Better Than The Best?
You all know I love my Volcano Classic. Nothing beats it, it is hands down the best vaporizer I’ve tried over the whole length of time I’ve been vaping. But with this new contender, the Volcano Hybrid, it’s time to take an honest look at whether Storz & Bickel were able to produce something even better than the leading favorite.
Storz & Bickel call their new Volcano Hybrid “the reinvention of an icon”. I’m all about anything and everything Volcano, so you better believe I am pumped about this. Everyone’s talking about the latest release which offers new features, improved heating time, and a mobile app.
This product is still new, so not many reviews are in, but of the ones I’ve seen so far, people are loving this thing. “Does EXACTLY as advertised”, “Best product on planet”, and “They have found a way to make something we once thought was perfect even better” are just a couple lines from different reviews that will give you a feel for the product’s reception so far.
And Storz & Bickel claims the Hybrid is so good it “ends all discussions”. I can’t wait to put this machine to the test.
So, how does the Volcano Hybrid compare to the Classic Volcano and Digital Volcano? Here’s a rundown of the similarities, differences, and improvements.
Spec-wise the size and shape of the Classic, Digit, and Hybrid are identical. The weight however is a half a pound lighter for the Classic than the other two models.
The Hybrid also comes with a removable power cord, which is great for more convenient storage, but honestly I never even put mine away, so this feature is lost on me.
Welcome to 2019
The new interface is definitely a huge upgrade. While the Classic had a certain charm to it for sure, looking at the two side by side looks like one really did come from the future — or at least one sure came from the past.
The Hybrid follows in the Digit’s footsteps by replacing that old dial with a sleek temp screen. The Hybrid takes it a step further though with plus and minus touch display buttons on either side, instead of the Digit’s regular push buttons. And those old school red and green buttons below (which were prone to breaking off) got the boot in favor of more in-screen touch buttons to control the heat and air.
So straight out of the box, the Hybrid already has potential to be the superior device. I’m glad to see Storz & Bickel come out with a new model, and the fact it took them over a decade (really two decades because there was such little difference between the Classic and Digit) clearly means they took their time making sure it’s awesome. But of course, there’s more important things than just looks.
An improvement from the Classic’s and Digit’s single inhalation method, the Volcano Hybrid’s got two inhalation methods: The valve balloon method and the tube inhalation method.
The valve balloon method pulls air into the device with the air pump. With the tube inhalation method, you draw air through the vape using your lungs, so no pump is required. Either way, the air flows up through the heater, and heats up in record time (see more on that below).
If you’re a Classic/Digit user, you know all about the Easy Valve, and that’s just what the new Hybrid comes with. In the Hybrid kit, you get 3 Easy Valve balloons with mouthpieces. The Easy Valve is great and I’ve written before about how it’s won me over from being a Solid Valve user.
But the Hybrid comes with a second inhalation option: the Tube Kit. The Tube system is just a tube that hooks up to where you’d normally attach your balloons. You inhale the air straight from the device, through the tube, to your mouth, so there is no detaching required to get to the air. As you inhale the air through the tube, the air cools down to a pleasant temperature.
Here’s a pretty cool video showing the two methods: https://www.storz-bickel.com/us/en/video/348353226/
A cool feature about the tube is that it’s attached to the device via the Tube Flexer, a piece that spins around, so you can easily swivel the tube around without worrying about weakening it and breaking the tube.
The tube is pretty thin, and you might be wondering what sort of painstaking cleaning this method will entail. Well, the upside — or downside depending on your perspective — is that the tube is meant to be replaced, not cleaned, so it’s actually maintenance-free. (More on that on our cleaning tips page.)
But about that downside I mentioned. The tube is supposed to be replaced every two weeks “for hygienic reasons”. And, you’re not supposed to share it with other people, meaning that despite the Tube Flexer making it perfect to pass it to friends, the official user manual states that in order to prevent the spread of pathogens, you’re not supposed to share it.
Makes sense. But here’s what doesn’t: Your cheapest option is to buy a Tube Set for $35 which includes only 3 replacement tubes. Am I missing something? With how often you’d have to replace the tubes, why don’t they sell a set with 10 or even 20 replacement tubes? I don’t want to spend $35 every month and a half, not to mention having to remember to place the order. I’m sensing room for a DIY solution here.
