looking cluttered. The Nord 4 has an integrated 2,000 mAh rechargeable battery, which is impressive for a device with such a compact size, and can still see you through a day of use at lower power settings.
The Nord 4 works at up to 80 W of power, which is freely adjustable and with your current setting shown on the OLED display screen. The two included pods both have a 4.5 ml capacity, and come with a 0.16 ohm and a 0.4 ohm coil, which simply push into place to install. These coils give excellent performance with both nicotine salt and standard-style e-liquids, and give you plenty of opportunity to use the range of wattage available from the device. The price is also great for arguable the best vape pen on the market for e-liquid, at $33.95 for the kit, including two pods, two coils, the device and a USB type-C charger.
Best Dry Herb Vape Pens
Dry herb vape pens are less common than other types, because until recently it was pretty difficult to find any that worked well, but things have improved dramatically. Although it’s vague whether some of the better options are really a true weed vape pen, they’re all small enough to comfortably hold in your hand while still having the power you need to get consistent vaporization of your bud. For more recommendations, see the best dry herb vape pens.
The G Pen Dash from Grenco Science is a simple-looking device that offers solid performance in a compact and stylish package. The Dash is designed as an on-the-go device, looking somewhere between a pod system vape pen and a portable vaporizer, with a single button for operation and a magnetic mouthpiece at the top. The Dash has a 950 mAh battery built-in, which is good for around five sessions per charge, and recharges with the included USB cable within a couple of hours.
The Dash offers three temperature settings, which is an important feature for any weed vape pen, with pre-set options of 375, 401 and 428 °F (190, 205 and 220 °C). Some more advanced devices offer more options for temperature or let you pick one freely, but overall this is still more than enough options for most people’s purposes, and all of them are high enough to vaporize THC effectively. It also has some great design features, such as a glass-glazed vapor path (so you get clean flavor) and vibration feedback when it reaches vaping temperature. You can pick it up for $69.95.
The Arizer Air II builds on the success of the original Air, offering a portable weed vape pen that performs surprisingly well and rivals many more complex devices. The Air II uses a hybrid heating system, mixing both convection and conduction heating with a ceramic heating element that preserves the flavor of your bud. The Air II also has a borosilicate glass stem and a completely isolated airpath, so you get the pure taste of the dry herb while still offering good airflow. The pen-style design might look simple, with nothing but a few controls and a display screen on the front, but Arizer put a lot of care into the design.
The Air II offers free control over your temperature setting, up to a maximum of 428 °F (220 °C), which is more than enough capability for any dry herb vaping. It reaches vaping temperature in about 90 seconds, and once it’s ready to go the design means you can pretty much puff however you want and still get great performance. The kit comes with the vaporizer, a battery, charger, two glass tubes, silicone stem caps and tons of little extras, and costs just $149.99.
Pax Labs’ line of vaporizers have been some of the most widely-loved dry herb vape pens for many years now, and the third incarnation of the Pax improves on previous versions while still maintaining the style and performance you expect. It looks somewhere between a traditional pen and a bigger portable vaporizer, with the “x” logo in LEDs on the front face doubling as a display for the device, and the chamber under a magnetic cover at the bottom. The Pax 3 has an impressive 3,500 mAh battery, which is comfortably enough for two days of dry herb vaping, and it recharges in just an hour and a half.
The Pax 3 offers four different temperatures: 360, 380, 400 and 420 °F (182, 193, 204 and 216 °C). These cover quite a wide range, giving you plenty of options to get the sort of vape you’re looking for, plus you can get the app on Android to set them to whatever you want (Apple has removed it from their store, though). There are also four different “heating modes,” which let you put the focus on consistent heating, efficiency, stealth and flavor by tailoring how it behaves. It reaches even the hottest temperature in less than a minute, and is available with or without a concentrate insert. You can pick up the basic kit for $200 and the complete kit for $250.
The Firefly 2+ may not have the conventional design of dry herb vape pens, but if you’re looking for the best vape pen for cannabis, the performance should be more important than the specific form. And it terms of how well it works, the Firefly 2+ is hard to beat, with a convection heating system that boosts the temperature during your draw to offer more consistent vaporization than most options out there. The design is a little thicker than you’d expect from a vape pen, but this allows for a more intelligent layout. The chamber sits at the opposite end of the device than the mouthpiece, with a completely isolated borosilicate glass vapor path, giving excellent flavor with no risk of getting hot near the mouthpiece.
