⚡ Mashable Score
When I began a cautious experiment in vaporizing cannabis concentrates two years ago, the Puffco Peak was my first port of call. This $380 device, which looked like a tiny bong you can hold in the palm of your hand, had just launched, and was winning praise for its futuristic design. Concentrates offer more of those crucial cannabis terpenes than basic alternatives like oil vape pens, more even than dried-out flower, and the Peak was the best way for a beginner like me to discover just how tasty that could be: “like going on a date with the ghost of a plant,” as one industry executive put it.
Compared to the old school Rube Goldberg-like dabbing rigs that require a nail and a torch, the Peak was portable and relatively cheap. The $400 Puffco Peak Pro, which started shipping pre-orders this week, is the next generation version with a number of incremental improvements, and the first to connect to an app. But when my Peak Pro review unit arrived, I was in a skeptical state of mind.
That’s because my original Peak had became unusable in short order, and I had discovered it wasn’t just my problem. The sticky post-dab residue had a tendency to leak out of its ceramic chamber and either cause you to cough a lot (my experience), or in the case of other users, crack the device’s heating element. The CEO of the company that makes Dab Tabs (single-serving dabs) told me last year that he’d broken three Peaks that way. Still, he bought a new one every time.
My broken Peak, meanwhile, had sent me on an odyssey of other dabbing tech options. I started with the Pax 3 vaporizer (using its optional concentrate insert). Then I switched to the Firefly vaporizer (concentrate disk included). Alas, both devices seemed underpowered in terms of how many clouds they delivered. And yet both lost their battery charge very quickly, the Firefly especially, and require proprietary chargers.
I enjoyed the Grenco Roam, which boasts a small internal bong glass for smooth hits, but it seemed overpowered, its ultra-high temperatures getting you too baked too soon. It also didn’t last very long between recharges, and was soon banished to the box of disappointing weed gadgets. Eventually I opted for the $150 G Pen Connect and a $100 piece of glassware. The pros: smooth bong-like hits and a micro-USB battery that held a charge for ages. The cons: a tiny concentrate chamber in need of regular cleaning, and it wasn’t exactly portable. (Then again, who’s going anywhere these days?)
A Pro experience
Puffco has been working on the Peak Pro for the past three years, but it was almost as if they’d been listening in on all my concerns about those other devices. The Peak Pro holds its charge for about as long as the G Pen Connect, but charges much faster because the Pro uses USB-C. There’s an optional $120 Power Dock that will charge the Peak Pro wirelessly, and also acts as a battery pack for other USB devices, but that seems like expensive overkill.
The ceramic chamber on the Peak Pro is giant, 40 percent larger than the original, meaning there’s way less opportunity for leakage. The atomizer underneath looks much more sturdy than the original, with gold-plated sensors — part of an on-board computer that helps maintain a constant temperature no matter how large your dab is or how hard you’re hitting it.
The metallic finish is nicer and finally fingerprint free. It’s clear where the power button is, which wasn’t the case with the previous Peak. More importantly, there’s a brand new carb cap that fits snugly into the ceramic chamber; on the previous Peak, you had to hold a glass stopper in place on top, which didn’t do a great job of keeping vapor in. Finally, a bong experience where you don’t have to keep a finger on the carb.
The glass part of the Peak Pro also has more volume than the one on the Peak, even though it has been redesigned to look thinner. The glassware is interchangeable on both devices, however, so don’t worry if you’ve bought one of the beautiful third-party glass Peak pieces. The Pro’s extra volume means you can put more water in, which really makes a difference in terms of the smoothness of the hit. As with the original Peak, I don’t recommend you go above the lowest temperature setting, blue, unless you’re a very experienced dabber. Higher settings still made me cough.
There’s no mistaking the color you’re on, because the Peak glows incredibly brightly during the 15 seconds it warms up and the 15 seconds it’s ready for a hit. It’s kind of a novelty, a party trick you’d expect to see on a cut-price copycat device (there have been many knock-off Peaks). Still, set it to rainbow-colored disco mode, put it together with the improved design, and what you’ve got is something that really looks like it’s from the future.
Set it to rainbow-colored disco mode, put it together with the improved design, and what you’ve got is something that really looks like it’s from the future.
I thought that the accompanying app was going to be a novelty act, too. Other dabbing devices come with apps where you can adjust the temperature, see how much is left in the battery and customize the colors. But the Puffco app adds a neat feature that the microdosing crowd will find especially helpful: It keeps track of how many dabs you’ve done, both today and over the lifetime of the device. Take that, alcohol industry. (Wouldn’t it be great if beer bottles could tell you how many of them you’d drunk, tonight and over a lifetime?)
If you’re using an iPhone, the app is a pain to download, because Apple still hasn’t unbanned any vape-related apps after the great vape pen scare of 2019. Companies like Puffco are finding a way around the ban: You download the Path Browser app, then set up a homepage shortcut that looks like a Puffco app. I had some trouble starting and stopping the phone’s Bluetooth connection to the device, but perhaps that is to be expected when Apple deliberately keeps itself out of the loop.
App issues aside, the Puffco Peak Pro is my new dabbing device of choice — for now. The concentrate delivery industry is still young, and I have no doubt a rival like Grenco will come back with something even more convenient and accessible to beginners. Because there are many more cautious newbies out there who might enjoy going on sublime dates with ghosts of plants. Whether those dates are worth $400 is up to you.