The Grasshopper’s number-one flaw is that the metal mouthpiece (the pen tip) gets incredibly hot during use. The Grasshopper ships with a silicone mouthpiece cover, and we consider this to be a requirement for day-to-day use. But it pretty much ruins the look and prevents the Grasshopper from fitting in its box, if that’s where you want to keep it.
Hopper Labs (the Grasshopper’s manufacturer) sells a Performance Front-end that works with water pipes; we haven’t tried it. Unscrew the mouthpiece on the Grasshopper to reveal the chamber. It can fit up to 0.3 gram, depending on how you grind your material. The only parts of the Grasshopper that require cleaning are the combustion chamber and the front-end mouthpiece. Both pieces routinely require a brief brushing out (no cleaning tool is included) but the device generally doesn’t get as dirty or resin-y as the AirVape. The mouthpiece has an even simpler design than our other picks’.
It screws off and has a flat metal screen recessed inside, which is easy to clear out with a damp cotton swab. If you’re ambitious you can use isopropyl alcohol, but after a year of use, we haven’t cleaned it thoroughly and have had no problems. With no space for a charging port, the Grasshopper has an inductive and magnetic charging cord that connects around the clicker and plugs into any standard USB charger. It’s charming but not as convenient for travel as a multifunctional Micro-USB cord. There is no indication during use of how much battery life remains—although, on the charger, it blinks green when it’s full. The charging cord is proprietary and, at $35, a little pricey to replace. The Grasshopper’s custom lithium battery is removable and two are included in the box, so you can bring a spare if you’re worried about battery life—a nice compromise and an option that the AirVape lacks. Simple, tactile controls make the Grasshopper charming to use, although its minimal display-free design leaves no room for details like battery life. The Grasshopper comes with a lifetime warranty, and its design has had ups and downs (and some changes) over the years. Early on, in 2017, customers experienced reliability issues. We’ve had a great experience with our test units and have found the company responsive and reassuring in interviews about these problems, for what that’s worth. If you try a Grasshopper and have issues, feel free to give us feedback about it. The high-capacity Firefly 2+ quickly produces more intense, tasty vapor than competitors, and it’s attractive and easy to clean—but it’s expensive, and it buries critical info in an app. If you’re looking for top-notch vapor or want something that’s easy to pass to friends, we recommend the Firefly 2+. It has an attractive design, the quickest heat time of any model we tested, and an easy-to-clean chamber. Its size makes it less pocketable than our other picks, but it’s still small enough for solo sessions at home and group settings. The Firefly’s design makes it easy to load—all you do is pop off the magnetic lid and load a generous amount of ground flower into the chamber. Tap its capacitive buttons, and the device heats in about three seconds. Its design is unique in that the airway is really the entire underside of the lid, forming a wide channel that keeps the mouthpiece cooler than those of most other vaporizers. The Firefly lacks an on-device display, and the product originally relied on an app that, as of November 15, 2019, has been removed from the App Store; it remains available on Google Play for Android devices. The app, which continues to function if you already had it downloaded, is not necessary for regular use. But it is the easiest way to set precise temperatures or check the battery life. After the Apple news, Firefly sent an update, which included a link to a video showing how to set the temperature of the Firefly 2+ without using the app. It is a ridiculously complex procedure, requiring you to press hold the righthand button while tapping the lefthand button ad infinitum , all to achieve “highest” and “lowest” temperatures—the actual number only appears in the app.
To add context, though: Once you have it set to a temperature you like, you probably wouldn’t mess with it regularly even if it were easier. The charging dock, which is bulkier than the Grasshopper’s proprietary cord, is another inconvenience, and you need to carry it with you if you plan on charging the Firefly away from home. You can get to a full charge in just over an hour, about the same as with the AirVape. A plus: The Firefly has a replaceable battery, so you can swap on the go if you don’t bring the charger. In tests, we got in the habit of just leaving it on the charging dock and topping off battery life betweeen uses—a method that reduces frustration whether you frequently check the battery life on the app, or if you’re stuck without an app at all. The Firefly’s convection oven sits at the opposite end of the mouthpiece, and the concave lid shape lets air travel down the entire body of the device—it’s very easy to wipe clean. But the thing that makes these compromises worth tolerating is the vapor quality, which was the best of all the vaporizers we tested: easy to draw, smooth, and remarkably cool, with a delightful hint of citrus. It’s also surprisingly potent—the Firefly uses convection heating, like the Grasshopper, which tends to produce more intense effects per puff than conduction vaporizers like the AirVape. The large oven heats up only when you’re pressing the buttons, which prevents the flower from continuing to burn between puffs.
This combination of potency, efficiency, and the high capacity of its bowl makes it perfect for puffing and passing the device in a group of more than two people. A full battery lasted through about two bowls, each of which would have been enough for two to four people to share. Given the Firefly’s efficiency at burning material, we didn’t need to inhale as much as with other vaporizers we tested. We found that after we stopped getting vapor, mixing the flower around in the chamber gave us a few extra puffs before we needed to refill.