The PAX 3 is one of those vaporizers with a GREAT marketing team behind it.
But as you know:
Great marketing doesn’t always mean a great product…
The PAX 3 though, is great on many levels.
It’s the latest model of PAX vaporizers…
And the 2 main upgrades you get with the PAX 3 compared to the PAX 2 are the following:
- You can use concentrates with the PAX 3;
- You’ll have faster heat-up time, which is great for discreetness and ease of use.
If you’ve been following the vaporizer scene for a while, you would know PLOOM PAX is known for making vaporizers that are:
- Easy to use;
- As portable as it gets, and;
- Extremely reliable.
And they definitely continued this trend with the PAX 3…
But the PAX vaporizers are also known for mediocre vapor quality and efficiency.
And this mostly has to do with the fact that the PAX vaporizers, up until now, always stayed true to their original conduction- session design.
No need to beat around the bush:
The PAX 3 didn’t improve much in terms of vapor quality and efficiency compared to the PAX 2…
So what remains are a few upgrades which mostly enhance user experience and versatility…
Which could be worth it for you…
Continue to find out.
Or go straight to the pros and cons and conclusion.
Where to buy the PAX 3:
- Design / Build Quality - 9/109/10
- Portability - 9.5/109.5/10
- Safety - 8.5/108.5/10
- Potency - 7.5/107.5/10
- Flavor - 7.5/107.5/10
- Efficiency - 6.5/106.5/10
- User Experience / Ease of Use - 8/108/10
- Temperature Control - 9/109/10
- Reputation & Reliability - 9.5/109.5/10
Design / Build Quality (9)
The PAX 3 is a beautiful little gadget…
Its futuristic shape and aluminium polished outer shell truly make it look and feel like a luxurious item for trendy people.
And if you think it’s beauty means you need to treat your PAX 3 delicately…
You couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s built like a tank and can take some serious beating:
Drop it, nothing happens…except a few scratches here and there.
Which brings me to the next point:
The PAX 3 is very susceptible to scratches.
This is unlike the PAX 2 which has a brushed aluminium outer shell that’s scratch-resistant.
So even though it does look shinier with the polished shell…
In my opinion, the PAX 3 took a step back in this regard.
The materials used in the PAX 3 are pretty much the same as in the PAX 2:
- Surgical grade stainless steel, and;
- Food-safe and heat-resistant plastic.
Mostly metal and no glass…which has pros and cons from a design perspective.
- Pros: it’s sturdy and easy to clean;
- Cons: glass is absolutely the safest material and best for flavor.
The PAX 3 is a very well designed portable vaporizer. It’s beautiful and extremely sturdy at the same time.
If there’s one category in which the PAX 3 absolutely excels…
It HAS to be portability.
Size & weight
Think of a vaporizer that easily fits in the palm of your hand or pocket.
Well, the PAX 3 is even smaller than that.
Together with the PAX 2, it’s the smallest electronic vaporizer in my collection.
Its exact dimensions are as follows:
- 87 x 1.21 x 0.85 inches (9.3 x 3.1 x 2.2 cm).
It’s not only small, but very lightweight as well: It only weighs 95 grams, you will barely feel it in your pocket.
Discreetness of design
If discreetness is important to you…look no further than the PAX 3.
- It’s small;
- Has no mouthpiece sticking out, and;
- Has an extremely quick heat-up time (15 seconds).
Pull your PAX 3 out, have it ready in 15 seconds, take some puffs while covering it with the palm of your hand (no mouthpiece so no one will easily associate it with vaping), get medicated…and sneak back into the shadows…
Just be wary of its:
Because the oven lid is not air-tight…
The PAX 3 is quite the smelly vaporizer.
When you’re vaping, anyone around within a couple of meters will smell the beautiful smell of your herb.
Now, if I was that person, I would be glad and thank you for it…because quite frankly, I love the smell of herb.
But if you need to be discreet, this can be a serious hindrance.
It gets better:
The smell doesn’t linger around for long and if you empty your bowl quickly after you’re done with your session, you will minimize any after- or ABV-smells coming out of your unit.
