For everyone out there who loves the flavor and feeling that cannabis gives them, it’s a golden time to be alive. More than half of the US considered legalization this year, and more will soon. Thanks to all that change, there are now more ways to vape more dry herb and cannabis concentrates than ever before. Sweet!
But it’s not always easy to choose which portable dab rigs are best, and that’s a problem. As the technology improves, there are more choices out there—and most of them are expensive. So which portable dab rig is best for the discerning cannabis connoisseur or the brand new medical marijuana patient?
What Are the Best Portable Dab Rigs?
- The Dipper– Chrome
- Puffco Peak – Medusa Edition
- Higher Standards – Rig Kit
- Vivant – Dabox Vaporizer
- Dr. Dabber – Switch
Portable dab rigs, often called enails although they’re not all electronic, are riding the wave started by the synergy between the cannabis and wellness industries. There are so many reasons for this, but the main one has to do with the changing face of who is dabbing—and what we dabbers are willing to accept and demand.
Today’s consumers want higher impact cannabis without lung damage. Enter the portable dab rig, and vaping explosion.
But before portable dab rigs came onto the market, the torch-and-burn rig set up with nail was the only option available. If that sounds complicated, and potentially dangerous, that’s because it can be.
Old-school dab rigs use a torch to heat the nail. You have to achieve the right temperature before applying your concentrates. Insufficient heat means a sticky, uneven mess and wasted product you are left cleaning up. But apply too much heat, and your dabs go up in smoke, and not in a good way.
Unlike larger, more traditional versions, portable dab rigs are powered by a battery instead of a butane torch. Portable e-rigs may seem complicated, but they are pretty simple. The base or controller box joins the nail and a battery which heats it. Concentrate goes on the hot nail, producing vapor.
Portable dab rigs powered by batteries on the market today offer freedom from the heat and stigma attached to torches, not to mention more precise temperature control. With that comes smoother, tastier dabs filled with richer terpene profiles and more impressive psychoactive effects—and even a noob can achieve them.
Portable e-nail rigs are smaller, simpler units compared to the bigger desktop models, but they still use a glass mouthpiece, some form of heating element, and a power source. Some rigs are battery-powered, while others attach directly to a vape mod 510 connection.
Still, even the modern torch-and-burn portable dab rigs are really impressive. And for dabbers who love absolute control of temperature in the palm of their hand—at least as far as their sense of touch can afford them—these torch dab rigs are still appealing.
Any way they are powered, portable dab rigs are by far the best way to get both the flavor a true aficionado wants and the portable package anyone who is on-the-go needs. An enail rig can remove any perceived “druggie” element out of things, not to mention the potentially eyebrow-singing aspects of the process. Or, an old-school torch plus a new-school, high-quality build can give you years of performance.
Using portable enail rigs
If you’ve never used a portable electric dab rig before and you’re feeling a little intimidated, you’re not alone. I broke the first three I used, mostly because I was embarrassed about asking for help and I couldn’t find it online!
This should help (don’t worry. It’s easier than it seems).
How to Use a Dab Rig:
- Step One: power the dab rig on.
- Step Two: select your optimal temperature. Remember, you don’t want to overheat it, especially if it’s dry herb.
- Wait while it heats up to the optimal temperature.
- Use a small amount of wax/concentrate (they call it a “dab” for a reason– so use a small amount).
- Put the dab of concentrate on the hot nail as you inhale the vapor.
- If there is a carb cap, use it on top of the nail while you inhale.
Pros and cons: portable dab rig materials
A titanium nail is what you see most in these rigs, because titanium that is Grade 2 or higher quality is safe to inhale, lower-cost, and long-lasting. It also heats quickly, which is nice.
The trouble with titanium nails is apparent as soon as you inhale, if you love concentrates. They just don’t taste as good coming off of these dab nails.
Ceramic dab nails are in many newer electric dab rigs for just that reason. Ceramic tastes delicious, is fairly simple to use, and doesn’t retain heat the way metals do.