The Firefly 2+ offers a fully-adjustable temperature between 360 and 500 °F (182 and 260°C), although you’ll need to download the companion app if you want to make precise changes. The device reaches vaping temperature in just a few seconds, which is pretty incredible and well beyond basically anything on the market right now. It also boasts touch sensors for activation, a pad for concentrates included as standard, charging from empty to full in just 45 minutes and a greatly improved draw. You can pick up the Firefly 2+ for $249.95.
Best THC Oil Vape Pens
A weed oil vape pen works much better as a compact, get-high-on-the-go solution than a dry herb vape pen, because you don’t need to make the device especially large to get great performance. There aren’t tons of options out there, but there are plenty of fairly cheap vape pens that work really well for THC liquid concentrates and often even waxier ones too.
The Terp Pen from Boundless is about as simple as it gets for a weed oil pen, but with a well thought out design and great performance, it’s definitely one to consider. The Terp Pen has a compact design but it falls right in line with what you expect from a vape pen, from the tube-shaped design right down to the mouthpiece and clearomizer-style compartment for your weed oil. It has ceramic coils on the inside, which you apply your oil (or wax) directly to and then start vaping, with the device responding whenever you inhale.
Although it doesn’t have features such as adjustable power setting, it offers consistent performance and heats up basically immediately as you take a puff. The flavor is very pure thanks to the ceramic coils and the direct route from the coil up to the mouthpiece, and vapor-wise you’ll be quite impressed despite the small size of the device. It comes with a multi-tool for applying your concentrate, a cleaning tool, a USB charger and one coil, and costs just $29.99.
The Rubi from KandyPens is a refillable vape pen that works with both e-liquids and THC oils and takes a lot of design cues from classic pod systems like the Juul. The vaporizer is built around a 1 ml, refillable pod, which has a ceramic coil with organic cotton for wicking, and is refilled by removing a plug in the side. The Rubi is draw-activated, so all you need to do is fill up and take a puff to start vaping, and this means there are no buttons on the device at all. If you’re looking for a weed oil vape pen, this is among the easiest devices to use that still perform impressively well.
The Rubi weed oil vape pen puts out a consistent 8.5 W of power throughout its charge, which is a good setting for weed oil but for e-liquid you’ll need a nicotine salt juice to get the most out of it. The Rubi is very compact, but this means that the battery is a little small, at 280 mAh, but it charges in just 30 minutes. The simplicity and performance of the system are huge selling points, but it’s an especially good choice if you want something portable and are likely to use weed oil more than e-juice. It costs $44.95.
The Evolve 2.0 from Yocan is a multi-function, pod style device that’s the best vape pen out there if you’re looking for something that can handle a wide range of materials. The Evolve 2.0 basically looks like most pod-style vape pens on the market, something like the Smok Nord but compatible with both oils and waxy concentrates in addition to ordinary e-liquids. This means you can use the Evolve 2.0 to vape nicotine liquids, then switch over to THC liquids or concentrates whenever you want. It has single-button operation, so regardless of what you’re vaping, it’s super easy to use.
The three different materials are supported by three different pods included with the kit, with the oil and e-juice pods using ceramic coils and the concentrate option using dual quartz coils. The Evolve 2.0 has three power settings, which means you can find the right level for your preferences and for each specific material, and there’s also a 10 second pre-heat function if you want to take a longer draw. The battery is 650 mAh, which is a pretty solid offering for a pod-style device and could likely support a day of nicotine vaping, much more so for concentrates and THC oils. You can pick up the Evolve 2.0 for $29.99.
Best Dab/Wax Pens
A wax pen (or dab pen) is a vape pen specifically designed for use with more solid, waxy concentrates. There are tons of great options in this class, because you only need a good-quality coil in addition to a small chamber and you can vaporize your concentrates with ease. Although you can find specific dab “e-rigs,” these tend to be much bigger (because of all the components you need) so in reality any dab pen is just a wax pen with a trendier name. For more recommendations, see the best dab pens.
The G Pen Connect from Grenco Science looks a little different to a standard wax pen, but the layout makes it a better option if you’re looking for the closest thing you can get to a true dab pen. The battery section of the G Pen Connect looks basically like a small e-cig box mod, with most of the action happening in the horizontally-oriented part at the top, which contains the ceramic heating element, a carb cap and a glass connection for hooking it up to any water pipe or bubbler. It has a well-designed “reverse” airflow system which you can control with the carb release button and offers exceptional flavor.
The battery has an 850 mAh capacity, which is pretty impressive battery life for such a compact device, and gives you more than enough charge to vape concentrates for a day or more likely two – somewhere from 10 to 15 sessions. It also offers a choice of three settings: 3.1, 3.6 and 4.1 V. These options are more than enough to get the G Pen Connect working like you want it to and making it work with a selection of different concentrates. Combined with a high-quality concentrate and a glass piece, the performance is excellent, giving the benefits of dabbing without the need to heat the nail manually. You can pick it up for $179.95.
