The other night, I filled a backpack with pipes, vaporizers, stash boxes, and a lighter and headed over to my friend Stony Baloney's house. (Stony Baloney is not his real name.) I enjoy using cannabis every now and again, after a hard day at work or on a campout, but SB has been a daily "partaker of the sacrament" ever since we were in high school together twenty years ago. I wanted his take on a selection from the wide world of cannabis products hitting the market now that legalization is finally taking hold. (Disclaimer: the below reviews were begun under the influence, but in the sober light of day I stand by them.)
Roll-uh-Bowl (From $34.99)
I've never felt the need to bring a bong on a camping trip; rolling papers suffice. But if I did, the silicone Roll-uh-Bowl portable bubbler would work. It's super light, folds small enough to fit into a pocket (minus bong water!) and is brightly colored (mine's "clockwork orange") in case you lose it. "I'd bring this on a boat," says SB after a satisfying rip. "Someplace that's not glass friendly and naturally has water incorporated." He continues, less complimentarily: "It looks like those $20 bongs you get when you're fourteen, made of PVC with the melting plastic cap at the bottom." But looks aren't everything. We were impressed by the bowl's spring-loaded release, a clever way to avoid hit-killing clogging.
Bottom line: It offers space saving and portability for the true bong enthusiast.
Connector Pipe ($80)
Let's be clear: smoking out of a rock is not the same thing as smoking the rock. Okay, good. A designer named Miwak Junior hand-casts "pebble-shaped" pipes from porcelain and stoneware clay, including the Connector Pipe (available at shop-tetra.com) with a glazed bowl. "It's very Zen," says SB, turning it over in his hands. "Ergonomic. Clean, elegant, minimalist. Pulls really hot, like most dry pipes. It elevates the experience of smoking to the level of commercial design or modern art." It's also, we must acknowledge, a little hipster: "It's the black turtleneck pipe compared with the hemp necklace of every other bowl. It won't look out of place next to your West Elm nicknacks."
Bottom line: It's a beautiful, adult pipe. If it were a person, it would be a fashion photographer.
The Cog Container ($75)
The Cog Container, designed by Tom Dixon (and also available at shop-tetra.com), looks to SB "like a dreidel made by the military for use during war times." I get his point: it's super durable, thanks to brass-plated aluminum materials. You feel like you might find one buried in your backyard from World War II: there's half a lid of tea in there! We like the heft, and the look, but it's not very big. You won't stash more than an eighth inside. (Enough for most people who aren't SB.) The handle looks like it should do something, like grind the cannabis or make it into a weed centrifuge. But, as far as we can tell, it's just a handle.
Bottom line: A huge upgrade from your Ziploc bag, potentially worthy of display.
Wave Lighter ($45)
Fancy lighters tend to be a tough sell, unless you're in a Bond film or a secret society. The Wave lighter, by Tsubota Pearl, makes the case both for and against: "It's stylish," says SB, "but I wouldn't light my weed with a Zippo unless it was in a joint. I feel like the fumes flavor the weed. Bic lighters don't." SB could be a bit paranoid on this point: he's high, after all. I tend to feel that the smoking ceremony calls for formality, and class, on occasion. Design trumps function then.
Bottom line: Not for everyday use, but worth having on hand.
PAX 2 ($280)
Until recently, I'd never vaped; I hadn't noticed a void in my life. My first experience, with the "Apple of vaporizers," revealed the appeal: you can really taste the cannabis. The new PAX 2 is the iPhone of getting stoned. It plugs into a USB. A blinking display tells you if it's charged (lasts long, unlike iPhones), how hot its little oven is (four settings), it even plays games. It's pocket size. It goes to sleep when you aren't using it. "I prefer vaporizers that use flowers instead of oils," says SB. "It's a trust thing: I can look at a nugget and tell what it'll do." Half a joint's worth of weed can get you buzzed five or six times in the flower-friendly Pax 2. "The $280 Price is high," continued SB. "But the Pax is worth it."
Bottom line: For stoner dorks. Big bowl in small package with long lasting battery and improved mouthpiece. Extra points for blinking lights.
Old Stony Baloney was a little negative about the Juul, which wasn't surprising given that it's an oil-based (rather than flower-using) vape pen. "I thought these were the weed-smoking equivalent of the Capri or Virginia Slim," he said with disgust, before warming up some. "It's super light, almost fragile." Also on the positive side: You can take it anywhere and it doesn't get too hot. But once you get one you're locked into that pen's particular cartridge system. "There's no standardization in the vape game," SB lamented. "For that reason, I wouldn't get one. I want to be able to choose my vape." Meanwhile, I hit the coco-minty tobacco cartridge that came with the Juul, since cannabis oil is tough to come by where I live. Didn't feel too dainty to me.
Bottom line: It's the smallest, least ridiculous looking oil-based vape pen. Cool that it plugs into your computer.