A true-convention vape of diminutive proportions, the Grasshopper posed for speculative micro-investors with jewelry-model composure—its stainless steel body and executive, power-pen form factor bearing a sleekness that called to mind momentous occasions.
Not only was the Grasshopper elegant and strong to the eye, but it claimed a simple and intuitive functionality, mimicking that of your average retractable pen.
The clicky part at the top that would usually expose and conceal the writing tip? That's how you turn it on and off.
The tapered front end where you'd usually write from? That's where you take a hit—through a mouthpiece that unscrews to reveal a heating chamber for your herb.
At the top of the unit is a temperature dial and magnetic contact for the charging ring, which slides over the on/off clicker and snaps into place to replace a traditional power port.
During its funding push, Grasshopper's Indiegogo campaign raised over $300,000, after which came the obligatory procession of manufacturing updates, delays, and redesigns as the team ramped up for full-scale production.
Nineteen months later, in June of 2015, the Grasshopper backer incentives started to ship, and since then, the team has garnered a following for their vaporizer—launching titanium and heat-treated versions, as well as new accessories like an adapter that makes the Grasshopper compatible with water pipes.
After following along for roughly four years, I decided to reach out to Grasshopper's manufacturers.
In unboxing the slender, stainless steel vaporizer—made in the USA and backed by a lifetime warranty—the first thing I noticed was its sturdy construction. There's nothing loose or flimsy about the heavy-duty, machined steel, and tight-fitting mechanical parts (the Grasshopper is 95 percent metal).
Included in the box was an extra battery, water-pipe adapter, and silicone lip protector.
In terms of functionality, everything is as advertised.
The Grasshopper heats to temp in a hasty five count to produce ample vapor in a single "on" cycle.
Unlike similar-looking products like the Atmos line of flower pens, the Grasshopper is true-convection—meaning that it gently heats your weed with hot air rather than exposing it to a conduction heating element or live filament (which will result in combustion and tarry smoke as opposed to clean vapor).
Heating temperatures can be easily adjusted with a simple twist of the temp dial, allowing users to vaporize their herb from 130°C-210°C (266°F-410°F) and anywhere in between.
I found that I liked the temperature a little above the middle setting, around 355°F-375°F—which is just hot enough to boil off both THC and CBD molecules, as well as many of the terpenes found in cannabis. You'll want to turn it all the way up if you're looking to maximize the delivery of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids—some of which boil at higher temperatures.
Seasoned vapor enthusiasts will note that almost all modern, convection vapes allow for precision, oft-app-controlled, temp adjustment, but it's the added stealth, shirt-pocket size, and durable construction that makes the Grasshopper stand out from the multitudes of portable units on the market.
Of course, the diminutive pen vaporizer has its drawbacks.
First and foremost, this little guy gets hot. So hot, in fact, that Grasshopper's manufacturers include a little silicone nib to fit over the mouthpiece, so that you don't have to touch your lips to piping hot steel.
In my first few days with the unit, I stubbornly avoided using the mouth protector—wanting to prove to myself that the unit could function while maintaining its eye-catching physical form, unencumbered by accessories that disrupt the Grasshopper's sleek lines.
And it does function just fine without the lip protector, but I found myself letting the unit cool down between "on" cycles to make the experience more comfortable and less a game of hot potato. Eventually, I caved and started using the silicone nib, as the trade off of lost time didn't seem worth it.
Additionally, the herb chamber isn't quite big enough to accommodate a multi-person session.
As with most vaporizers I've used, during the first hit, the majority of the terpenes reach their boiling point and convert to vapor—so the person who goes first enjoys the bulk of the flavor, as well as the therapeutic benefits delivered by those taste-tickling compounds.
This means if you want to be social as well as kind mannered, you'll probably need to pack the Grasshopper for each person who wants a turn. And if you happen to be in public while sharing, the stealth factor goes out the window while you unload the vaped flower, break up weed in your hand, refill the chamber, and then pass it along to whoever's next in line.
Repeat this process a few times, and you've pretty much blown up your spot.
That said, the Grasshopper would be great for slipping out of a bar for a quick personal session, or to enjoy up the block from a movie theater before a screening.
And it remains the only true-convection flower vape of it's shape and compact dimensions—arguably the most portable unit of its kind.
But if you're looking for the most efficient, no-fuss way to get stoned on the go and are willing to forgo flower for convenience, cartridge-based oil units are still your best bet.
Damn, though: that Grasshopper is an attractive piece of technology, and a must-have for enthusiasts who can't buy enough gadgets that get you high.