There are many ways that you can choose to consume your herbs, whether it’s through an old-school pipe, in a Volcano-style vaporizer, or a hand-held battery-powered inhaler-style vaporizer. The Vapman is yet another entrant in the portable vaporizer segment, and we’ve been playing with it for the last couple of weeks. We’ll give you our detailed impressions in a bit, but out here we can tell you this much: it’s an excellent vaporizer that also adds an enjoyable layer of complexity to the experience. With the Vapman it becomes somewhat less about getting the chemicals inside of your lungs, and more about your relationship with the device.
The Vapman comes in an egg-shaped plastic container. If we had any points of criticism about the product, it would have to be over the shape of the container, which never failed to elicit comparisons to a sex-toy from anyone that saw it. If you can ignore your friends’ childish comments, this doesn’t really matter at all. The device itself is hand-made in Switzerland from high-quality components. The main body is polished wood, while the heating chamber is held in place through three metal rods, and otherwise doesn’t touch the body of the vaporizer. There’s a detachable top section which contains a filter, and a plastic tip for inhaling. This section also serves the purpose of locking your herbs in place.
There are two versions of the Vapman: the Pure and Mica. The main difference being that the Mica has an insulating layer made from mica, a crystalline metalloid. This serves to protect the wood from the heat of the torch and to redirect this energy into the heating chamber and the connecting hollow rods. By heating these rods, you’re also heating one of the conduits that brings air into the chamber, thus promoting heating of your herbs through convection rather than just conduction. This means that your herbs not only get hot through physically touching the heating element, but also because hot air circulates through them, which is said to produce higher quality vapour.
In a few weeks of daily usage, the Vapman has shown no degradation, no signs of wear or tear. It appears to be durable and just as high quality as its Swiss craftsmanship would suggest.
How you use the Vapman is where the fun begins. After detaching the top, simply insert your ground herbs (using the included funnel) into the heating chamber and close it up. The mechanism by which you do this is hard to describe in words, but it involves simply twisting the top a few degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise. Once it’s closed up, you hold it between thumb and index finger with the plastic tip facing away, and apply intense heat right on the bottom of the chamber with a butane torch for a few seconds. That’s right, with this vaporizer, you get to use a torch!
When we said that the Vapman is more than just about getting the chemicals inside of you, we were referring to this process. You see, in order to get the vapour going you have to get the temperature right. Obviously the hotter the chamber gets, the thicker the vapour is. But you also don’t want it to get so hot that your herbs simply combust; you might as well just use a pipe then. So the way you do this is by heating the chamber for a few seconds, taking a small break, testing the vapour (by pulling just a bit), and heating again for a few more seconds. You do this several times until you’ve reached the thickness of vapour you want and then simply inhale. The process eventually becomes very personal, where the learning curve itself is enjoyable, and the result is that you end up acquiring a new skill. Yes, that’s right. Using the Vapman requires a bit of skill, but by the same token, you will develop a technique that is uniquely yours, and that’s rewarding. It’s a bit like riding a bicycle: it’s not just about getting to your destination, but the ride itself becomes fun, and you can take pride in being a good cyclist just like you can take pride in being able to use the Vapman “correctly”.
To give you a better idea of how complex this can get, once you’ve become accustomed to cycling and adjusting the heat with the torch, you can also start playing around with the three tiny holes drilled into the top bit, which affects vapour density and quality. See, these holes normally allow cold air to enter as you pull, but if you block one or more, you’re forcing the air to enter preferentially through the connecting hollow metal rods. You’ll remember these get hot too and thus by playing with these holes you’ll discover you can not only thicken the vapour but also affect its quality since vapour that comes from contact with hot metal will tend to taste different than vapour that comes from contact with hot air.
We came away really impressed with the Vapman Personal Vaporizer. The quality craftsmanship is second to none and the attention to detail is obvious. Learning how to use it was fun. It’s durable. And its small size and portability make it ideal for taking it with you to parties. There’s even some spare room inside the plastic container for some herbs. For all these reasons we think it’s definitely worth the $90 asking price.
+ High quality components
+ Produces good quality vapour
+ Fun to use
– Funny shaped plastic container
– Can be hard to use at first
[ Vapman Vaporizer ]