Vapes are a pretty popular way to consume cannabis. I’d never used one prior to legalization because I think they gained momentum during a time when I wasn’t really consuming a lot, and I didn’t see a reason to get one. But I wanted to grab one, knowing that vaporization is arguably healthier (versus combustion, which burns a lot hotter), and better for getting the most out of one’s cannabis (again, the temperature enables more control so you aren’t just burning up all the good stuff). That being said, I also wanted to start out with something small and very inexpensive because I had no idea if I’d like a vape.

Enter the Penguin, so named for its resemblance to the waddling animal. It’s a small dry herb vaporizer, rechargeable and portable.

I got it for less than $40 online with a coupon so it was definitely not a big investment at all. I knew that buying something small and inexpensive would of course involve some trade-offs in terms of quality, namely the level of control over temperature, and how long the vape can go between charges. But for the price, I’m happy with what I received.

Mini Bic lighter for scale. 

The penguin has a ceramic chamber and coil and uses conduction to create vapour. It’s about 10 centimetres tall and two centimetres wide, and uses USB to charge. There’s one button that controls the whole thing — you press it five times to turn the vape on or off, and hold it down to cycle through temperature settings.

The temperature range is 356 – 428°F (180 – 220°C). I think it starts a bit higher than what some people would choose for low-key vaping. When using the higher end of the range the whole vape does heat up, though not uncomfortably so.

The button control is the starbust-shaped red icon at the top — the bottom drop is the battery indicator, currently showing that it needs to be charged. The dots are temperature indicators which turn green as the vape heats.

It doesn’t take long for the battery to give up its charge — the indicator light goes from green (full) to blue (half-used) to red (needs to be charged) within a few short sessions. If I were a heavy-duty vape user I would find it annoying, but for the way I use it, just a few hits a day, I can go several days between charges, and it doesn’t take long to recharge.

I’m sure that I’ll get a sturdier vape with more features at some point — I’m weighing my options between a portable vape or a desktop — but for now the Penguin is one of the cannabis consumption tools regularly used in my household.