Anyway, if you don’t mind shelling out a bit more for a frequent tube replacement, then you’re all set and this is a great method. But for some, the tube system will seem like a hassle that’s just not worth it.
The quality of the device itself is incredible. The Volcano is made in Germany and the craftsmanship is superb. The vape looks damn good and will be a piece to show off for sure. Also you can rest assured that you will be getting a quality device for a legit company, and not some cheap competitor. This device will be around for many years to come — if it’s anything like its predecessors the Classic and Digit, it could last you for decades. In the rare event that something on it does break, Storz & Bickel are known for having great customer service.
But how does the vapor quality compare?
You can expect the vapor quality from the Hybrid to be just as amazing as it was on the Classic/Digit. S&B truly know what they’re doing and that’s why I have loved my Volcano Classic for so long. The only difference in quality here between the Classic and the Hybrid is that with the Hybrid you have the addition of the tube inhalation method, so if that’s more your preference, you will enjoy your experience all the more on this new device.
Part of what makes an awesome session is the ability to customize it exactly to your liking, and having a whole second way to use the device ups the chance that you will absolutely love this vaporizer.
Speaking of customization, the Hybrid offers you more precise customization by the fact that it’s controlled with an app. The app works on Android and iOS and totally changes the game.
The Hybrid is by no means the first device to work with an app, (and not even the first Storz & Bickel device to do so) but obviously this feature wasn’t around when the Volcano Classic first came out, so it’s a new feature in that regard.
The app connects to the device via bluetooth so you can control your Hybrid remotely. It’s pretty cool because you can create “Workflows” in the app so the Volcano can set up your preferred session.
The temperature range is a lot wider on both the Digit and Hybrid. The peak temp is the same for all three (446 F or 230 C) but the Hybrid and Digit go way lower. The Classic went down to 266 F / 130 C whereas the Digit and now Hybrid take it down to 104 F / 40 C. That’s a significant difference!
The Hybrid, like the Digit, also has an automatic shut-off after 30 minutes, which is a pretty long time, but useful nonetheless. Save some money on that power bill.
It has a vibration alarm like some of S&B’s other vapes, and it has an alarm in the app, too, if you want.
If you’re not into the app, you can certainly skip it, but I enjoy the control and ease of setup it offers.
Bring On The Heat
One of the most desired new features is the faster heat up time.
The Hybrid has an improved double helix heat exchanger, dropping the heat time to an impressive 1-2 minutes. It only takes 40 seconds to heat up to 356 F, and then reaches its peak heat of 446 F after a minute or two. Now who actually is using their Volcano at 446, I don’t know, but it gets that hot if you want it. And it does it fast.
For those interested in how it works, the Hybrid uses convection to heat up the air as it spirals through the heater. The filling chamber heats up using conduction. The herbs heat up and are vaporized, either inflating the balloon or collecting in the tube, depending on your inhalation method of choice. And voila: delicious vapor every time.
Like the Classic the Hybrid comes with a 3 year warranty. Storz & Bickel has a good reputation for customer service, and they make solid devices in the first place, so I think this warranty is generous. As always, make sure you buy your device from an actual retailer (and not your cousin’s friend Steve) so the warranty stays in tact. But chances are, you won’t even have to use it.
The new Volcano Hybrid comes in at a whopping $699. This is not for the amateur user, my friends. This thing means business. If you see this device in someone’s house they know their herb. Rest assured they can teach you a thing or two.
Now realistically speaking, this device is expensive. But when you compare it to the Classic, a device nearly 20 years old, the price is not outrageous at all. The Classic is still available for sale at $479. And it’s a vaporizer that has stood the test of time, and outperformed cheaper vapes time and time again. If you want a cheaper vaporizer, you will likely be sacrificing your session quality. If your sessions are the most important factor in buying a vaporizer, then the choice is easy.
You can’t go wrong with the Volcano Classic/Digit, but if you’re in a position to buy a Volcano right now, the Hybrid’s the one I’d suggest. You get the same amazing vapor quality as the Classic, but the added features just make it worth while to get the upgrade. The Hybrid gives you more versatility, an ease of cleaning, and increased customization. I love my Classic forever, but I wouldn’t buy one over the Hybrid.
Spend $220 more to get a new and improved version of the best thing on earth, with two inhalation methods, faster heating, and a sleek new interface? Yeah, I’ll do that.