The world of vaping is full of all kinds of devices, and all the different terminology can make shopping confusing. From vape, vaporizer, to vape pen or box mod, different names for similar products can be overwhelming. One of the most notorious sources of the confusion comes from the terms vaporizer vs vape pen and people not understanding the nuanced differences.
In this article, we'll talk about the differences between a vape pen and a vaporizer, the similarities, and why you might want one over the other. By the end, you'll have a great idea of the kind of vape that might work best for you!
Vaporizer vs. Vape Pen
The term vaporizer is a broad term, referring to any device that creates vapor, while a vape pen refers to vaporizers that are small, cylindrical devices that are meant for vaping on the go. Or, to put it another way, all vape pens are vaporizers, but not all vaporizers are vape pens. Vaporizers include vape pens, box mods, dry herb vapes, desktop vapes, and any other vaping device.
In terms of how to vape, both vaporizers and vape pens operate similarly. However, you'll see clear differences between vape pens and vaporizers that have multiple features available.
Portable Vaporizers & Vape Pen: An Overview
When you start comparing portable vaporizers to vape pens, it gets a little harder to distinguish the two. Often, there may not be a practical difference between a portable vaporizer or a vape pen, with the only real difference being that the vape pen looks like a pen. It's become common to refer to any small, portable vaping device as a vape pen, since their function is similar.
Even though portable vapes and vape pens are similar, there often are significant differences. This is especially true when you begin to examine full featured vapes like the Firefly 2+ portable vaporizer.
Functional and Structural Differences
Let's take a closer look at some of the functional and structural differences between vape pens and common portable vaporizers.
As we've said, vape pens look like pens. This design makes them great for easy travel and discreet vaping but can limit battery life or available features. Portable vapes, like the Firefly 2+, are larger, but this also allows for a larger capacity for dry herbs, better battery life, and access to more features to cater to your vaping experience.
Vape pens usually have very limited temperature settings. Most don't allow for precision heating options, instead offering 3-5 preset heating modes. General portable vaporizers usually offer precision heating and a larger heating range. Certain devices allow for precision heating to be changed on the physical device, while others, including the Firefly 2+, use a companion app to keep the device from being cluttered.
Maintenance of vape pens is usually pretty simple. The heating chambers are often small, so it's easy to dump out the residue. Clogs are more of an issue since the vapor path is so small, though a toothpick or other small tool can resolve most issues.
Maintenance of vaporizers is far easier. Heating chambers are larger, making it easier to wipe out residue and dump spent dry herb. The vapor path is larger, so clogs are less likely and easier to clear out. Overall, maintenance is generally easier simply because standard portable vaporizers are larger and easier to navigate.
The majority of dry herb vapes don't use heating coils, so you won't need to worry about how to clean a vape coil.
Vape pens are usually very budget friendly. They are smaller and have less features which reduces their overall price. Vape pens are a great option if you want to try vaping but aren't sure if it's right for you, though you'll need to keep in mind a budget device also gives a budget experience.
Standard portable vaporizers tend to be more expensive and have a higher price ceiling than vape pens. However, these devices also have larger batteries, larger heating chambers, and more options to customize your vaping experience.
Since vape pens are small and usually budget-friendly, they aren't really known for their durability. It's easy to break or damage a vape pen by poor packing, carrying it in your pocket, or dropping it. You'll want to be careful when transporting vape pens if you don't have a vape case for them.
Portable vaporizers are usually more durable because they're thicker and made with more durable materials. For example, the Firefly 2+ is made from stainless steel with no glass components. It doesn't mean portable vapes are indestructible (you should still get a vape case for your Firefly), but portable vapes are not nearly as fragile as vape pens.
Accessories and Parts
Most vape pens are made with 510 threaded connections, which means most prefilled cartridges and vape tanks connect to create a fully assembled vape. However, just because an accessory can attach doesn't mean that your vape pen can use it. Most accessories have power requirements, and since vape pens often have modest power outputs, they may not be a good fit for hefty vape tanks or other power-hungry accessories.
Portable vaporizers usually have more accessories, depending on what kind they are. Dry herb vaporizers don't have a wide variety of accessories because they don't use a 510 threaded connection. Box mods, powerful vape batteries, are designed to use all kinds of accessories, making them an ideal choice if you want to vape e-liquids, dry herbs, and wax concentrates.
Portable vapes usually have access to more parts since they're intended to have a longer lifespan. Which parts are available depends on the kind of portable vaporizer you have. For example, vape tanks and wax vapes usually have a wide variety of replacement parts.
Benefits of Portable Vaporizers Over Vape Pens
Portable vaporizers offer a number of benefits over vape pens. We've mentioned some already, but below you'll see the most important differences highlighted.
Portable vapes have larger batteries, making for longer battery life. It's also more common to see removable batteries with portable vapes, making your battery life even longer.
If you want a full suite of features or higher temperature ranges, then a portable vape is right for you. It's more common to see precision heating options and higher temperature ranges with portable vapes, and vape pens often lack precision heating and high heating ranges.
Heating Chamber Size
For dry herbs, portable vapes almost always have larger heating chambers. This makes it easier to have long, relaxing vape sessions without having to stop and reload. Vape pens don't have the power or the structure to support larger heating chambers, so expect shorter vape sessions and more frequent refills.
Overall Vaping Quality
When you combine more features, a bigger device, and better heating options, you end up with richer, better tasting vapor. Portable vaporizers simply provide a superior vaping experience with dry herbs. If you know for sure you want to dry herb vape, and vapor quality is your priority, then we strongly recommend getting a portable vaporizer.
What to Consider When Buying a Vaporizer?
There isn't a vaporizer in the market that is objectively the best. You'll need to consider what qualities in vaping are a priority for you, and then think about the types of vapes that might be a good match. If you're not sure how to narrow down your options, the following qualities are good to consider:
What Do You Want to Vape?
This article largely focused on dry herb vapes, but bud isn't your only option! Think about if you want to vape flower, wax concentrate, or oils. If you want to vape more than one specific substance, you'll need to make sure to get a device designed to handle more than one.
We talked a lot about portability in this article, but it's a common factor to consider when buying any vape. Do you want a device that's easy to travel with, or would prefer a larger, more powerful device that you'll use while at home?
If you're trying to find a portable vape because you're asking yourself, "Can you bring a vape on a plane," you'll want to make sure that your vape follows all of the current airport and airline regulations.
Not all vaporizers offer the same kinds of features. Do you want a device with precision heating options, or are you ok with a device that only offers preset, basic ranges? Do you want to be able to pair your vape to a smartphone, or do you prefer physical, manual controls on the device? Making sure you have the right features is important, so take time to think about features that are must-haves.
How fast do you want your device to start producing vapor? Are you ok with a vape that takes upwards of a minute or more before you can start puffing, or do you want a device with near-instant, on-demand vaping, like the Firefly 2+?
For home vaping, a longer warm-up time may not be an issue, but that changes if you're vaping on-the-go. You may not have time to wait for your device to heat up if you only have a few moments to take a quick puff, so heating time becomes far more important.
Final Thoughts on Vape Pens vs. Vaporizers
Both portable vaporizers and vape pens are extremely popular devices in terms of vaping and each provide unique benefits based on what you as a consumer are looking for. If you feel that a portable vaporizer is the right choice for you, we encourage you to shop our selection of Firefly 2+ portable vaporizer devices.