I first hit an oil vape in 2015. At the time, the O.penVape had the oil market cornered with a standard $20 battery and line of oil cartridges. All you had to do was screw the thing together and suck.
Like many early adopters, I got sucked in by the novelty. Since then, I've mostly switched to dry flower—the best way to taste those piney, sweet terpenes Oregon cannabis is known for.
But the Expedition ($99, vesselbrand.com), part of a new line of Vessel premium oil vaporizers, has branded itself as an inventive, more durable upgrade of the basic oil vape. The Expedition has the same standard, threaded 510 cartridge as the early O.pen design, but is a lot more expensive. Specifically, $79 more expensive.
Except for the price, the differences from a midlevel oil vape are minor. An O.pen is about the size of a Bic pen, while the Expedition is the size of a Sharpie. It's sturdier for wear and has some latch components, but it's also bulkier and less discreet.
The Expedition incorporates some basic innovations. There's a button to switch between low, medium and high heat, so you don't feel a pinch in your lungs whenever you inhale. The battery also charges at the opposite end from where the cartridge threads on, so you don't have to worry about the battery malfunctioning when the gluelike oil leaks. (My O.pen eventually got mucked up from all the defective cartridges I encountered.) The charger is magnetized, so it snaps nicely into place each time you charge.
But the attractions of the Expedition are hardly innovations. Many of its features can be found on other vapes, so it doesn't quite warrant a trifold price increase. Its temperature cycling feature is reliable, but less cutting-edge than, say, that of the Pax Era, which retails for $20 and connects to an app that allows you to adjust temperatures from your smartphone.
Ultimately, this device is equivalent to a midlife-crisis sports car—overly expensive, mostly concerned with aesthetics and not all that useful. It doesn't seem worth it to spend more than $20 on a vape pen that limits you to 510 cartridges. While there are a number of excellent Oregon weed oils in 510 thread, flower is way cheaper, natural, tastier, less habit-forming and fun to explore. Otherwise, buttonless vapes like the O.pen or Pax work just fine at a fraction of the price.