On the other hand, it certainly takes longer to heat ceramic. And I’ve had my heart broken by more broken ceramic dab nails than I can count, because that is ceramic’s other flaw: it is fragile. Oh, and one more tiny complaint: ceramic starts looking kind of gross and stained pretty quickly, if that bothers you.
Quartz nails are the flavor fan’s best friend. This is not because these dab nails taste that much better than ceramic, but more because they have the best overall safe, delicious heat.
On the down side, quartz nails take more time than, say, metal, to heat. They are also breakable. But if flavor counts for you, there isn’t yet a way to escape breakable pieces completely.
How much does a dab rig cost?
Speaking of price, how much do these things cost? A portable dab rig will typically cost approximately $50.00 to $400.00. I know, not cheap, especially the newer enail kits.
Just like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. If you’re new to dabbing and unsure what you like or what matters to you, it may make sense to save your money.
Some of the cost of many of these models is definitely about the power source. Torch-and-burn models still offer a lot more in the way of saving money, as do smaller box mods. The rest of the difference is often about whether or not there is water filtration, how fancy the user experience is, and the quality of the build and materials.
Better builds, higher quality nails, and more advanced features such as precision temperature control come at higher price levels. This translates into a superior vaping experience, so if you do prefer dabbing, it’s a worthwhile investment to get the right portable dab rig.
Best portable dab rigs
On to the important issue: the best portable dab rigs on the market right now. This list was curated by the VaporVanity editorial team after some debate.
Everyone on the VaporVanity editorial team is pretty serious about their vaping. We have each been using dab rigs for long enough to be glad that e-nails are now an option.
That said, a few of us will never totally abandon our torches! Therefore, we have included one torch-and-burn model, and one smaller box mod option. We also included a portable dab rig that can also handle flower, because we believe in something for everyone and a vape for all.
As a team, we think these are among the best portable dab rigs on the market today, this post is here to explain why. Rest assured that any portable dab rig on this list is an excellent choice.
Ready to get your dab on? Let’s go.
Here Are the Best Electric Dab Rigs
We fought long and hard, and although at first the Puffco Peak Vaporizer, Medusa Edition ended up on top, new tech sometimes changes things! Now, the best electric dab rig of 2019 is The Dipper.
Ousting the Puffco Peak Vaporizer, Medusa Edition from the top spot: The Dipper. Here’s why.
It’s truly one of a kind. It’s the single absolutely portable dab rig that gives you a nectar collector or quartz chamber with a pen feel that also doesn’t use water or a separate heat source. It is stupid easy to use, and there’s nothing else exactly like it on the market.
The functionality is great and the flavor is even better. You get instant heat from the element, and if you are missing that classic experience, use the DipWhip accessory. (Some of our testers liked the flavor even more that way anyway.)
Cleaning is really, really easy. It’s the easiest to clean and redeploy that I have—and I have a lot of them. This whole design eliminates many of the problems with wasted concentrate that are basically inherent to other units.
And the final blow knocking PuffCo Peak out of the top spot: value. The Dipper’s price tag (without our awesome coupon, that is) hits $114.99. Next to the Medusa, this is a way better value, not to mention way simpler to use and more portable. And the one-year warranty make it even more worthwhile.
Finally, it’s not quite as sexy as Medusa design-wise—but it’s close. And in exchange, it’s high-quality, sleek, and compact. It’s a real pocket unit but it delivers on performance for a truly portable dab.
Puffco Peak, Medusa Edition
Yes, there is no question: the Puffco Peak Medusa has a style advantage. And so what? When you’re investing in your top piece of dabbing equipment, you want it to look amazing, and the Medusa from Puffco truly does. But that’s really just the beginning.
The Puffco Peak is a portable e-nail made up of a glass spout and a base. It stands 7 inches tall, and looks a little like an e-bong, a small water pipe, or the banger-hanger type of rig that lots of dabbers may find familiar. The glass chamber is hand-blown, and gives you that vapor diffusion and water filtration that is so nice. In the Medusa edition, too, the inner cone has swirled glass that looks even cooler.