Dr. Dabber is a big name in the concentrate vaping game, and the Stella set out to improve on the basic formula laid down by the Aurora, boosting the power output and drastically improving the airflow system. The result is a wax vape pen that looks quite like most of the options out there, but undeniably kind of cool with the smoky blue “d” logo and nothing else on the body. The Stella features a “floating vapor chamber,” which aims to improve efficiency by keeping the heat production directed entirely towards your material. It also has a vortex airflow system, where the air inlets are slightly offset to create a smoother, airier draw.
The Stella has a pretty ordinary-sized vape pen battery, with a 600 mAh capacity. This might not be as good as some of the other options on this list, but if you’re not vaping too regularly it shouldn’t be much of an issue. It also offers a selection of three temperature settings, ranging from 460 to 775 °F (238 to 413 °C), which gives you more than enough range to find the sweet spot for your concentrate. The chamber is also made from a blend of aluminum and ceramic, which aims to preserve flavor while still supporting efficient heating. You can pick up the Dr. Dabber Stella kit for $84.95.
The Evolve Plus XL V2 from Yocan is a chunky wax pen, with a very familiar pen-style design – a little thicker than most, though – and a single button for operation. The functionality of the device is pretty straightforward, with a consistent power output, a chamber you open up and load and a magnetically-attached mouthpiece. However, the Evolve Plus XL V2 has a quad quartz coil, which blows most of the competition out of the water and means you get exceptional clouds, flavor and performance from the pen. There’s also a slot-style adjustable airflow ring around the base of the chamber, so you can set it up to suit your draw style too.
The chunky design is mainly to improve the battery life, with the Evolve Plus having a 1,400 mAh capacity. This is exceptional for a concentrate vaporizer – even if you were vaping all through the day it would likely last you all the way, so for ordinary use it’s likely good for two or three days. The bottom of the device also doubles as a dual-compartment storage jar, so if you’re out of the house you can easily keep your concentrate with you and nicely concealed. The pen costs $59.74.
Best CBD Vape Pens
Disposable CBD vape pens are more common than CBD pens you recharge and refill yourself, but if you pick up some CBD vape juice, you can use basically any e-liquid vape pen to use it, with ones designed for THC oil being a natural fit. Disposables do have advantages, though, since they’re really easy to use and let you try CBD vaping out before committing to a longer-term solution. For more recommendations, see the best CBD vape pens.
The disposables from CBDfx is a great CBD pen for getting into CBD vaping, working “automatically” so you just have to take a puff to vape, and coming pre-filled with CBD e-liquid and charged. The pen comes filled with 30 mg of CBD mixed into 1 ml of e-liquid, giving you about 0.15 mg per puff and 200 puffs in total. The CBD is extracted using CO2, so it’s completely free from solvents and other remnants from the manufacturing process.
The pens also come in a range of flavors, including Tropic Breeze (mango flavor), Strawberry Lemonade, Fresh Mint, Honeydew Ice, Blue Raspberry and Melon Cooler. They cost $14.99 each.
The Yocan Hive is a refillable vape pen designed for liquid concentrates, and despite not being technically pen-shaped, it’s a compact and straightforward system that gives you a great vape. It looks like a compact e-cig box mod, but just has a single button on the front for operation, and a long cartridge on the inside that leads up to the mouthpiece. So all you have to do is fill it up, let the juice soak in for a while and then press the button to vape. You also get a cartridge for solid concentrates too.
The Hive has a 650 mAh battery, which should last you through a day of moderate use, but it recharges quickly too and gives you a color-coded readout of your battery level. It gives you a constant power output of around 12 W, which is great for vapor production and flavor with such a straightforward device. This all makes it perfect if you’re new to CBD vaping but want something a step up from a standard disposable. You can pick it up for $27.99.
The Mini Vape Pen from Bloom Farms is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a CBD pen that is good to go as soon as you buy, easy to use but also performs well. The pens themselves are simple but nicely designed, with a band of henna-like patterning near the connection point for the cartridge and no buttons anywhere on the body. Once you buy, all you have to do is take a puff to start vaping. The pen is good for around 300 puffs before having to throw away the disposables or recharge the rechargeables.
