Pickathon smelled different this year.
Sure, it was a little hotter than normal at the music festival on Pendarvis Farm in Clackamas County. But the lingering scent I noticed around the stages wasn't that unmistakable blend of sweat, natural deodorant, spilled beer and dank flower. It was light, bright, citrusy vapor.
All around the festival, from the bluegrass hippies seated by the kids area sponsored by a Waldorf School to the scenesters cramped into the side area at the barn stage, everyone had switched to oil pens.
Were there joints, too? Probably. Presumably. I think?
I was at Pickathon for two days, and I only saw a few people actually lighting little paper tubes of cannabis on fire—joints are about as common now as old-fashioned cigarette lighters held aloft during the encore of a 21 Pilots show.
It's not news that oil cartridges have exploded in popularity. But stop to consider that all this growth has come despite the products still kinda sucking.
If you've owned a few oil pens, you've likely broken a few oil pens. The thin lithium batteries are so junky that they're basically disposable. The majority of cartridges are poorly made, leaking oil onto their threads or out the top, into your pocket.
At first, I thought it was me. Then, I thought it was a few companies. Finally, I realized it was the basic design of the standard 510 thread cartridge, which is flawed.
Leave it to Pax to wreck the game.
You probably know the San Francisco-based company from their standard-setting line of loose leaf vaporizers, which remain the gold standard of portable weed vapes, despite an influx of innovative newcomers.
Now, Oregon finally has their newest product, the Era.
The Era is closely related to another Pax product, a sleek nicotine vape called the JUUL, which we've previously advised you to hack for cannabis oil. Well, now you won't have to muss your kitchen table filling the little pods by hand. Finally, a year after rolling the Era out in Colorado and California, Pax has partnered with Oregrown, the excellent Bend-based extractor, to produce pods that fit their sleek little pen.
The Era is, as we expected, a wonderful little device.
The best compliment is that there's so little to say about it. It charges via micro USB, has a simple light system to tell you how charged it is and clips together with rectangular cartridges that are about the size of a bottle cap.
It just works. The oils are tasty and provide the desired effects. The battery will last through a weekend music festival. Most importantly, the cartridges don't leak or get gummed up.
Pax has done what Pax does—build a better mousetrap. I'd expect their line will spread as fast as pens themselves have.
What happens now will be interesting.
In Oregon, other oilmen are on notice. They can double-down put their efforts into hard-selling a product with known issues or they can put their efforts into engineering something better. Here's hoping they innovate.