This is not a stealth vaping option, is what we are saying.
The Puffco Peak Medusa features four heat settings: blue is 450°F, green is 500°F, orange is 550°F, and white is 600°F. So although you don’t have total, bespoke control over your temperature, you do have a lot of precision, and every setting produces a lot of vapor with this bubbler. You can adjust the temperature based on what’s in the chamber, or how much you’ve put in there.
The Medusa portable dab rig charges in about two hours, and takes only around 20 seconds to heat up—pretty awesome compared to other portable dab rigs. Every full charge lasts about two hours, or up to 30 dabs.
Where the Medusa really shines, though, is user experience. You control the rig with a single button on the front. It features haptic feedback, such as a gentle vibration that lets you know when it has reached the right temperature.
The Medusa also delivers precision temperature feedback via an LED ring that wraps around its base. The ring also pulses when it’s firing. And the Puffco Peak Medusa’s new “sesh-mode” function also retains some of the old-school pass-around fun of sharing your portable dab rig with friends and extending your vaping session.
Downsides to this portable dab rig? Obviously, the cost. At $400.00, this is a serious hit on your wallet. Also, you have to replace the ceramic bowls sometimes, and even the chambers with some regularity.
In fact, they are designed to be replaced—but at $24.99 each once a month, that is an ongoing cost to consider. Furthermore, not breaking things like the ceramic stem is a challenge, and although I am one of this unit’s biggest fans, breakage is a problem.
The bottom line: If you want a real showpiece for concentrates, the Puffco Peak Medusa Edition is your portable dab rig. It performs beautifully, tastes great, and looks super cool. It also provides a sexy user experience and a great, old-school sesh mode without any of the old-school hassles.
Higher Standards Heavy Duty Rig
Some of us just prefer the old ways, end of story. There is something about using a torch to heat your nail to exactly the right temperature, and if you’re an experienced dabber, you know exactly what I mean.
With the Higher Standards Rig Kit, you get the quartz construction and glass that you want, for the thick clouds of vapor, water filtration, and high heat resistance you need. The materials are high quality and last, with a medical-grade, borosilicate glass rig and a quartz banger for flavor that is top notch.
The airflow is also optimal thanks to a sealed air path. This minimizes drag and resistance so you get all the vapor where you want it. In other words, it’s a really high-quality build, yet it comes in at a much lower cost—in large part because you are powering this rig yourself with a torch.
This rig is pretty easy to clean, easier, the team felt, than the Puffco Peak Medusa Edition. It’s simple to empty and fill the water chamber through its mouthpiece, just as you clean it. The ability to keep it clean easily also means better flavor, not to mention a sleeker look.
Another bonus: the collector’s case. It looks great and makes transporting this unit easy, rendering it far more portable among these portable dab rigs. There’s a space for all of its accessories, including a quad-compartment concentrate container.
Down sides: let’s face it, a torch is either a benefit or a hazard, like a Replicant. Some on our team find it to be a hazard, and not because we’re Bladerunners, but because we like our eyebrows. Also, you need to carry a torch with you. Just saying, the need to port a torch is…less convenient and cuts into portability as a concept.
That said, this is a far more cost-effective option than most of the enails! It’s also a high-quality build that allows you to hit huge clouds of vapor with excellent flavor for less money. And finally, if you just love the old-school way of doing things but want the flavor and performance that better materials can achieve for you, you can’t do much better than the Higher Standards Heavy Duty Rig.
The bottom line: If you are serious about concentrates—and you can handle a heat source—the Higher Standards Rig Kit is absolutely a fantastic option. It’s a decently priced choice that lets you do just about everything any of the other models does, except you heat it instead of pressing a button.