Most of the CBD cartridges available from Bloom Farms use broad-spectrum oil, which gives you CBG, CBN and CBC in addition to CBD and other cannabinoids. Due to the entourage effect, many people prefer to have a combination of cannabinoids when they vape, and (mainly due to the absence of THC) the Bloom Farms vape pen has over 60% of the plant’s total cannabinoid content. They also come in a range of flavors, including the natural flavor (with nothing added), Blackberry, Stone Fruit, Champagne and more. You can buy them as disposables, for $24 each or pick up a rechargeable battery for $39 (with different styles available) and buy the cartridges separately.
Best Cheap Vape Pens
Vape pens don’t have to be expensive. Especially if you’re looking for e-liquid vape pens, you might not want to invest in some of the more feature-packed and expensive options out there, but there are more than enough cheap vape pens that perform great too. If you find you want extra features or capabilities as you continue to vape, then you can pick something else up, but you won’t be disappointed with these devices. For more recommendations, see the best cheap vape pens.
The Atomic9 Vaporizer from Cloudious 9 manages to strike the balance between affordability and efficacy, with a low price and a dual-layer heating system to give consistent vaporization. The dry herb vape pen has a flattened, rounded shape, but it’s still compact enough to fit comfortably in your palm. It has a 900 mAh battery, which is great considering the price and it will still last for around 5 sessions between charges. If you’re looking for something simple and affordable to start off with, the one-button operation and magnetic connections throughout make it a great way to get into dry herb vape pens.
The Atomic9 has six on-board temperature settings, ranging from 356 to 428°F (180 to 230 °C) and offering more than enough choice for dry herb. The dual-layer heating system is intended to combine the benefits of convection and conduction-based heating, and it does work well, offering a smooth, flavorful vape and good performance all-round considering the price. It has a cooling system for the vapor too, which is really nice if you find some other vaporizers hard on your throat. You can pick it up for $59.99.
The Phantom vaporizer from HoneyStick is a wax pen that has the style of a compact e-liquid box mod but applied to both thick and thin cannabis concentrates. The box shape basically means that the atomizer is hidden inside the body of the device, but they’ve taken care to include adapters to ensure it works well with both thinner and thicker atomizers. You get one liquid option that looks like an e-liquid clearomizer and a ceramic bowled dual quartz atomizer for thicker concentrates and waxes.
The Phantom has four different voltage settings on board – 3.4, 3.6, 3.8 and 4 V – so you can find the level that works best for you and your chosen concentrate. It also has a pre-heat option, which primes the chamber for better vaping when you hit the fire button. The box mod design gives it room for a 1,000 mAh battery, which is ideal for on-the-go concentrate vaping, and it also takes the squeeze-to-fire design that some of them use too. It performs well, it’s flexible and it’s easy to use, and it’s available for just $39.91 (on sale, regular price $49.99).
Innokin isn’t one of the first names that would come to mind when you think of cheap vape pens, but the Sceptre is a pod-style vape pen that offers a lot of functionality in a compact package. The vape pen is built around a 1,400 mAh battery, which has a magnetic connection to the pod and recharges via micro USB. The pod is refillable with a 3 ml capacity, and you can also change the coil using the simple bottom installation system, where you basically push the coil into place without having to screw anything in. This all makes it a great choice if you’re new to vaping.
The Sceptre is a pretty basic device in terms of features, but as well as “Normal” mode it also has a “Boost” option that increases the wattage so you get more vapor and flavor when you’re vaping. The exact settings depend on the coil you’re using, with the 1.2 ohm mouth to lung coil working at 8 or 9.5 W, and the 0.5 ohm coils working at 18 or 20 W. The mouth to lung coil is perfect for use with nicotine salt e-liquids, and the other coil is better for standard e-liquids and bigger vapor production. You can pick up the Sceptre with a pod, two coils and a USB charging cable for $19.99.
Smok is one of the biggest names in the industry in general and a great brand to check out if you’re looking for some of the best cheap vape pens you can find. The Novo 3 builds on what people loved about the previous version, keeping the same pen-style design and magnetic pod connection, but improving the airflow and draw-activated firing system. The vape pen has an 800 mAh battery, which is more than enough for a day of use with nicotine salt liquids and at the power settings supported by the system.
The Novo doesn’t let you select your own power setting, but it puts out up to 25 W on a full charge, which gives exceptional performance with the 0.8 ohm mesh coil pods included with the kit. You get two pods with the kit, which use a simple side-filling system and hold 2 ml of e-liquid, with the improved U-shaped airflow system to boost vapor production. The Novo 3 strips everything down to the very basics, so it’s really easy to use without sacrificing performance. You can pick it up for $18.95.
