By Luke Sumpter

Vaporising has seen a surge in popularity in the world of weed in recent years. This method of consumption allows cannabis users to forgo the combustion that occurs when applying a flame to the end of a joint or the surface of a bong bowl. The lower temperature used during vaping targets cannabinoids, terpenes, and other desirable compounds, while minimising the conversion of other undesirable compounds into potentially harmful byproducts.

Overall, vaping offers a smooth, flavourful, and highly customizable user experience. With many cannabis lovers making the switch to vaping, companies have released many different models and devices; things can get pretty confusing when shopping around for a new vape. Below, we’re going to concentrate on the differences between vaporisers and vape pens.

Vaporisers vs Vape Pens: An Overview

Before we dive into the details, let’s take a look at the key overarching differences between vapes and pens. First of all, all devices that belong to both of these categories vaporise, instead of combust, either dry herb, concentrates, or e-liquids. Despite this key similarity, they differ in their complexity, size, and the type of material they vaporise.

Vaporizer vs vape pen

Let’s start with the vaporiser category. This large and diverse group of devices contains a wealth of different models. Some of them are large desktop devices, some are handheld and more portable, whereas others are, confusingly, pen-shaped. However, they differ from vape pens in that they use dry herb, concentrates, or both, instead of e-liquid cartridges.

On the other hand, vape pens are less diverse in their size and design. They’re sleek, small, and, you guessed it—pen-shaped. Some are single-use and are disposed of once their cartridge becomes empty. Others are either refillable or allow users to replace an empty cartridge with a full one.

Vape pens possess a much simpler design and lack the controls, screens, and settings found in more complex and expensive vaporiser devices.

Vaporisers vs Vape Pens: The Details

You’re one step closer to understanding the difference between a vape and a pen. Continue reading as we dive deeper into the divide and discover what makes both of these categories unique. By the time you reach the end of the article, you’ll know exactly which type of device suits you the best.


Vaporisers vary massively in their size and dimensions. For example, bulky desktop models such as the Storz & Bickel Volcano Hybrid weighs just under 2kg and stands at a height of 20cm. Handheld models, such as the Pax 3, are much more portable and pocket-friendly. Finally, designs such as the DynaVap M Plus are as pen-like as a non-vape pen vape can get, weighing in at just 21g with a length of 8.9cm.

Vape pen models are much more uniform when it comes to size. Both disposable and reusable models are sleek, lightweight, and small. For example, the RQS CBD Vape Pen adheres to the most common design. Composed of a body, cartridge, and mouthpiece, it’s ultra-lightweight and highly portable.

Vaporizer vs vape pen size

Temperature Settings

Another major difference between a vape and a pen boils down to temperature controls. Both desktop and handheld vaporisers allow users to customise many different aspects of the experience, including the temperature they vaporise at. Beyond simply making each hit smoother or harsher, tweaking temperature settings allows users to target the boiling points of specific cannabinoids and terpenes, allowing them to determine the effects of their high. Some models offer a small range of preset temperatures, whereas devices such as the MIGHTY+ allows users to adjust temperature in increments of 1°C.

In alignment with their simple designs, the majority of disposable and reusable vape pens don’t come with adjustable temperature settings. They’re made for instant and easy hits, without any faffing and user customisation.

Heating Systems

When it comes to dry herb vaporisers vs vape pens, heating systems are another distinct difference found between the two. Dry herb vaporisers, and those that can handle concentrates, either use conduction, convection, or hybrid heating systems. Conduction places a heating element in direct contact with herbs or concentrates, whereas convection systems use hot air to vaporise oven contents. As you can probably guess, hybrid systems combine the two.

In contrast, vape pens use conduction heating to turn liquid into vapour. A heating coil, in direct contact with e-liquid, turns the cannabinoid-containing fluid into a gas. Typically, these devices start heating up either during inhalation or upon holding down a power button.

Vaporizer vs vape heat system


You should also take capacity into account when weighing up the differences between vapes and pens. Whether disposable or reusable, vape pens have a predetermined capacity based on the size of the cartridges supplied. These products offer a specific amount of hits before they run dry.

Conversely, vaporisers have varying chamber sizes that accommodate different quantities of dry herbs or concentrates. These typically vary from around 0.1g all the way up to 1g and beyond. Users don’t have to fill up their chamber during every session, but more space gives them dosing options.


Vape pens are now widely available in dispensaries. You’ll even find pens that contain only CBD head shops in countries where cannabis remains illegal, including the United Kingdom. However, cartridges and disposable pens that contain THC are much harder to come by in countries that still prohibit cannabis.

In contrast, dry herb vaporisers are easy to keep topped up. Many users have dispensaries and coffee shops close by. Those that don't have the options of locating local growers or simply growing their own supply.


Discretion varies between vaporisers. Sleek and thin handheld models are the easiest to conceal and the least obvious to wield when out in public.

Vape pens are also highly discrete in their size and design. However, both of these options will produce an odour that can draw attention. If you’re looking to avoid detection at all costs, scout out an isolated area before you start hitting your vaporiser or vape pen.

A benefit of vape pens, regarding discretion, is that e-juices can be flavoured in such a way that means they don't give off the scent of cannabis. Due to this, you can vape in more conspicuous places without alerting the olfactory senses of passersby.


So, what does the breakdown of vape vs vape pen look like regarding speed? Well, vape pens certainly win in this area. They’re designed to hit on the go, with no fiddling or setting of parameters involved—you don’t even have to load them.

When using a vaporiser, you’ll need to pack the oven, set your preferred temperature, and wait for the device to heat up before taking a hit.

Vaporizer vs vape speed

Battery Life

Vape pens generally have smaller batteries, but the devices don't drain energy with LED screens and other bells and whistles. The average CBD vape pen requires about four hours of charging for a full battery that will last users about two hours of vaping.

Vaporisers vary widely in their battery life and performance. The Pax 3, for example, is equipped with a 3500mah battery that reaches full charge in 100 minutes and will accommodate around an hour and a half of vaping time.


What other differences exist between a vape and a pen? You can add cleaning to the list! Disposable vape pens require zero cleaning. However, you’ll need to wipe the connection point of reusable pens every time you switch out the cartridge to remove any residue.

Vaporisers require frequent cleaning.Light cleaning between sessions will minimise residue build-up, and deep cleans once every 1–2 weeks will remove grime and prolong the lifespan of the device.

Weed Vaporisers vs Pens: Which Do You Choose?

So, which of these two options attracts you the most? Do you have a penchant for speed, simplicity, and minimalism that makes vape pens more of a suitable fit? Or do you prefer to take your time and appreciate the advantages of using your own weed and customising your experience with parameter controls? If you still haven’t made your mind up, simply try out both to find the best type of device for you!

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