All right, before I get into anything about this vaporizer, I need to remark on its name. This vape is labeled the Lotus Vaporizer; my favorite car is a Lotus, and I am known as Lotus. If that’s not the best coincidence ever, I don’t know what is. So when I heard that I would be reviewing a vaporizer with that title, I was very excited. I was also immediately aware that this type of bias could negatively affect readers who have no affiliation to the word “lotus,” so I made sure to include a number of neutral participants to provide their own insight. Ok, now let’s jump right in…
To begin with, the Lotus arrived within three days of the order. Our request was placed on the 17th, and the package arrived on the 20th – a turnaround that puts them on par with Amazon, Newegg, and other big name vendors. It was packaged securely in a normal shipping box with a mind for discretion, only displaying an obscure, nondescript “MT” (Mendocino Technologies) logo above their shipping address. For those of you in enlightened, weed-friendly states, that may seem like a fairly trivial remark. However, for those of us still in draconian, backwards societies, it can make all the difference. I was impressed and pleasantly surprised.
There are a number of different ordering configurations for the Lotus; we acquired the “Combination Pipe and Water Pipe Adapter” kit. Priced at $132, this includes the vape itself, an aluminum adapter to fit standard bongs, torch lighter, carrying bag, a couple informational pamphlets, and last and probably least the little weed scoop. For an extra five bucks you can throw in the “stir stick,” which is quite possibly one of the most ingenious things I’ve seen on a vape. It’s simply a little metal post you store in the top piece of your vaporizer, used for the necessary process of stirring your bowls. I always just left it in the hole, as I found it best to use the wooden vapor cap as a handle.
Craftsmanship on the Lotus and accoutrements is gorgeous and consistent, each product carrying the same quality in build and style. The vapor cap has that attractive little flower, and all the vent holes, screws, plates and wood housing are clearly built with tight tolerances, quality materials and strict guidelines. Both anodized aluminum stems are lightweight yet sturdy, and the wood/nickel vaporizer cap is sleek and durable. Essentially, everything important is well-built and just feels solid. While I’m sure you could manage to damage the cosmetics, you would be hard pressed to break this thing in any fashion.
Having been a long-time vaporizer owner and enthusiast, I am pretty well-experienced in the vaping “process.” Still, I find myself having to learn nearly every new vape I pick up. While most people can pick up any random bong, pipe, blunt or joint and get an excellent and consistent hit, each vaporizer seems to have its own personality. The general rule-of-thumb is: let it heat up, inhale slow and steady, hold it in.
Now, the Lotus is the same concept – not much different than hitting an MFLB or any random whip vape. However, since you’re using a butane torch instead of an electric heating element, it can be a bit tricky to get used to. It took most of my friends about 2-3 tries to get the procedure down, and it took me about 4-5 to figure it out. Mendocino Technologies sends a handy little “how-to” guide, but there are some things you just can’t learn without practice.
We found that gently resting the lighter on the pipe with about a 1/2 inch flame worked most effectively. There’s definitely a sweet spot to find – one that doesn’t get the nickel plate too hot or not hot enough. Once you find it, the Lotus is second to none in vaporizing capability. Needless to say, my lungs are pretty damn conditioned to THC intake – I mean hell, I write for a weed blog. Well, my first successful hit with the Lotus literally had me on the ground in a coughing fit. It is not a tool to be underestimated.
What She Can Do
Lotus provides for a quick, simple, powerful, tasty and efficient vaping process. Unlike similar handheld vapes like the MFLB or Iolite, you won’t need to wait for heating elements to start up, or guess when they’re warm enough. And unlike the Vapor Genie, you won’t be inhaling products of imperfect combustion from a Bic or equivalent lighter like soot, unburned butane, etc. I’ve heard ignited butane is harmless, but it certainly affects the flavor and texture of your hits, which is where the Lotus truly shines.
We had the luxury of trying both the standard pipe and water pipe options. I was initially expecting the bong-attachment to be more of a novelty, and that the standard version was the real meat-and-potatoes. Little did I know – the bong adapter is actually quite impressive, and provides for a remarkable smoking experience. Since you’re vaporizing, the hits are easy to stop, and no weed is wasted at all. And of course – it being a bong and all – you can take massive hits of highly potent vapor. Truly the best of both worlds.