The Sky Solo Plus from Vaporesso is essentially a vape pen but bulked up to the point where it’s essentially a tube mod. It keeps the basic format of a vape pen, with a straightforward design and a single button for operation, but boosting the power and battery life further than most competitors. The battery has a 3,000 mAh capacity, which should last most vapers for over a day even with heavy use at higher power outputs. There is an LED light around the fire button which gives you a visual indication of your battery life at all times, and it recharges at 1 A too.
The Sky Solo Plus doesn’t offer a choice of power setting, but the kit comes with two 0.18 ohm mesh coils, which makes the output from the device absolutely huge. Thanks to the mesh coils, the flavor you get is also exceptional, especially in comparison to other cheap vape pens. The tank has a massive 8 ml capacity, and a threaded top-filling system so it’s easy to top up with juice. It’s technically an all-in-one device, since the base of the tank is built directly onto the battery section, but if you’re happy with the stock tank – which does perform really well – then it’s easily the best cheap vape pen for e-liquid out there. It costs just $19.95.
Guide to Buying the Best Vape Pen
Vape Pens Keep Getting Better
The world of vape pens is constantly expanding. Once, the whole sector was pretty much composed of “eGo-style” pens used for e-liquid, but now you have options for vaping basically any material and in a range of sizes. For nicotine, there is everything from the basics through to thicker, almost mod-like options and right down to simplified, beginner-friendly pod systems. But there are also plenty of oil and wax vape pens, some for dry herb and even pens that are more like dab rigs and e-nails for dabbing. It’s already hard to keep up with, and future years will only improve (and complicate) things further.
Still confused? Here is some basic information about what vape pens are, how they work, how to choose the best vapor pen for your needs and some safety and maintenance tips:
What is a Vape Pen? How Do They Work?
The simplest definition of a vape pen (aka “vapor pen”, “vaporizer pen”, “e-pen”, “e-cig pen”) is that it’s a refillable vaporizer device that’s roughly the size of a pen. Really, though, they aren’t the size of regular pens; they’re more like the size of a marker pen or a cigar. They’re composed of two main parts: a long battery and a small tank or oven which is filled with e-juice, wax, oil, or marijuana flower.
They work like pretty much any other vape on the market. The battery sends power to the “atomizer,” which is a fancy word for a coil of wire surrounding some absorbent “wick” material, and this vaporizes the e-juice or wax in the tank and turns it into an inhalable vapor. The atomizer is really at the heart of the vapor pen, because the coil gets hot when electricity flows through it, and heats the e-liquid or wax soaked into the wick to produce the vapor.
Many vape pens are “manually” operated, so you have to press and hold down a button as you vape, but some use “automatic” draws, so you just inhale to start the process. In either case, this sends current to the coil and vaporizes the e-liquid. Basically, the battery part sends power to the tank, which holds e-liquid, so there is a constant supply of juice to the coil. The sizes of tanks can vary, with pod-style tanks usually being smaller and more mod-like ones being bigger.
Like many terms used in vaping, though, the definition isn’t particularly clear-cut and there are some devices which blur the boundaries between vape pens and vape mods. Although pen vaporizers ordinarily just operate at a fixed voltage, some e-pens do allow you to set your own voltage, and despite the marker-pen size being a defining feature of these devices, some are bigger than this and some are smaller. Additionally, “pod systems” tend to be smaller and simpler than either traditional type of vape pen. In short, there really isn’t too rigid a definition, but the key features are always there.
Some vapor pens also don’t vaporize e-juice, or vaporize e-juice as well as other things. These are still vape pens, but they aren’t as likely to have a tank, and may operate in a different way. For instance, dry herb vaporizers need to operate at a consistent temperature (rather than periodically getting hot like e-juice vaporizers), so they use slightly different heating methods. Wax or oil vape pens are more like traditional vape pens, but with a much smaller “tank” section.
Types of Vape Pens
There are several different types of e-pens on the market, but for the purposes of looking for a top-rated vape pen, it’s easiest to split them up based on what they’re designed to vaporize. So here’s a brief guide to the different types of vape pens with this in mind:
E-Liquid Vape Pens
E-juice vape pens work like we described above: they use an atomizer to vaporize e-juice, which is a mixture of some common solvents, food flavorings and usually nicotine. These vaporize whenever you press a button to start the flow of current through the coil.
Dry Herb Vape Pens
Dry herb vape pens are a lot different to e-juice vape pens. These have a chamber, which you fill with your chosen herb (or even tobacco), and this is brought up to a constant temperature when you switch it on. These vape pens are normally switched on and then they remain hot for a “session,” which can vary in length but is usually between 2 and 5 minutes.
