Photo: Patrick Austin (Gizmodo)

I’ve only used a fancy toilet seat once. It was a TOTO-brand washlet, that pampers your derrière with a stream of warm water, a heated seat, and a warm air dryer. I had the good fortune in a Michelin-starred restaurant, where the food you ingested was treated with nearly as much respect as the food you excreted if the quality of the commode was any indication. Puffco’s Peak reminds me of that very same washlet: luxurious, elegant, feature-laden, and a complete waste of money. The only difference is that one is a toilet seat while the other is a cannabis concentrate vaporizer that gets you really high.

Cannabis concentrate (often referred to as oil, wax, or shatter) is simply cannabis that’s gone through an extraction process and is turned into a viscous oil made of CBD and THC, the concentrated chemical compounds you know and love.

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Puffco’s no stranger to making gadgets that let cannabis concentrate users indulge in the hobby. It already has two portable vaporizers in the form of the $79 Puffco Pro 2 and the slightly pricier $99 Puffco Plus, both pen-shaped vaporizers that let users enjoy their concentrate on the go.

When I said an utter waste of money before, that’s simply because the Puffco Peak is expensive, especially for what it is: a glorified dab rig.

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A dab rig is basically a bong for concentrated cannabis. Like a bong, you add some water to the chamber of the water pipe, heat your “nail” (the bowl where your cannabis concentrate goes) with your lighter, add your cannabis concentrate, and inhale through the water-filled pipe, where the smoke is filtered and cooled. Congratulations, you’re now incredibly high.

By the way, it’s called a “dab rig” because you only need a small hit (a dab, if you will) to feel the effects.

The Peak is a $380 dab rig-inspired vaporizer that lets you ditch the lighter and bypass the process of heating your nail with fire like a Neanderthal. You’ll still need a bit of water to fill the chamber, but other than that it’s an entirely self-contained setup.

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The Peak’s design is definitely worth at least inquiring about its price. It’s a beautiful piece of hardware, with a bottom-heavy rubber half surrounded by an LED ring, and a metallic upper half that houses the rubbery percolator receptacle and protruding ceramic bowl where you place your concentrate. The logo doubling as a power button sits under the ceramic bowl, and one-handed operation is easy enough thanks to the device’s ergonomic design.

Using it might be as easy as pushing a button, but it doesn’t help if you don’t know what that button actually does. The interface is almost too simple, requiring several trips to the user manual just to figure out the correct number of button presses for whichever setting I was attempting to enable (or disable).

The glass cap sits atop this tiny ceramic bowl, where your concentrate is placed.
Photo: Patrick Lucas Austin (Gizmodo)

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The Peak itself has four different temperature settings depending on the amount of concentrate you’re using: the hotter the Peak, the more concentrate you can enjoy either by yourself or with your cadre of friends. It takes anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds for it to be toke-ready, and you can keep that temperature at a stable level using the Peak’s Sesh Mode, which just keeps it at a usable temperature for an extra 15 seconds while everyone enjoys some kind bud.

Its removable glass percolator (which needs to be aligned with the Peak’s air intake hole) makes it easy to clean, and can be swapped with custom glass that fits the Peak’s percolator receptacle. Puffco has shown off some custom glass in social media posts, but unless you’re commissioning something out of this world to replace the included cone-shaped percolator, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one in the wild for the luxury vape.

That wide base makes the Peak pretty stable for its height, and easy to operate with one hand.
Photo: Patrick Lucas Austin (Gizmodo)

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While the glass percolator is par for the course, what I wasn’t expecting was a glass carb cap lacking any sort of locking mechanism. Carb caps are used to keep your cannabis concentrate at a usable temperature, restricting the airflow to improve heat and smoke retention. That temperature-regulating cap, designed to sit atop the ceramic bowl, turns what should be a chill and pleasant dabbing experience into a balancing act, both metaphorically and literally.

The last thing I need, especially while high as shit, is glass precariously perched on an expensive machine filled with water that’s changing hands among friends. That’s a recipe for anxiety, one I would much prefer to avoid. During one use, I grew so visibly concerned it would fall over when picked up my partner asked if I was okay, prompting me to explain what about the Peak was driving me up the wall.

Disassembled, the Peak can fit pretty easily in your backpack, and includes a somewhat bulky form-fitting carrying case.
Photo: Patrick Lucas Austin (Gizmodo)

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You can expect up to 30 dab hits from a fully charged Peak, which takes about two hours to recharge via its Micro-USB port. In a conversation with the Puffco CEO Roger Volodarsky, he made his personal preference for USB-C clear, even though the Peak used an outmoded connector, which he said maximized the ability for customers to recharge it wherever they are thanks to its ubiquity.

The rationale, that Micro-USB is more common at the moment than USB-C, might make sense for now, but I wouldn’t bet on that for much longer. Considering the Peak is nearly a $400 device, I imagine it will be a tool people will turn to for some sick dabs for a few years at a time. And in those years, USB-C will only grow in popularity. Also, I imagine someone with $400 to spare on a bong has another $20 for an extra USB-C cable, or at least an extra $5 for an adapter.

Aligning the glass water chamber with the Peak’s air intake hole is simple enough, but could benefit from a visual aid.
Photo: Patrick Lucas Austin (Gizmodo)

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I think the Puffco Peak is a fascinating piece of engineering, but at $380, everyone not employed by a multi-billion dollar tech company should just rely on a traditional dab rig, or a cheaper vaporizer from the same company. Still, it’s a decent first attempt, and it looks damn good. If Puffco can improve its user interface and add USB-C connectivity while ditching the damn glass cap, it might have a winner on its hands.

README

  • $380 for a flame-free dab rig.
  • Micro-USB connector should’ve been a USB-C connector.
  • Glass carb cap is stressful, and lacks a locking mechanism.
  • Includes a bulky and basic travel case for safe transport.
  • Air intake hole could use a visual aid for easier alignment.
  • Makes a great gift for that person who “has it all.”
  • You can buy a lot of weed with $380.

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