Equally impressive was the standard pipe, which provided us with copious amounts of smooth, unadulterated vapor. It’s simple enough to use, and easily provides the largest and most efficient hits of any portable vaporizer I’ve ever used. Hands down. It related more to my old Da Buddha, the more popular SSV and even the Volcano in terms of hit size and consistency than any of its portable competitors. Where these electric desktop vapes win out is ease of use and bowl size. Even though using a lighter is easy, it’s not easier than turning a knob or pressing a button. And the Lotus’ bowl is fairly small, only allowing enough room for about 3 average, or 2 generous hits.
Personally, I think the bottom-located intake vents are absolute genius. They provide fresh, untainted hits that are much cooler and more pure than anything you can get with direct flame. And it’s done with the precision and user-input only achievable with a lighter. Without buying an expensive desktop vaporizer, you’re simply not going to find an accurate, adjustable heating element. And unlike what manufacturers might lead you to believe, every type of weed does not vaporize under the same conditions. Control over the temperature in a vaporizer is paramount if you want to get the most effective and efficient use out of it.
It remains to be seen how durable the Lotus will be with long-term use, but if today’s rigorous testing was any indication, it will age with dignity. They advertise as being an all-American product: designed, manufactured and sold in the United States. The quality on every level was truly phenomenal, and you can tell this is a device with some serious R&D behind it. Everything was considered. It doesn’t get too hot to handle, it has good indicators to let you know how your hit is going, it (potentially) has a built-in stir stick (!), and every piece is made of highly durable, highly attractive materials.
On top of all of that, Mendocino Technologies even stands confidently behind their product, granting a 3 year warranty on the piece. Long enough to be useful, but short enough that you can reasonably expect them to still exist.
Too Good to be True?
Extremely portable, reasonably priced, high-quality and efficient – the Lotus seems like something out of a stoner’s fantasy. I’m a very cynical person in general, and I’m usually quick to point out the flaws in… well everything. With the Lotus I am genuinely at a loss. They seem to have taken care of everything, and the minor complaints and issues I have are more due to physics itself than anything design-related.
Perhaps the only real complaint I have is the limitation on bowl size. Simply by nature of being a portable vape, you’ll never get it to store a large quantity of weed. This makes it slightly unwieldy for use in a group, or with low-quality bud. We were consistently getting at least 3 big hits out of it per bowl, which was about enough to get one (high tolerance) user very well stoned. After each hit you’ll want to stir it up a bit to ensure even vaping, making the stir stick a good investment for any prospective owner.
Beyond that, the anodizing does show scratching and other blemishes fairly easily. With a few years of abuse, a heavy user will easily transform the stylish appearance of the Lotus into a battle-scarred workhorse. The good news about that is the vape will actually be around to see those days. Most glass pieces or electronic vapes will die out or break, while the Lotus will continue to dutifully stimulate your cannabinoid receptors for years to come. There is only one piece on the vape I would be concerned about, which is the nickel heating plate. It’s fairly thin, and since it’s getting direct flame from a butane torch, it’ll be suffering a lot of torture over time. Only time will tell the nickel will hold up, but in any case it would be a cheap repair.
I’m active on a lot of different drug-related message boards, and one of the most popular devices on the internet is the Magic Flight Launch Box. It seems to generate unwavering support wherever you happen to look, and has taken on a reputation for being highly praised and adored. If you’re unfamiliar with the MFLB, it’s a simple wooden electronic vape that runs on battery. It is very small, and is made to be a highly portable and concealable device.
My opinion is that the MFLB is an overhyped, overpriced fad, and a massive number of people have fallen prey to excellent grassroots marketing campaigns. It is inconsistent, the glass is easily scratched, the battery runs out quick and the device just feels cheap and cheesy. Plus, on a portable vape, I prefer a self-contained device. With the MFLB you must store the battery holster separate from the device during transport, or you run the risk of heating up your pipe unwittingly. Perhaps the only upside to that vape is the generous lifetime warranty that the manufacturer offers. I wonder, though, how long that manufacturer will actually last… Anyway, all of this would be absolutely fine and excusable, if the pipe were priced appropriately – say $30-50 or so. At its current retail of $120, however, it is a complete ripoff.
