With their flashing lights, roaring fans, and Blade Runner-esque designs, a lot of tabletop vapes these days place more emphasis on maintaining hyper-precise temperature gradients than in providing a relaxing and enjoyable user experience. The new Cloud Evo takes a refreshingly zen approach.
What Is It?
The Cloud Evo is the second iteration of VapeXhale's wildly popular tabletop vaporiser, this time with lighter-weight, faster heat times, and steadier temperature ranges than the original Cloud.
Why Does It Matter?
Because bongs are archaic and you're too old to be smoking out of an apple. The ubiquitous Volcano vape still costs north of £300, and you shouldn't need a goddamn thermal engineering degree to get properly stoned.
I'll admit, when I first pulled this unit out of the box, I was thoroughly underwhelmed. I mean, just look at it; this little eight-inch-tall (20cm) plastic tower uses a single toggle switch and an unmarked temperature knob for input. Who does that? Vaporisers are supposed to look like alien spaceships, right?
This is a radical departure from other tabletop vapes that often incorporate extravagant LED readouts telling you exactly how hot they are; I quickly grew to love the restraint. I stopped worrying about whether it was really hitting 380 degrees and how that would affect my buzz, I stopped counting down in my head the seconds and degrees until the unit was fully heated, and all the other things that I never worried about when getting high until someone slapped a digital readout on my toking device. Essentially, I stopped getting all neurotic about how I was getting high and got back to just enjoying being high. It's amazing what a single knob can do.
The crucible loads into the top of the unit – either a metal mesh EZ Load bowl for loose leaf material or a glass tube for concentrates – and the combination percolator-mouthpiece sits on top of that. It's an all-glass air pathway and the heating element features a "perpetual heating" function similar to the Firefly that boosts the temperature based on how hard you draw. VapeXhale sells a number of different handcrafted, artisanal mouthpieces. For this review, we played with the Swagger Sidecirc.
The crucible is to be filled with a tiny amount of loose leaf, wax, oil, or concentrate. Remember you only need a little bit when vaping concentrates; you want to get high, not white out. We used cold water hash and loose leaf for this test, though there's no reason to believe that oils or wax would perform differently.
The crucible is then placed in the neck of the vaporiser, the mouthpiece-percolator chamber filled with water and set on top of the vaporiser neck. Then, the toggle switch is flipped to turn on the heater, the unit then heats up the crucible (a small LED embedded in the neck will turn from red to green when it is ready for use), and then its time for the hit.
There's a lot to like about the Cloud Evo. The unmarked heater dial is rather liberating compared to other systems that forcefully display that information at every given opportunity. It's also way easier for neophyte vaporiser users to get the hang of than similar devices. I mean, do you really care the optimum vaping temperature reads out at 381 degrees or five-eighths of the way up the dial so long as it delivers a nice, milky hit? I know I don't.
The Evo's focused versatility is also quite nice. Being able to handle both concentrates and loose leaf, you simply can't go wrong. What's more, the Evo doesn't try to shoehorn unrelated functionality into the device — like an aromatherapy mode or similar such silliness — but rather focuses on doing one thing very well: getting you thoroughly chonged.
The Evo is, however, not without its drawbacks. For one, it takes far longer than other tabletop vapes (close to two minutes over the course of my testing) to initially heat up. And even after the light turns green, it can take a few moments to actually pull the vapour through the system. It also takes forever to cool down after consuming a bowl, so unless you've got multiple crucibles to cycle through, you're going to be waiting 5-10 minutes between sessions – a drawback if consuming communally.
And while the vertical form-factor is interesting, I constantly worried about knocking it over — and nearly did a few times — which is not what you want to deal with when you're four bowls deep and have an expensive piece of glasswares sitting on top of it.
Should You Buy It?
Yes, right now if you can. It's a clever and incredibly functional little unit that perfectly dovetails the relative strengths of bubblers and vaporisers. It's stealthy enough to leave out when company comes over, and small enough that it won't take up your entire coffee table. You can buy the main unit for a reasonable amount less cash than a Volcano. Check out a Cloud Evo for yourself at VapeXhale.