PLOOM PAX absolutely aced it with the battery.
But they already aced it with the PAX 2…and the PAX 3 doesn’t see any improvement in this area.
You still get an extremely solid 90 minute of continues use. Only a few portable vaporizers will get you more.
And the charge-up time is 2-3 hours with a USB-charger. USB means you can basically charge it up anywhere these days, which is great if you’re on the move a lot.
Heating element and air path
The heating element is actually the most important part of vaporizer in terms of safety.
This is because it has the biggest risk in giving off toxic fumes, when questionable materials are in or near it (like lead, plastic, etc.)
But with 100% conductions vaporizers, which are properly designed…
Such a risk simply does not exist, as long as the air path is fully separated from the heating element as well.
In a full conduction vaporizer, your bowl is what heats up your herb. And the heating element is what heats up your bowl. If your vaporizer is properly designed, the heating element does not come into contact with your herb at all (only with your bowl).
Now, why did I say “as long as the air path is fully separated from the heating element”?
IF there’s a faulty heating element in your vaporizer (with materials like lead, plastic or silicon near it), it can still pollute the air and therefore the vapor you inhale, IF it’s not fully separated from the air-path.
As it turns out:
The air path of the PAX 3 IS fully separated from the electronics, including the heating element. Which means you don’t risk inhaling toxic fumes.
Then onto the materials…
The vapor path and bowl are made of surgical grade stainless steel and the mouthpiece is made from heat-resistant and food-safe plastic.
This is all fine from a safety perspective.
Just keep your bowl clean. Because acidic substances like resin do have the capability to corrode stainless steel and make it leach chromium and nickel.
Vapor Potency (7.5)
If you’re looking for big clouds, the PAX 3 has got you covered.
No, it won’t produce monster clouds like the MIGHTY…
But big enough for most of us.
Now, I’m not exactly sure why…
But with full conduction vaporizers, I simply need more hits to reach a comparable level of medication compared to hybrid or convection vaporizers…
So even though the PAX 3 can produce big clouds, the clouds coming out of an Arizer Air, Firefly 2, MIGHTY or Boundless CFX help me reach higher levels of medication quicker (the last 2 being really crazy in that regard).
The bottom line is:
The PAX 3 hits hard enough for anyone but ex-smokers looking to kick their habit or anyone who just always needs huge rips to the face.
Vapor Flavor (7.5)
For a conduction vaporizer…
The PAX 3 provides really good flavor.
With most conduction vaporizers, the flavor deteriorates fast after the first few hits…
But the PAX 3 keeps the flavor relatively constant throughout your session.
I attribute this quality to its auto-cooling mechanism, which makes sure the heating element only heats your bowl when you’re really using your unit (through lip and motion sensing).
The vapor does get harsh on the highest heat settings. So if you’re a high-temp vaper, get a nice water adapter and bubbler for your PAX 3 (read about these in the tips and tricks section at the end of the review).
This is where PLOOM PAX did improve the PAX 3 a bit compared to the PAX 2.
Both the PAX 2 and 3 have a large oven (0.3-0.4 grams), and the nature of conduction vaporizers makes it so that you really need to pack your oven tightly to get proper vapor production.
This means that without an extra accessory, you can’t put any less herb than 0.3-0.4 grams in the PAX 3.
With the PAX 2 this extra accessory, the half-pack oven lid, you had to purchase separately.
With the PAX 3, the half-pack oven lid is included with you unit…which means it’s more efficient straight out of the box.
But from whichever way we look at it…
The PAX 3 stays an inefficient vaporizer by its core design:
- Conduction vaporizers are always less efficient than convection vaporizers, and;
- Even with the half-pack oven lid, the minimum amount you need to fill the bowl with to get proper vapor production, is high compared to some other vapes like the Firefly 2 or Arizer Air.
For a conduction vaporizer though…
The PAX 3 is very efficient, since it’s more efficient than the Boundless CFX or Flowermate vaporizers for example.
User Experience / Ease of Use (8.5)
Imagine such a sleek and futuristic looking vaporizer as the PAX 3, being extremely difficult to use…
Now that would be a huge anti-climax.
