For years, we cried out for a device that would allow us to vape discretely and which we could fit comfortably into our pockets. Ten years ago, the original PAX answered our prayers. Then along came Arizer with its Air and Air 2, which have taken a strong segment of the portable vaporizer market share. Now PAX hits back with a huge price drop for the PAX 2 and PAX 3. Which one of these popular portable vaporizers comes out on top in our road test? Read on to find out…
Vapor Flavor Quality
Arizer Air 2
The vapor quality of the Air 2 is good. It’s smooth and full of flavor, and the clouds are a lot denser than those the PAX 3 can manage. In this respect, the Air 2 isn’t much of an improvement on the original Air model, but it does still do better than PAX 3. The Air 2 provides a smooth cool draw that lets you enjoy the full flavor of your herbs. This is due to the all-glass vapor path, which is easy to keep clean and avoids flavour contamination. The glass also helps cool the vapor as you inhale, which gives a smoother taste.A drawback to the glass stem is that it constricts airflow. Air 2 goes some way toward fixing this, but it’s still noticeable.
The vapor quality of the PAX 3 is not much of an improvement on that produced by the PAX 2. It’s smooth and satisfying and can be modified by selecting a different temperature and heating mode. However, the PAX 3 is still a conduction device, which will never produce the purest flavor that convection does. The biggest improvement that PAX 3 makes to its predecessor is in the customizability of its heating modes. Those who enjoy denser vapor and quicker sessions can now opt for a ‘boost’ mode. Those who like more flavor will love the ‘flavor’ profile, which ups the cooling of the vapor between draws to sustain the flavor of your herbs.Being able to customize how the heating modes work is pretty impressive. Other units let you adjust temperature profiles, but not how the unit actually heats your herb. PAX 3 gives you a bit more customization and changes how you interact with the vaporizer.
Build Quality and Durability
Arizer Air 2
Arizer is known for the manufacturing quality of its products. They’re durable and easy-care. The Achilles’ heel of the Air 2, however, remains its removable glass tubes. While glass gives great vapor quality, it’s fragile and you can find yourself having to frequently buy replacement parts. The glass components of the Ait 2 however are made from Borosilicate. This makes them very resistant to thermal shock and thermal stress. They also have a high chemical resistance to corrosive environments.The Air 2 comes with unlocked precision temperature control, ranging from 180-215°C. This gives users a decent choice of temperatures at which to cook and is a huge improvement on the five fixed heat settings the original Air offered.The Air 2 is operated by three buttons and a digital display. The bottom button is the on-off switch and doubles as the menu button to access all the device settings. The top two are + and – buttons for temperature adjustment. This gives the user enhanced temperature control compared to the original Air.
The Pax 3 is pretty much the same in appearance and build as Pax 2. Not much has changed in the dimensions of the heating chamber, vapor path or mouthpiece. The main difference lies in the exterior finish, which is gloss instead of brushed aluminium.The biggest changes are to be found in the functionality of the device. For example, the PAX 3 comes with a half-pack chamber, which allows you to use less herb. It also comes with a canister for use with waxes and concentrates. This appears to make the PAX 3 much more multifunctional, but our experience is that the oven doesn’t get hot enough to properly vaporize concentrates and your left with a sticky mess inside the canister which is difficult to clean off. And for some reason best known to the designer, the wax attachment doesn’t sit flush when it’s inserted. It sticks out slightly, which is a bit worrying. From a build quality point of view, there’s not a lot wrong with the PAX 3. It comes with a Bluetooth app for further customization. It also succeeds in increasing the battery capacity without having had to increase the size of the device. In terms of the build itself, we reckon they’ve applied the old adage “If it ain’t broke…”
Battery and Portability
Arizer Air 2
The portability of the Air 2 is much the same as that of the original Air, unless you count the improved battery life. That is a definite improvement. In terms of battery life, we found the Air 2 to last about 45 minutes between charges. This equates to about 2-3 sessions per charge. That said, the Air 2 battery does have a higher capacity than the original Air model, and gives a slightly better performance when out and about.
The main shortcoming of the Air 2 remains the glass air stems, which you have to remove from the device and carry separately. Also, the fact they are glass means they are easily breakable. You need to have something to carry the unit in, like a vaporizer case, and use caps for the stems. The last thing you want is a glass stem breaking in your pocket.
The increase in battery capacity will definitely get you an additional session or two before having to recharge. We found that the battery lasted an hour and a half, which is pretty impressive for a device this size.The Pax 3 also charges really quickly. We got it back up to full charge from fully depleted in 100 minutes Again, pretty impressive.As with the Pax 2, the Pax 3 is one of the most portable vaporizers around. At just 4” tall and a little over 1” wide, it can easily be slipped unobtrusively into a pocket or purse.
Size and Discreteness
Arizer Air 2
The Air 2 is similar in size to its predecessor. It resembles a larger vape pen or e-cig. In all, with the glass stem extended, the Air 2 is about seven inches tall, which make it pretty unobtrusive.
Because of its compact size, Pax 3 is a very discreet unit and can easily be concealed in your hand. The Pax 3 also features a stealth mode, which dims the logo light and cools the chamber between draws to minimize smell.
Our Opinion - Winner
Both the Air 2 and the PAX 3 are great devices. Both do the job required of them and both provide a very flavorable vapor. However, for us, the Air 2 just has the edge. It gives a better flow, you get more sessions between charges, and as a convection device it gives better vapor quality. Which, when it comes right down to it, is what we’re after!
You can purchase the Arizer Air 2 here.
You can purchase the PAX 3 here.