As my Purple Days began rattling itself to death I decided to buy a new desktop vaporizer. Thus began my search for the ideal vaporizer for me. I wound up owning three very different vaporizers and I thought someone somewhere might find it helpful to have a comparison. I won't go into specifications and features; you should already know the basics about the three vaporizers. Here are my thoughts on these by order of acquisition.
Bachelor #1 - Vapexhale EVO
I bought the EVO because it's the forum darling, and I was looking for something extravagant and luxurious after using the PD for so long. Not that there's anything wrong with the PD, but I had some cash burning a hole in my pocket and I was ready to stop sipping and start guzzling.
Glass is fragile. But you already knew that right? You also knew the hydratubes are expensive, right? Sure, you can buy third party accessories elsewhere cheaper. I won't debate the quality of those parts here, though. The bamboo also being glass means that this vaporizer, of the three sampled, was the one most likely to be broken if dropped. Additionally, despite being a reasonable value this is a somewhat expensive piece.
Have you ever completely filled your lungs with rich, moisture-conditioned vapor? Have you ever exhaled a cloud so large it seems to fog the entire room? You can do that with the EVO; no effort. Also effortless - concentrates. The glass/quartz tubes are a simple, yet elegant solution to users who want to enjoy herb mostly, with an occasional dab now and then.
My car analogy
Alpha Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio - A delicate yet powerful vape that will give you more performance than you can handle so long as you baby it.
The EVO is a wonderful vape, and it puts out the largest clouds of the three. However, I did not enjoy the water aspect so much. I'd gotten used to the maintenance-free routine of the PD. I am also too lazy to clean a hydratube everyday and too OCD to leave a dirty hydratube sitting around overnight. Once I forgot to put the lid back on the basket after a refill and wound up with a hydratube full of herby water. I also found out you cannot recline while using a hydratube; that puts you in the splash zone. My favorite way to use the EVO was with the standard mouthpiece which allows more flavor to get through, although it reduces the smoothness of the vapor. Also, at medium to high temperatures the vapor can be too flavorful and intense through the standard mouthpiece.
Bachelor #2 - Underdog
After the EVO, I decide to try something more similar to the PD. The Dog being another forum favorite I chose it along with an assortment of direct draw stems - I was done with waterplay after the EVO.
Any criticisms I have of the Dog are very, very minor. I'm definitely being extra picky to list these but here we go: technique. The dog is not a plug in and rip kind of vape. Plugged straight into the wall mine was too hot and charred my herb. Of course, the newer Dogs are built with an extra effective heater on purpose. This is why the VVPS is included with all the new ones.
So then you have to find the right setting for you, and the right distance for the screen, and the right draw speed. Mind you, you don't need an advanced understanding of particle physics to use the log; I had good results after my second session and excellent results after my third. And once those training wheels are off this vape can do anything its pricier counterparts can do.
Convenience rules. I can set up, finish my stem, and clean up my gear in less than 10 minutes. 5 minutes with the smaller steel-tipped stems. Cleanup is easy. Bonus: the Dog and all its parts are small, which takes up less room on the coffee table. Finally, this vape can put out very large and thick clouds. In this sense, it felt a lot like the EVO with the standard mouthpiece but in a smaller package tailor-made for smaller bowls. The Dog conserves the most herb of the three, but the size-limit on clouds is governed by the user's lungs not the equipment. It was still possible to get vapor that was too powerful for me to handle.
My car analogy
Honda Civic Type R - A convenient, economic vape that seems responsible but is actually much more powerful than it looks [and costs!].
The Underdog is awesome. I recommend everyone have one even if you own other vapes. More than likely you'll purchase other vapes later, be disappointed and go back to the Dog. Of the three, the Underdog is definitely the smartest choice. As a long-time PD user this vape felt familiar but much more powerful and adjustable. I did miss the giant mellow clouds of the EVO through the hydratube, though. And sometimes I get clumsy and tip the glass stem too far, dropping bits of herb here and there.
Bachelor # 3 - Storz & Bickel Volcano Classic w/ Easy Valve
I decided to ignore the many warnings on this forum and give the Cano a shot. I had the Underdog as a back-up vape so I felt confident I could make this vape disappear if I needed to. Plus there's got to be some truth to the hype, right?
It's expensive. More expensive than the EVO (then again, not that much more expensive either!). You can get two Underdogs for less than the retail price of a Volcano. Also, since the other two vapes are silent, this vape is the loudest of the three. The fan sounds about as loud as my kitchen faucet at full blast. The ballons are also crinkly and can be awkward to set down when full. The flavor is more diluted than in the other two vapes. Although, it's possible to get very thick and flavorful vapor with the right grind and temperature.