These vape pens are used to vaporize concentrates and waxes, and they work in a relatively similar way to e-juice vape pens. They have coils which heat up when you press a button in the same way, but they often don’t have wicks, because there's nothing that can really soak up into them, and don't have tanks either. Instead, the concentrate is applied directly to the coil before vaping. The coils are usually wrapped around quartz or ceramic, but mainly to give the material a surface to cling to.
Multi-Function Vape Pens
These are vape pens that do it all. Most have a changeable cartridge system, so one works for e-juice, one works for dry herb and one works for waxes and oils. This usually means the vaporizer itself is a little more complicated (since it has to either apply periodic heat or maintain a consistent temperature), but overall they’re a combination of the three types described above.
How to Choose the Best Vape Pen
So what should you look out for when you’re trying to find the best vaporizer pen? The key to wading through the options and finding the right device is really thinking about what you’re looking for in a vape pen: there’s no one “best” device for everybody, so you should focus on finding the right device for you.
What Do You Want to Vape?
The first thing to consider when you’re looking for a reliable vape pen is what you want to use it for. Will you only be vaping e-juice? Or are you looking specifically for a dry herb or wax vape pen? If you’re not sure or want to vape all three types, 3-in-1 vaporizer pens are the obvious choice, but otherwise you can choose something specialized to your specific purpose.
The only real problems you’ll run into are if you’re looking for a dry herb vape pen. Some of the options out there don’t really get the job done, so either you have to check reviews very carefully or stretch the definition of vape pen a little. For example, the G Pen Dash has pen in the name, but if you’re familiar with dry herb vaping you’d probably categorize it as an ordinary portable vaporizer rather than a pen. The problem is that bringing a chamber up to high temperatures quickly and consistently is harder to achieve than vaping e-liquid or concentrates, so the good ones tend to be a bit bigger.
The Size and Capacity of the Battery
Regardless of the type of e-cig pen you’re looking for, battery life is an important factor to consider. In general, bigger batteries are better, but if portability is important, it’s worth considering some lower-capacity, smaller options.
Battery life is shown through its capacity, which is quoted as a number followed by mAh, which stands for milliamp hours. This is quite easy to interpret, too: bigger numbers mean your battery will last longer, if operating at the same power. But larger-capacity batteries are bulkier too – or, for a e-pen, usually longer – so it’s a bit of a trade-off between battery life and portability.
For example, the Endura T18 e-liquid pen has a capacity of 1000 mAh, compared to 400 mAh for the smallest Halo Triton vaporizer pen. This tells you that – all else being equal – the Endura will last about two and a half times longer between charges in comparison to the Triton.
Variable Voltage and Variable Temperature
Although most vaporizer pens operate at a fixed voltage or temperature, some allow you to choose a setting to suit your preferences. This is really best seen as an extra feature rather than something you necessarily need, because you can get an excellent vape on many devices without variable voltage or variable temperature.
However, some of the better vape pens – regardless of type – allow you to choose one of several settings. For e-liquid and wax pen vaporizers, this is a voltage or a wattage. For example, the Voopoo Vinci lets you choose any power setting up to 40 W, which means you can tailor your performance to suit your preference or the specific e-juice you’re using. Most dry herb vape pens operate at a fixed temperature, but larger dry herb vaporizers give you several options for temperature settings, and again, it’s generally better to have options (even if not strictly necessary).
How Big is the Tank?
While you can always fill up again if you drain your tank, ideally you want to avoid doing it too much, so you should consider the size of the tank when you’re buying an e-liquid pen. Most e-juice vape pens these days are either more like pod systems or are bigger than traditional pens, so the tank size can vary quite a bit. For pods, 1 to 2 ml is most common and really all you need, although many options do have pods that hold 3 ml or more of juice. For the bigger “sub ohm” vape pens, tank sizes are pretty much in line with other sub ohm tanks, at anything from 3 to 8 ml in capacity.
Although dry herb pens don’t have a “tank,” the chamber size is an equally important consideration. If you can’t get much herb in the chamber/oven, then you won’t be satisfied after a single session, so it’s worth checking this out before you may your purchase. For example, the G Pen Dash and the Arizer Air 2 both have chambers/ovens that can hold about 0.2 grams of herb, while the Firefly 2+ is a bit less at 0.15 grams. Generally anything around this will be OK, but if you’re looking for a longer session without having to refill, you can find dry herb vape pens with bigger chambers.
What Type of Coils Does it Use?
