The dry herb vaporiser market has been getting more competitive in recent years, as consumers make the switch from combustion. One company that has been leading the way when it comes to style and innovation is PAX Labs, maker of the PAX range of vaporisers. For a few years, the PAX 3 was the leader when it came to stealthy portable vaporisers, with its pocket-sized model that oozed sophistication.
Over the last 12 months, the trusty PAX 3 has undergone a revamp, with two new models hitting the market, the PAX Plus and the PAX Mini. With all three still available to customers in the UK, picking the best PAX product for you might not be as easy as it seems. We’ve been using the PAX 3 for a few years now, so jumped at the opportunity to compare it to the new PAX Plus and PAX Mini.
PAX 3 overview
The PAX 3 dropped in late 2016 and took the dry herb vape market by storm. PAX often gets called ‘The Apple Of Vaporisers’ and it’s fair to see why. Slick packaging, an enticing unboxing and a product that looks nice next sat next to any MacBook Pro. While the PAX 3 has officially been discontinued by PAX, plenty can still be found on sale in the UK for a cheap price. The PAX 3 can not only vaporise dry herbs via its conduction oven but concentrates too, with the right accessories.
PAX Plus overview
The PAX Plus is the predecessor to the popular PAX 3 and on the outside the differences are minimal. In fact, place the two side by side and you’d be hard-pressed to guess which is which. The Plus model does come in some new colourways and has a few subtle improvements, such as rounded edges, an improved mouthpiece and a tweaked oven screen design, but it’s the same size and almost the same weight as the PAX 3, and it works in almost exactly the same way. Heat up time is the same, battery life is a little shorter, and charge time is a little longer on the Plus, but none of this detracts from how great a dry herb vaporiser this is. Most of the differences between the two models are on the inside and how you experience the device, more on this below.
PAX Mini overview
The PAX Mini is the baby brother of the PAX Plus, slightly smaller in size and lower in weight and with a smaller oven size, meaning you use less herb. The PAX Mini can’t vaporise concentrates and doesn’t have the haptic feedback of the PAX 3 or Plus, so no subtle vibration when the device is up to heat. The Mini has the same size battery as the Plus, but as it has a smaller oven size it gets hot slightly quicker, and the battery will last a little longer. Where the PAX Mini really differentiates compared to the Plus, and the PAX 3, is how much control the user has over the vaping experience.
Temperature control and ‘experience modes’
The biggest change between the PAX 3 and the PAX Plus is how the user can control the temperature of the device. The PAX 3 comes with 4 default temperatures:
- Setting 1 – 182ºC
- Setting 2 – 193°C
- Setting 3 – 204°C
- Setting 4 – 216ºC
In addition, users can connect to the device by Bluetooth and set a 5th custom temperature, depending on their preference, or activate 4 experience modes. While this detailed level of customization is great, from experience, it wasn’t something that got used often. After setting temperature to get a good cloud of vapour and a preferred level of chosen cannabinoids, in 5 years of use, it never changed. Sadly, Apple removed vaporiser apps from the App Store shortly after the PAX 3 hit the market, and while it was still possible to connect via Android or via a bit of jiggery-pokery, the clunkiness makes it somewhat redundant for iPhone users.
The PAX Plus does away with detailed control opting instead for 4 ‘experience modes’, which start the device at a low temperature and slowly increase based on the experience the user prefers:
- Stealth mode, starting at 182°C produces less visible vapour for subtle use
- Efficiency mode is designed to be an extended session that starts with light and tasty vapour but finishes with higher temps for slower, relaxed consumption
- Flavour mode starts off higher to produce strong, tasty vapour from the first intake full of flavour, as the name suggests
- Boost mode maximises cannabinoid and terpene extraction with higher temperatures to produce dense vapour, this mode is also best for concentrates
The PAX Mini does away with any choice, starting low and increasing as you take in vapour with each inhale, to control the temperate, either take shorter ‘sips’ to keep the temperature low or longer pulls for increasing heat and more dense vapour.
PAX Plus vs PAX 3
When it comes to picking between the PAX 3 and the PAX Plus the decision comes down to two key factors. As the PAX 3 is discontinued, it might be possible to pick up a model cheaper than the PAX Plus. If you want to control the temperature of your device, then the PAX 3 pips the PAX Plus to the post, but in our testing of all three devices over the last 6 months, that accurate control isn’t really something that we felt was missing. In fact, relinquishing control to the experience modes does actually produce a better session time after time. We also found that the new oven screen design in the PAX Plus led to much less cleaning when compared to the PAX 3, and although a subtle touch, the rounded edges on the PAX Plus just feel a little bit softer in your hand.
PAX Plus vs Pax Mini
Control freaks might baulk at the thought of having no control over temperature settings but in all honesty, the PAX Mini quickly became a go-to for quick and easy on the go vaporising during testing. The smaller oven means herbs go further, and if you’re just looking for a smart little device that fits in your pocket and is easy to use from the moment you switch it on, then the Pax Mini is a great contender. What’s more, it’s cheaper to buy, has a longer run time and has all the core features of the Plus, such as shake to see battery level, auto standby and the same simple to use charging dock. The only downside to the Pax Mini is it has a shorter warranty, just 2 years compared to 10 years on the Plus or PAX 3.
Summary – which PAX should I buy?
If you’re looking for absolute temperature control, the PAX 3, if you can find it, still has the level of accuracy you crave. If you’re looking for a range of consumption options then the PAX Plus wins hands down, with its experience modes and slight improvements on an already amazing device. If you just want to load in some herb and go without a fuss, then the PAX Mini is a great shout, but rest assured, any of these devices are great for subtle, on-the-go vaporising that looks and feels stylish.
Buy the PAX Plus and PAX 3