Fortunately, the PAX 3 is very easy to use.
What learning curve?
There is none.
But if you’re completely new to vaporizers just make sure you do the following 3 things:
- Grind your herb powder-fine (with the MFLB Finishing Grinder for example);
- Whether you pack your bowl with the regular or half-pack oven lid, make sure your bowl is fully packed, and;
- Compress your herb with the PAX loading tool.
The rest really just speaks for itself…turn it on, pick your temperature and start drawing. There’s no specific draw technique involved.
But I like to take slow and controlled draws.
Now, if you want full extraction of the goods (cannabinoids, terpenoids etc.) in your herb, you do need to stir your oven every 4-5 draws.
Compressing your herb in the oven works great for proper vapor production with the PAX 3…
But it also hinders airflow in the oven.
Hindered airflow means draw-resistance.
So yes, the PAX 3 definitely has some draw-resistance. It has more draw-resistance than the MIGHTY, CRAFTY or even a bit more than the Arizer Portables.
It’s less than the Firefly 2 though.
The PAX 3 APP
Whichever way you look at it…
Phone apps for vaporizers sound gimmicky to me.
That's why I absolutely hate it if you need the phone app to get access to all the functionalities of your vape.
The core functionalities of the PAX 3 are controllable without the app.
But some of the extra functionalities, which are part of the PAX 3 upgrades, are not controllable without the app.
So here's exactly what you can do with the app:
- Control your temperature in 1°F increments for full control over the effects of your vapor;
- Choose different heating profiles optimized for vapor production, maximum extraction, efficiency or flavor;
- Program the vibration alert for additional feedback and enhanced user experience;
- Lock your unit to prevent anyone else from using your PAX 3.
I do think this app is a bit gimmicky as well…but you can see it as an extra, as this vape works fine without the app as well.
Maintenance / cleaning downtime
Cleaning the PAX 3 is easy.
There are 4 parts which need regular cleaning:
- The screen at the bottom of the oven;
- The oven itself;
- The vapor path, and;
- The mouthpiece.
The screen is the most important to keep clean and will need most frequent cleaning (every 4-5 sessions). The other parts you can clean every 8-10 sessions.
To clean these parts, you’ll need:
How you clean your PAX 3 is as follows:
- Remove the oven lid and mouthpiece;
- Get a pipe cleaner and dip it in ISO alcohol;
- Clean the vapor path with the ISO-dipped pipe cleaner;
- Pop the oven screen out and let it soak in ISO alcohol for 5-10 mins.
- Get a Q-Tip and dip it in ISO alcohol;
- Clean your mouthpiece, oven and oven lid with this Q-Tip.
- Let everything dry properly and re-assemble your PAX 3.
It’s an easy process and will take only 5 minutes, so you can get on with what really matters quickly: producing big and tasty clouds with your PAX 3.
Note: NEVER soak anything else than the screen in ISO alcohol. It’s ok to rub the other parts with tools that are dipped in it though.
Temperature Control (9)
The PAX 2 had an interval-based temperature control system…
And while the PAX 3 kept these intervals during regular use (without the phone app):
|PAX 3 Temperature Setting||Temperature in Fahrenheit & Celsius|
|Level 1 (Green)||360°F / 182°C|
|Level 2 (Yellow)||380°F / 193°C|
|Level 3 (Orange)||400°F / 204°C|
|Level 4 (Red)||420°F / 215°C|
You now also get precise temperature control with the phone app. Which in turn gives you full control over the effects of your vapor.
If you want to know which temperatures are best for achieving which specific effect, check out this post:
Plus, you get 4 different types of heating profiles, which heat the oven according to different algorithms:
- Boost: High temperature with aggressive boosting, less auto-cooling. Best for vapor production (potency);
- Efficiency: Progressively turns up the temperature as your session progresses. Best for maximum extraction;
- Stealth: Low temperature, fast auto-cooling, dimmed lights. Best for discretion and good for efficiency.
- Flavor: Regular temperature with occasional boosting, fast auto-cooling. Best for flavor and good for efficiency.