There are tons of different types of coils used these days, with some basic single, double and other multi-coil builds still in use but many others being common even in cheap vape pens. If you’re getting a nicotine vape pen, mesh coils are especially popular, because they boost the surface area in contact with the wick and liquid, improving both vapor production and flavor. There are many other options that perform well, but this is the current front-runner when it comes to performance. Ceramic coils are worth mentioning, though, because ceramic has great heat resistance and the coils tend to last longer as a result.
For a weed oil vape pen or a wax pen, you’re much more likely to encounter ordinary dual coils or even quad coils, generally wrapped around quartz cores. This is because you apply your material basically directly to the coils (for most devices), so this is the easiest way to maximize the coil surface area without having to worry about efficient wicking from a tank. As long as a wax or weed oil vape pen has quartz or ceramic coils, the performance you’ll get will be excellent.
How Does it Perform? Check Reviews!
The biggest factor to consider when you’re looking for vape pens isn’t something you can learn from the specifications or features of the device: you need to know how it performs in practice. Although you can infer a little based on the characteristics of the device, the only real way to get to the bottom of this is by reading reviews. The main focus of pretty much any review of a vape pen will be how well it vapes, so it’s always worth checking out vape pen reviews – ideally as many as you can – to see what users are saying about the device.
Finding the Best Vape Pen
So if you consider all of these factors, you’ll have much more success in finding the right vape pen for your needs. Unfortunately, there’s always some trial and error when it comes to finding something to suit your preferences, but the points above should help narrow your focus onto the devices most likely to be right for you.
The Cost of Vape Pens
As with most things, you tend to get what you pay for with e-pens. There are tons of cut-price options on the market, and while some of these are solid devices, there are many more disappointing options at the lower end of the price range.
For e-juice pens, most of the high-quality options covered in the list above are in the range between $20 and $40, although some are a little more expensive. If you stick to this price range you’ll avoid overpaying, but sometimes it’s worth paying a little more for a wider range of features or a better quality device. For example, the 2200 mAh version of the eGo One offers excellent battery life and sub ohm vaping for $47.99, and it’s well worth paying a little more for, and VaporFi’s products tend to be quite expensive but very high quality.
For dry herb and wax/concentrate vaporizer pens, the prices tend to be a little higher. For example, High Times did a run-down of the best wax vape pens – covering 25 different vape pens – and most were priced around the $80 mark. If you’re buying a dry herb vape pen, though, you’ll have undoubtedly noticed that things get a bit more expensive, basically because it’s more of a technological challenge to vaporize dry herb than it is for concentrates.
Common Issues With Vape Pens
Once you’ve picked up a good vape pen, all you need to do is learn to use it and deal with any minor issues that come up in use. Generally, the issues you’ll run into will be very minor, and are generally more common with e-juice and wax vape pens than dry herb ones, so we’ll cover some of the basics here.
E-Liquid Vape Pens: Leaking
By far the most common problem you’ll run into with e-juice pens is leaking. There are many possible reasons for this, but the most common – and simple to solve – is the connections around the tank not being sealed or screwed down properly. Almost all e-juice vape pens have a screw-on bottom section, and it almost goes without saying that if you don’t tighten this down enough you’ll leave gaps for your juice to leak out through. Make sure everything is connected up properly and you shouldn’t have issues.
However, you should avoid over-tightening the tank connections. As well as screwing into place, tanks use “O-rings” to form a tight seal. If you tighten too much, you can actually damage the O-rings and give your e-juice a route out of your tank. It’s hard to quantify how much tightening is “too much,” but in general you should screw everything down so it’s firmly attached but shouldn’t screw it on as tightly as you can. If you’re worried you’ve damaged your O-rings, disassemble your tank and inspect them for damage. If you notice a problem, most devices come with spare O-rings, so you can simply replace the one you’ve damaged.
The main other cause for a leaking vapor pen is juice making its way into the atomizer head or the central tube. If you’re getting gurgling sounds when you vape, this is probably the issue. Firstly, when you refill you should always avoid getting juice down the centre tube. Avoiding flooding can be difficult, but the best advice is to remember that inhaling more sharply or forcefully doesn’t get you more vapor – keep your inhalations gentle and slow and let the vapor come to you. If you suck too hard, you basically turn the central tube into a straw and cause flooding. If you’re still having an issue after softening your inhalations, you probably just need to replace your atomizer head.
All Vape Pens: Connection and Power Issues
Regardless of the type of vapor pen you’re using, all of them need a constant supply of power and a good connection to the atomizer or coil. Problems with power are simple to solve: you probably just need to recharge your device. It could also be that your battery is locked or switched off – simply press the “fire” button five times in quick succession (depending on your device) and this should remedy the issue.