The Vivant Dabox Vaporizer is a powerhouse in a tiny space. It is only around 50mm in size, and just about fits even in Marta’s hand—pretty good! Yet it’s a solid build, heavy in hand, made of quality materials.
The Vivant Dabox Vaporizer is basically like a portable dab rig without water filtration, at a bargain price. You can still hit your concentrates with this little thing easily, and it isn’t too difficult to use.
Basically, there is a flip door toward the bottom of the box that swings open. Inside the chamber is the dual quartz titanium coil that comes with the unit. You just spread your concentrate on the coil with a dab tool, shut the door, and you’re ready to go. The flip door snaps into place, and it’s not easy to mess this up or break it.
The heat-up time is fast, far less than a minute, thanks to the the 1500 mAh battery with its over 40w output. It takes just about an hour to fully charge, and lasts for many, many dabs in practice. The tiny Dabox will give you lots of thick clouds, too, in part due to a coil resistance of 0.5ohms.
Down sides: This, especially compared to the others on this list, does not look fancy or impressive. If you pull this out at a party, no one may notice…until they use it. Also, these coils work very well given the size of the unit, but they produce slightly less flavorful pulls than the other units on this list.
But the biggest down side? No power or temperature flexibility, full stop. You can only power this unit on and off—bummer. Sure, you get more vapor than you would from a regular vape pen, but the on and off limits are reminiscent of that littler vape pen experience. This also means that with more use, the temperature is a little inconsistent; maximum wattage output is 40W, but the unit can get hot, and produce inconsistent results.
The bottom line: You can get a lot of these features with a wax pen—but not all of them. For someone on a serious budget who still wants a totally portable, easy to use option for concentrates, the Vivant Dabox Vaporizer is still the solid choice.
Dr. Dabber Switch
In the battle of vaping flower or concentrate, there is no battle with the Dr. Dabber Switch. That’s because the Switch is one of the only high-end portable dab rigs that handles both concentrates and flower equally well. This way it gives you everything the old-school rig does, with none of the hassles.
It brings the flavor with both, too, thanks to its cups. The Switch provides a black ceramic cup for concentrates and a crystal induction cup for flower, and both taste delightful. This makes it superior to, say, the Hera 2 which handles both herb and concentrate, but has a metal chamber.
As far as power goes, the Switch absolutely rips thanks to induction heating, letting you churn out nice, thick clouds no matter what’s in the chamber. The Switch is powered by an enormous 33.3 Watt-hour battery. It’s designed to provide 150 full cycles per full charge, and you can even dab while it’s charging thanks to its pass-through functionality. It stays charged a lot longer than, for example, the Puffco Peak, and gives you more temperature options.
Down sides to this portable dab rig? For one thing, any rig with a removable battery, while it may increase convenience, comes with added risk. This is mostly for people who use them even after they are damaged, since taking them in and out increases the chances of things like that happening, and damaged batteries can be an issue.
But worse than that? Again, the cost.
Like the Medusa, the Switch comes with a $400.00 price tag, and that’s a serious hit for most of us. And unlike the Medusa, the Switch is only so-so to look at comparatively, especially for the price. The user experience is also less friendly and exciting (although it doesn’t lose any real, hard functionality, for sure).
The bottom line: If you want one, high-end device for your concentrates and your herb and you want that device to really rip, the Switch is for you. It’s got excellent battery life and can handle whatever you throw at it with the best, cutting-edge technology. The Switch is an investment, but a really smart one, especially if you like having one daily driver that’s not a tremendous commitment.
And there you have it! Our panel will now go nurse their battle wounds with some thick clouds of vapor. What are you going to be vaping tonight?
Alzghari, Saeed K., To Dab or Not to Dab: Rising Concerns Regarding the Toxicity of Cannabis Concentrates, September 9, 2017, National Institute of Health
Strongin, Robert M., Toxicant Formation in Dabbing: The Terpene Story, ACS Omega
Hyde, Will, The Best Dab Rig for You, Leafly
FAQs, Dr. Dabber