April 20 is going to feel a little different this year.
With weed legalization slowly picking up steam across the country—a hearty congrats, New York!—and with little need to keep your smoking devices tucked away in cabinets, closets, or drawers anymore like a teen trying to hide your piece from your parents, there’s no better time to treat yourself to the smoking device of your dreams. After all, is it so much to ask that our glass look as grown up as a nice bottle of wine waiting to be uncorked on the kitchen countertop?
Whether that dream device be a premium gravity bong or the perfect vape pen for on the go, Gizmodo has spent the last several months tracking down the best gadgets to 4/20 blaze it. For this list, we looked at a mix of both premium and budget-friendly picks, with a specific focus on design and user experience whether you want to catch a buzz or blast off.
Our pick: Session Pipe ($40)
I had been on the hunt for a hand pipe that could move around with me for a minute when I found Session’s moderately priced and simply titled Pipe. The pipe itself is made of 2.5mm black tinted borosilicate glass, and at just under four inches in length, it’s a fairly compact device. The neat thing about this pipe, though, is that it fits snugly into an included silicone sleeve that allows it to be tossed into a backpack or purse without any worry that it’s going to break or leave ash all over the inside of whatever you’re carrying it in.
A steel keychain attachment offers another way to transport it on the go, and I found the silicone sleeve fit so snugly that the pipe was never in any danger of potentially falling out. The pipe itself has a flat circular front end, meaning it can stand upright if it needs to. Two delicate feet also keep it from tipping over when it’s horizontal, so you can load a bowl without the pipe accidentally spilling bud.
Our pick: Grav Jane West Cobalt Blue Upright Bubbler ($120)
There are many reasons to love this palm-sized bubbler from Jane West, particularly in its cobalt blue form (although there’s an opaque cloud variation as well). It measures about five inches in height in the body and takes about an inch and a half of water. It’s gorgeous, it hits incredibly smooth, and it’s perfect for lighter smokers looking for something more suited to personal use.
All of that said, it’s not the easiest smoking device to clean thanks to its narrow tubing. Its steeper price tag is a bit of a bummer. But it’s definitely what you might call an investment smoking device. If you’ve been on the hunt for a well-made, beautiful, compact, and easy-on-the-eyes smoking device that can fit as easily on your bedside table as it can on a bookshelf without being too conspicuous, this is the bubbler for you.
Our pick: Heir Waterpipe ($260)
Whenever a friend asks me about a preferred smoking device, I almost always point them to the Heir Waterpipe. Available in both 11-inch and 13-inch sizes with various neutral color combinations, this is very much an adult smoking device. Its gorgeous minimalist design means that I never mind having it sitting out on a bookshelf in my living room, which is a major bonus. But the real selling point for me is how smooth this water pipe hits, and its splash guard, ergonomic mouthpiece (which doubles as a lighter holder), and weighted bowl piece situated up high for better control make the total experience delightful.
One of the best parts about this water pipe, though, is that all of its components are dishwasher safe, and it’s extremely easy to disassemble. Just screw the base off from the mouthpiece, disable the steam and heat dry cycle on your dishwasher, and call it a day. I’d strongly recommend Heir’s tinted black glass, as it’s far less likely to look gnarly between washes.
Our pick: Pax Era Life ($35)
Pax’s recently launched Era Life vape pen is the perfect, compact solution for vaping on the go—or wherever, really. It’s that good. It’s similar to its predecessors the Era and Era Pro in design, but it’s Pax’s most compact form factor to date. It’s also extremely straightforward to use: Just charge it, pop in a Pax Era pod, and pull. Like other Era vape pens, you’ll be able to switch between four temperature settings, though you will get less battery life with the Era Life than you will with the Pro (an estimated 150 draws versus 250).
The Era Life does miss out on some premium features, like compatibility with the Pax app, dose control settings, and “find my device” features. There’s also no child safety lock on the Era Life. But for casual users, I’m not sure that it’s worth dropping twice the cost of the Era Life to bump up to the Pro ($70).
Something to keep in mind, however, is that Pax cartridges can be harder to track down in some areas, which could be a problem. I’d highly recommend checking with some of your local dispensaries prior to taking the leap with one of Pax’s pod-based smoking devices. If availability is limited, I also had a fantastic experience with the Pax 3 ($200), which accepts both flower and concentrate, gets great battery life, and offers advanced settings through the Pax app.
Also consider: DynaVap “M” Vaporizer ($75)
DynaVap’s “M” vaporizer is a unique device; I definitely haven’t run into anything like this before. Its stainless steel design is solid and detachable into four parts, making it easy to clean. It’s very portable—great for hikes—and uses flower instead of THC oil like the Pax 2. But unlike all of Pax’s devices, it isn’t battery-powered. Users will have to heat up the end of the “M”—with a torch, a Bic won’t do—until a tactile click comes from the device’s cap, notifying them the ”M” is primed and ready to go.
Easy, right? Not gonna lie, there is a slight learning curve when using the “M” model. I combusted the flower in the bowl once because I didn’t hear the click, which didn’t offer a fantastic experience. But that only happened to me once. And when I got used to the temperature, and paid attention, of course, I was tasting all of the wonderful terpenes in my flower in no time, a spectrum of piney aroma and flavors that’s way cleaner than any THC oil I’ve tried. — Matthew Reyes
Our pick: Stündenglass Gravity Hookah ($600)
I’m not even sure where to start with the Stündenglass other than to say there isn’t much this device can’t do. And while $600 is a frankly outrageous chunk of change to drop on a single smoking device, its component configurations make it feel like several independent smoking products packed into one very powerful multifunction contraption and a good centerpiece for things like parties if/when we return to pre-covid social environments. It ships with a set for a hookah bowl kit, a glass bowl for flower, can support any smoking device with a 14mm male joint, and can be consumed either with a contactless adjustable mouthpiece or with an included 3-foot silicone hose.
Now, I am not an especially heavy smoker when it comes to single sessions, which was admittedly one of the primary reasons I both feared and was thrilled by the Stündenglass Gravity Hookah. It wasn’t especially surprising, then, when one heavy hit from the Stündenglass shot me straight into space and then eased me into a three-hour nap. But I was surprised to learn that even a friend with a flavor for dabs and much higher tolerance than I have was absolutely wrecked by the Stündenglass.
The best part of this device is that its carrying case makes packing it away a breeze, and both of its glass globes are dishwasher safe after they’re screwed off from the device’s main body. (You’ll definitely want to clean it semi-regularly, so this was very much appreciated.) This is not a device for casual consumers. But if you’re looking to blast off, buddy, this is the product for you.
Additional reporting by Matthew Reyes.