If you try to charge the device but it won’t respond, or if it seems to have power but it doesn’t produce vapor, you may have a connection problem. On traditional e-liquid vape pens, this is usually caused by the contact pin (where you connect the atomizer) being pushed down too far. This is a bit of a delicate procedure, but you can manually raise it up with the tip of a thin screwdriver.
You should be able to see some space around the edges of the contact point – put the tip of the screwdriver in there and gently wiggle it to raise the contact upwards. Do the same thing all the way around – being careful not to force it too much – and try connecting your atomizer or charger again. If it still doesn’t connect, repeat the process (raising the contact point just a little bit each time) until it does.
You may also run into connection problems because of e-juice built up on the contact point, and this is simply fixed by cleaning it using a Q-tip or paper towel. Of course, it could also be that your vape pen is broken, but it’s definitely worth trying these fixes (and others) before you give up on it. The same basic advice carries over to other types of vape pen: connection problems are solved in the same way, and if you have any debris or juice on it, that could be causing the issues you’re experiencing.
Wax Pens: Heating Chamber Issues
If you’re having problems with a wax vape pen and the battery or atomizer connection doesn’t appear to be the issue, it could be due to the coil itself within the heating chamber not making contact with the pins. This can be rectified with a bit of manual adjustment with the help of a straightened paperclip or a toothpick, but you have to be very careful since this can irreparably damage the coil if you’re too firm.
First off, look into the heating chamber. The coil starts its spiral towards the middle of the chamber, but around the outside you should be able to see two pins where the ends of the coil connect. The problem is likely that your coil isn’t making contact with these, so you should push down on them (again, gently) with your paperclip or toothpick. The aim is to get the tips making contact with the pins again without distorting or damaging the coil in any way. If this doesn’t work, inserting the toothpick or paperclip in the center of coil and moving it ever so slightly can also help.
Vape Pen Safety Tips
Thankfully, the best-rated vape pens generally come with in-built safety features and there is a limited amount that can go wrong and do you any harm. That said, there are a few useful safety tips you should keep in mind to make sure you don’t run into any issues.
Turn off your device when you carry it around: Vape pens are able to be locked or switched off for a reason. When you’re carrying the device around, it could accidentally fire and either ruin your coil or stress the battery too much and cause more serious issues. Turn off or lock your battery when you’re carrying it around (usually by pressing the fire button five times quickly) to remove this danger.
Use the included charger: Charging problems are the biggest source of risk with vapor pens (even though it’s still not very likely), because despite manufacturer’s intentions to prevent issues, things can go wrong. The risk of charging problems is drastically reduced if you use the charger that came with your device. You could match the power rating of your old charger with a replacement, but it’s better to stick to the manufacturer’s recommended one to avoid any problems.
Don’t overcharge: Again, manufacturers generally try to make it so vaporizer pens can’t be overcharged, but it’s a good idea to take your device off charge when you realize it’s done. This is usually shown by an LED on the charger turning from red to green, or perhaps the light on the fire button turning off.
Don’t leave it charging unattended or charge overnight: Finally, to both avoid overcharging and so you’re on hand in case there are any issues, it’s better to only charge your device when you’ll be present. If there’s a problem during charging – for example, your device overheating – it’s better to be there to deal with it as soon as you notice it. If you don’t deal with any issues (or are asleep) it will likely get worse and could even cause an explosion.
Clean up any e-liquid spills: For those using an e-juice vapor pen, it’s important to remember that nicotine can absorb through your skin, so any e-juice spills should be cleaned up right away. Just using warm, soapy water is fine, but you can also use rubbing alcohol (which may be particularly useful for big spills). If you spill any juice on your skin or clothes it’s a good idea to clean your skin right away and change any affected clothes.
It’s worth stressing again that serious issues really aren’t very likely. You don’t need to take these steps to stay safe because your device is dangerous or anything like that; it’s simply to be prepared for the unlikely event that you do have a serious problem. For example, your battery probably won’t overheat during charging, but if you’re really unlucky, taking steps to stay safe could mean the difference between the situation getting worse and your vaporizer pen turning into a firework and you simply losing the vape pen. Of course, the best-rated vape pens have in-built safety mechanisms to prevent this from happening, but you should still take precautions.
Hopefully this guide (and our list of the best vape pens) has given you a basic introduction to vape pens, how they work, the types there are, how you find a good one and how to deal with any issues that may crop up. Of course, this really just scratches the surface, but we have plenty of additional information in our “Basics of Vaping” posts and our safety series which you can check out on our blog. Vaping can seem very complicated when you’re just getting started, but it’s really not as bad as it seems, and when you get to grips with it, your lungs will thank you.