Iolite’s version of a portable electronic vape is another product that suffers from a case of overinflated price tag. I actually liked the Iolite in my experience with it; it produced clean, consistent hits every time. Those hits were fairly small, but at least you knew what you were getting. Battery life is acceptable, design seems sturdy enough (for plastic anyway), and it seems to heat up at a reasonable rate. But the retail on an I-o is $200! That is completely unacceptable for what you’re getting with that piece.
Another popular pipe I was severely disappointed with is the Vapor Genie. It didn’t ever want to give me solid hits, and the amount of butane flavor nearly made me gag. It’s priced a bit more appropriately ($55) than its competitors, but it still seems a bit much. Beyond that, it seems to be made of pressure-treated wood, which is very hazardous to your health if it gets too hot, is touched too much, or contacts acidic things. Honestly, I don’t think it holds a candle to the Lotus, but as the only “lighter fueled” portable vape in direct competition, I felt it necessary to include for our purposes.
I’ll save some time here: the Lotus wins on all fronts, except ease of use. Torching the nickel plate seems a bit harder than it initially sounds, and definitely takes a little finesse. Electronic vapes are nice in that regard, but the trade-off of unpredictable or insufficient heat really detracts from the current contenders performance. The Iolite doesn’t seem to provide quite enough heat to be efficient, and the MFLB was all over the place during my time with it. As simple as the concept of a Vapor Genie seems, the lighter never heated up my product enough to enjoy it. To be quite honest, at some point I eventually just took out the bud in frustration and stuck it in a more capable vaporizer.
As far as cost goes, I genuinely think the Lotus is at a realistic, appropriate price point. You’re paying for some serious quality here, and not just in the materials. MT has clearly spent lots of time meticulously poring over every detail of their product. It looks like you might expect an Apple product to look – trendy, tightly toleranced, and capable. On top of that, it is truly an innovative concept. And despite the stylish looks, it still performs like a purpose-built machine. There are facets to this pipe I’ve never seen done before by anyone, including the built-in stir stick, the cold-air intake and the heating plate.
Beyond that, for nearly the same price as an MFLB, you can get the Lotus pipe, the water pipe adapter, the custom-designed lighter, the carrying case and the weed scoop. Compare that to just the MFLB, a couple batteries, and a battery charger, and you can see why I think the MFLB is considerably overpriced. Of course, you wouldn’t even be 3/4 of the way towards an Iolite, if you went hog wild and got every possible accoutrement and upgrade available on a Lotus. And the Lotus pipe itself is only $100 without a kit, so it’s in the same ballpark as a Vapor Genie.
I’ve been thinking for a long while about what I’d change on the Lotus if I had the chance. After a good amount of consideration, there are only really two things I’d modify. First, I’d permanently affix the stir stick in its wooden home on the vapor cap. In fact, I think I’ll probably do that on my own piece, as I’m absolutely positive it will get hopelessly lost if I don’t. My other alteration would be a widening of the bowl. I’m not sure how that would affect the ergonomics of the piece, but it seems like it could be conceivably done. With a slightly bigger bowl, there’s not a pipe in the world that could stand up to the Lotus.
My recommendation if you’re considering the Lotus is to buy the $132 combo pipe and water pipe, and throw in the custom-fit stir stick for $5. The standard price of the Lotus itself is $100 – that means for less than $40 you’ll have the added capability to vape with a bong, you’ll be provided your own custom-fit torch lighter, you’ll be able to stir up your bowls with a fitted stir stick, and you can store your products conveniently in one bag. Everything in the kit is purpose-built for your pipe, and nothing seems frivolous or gimmicky. One factor I can’t help you with is color choice, as I was heavily torn between the three options. The all-black, turquoise and natural wood finishes all look equally excellent.
If you hadn’t noticed, I really like this piece. Hell, I love this thing. If you’re in the market for a portable vaporizer, you would be a fool not to consider the Lotus. The fact that it requires a torch lighter does mean a slight drawback for inconspicuous public use, but it provides significant benefits over its element-driven counterparts. If stealth is your one and only concern, the Lotus may not be the right choice for you. But if your only goal is to acquire the best portable tool for the job, I think I have just the thing for you…
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