Portable vaporizers these days are all about compromises. Frequently they don’t last long on a charge, they don’t hold enough herb, they’re unwieldy, and more often than not, they taste like shit. So, it’s rather refreshing when a little vape comes along as solves most of those problems while staying well under the $200 barrier that so many others careen through. It’s not perfect, but it’s excellent.

It’s Friday afternoon, you’ve made it through the long week, and it’s time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo’s weekly booze etc. column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and substances. If a vape smolders in the woods when no one is around, can you still feel it?

Hardware

For starters, this little vape doesn’t look like much. And that’s a good thing. Discretion is key, right? It’s 5 x 1 x 1.3 inches and it should fit in just about any pocket you’ve got (though if you wear skinny jeans it could look somewhat boneresque). The version I was sent has a matte black finish, which just further aids the stealthiness, though you can also get it in military green or a light blue, if you’d rather. The exterior is made from a thick polycarbonate that feels very solid. Indeed, the Vapium Summit is being marketed as a “rugged” vaporizer, hoping to appeal to the outdoors crowd.

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On the front of the device are three buttons, a big one that operates as the power switch when you long-press it, and two smaller + and - buttons for controlling the temperature. There are also four small LEDs that indicate the temperature you’ve selected. Also on the front is the opening for the heating chamber. It’s protected by a magnetic door the pops right into place and stays there pretty snugly. The door itself is connected to the body of the device by a lanyard so you can’t accidentally lose it while packing it.

The bowl itself is decent-sized. I’d estimate you can get about a third of a gram of ground herb in there. That’s certainly small by home-vape standards, but something on the go, it’s totally respectable. I found that I was usually able to get about 20 good sized hits off the thing. More so, the chamber heats very evenly and I never had to stir it, which is really nice. More on that in a minute.

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At the top of the device is a sort of triangular mouthpiece with a very wide hole in it. It, too, is made of polycarbonate and is magnetically attached to the body. The vape comes with a couple clear plastic mouthpiece covers that you can pop on top, should you be worried about getting cooties from your friends. Around back is a micro USB port, which is fantastic. Micro USB is extremely ubiquitous which means you can charge your vape pretty much anywhere. Also, yes, you can use the vape while it’s charging, which is awesome. The only dumb part of the design is that the micro USB port has a little tiny rubber plug in it, which does not attached to the body, and which you are absolutely going to lose. Vapium sells these caps at $5 for a six-pack of them, which is telling.

On the flip side, the company also sells replacement mouthpieces and heating chamber lids for $15 each, which isn’t so bad. The whole thing comes with a dry-bag, so you’re not going to soak your vapables when you accidentally tip your canoe. It also includes a little cleaning kit, some pipe cleaners, and a replacement screen. Handy.

Using It

The Summit is pretty simple to use. Just hold down the power button, and that’s basically it. It will vibrate once when it first turns on, and it will vibrate a second time when it reaches your desired temperature. Again, very stealth. It typically reaches your desired temperature in under a minute, too.

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The Summit allows you to select between 8 different temperature settings, which is very nice. It uses the four LEDs to show you which temp you’re at by having each either by half lit or fully lit. The options you have are 320, 338, 356, 374, 392, 410, 428, and 446 degrees F. I tried it with a few different strains from my local dispensary and found that for most of them, 374 or 392 degrees was the sweet spot. Go much higher and you’re pretty much just smoking instead of vaping. You don’t have to remember these temperature. You just need to know that the 3rd LED (the orange one) should either be half lit or fully lit. Pretty simple.

This is a conduction style vape, which basically just means that the chamber heats up, and you pull the air through by inhaling. Generally speaking, convection vapes—which use a fan to force air through the herb—hit faster and easier. Indeed, it found that the Vapium Summit typically takes two or three pulls after it reaches temp before it really starts delivering a nice, dense vapor, which isn’t ideal. That said, I was really impressed with how easy it is to draw air through it. Most conductive vapes I’ve tried (like the Arizer Solo) require so much effort you think you might end up with a lung on the wrong side of your mouth. The Summit is easy breezy, even when you’ve packed the bowl pretty tightly.

I definitely noticed that the first bowl tasted off. There was something chemically about it, and it seemed that that needed to burn off first. This had me very worried. I emptied the chamber and turned up the heat all the way in an attempt to burn it all off. Then I used the ol’ suck and spit technique (minds out of the gutter, please) rather than actually inhaling. It worked! After that first bowl, the vapor tasted really sweet. It’s not quite as thick and milky as The Pinnacle Pro DLX, but it definitely tasted like it was supposed to taste.

The Summit has an auto-off feature, which should keep you from getting too stoned, forgetting about it, and then scorching all of your herb. It’s a nice feature, but I wish it would vibrate again to let you know it’s gone into standby mode. As is, it just kind of does it, then you go to take a hit, and it’s not ready. Annoying. The Summit is only meant for dry herbs, but I put a little piece of wax on top of some mostly-cashed bud and it worked fantastically well, not sure if that would cause clogging over time, though.

Like

It’s small and very discreet looking. The vibration notifications are good, the magnetically attached bowl cover is good. It gets up to temp quickly and has very little resistance when you’re inhaling. It has a decent-sized bowl and the vapor it produces is very tasty. Love that it charges via micro USB and that you can use it while it’s charging. There’s no glass it in it, so it feels very strong and durable. I like that it comes with a waterproof drybag.

No Like

The first bowl tasted like chemicals, which is no bueno. The USB port cover is something you’re definitely going to lose. The mouth piece gets a bit warmer than I’d like after a few hits. It’s not going to burn your mouth, but it’s not exactly comfortable, either. Would be nice if it vibrated to let you know when it’s going into standby mode.

Should You Buy It?

For $150, this little portable vape performs really well, and I’d say it out-performs most others in its price-range. Let’s be clear, it doesn’t come close to producing vapor of the quality that something like the Firefly does. But then, it costs 120 less than the Firefly. On the other hand, you can get the above mentioned Pinnacle Pro for $150, too. Now, without its water-pipe attachment (which adds $50 to the cost and makes it basically un-portable) I’ve found that it can produce harsh vapor, but then again, it’s convection.

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I think for most, entry-level vapers, the Vapium Summit is a good buy. It affordable, durable, and discreet. It’s not the best at anything, but it’s solid all around. [Vapium]