Now, these profiles look fancy…
But with a full conduction vaporizer you really can’t be that efficient or produce absolute top quality flavor anyway.
For what it's worth: they do help a bit in this regard though.
The heat-up time is 15 seconds, which is really fast.
Essentially, the PAX 3 is a session-vaporizer with an on-demand heat-up time.
Reputation and Reliability (9.5)
PLOOM PAX has been making vaporizers for 5+ years…
And their reputation is undisputed.
They always make premium and very reliable vaporizers…
And their customer service is top of the line:
- They act fast, and;
- Always honor the 10-year warranty.
Yes…you get a 10-year warranty with your PAX 3. Which is not only rare in the vaporizer-industry, but also gives you the confidence you need to spend your hard-earned money.
Although the PAX 3 hasn’t been out for even a year, I’m pretty confident that this is one of the most reliable portable vaporizers you can get.
The PAX and PAX 2, are extremely reliable:
- They have very low defect-rates;
- They can take some serious beating (drops especially), and;
- Keep functioning like new for a very long time.
The only problem is the battery is not swappable, and no matter what you do…
Every batter does degrade over time. So there’s no easy way to replace the battery once it starts degrading.
It gets better:
My PAX 2 still gives me close to the same on-time as when I first got it 2 years ago.
This is much better longevity than the batteries from Storz and Bickel portable vaporizers for example (CRAFTY and MIGHTY).
Pros and Cons & Conclusion
The PAX 3 AGAIN set the bar higher for upcoming vaporizers…
The user experience of this vaporizer is simply among the best (no wonder it’s called the iPhone of vaporizers).
Not in every aspect though and if you’re looking for a HUGE upgrades in vapor quality and efficiency compared to the PAX 2…
You’ll be disappointed with the PAX 3.
There are some cool upgrades though, which are maybe not awe-inspiring…but definitely will give you a better user experience and felxibility:
- It’s usable with concentrates;
- Has a faster heat-up time, which just provides a better user experience in all aspects;
- Improved heating algorithms for flavor, efficiency or potency;
- Has precise temperature control with the app, for full control over the effects of your vapor.
If you don’t have a PAX 2 yet, IMO it’s worthwhile to pay the extra $80 for the extra versatility the PAX 3 provides. Plus, you get the half-pack oven lid, which you would have to buy separately for the PAX 2…which makes the additional cost only $60.
If you have a PAX 2 already, there’s no need to spend $280 for these upgrades.
Despite the somewhat underwhelming upgrades (especially in terms of flavor, potency and efficiency) …
The PAX 3 is a great vaporizer IF:
Overall, the PAX 3 holds a spot in my top 7 portable dry herb vaporizers…and I think it will stay there for a long time.
Where to buy the PAX 3:
Now, there are some other options on the market if you’re looking for better vapor quality or efficiency. And I wrote a full post where you can easily compare the PAX 3’s strong/weak points to other vaporizers:
Also, if you’re purely looking to vape concentrates, I highly advise to get one of the vape pens in this post:
PAX 3 Tips and Tricks
How to grind your herb:
For best results:
Grind your herb powder-fine.
The way I like to do this, is first with a regular grinder and then finish with the MFLB Finishing Grinder.
How to pack your bowl:
Whether you use the half-pack oven lid or the regular oven lid…
Always pack your oven full and compress it with the PAX loading tool.
How to draw:
I like to take slow and controlled sips.
But there isn’t any specific draw-technique which works better.
Just make sure you don’t put the whole mouthpiece in your mouth when drawing. Put your lips slightly over the edge of your mouthpiece when drawing.
Stir your bowl:
For full extraction, always stir your bowl after 4-5 draws.
How to attach a bubbler to the PAX 3
Get a PAX 3 water-pipe adapter like this one:
And get a cheap bubbler like this one:
How to reduce smell
The PAX 3 does smell while heating up and when you keep herb in the bowl (the oven lid is not air-tight).
You can get vinyl caps, which you can place on the top and bottom. These will mask the smell to some extent while there's herb in your unit's bowl.