The flavor is mellower. I know I listed this as a negative, but it's also a positive. I no longer miss the cooler clouds of the EVO because the Cano allows the vapor to cool down to a more comfortable temperature without water. Additionally, the Volcano is very idiot-resistant. The chamber is wide, easy to fill, and it screws shut so herb doesn't spill when you knock it over. You can inhale from the bag in any position. It's also the only vape of the three that would not char my herb. Finally, the Cano feels well engineered, from the muted gleam of the stainless steel to the way the temperature knob feels between your fingers and the way the parts fit together with a reassuring snap.
My car analogy
Lexus LS - A pricey yet undeniably solid vape that will comfortably get you where you want to go with dependable ease.
I haven't spent as much time with the Volcano as I have with the other two so my summary for this section will be brief. I really like the Volcano, but I need more time with it to decide if it was really worth the cost.
Vapor - All three have wonderful vapor, the Dog and the EVO (with the standard mouthpiece) have the strongest flavor and the vapor can overwhelm you if you push too hard. The Underdog can be harsh depending on temperature and I do wish there was a longer stem option. Inhaling vapor through the standard mouthpiece on the EVO can feel like drinking through a firehose. With a hydratube, the EVO's vapor will be as smooth as the Volcano (although it loses a bit of flavor in the filtration) and ridiculously huge clouds are easy. The Volcano has cool mellow vapor that still has a lot of flavor despite the inherent “airiness” of the balloons. In this sense, the Cano's vapor felt more like sipping an americano versus a ristreto in the other two.
Aesthetics - The EVO's hydratubes are beautiful and the controls feel solid; I love the way the knob has a little "catch" at 12 o'clock. Despite that, the plastic looks like it came out of a 3D printer and the neoprene sleeve fit like a sweater that shrunk in the wash. All in all, it feels like a product manufactured by a start-up, I'm guessing XHL will continue to refine this vape over time. The Underdog feels - artisanal. You can tell someone put a lot of care into the design and packaging even if they didn't have the resources of a corporation. The wood is lovely to look at and hold, but the accessories do not have the tight tolerances of the other two. The knob on the VVPS can sometimes feel a little gritty, and the underside of the log can feel a little uneven. Nitpicking, though. The Volcano looks like lab equipment. You could remove the "Volcano" logo and set it between a centrifuge and an autoclave and no one would question it. Everything fits together with precision and you can tell any gaps in the components are there for a reason.
Usability - The EVO is the trickiest of the three to use in that you have to be sitting up or standing while you use it with a hydratube. Also, loading the narrow baskets can be difficult unless you're scooping out of a 3+ piece grinder with a large hold area. The Underdog is easy to use once you have the temperature and screen-height set. I do wish I could load a loose fluffy glass stem without worrying about spilling herb, but I can be a little paranoid like that. I really like the simplicity of loading a stem by inhalation. The Volcano is the simplest to use, I love that I can pick up, inhale, then set down the balloon all with one hand while reclining. The wide bowl is very resistant to tipping over and easy to fill.
Maintenance - I have a compulsive need to clean my gear when it looks dirty. I spent as much time cleaning the EVO as I did using it, I also could never get the glass nails 100% clean after using them. This was my least favorite aspect of the EVO. The Underdog is easy to clean, just blow your load (hehe) into the muslin bag when you're done then pack it up. Once a week I'd empty out my bag and soak my stem in ISO. The Volcano... I'm not sure if it needs maintenance? When I dump out a bowl and brush the screen it looks clean. Eventually, I'm sure I'll have to replace the balloon and soak the metal chamber parts in ISO, but so far the Cano is the least demanding of the three for maintenance. That's actually a huge accomplishment, in my opinion, because the Underdog requires almost no maintenance as well.
In proofreading this I realize I’m a little harsh on the EVO. The magnitude of cloudage is undeniable compared to the other two. However, my expectations were set very high after reading many of the posts here. For the Underdog, I want to emphasize two things: one - this vape punches way, way above its weight; two – Underdog and Underdogette are fantastic, I have zero concerns about customer service with Underdog Vapes. For the Volcano: yes, it’s expensive. It’s also the only vape I’ve ever used that felt like it was designed by a group of technicians with a strong background in manufacturing. All the components fit together perfectly. It's so easy to use that if you removed the instructions and handed the Volcano to a novice they'd still be able to figure it out.
Again, I hope this info will be helpful and that you enjoy whichever vape you choose.