Despite my growing knowledge base about the vape pen universe, I still struggle to differentiate these products. Nearly all of them are produced by a few factories that build and white label them to distributors’ specs.
I think of vape pens like computers: You can buy essentially the same laptop with many of the same exact parts marketed under a variety of different brand names. Computer sellers distinguish themselves with pricing, more-desirable components, better warranties and tech support, and effective marketing of their wares.
And I must hand it to the folks at Denver-based O.penVape for their skillful vape pen marketing. I recently dropped by the Seattle Budtender’s Ball, a product launch party designed as a generous gift to area dispensary workers. Nearly 200 attendees filled Delta 9, a Seattle dispensary and pot-friendly event center, to commingle, eat free pizza, dance to a DJ, and receive a promotional gift pack consisting of a new O.penVape go.pen, a logo T-shirt and other marketing materials.
Now these 200 attendees have first-hand experience with the new go.pen and can more effectively speak to its functionality with medical cannabis customers. Plus, some number of them will wear the logo T-shirt while working behind the pot shop counter. On top of that, most of them highly appreciate free pizza, and goodwill should not be underestimated in the weed industry.
Strain Theory: Check out our marijuana reviews organized by type — sativas and sativa-dominant hybrids, ditto with indicas.
Being my first product launch party, for a moment I had a grand, ganja-inspired vision of Klaas Hesselink, O.penVape’s Washington distributor, announcing a revolutionary pen design like Steve Jobs unveiling the iPod to Apple enthusiasts. (And this was before I started sucking down hash oil vapor with abandon and mistook the DJ for Fatboy Slim.)
But O.penVape is no Apple, and the go.pen is no iPod. To be fair, I don’t think any vape pen distributor is reinventing any of this Chinese technology to be different or better than the next guy. There is little local ingenuity, and China’s latest e-cigarette developments are available to any importer. Which is why the O.penVape go.pen looks the same as a dozen other white label vape pens on the market.
Standing 4 inches tall and just under 3/4-inches wide, the go.pen fits in the palm of the hand. In the increasingly-granular vape pen world, these are classified as “mini” vape pens. Just like with computers, vaporizers can be desktop or portable models. Small portables are pens. If it’s short, some might call it a short pen if it’s round or a mini pen if it’s oval-shaped, and if it’s skinny like an actual writing pen they might call it a slim pen.
If that seems a bit confusing, rest assured it took me a lot of hash oil to be able to understand these newly-minted and evolving cannabis constructs. But just remember this simple truth: Cannabis plus an appropriate heat level leads to vaporization. Hash oil plus heat equals high, or H+H=H for algebraically-inclined stoners.
To hit that magical marijuana equation, vaporizers require a power source, heating element, place to stick the weed, and a pathway for air to flow into the machine, across the heated product, and up to the toker’s mouth. Desktop vapes handle these elements with a wide variety of designs, but vape pens almost always comprise a battery, an atomizer (or cartomizer or clearomizer or whateveromizer), and a mouthpiece.
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Longer-lasting batteries are better, of course, but the most important part is the atomizer, which holds and heats the oil. As I mentioned before, the conscious consumer wants primarily to be sure their vape pen isn’t killing them with volatized metals or other foreign factory flotsam. Beyond that, consumers want ease of use and cuteness.
The new go.pen is certainly cute, just like the Cloud V or the Micro G or a host of other mini pens are cute. Unlike the original, wildly popular O.penVape slim pen, which uses pre-loaded hash oil cartridges, the new go.pen is for loading your own concentrates, and comes with a “dibber dabber” to help the process. Perhaps not surprisingly, I found a budtender at the Budtender’s Ball who graciously pre-loaded my review pen. And I must say, whatever that stuff was (he told me, then I got high and forgot), it was great. Hash oil is generally amazing.
But I’m not super excited about the go.pen. It’s a vape pen, it’s small, it’s cute. It comes in seven colors. Those who routinely oil up on the go will appreciate the mini form factor for its pocket fit. The atomizer (it comes with an extra) has an open top, so keep it upright if your oil is runny at room temperature. I think the budtender loaded my bowl a bit heavy — apparently they take super fat hits — because some of the oil ended up splattering up the inside of the mouthpiece, which should be cleanable, but saddens me a bit when I imagine everything those little cannabinoid droplets went through to get so darn close to the end goal of getting me high.
The O.penVape go.pen sells for $79.95 and is available at cannabis retailers in Colorado, Washington and California. It’s a perfectly acceptable, load-your-own mini vape pen if you’re shopping at one of those retailers looking for a decent oil pen, but don’t go out of your way to get a go.pen.
Map: Colorado medical dispensaries and recreational marijuana centers