Storz & Bickel
Since their conception in 1996, Storz & Bickel have continued to surpass the standards set by the vaporizer industry. From their desktop Volcanos to their portable vaporizers, Markus Storz and Jurgen Bickel have exceeded expectations at every turn, with their insistence on high-quality, medical-grade standard products. Since they joined together in 2002 Storz & Bickel have made a name for themselves as the OG veterans of vaporizer production. Here's a little history lesson about the company, and a breakdown of their most popular products.
Our story begins in 1996, when graphic designer Markus Storz began experimenting with making a herbal vaporizer in his basement. After taking a few years to refine the original prototype, Storz gifted his good friend Jurgen Bickel with one of the first Volcano vaporizers when he was working as a civil engineer in Peru. After four years of experimentation, the classic Volcano landed on the market in 2000 and revolutionized vaporizing technology. Bickel officially joined Storz as his business partner in 2002, and Storz & Bickel as we know it was born. After setting up shop in Oakland, California in 2005 Storz & Bickel exploded on to the American market and have dominated the industry ever since.
When you think of the name Storz & Bickel, one of the first things that comes to mind is 'high-quality' - their products are the epitome of German efficiency. They are also the only vaporizer production company whose devices are held to medical-grade standards of testing – so you know you're only getting the best of the best. In 2016, Storz and Bickel built it's "S&B Vapor Factory" in Tuttlingen, a town in Germany which is essentially the capital city of medical technology – with more than 600 surgical and medical device manufacturers. Storz & Bickel is also currently the only vaporizer company worldwide to produce medical herbal vaporizers.
Photo credit: Leafly
The Desktop Volcano
The desktop vape that launched a thousand fakes (ok maybe not that many, but still – definitely a few knock-offs), the success of the Volcano classic desktop vaporizers paved the way for all of Storz & Bickel's future endeavors, and it remains a classic to this day. Thanks to its high-quality German engineering, the Volcano has stood the test of time and is still one of the most highly reviewed vaporizers to date – regularly appearing in Best Vaporizer lists across the community.
The conception of the Volcano Digit in 2007 updated the original model with modern digital technology, which allowed users to adjust their temperature settings in single degree increments ranging between 40°C and 230°C (104°F and 446°F). The Volcano Classic on the other hand is operated by analogue technology, which allows users to choose a heat setting between 1 (130°C / 266°F) and 9 (226°C / 439° F), with roughly 12°C/ 22°F leaps between each setting. This is not to say that the Volcano Digit is better than the classic model, which is still highly regarded as a household name. Storz & Bickel even provide a handy guide with the classic Volcano to find the best heat setting for your herb of choice. The convection heating elements in both Volcanos are the exact same, but the digital technology of the Volcano does account for slightly more accurate temperatures. At the end of the day, both the classic and the digital models provide identical high-quality vapor and large clouds, so you can be rest assured that this is one aspect you won't have to compromise on.
The Volcano balloons are widely regarded as one of the best accessories on the market, with people regularly using their Volcano balloons on other devices to upgrade their high. Since they hold vapor for up to a whopping eight hours, they're pretty hard to beat. In 2010 Storz & Bickel even released the Volcano Medic, the world's first ever certified medical cannabis inhaler. After almost 20 years on the market, the Volcano vaporizer remains a heavyweight to this day.
The Plenty – The Best of Both Worlds
The Plenty vaporizer is essentially a portable Volcano. If you think of the Volcano as an iMac, the Plenty is your Macbook - much easier to carry around the house, but hardly a fully portable device (Which I guess makes the Mighty an iPad and the Crafty an iPhone? You get the jist).
Best described as a home portable, the Plenty combines the best features of the desktop Volcano vaporizer into a handheld device. While you couldn't all in good conscience take the Plenty out on the street, it makes for a more easily shareable device to use with friends. Including the spiral straw mouthpiece, the Plenty measures at about a foot tall - so this is still quite a sizeable piece. Just like the classic Volcano, the Plenty operates with an analogue temperature gauge that works between seven settings – 1 at the lowest (around 266° Fahrenheit) and 7 (396° Fahrenheit).
Powered by convection heat, the Plenty provides a smooth vapor while the spiral straw cleverly allows for a longer cooling path resulting in a clean, pure taste. The Plenty truly does live up to its name, with a chamber capacity of approximately one full gram of dry herb. There's even a smaller chamber available if you prefer a smaller pack, as the Plenty works best with a fully packed chamber.
The Portables – the Mighty and the Crafty
The Mighty and the Crafty are the two portable vaporizers from Storz & Bickel. Both released in 2014, the Crafty is essentially the same as the Mighty, just in a smaller package. These portable models encompass all the high-quality German manufacturing of the Volcano and the Plenty models, condensed into a pocket-sized model. Ok, so maaaaaaybe the Mighty isn't exactly pocket sized (it really depends on your pockets) but it is easily portable in a small backpack. Measuring 5.5 inches tall and weighing in at about 230 grams, it is a lot heftier than a lot of other portable vaporizers on the market – but it's also a lot more durable. Powered by two heavy-duty rechargeable lithium ion batteries, the Mighty has about 90 minutes of battery life at full charge. By getting rid of one of the lithium ion batteries, Storz & Bickel condensed the technology of the Mighty into the single-battery-operated Crafty - which lasts about 45 minutes at full charge.
The Crafty weighs in at 135 grams and 4.3 inches tall, and so is considerably easier to travel with than the Mighty, however you're essentially trading battery life for portability – so it's up to you to decide what you value more in a vaporizer. With the Mighty's LED screen you can control the temperature of your session down to the single degree, with an expansive range of 40°C - 210°C (104°F - 410°F). The Crafty's temperature range is a little more limited, with two pre-set temperature ranges – 180°C and 195°C. Although the Crafty does forgo the LED screen in favour of portability, the additional smart phone app allows you to customize the temperature of your session further with the same control as the Mighty.
The Mighty only takes about 2 hours to fully recharge AND offers full pass-through charging, so you can use your vaporizer even when it's plugged in to charge. The Crafty also offers pass-through charging after a minimal initial charge of 20%. Both the Mighty and the Crafty also feature automatic power-off timers after one minute of inactivity, to help prolong battery charge.
What's most important at the end of the day, is the vapor quality. Everyone expects a certain reduction in cloud size and quality when you go from desktop to portable, but the portable models from Storz & Bickel offer the same high-quality vapor and clouds as their home devices, which is no mean feat. A year after the release of the original Mighty, Storz & Bickel also developed the Mighty Medic in 2015, the world's first battery-powered medical cannabis inhaler.
Storz& Bickel have continued to rise to the occasion with every new release in their repertoire. By insisting on excellence from their own products, they have also propelled the vaporizer industry forward to strive for quality and by elevating standards across the board for their competition. With the opening of their medical cannabis vaporizer factory in 2016, it'll be exciting to witness how they further revolutionize the market and to see what paths they forge into the area of medical cannabis devices.