For decades, smokers (dare I say myself included) have looked for unique ways to take their hobby on the go without arousing too much suspicion. Herbal vaporizers like the Pax have recently presented a discreet way to vape anywhere, without compromising on vapour production or features. The Pax 3 continues that tradition with a new BLE connected app, concentrate support, and improved heating times.
But the Pax 3 has a new challenger to face: CO2 pens. These pre-filled cartridges were lurking in the shadows last year, but with the rise of recreational cannabis have become increasingly commonplace. They provide on-demand vaping with no heating time, and simple, discreet construction.
Though they might challenge the Pax’s turf, there’s still a high demand for portable, herbal vaporizers, and the Pax has always been a leader in that market. Is the new Pax still top dog, or the last of a dying breed?
First Impressions Count
The Pax 3 remains the exact same size as the Pax 2. It’s hard to point to anything for comparative size, but suffice to say the device easily fits in your hand, with the ends sticking out a bit from each side.
Instead of a matte brushed finish, the aluminum Pax 3 is now polished to a high shine. The change certainly looks spectacular, but we have to wonder whether it might scratch easily over time.
Other than that, things haven’t changed much. One end of the device has a spot for a flat or raised mouthpiece. The other end features a magnetic lid, which keeps your material in the bowl, or oven as it’s called. We found last time around that tightly packed ovens produced the most vapour, so Pax has included an oven lid with a larger protrusion, so you don’t have to load it completely full to achieve the same effect.
Unfortunately, the Pax 3 is still tricky to load. You have to balance the device with the mouthpiece on a flat surface, and tamp down finely ground material. Knock it over and you’ll send all of that good stuff flying. It’s been an issue since the first Pax that won’t be solved without a form factor change. We used the same 3D-printed funnel and tamper as last time, which helped smooth out the process, but the risk is still there.
Control Our Habits
The Pax uses an accelerometer and single button for all of its controls, with a four-petal RGB LED readout on the front. Clicking the button once turns the Pax on and off, while holding down the button for a few seconds will open the temperature settings.
There are several operating modes, and they’re accessed by rolling the Pax around in your hands like an ear of corn. Three turns starts party mode, which reduces the temperature so it’s easier to pass around without burning anything off. There are games, like Simon, and light modes that turn the device into a colourful light baton.
It’s a novel control system, but it’s not exactly intuitive, and rotations can be an inconsistent way of changing modes. To that end, Pax has released an app that pairs with each vaporizer over Bluetooth LE.
It takes around 10 or 20 seconds for the Pax to reach vaping temperatures, twice as quick as the previous iteration. With the rise of pre-loaded CO2 cartridges, it’s great to see the herbal side of things keeping up with on-demand readiness.
Vapour production is a strong point for the Pax, but there’s a bit of a learning curve involved. You have to breathe deep, with a solid stream of air, but the pacing requires some practice. Pull too fast and you won’t get anything, too slow and the vapour will be too hot.
Once you’ve spent some time with it, it starts to become much more intuitive. Don’t expect fat clouds of vapour when you exhale, but instead efficient, tuned puffs. Taste is a standout feature, as the vapour has just enough space to cool down without losing any flavour.
At the end of the day, the Pax 3 is as strong of an herbal vaporizer as the previous generation, and one of the best portable options on the market. It boasts a sleek design, lightning fast heating, and clean, strong vapour. It also carries a sub R4000 price tag, the same as both previous iterations when they were new.
The bigger question is whether the Pax 3 is a worthy upgrade from whatever device you might be using now. If you’re picking up your first portable herbal vaporizer, spring for the Pax 3, but if you already have the Pax 2, go ahead and pack another oven.
The Pax 3 is available through distributor Luksbrands.