A vaporizer that looks like a pen? Yes seriously, the Grasshopper vaporizer by Hopper Labs was designed to look like a pen. Clip it to your shirt and most people would never notice, apart from the pungent smell of herbs that will follow you around all day… Pull it out of your pocket and people will start asking questions. No one carries a pen around with a girth as mighty as the Grasshopper.
This is a vape that scores highly when you evaluate its stealth credentials. It has been designed in such a way that a quick glance will ensure no one suspects this is a dry herb vape. Pull it out in public and its super quick heat up time means you can take a couple of quick rips and have it back in your pocket before anyone asks “what’s that smell?”.
The design is one of the things that’s great about the Grasshopper. This also has caused various limitations that prevent it from sitting amongst the elite portables like the PAX 3, The Mighty by Storz & Bickel, Da Vinci IQ and the Firefly 2.
I have now had my unit since early 2017 (just over 2 years at the time of writing) and everything here is based on my experience to date.
Ease of Use
The Grashopper vaporizer is pretty simple to use. The mouthpiece screws on and off easily (if you clean it regularly) and the device turns on with a clicker at the top. You push it in, the lights turn red to show it is heating, after a few seconds they turn blue to indicate it is ready.
I generally find for the first second you pull, that little vapour is produced. Then after a second or so it begins to build pleasantly.
After 15 seconds without taking a draw the auto shut off will kick in. When you want to go again, click and wait a few seconds to heat. Not very complex at all!
Grasshopper Heat Control
Adjusting the temperature setting on the Grasshopper is pretty easy. You just twist the top of the pen and the change is almost instant. This ease comes at a cost and is the first limitation created by the stealthy design that has become its signature. If you want precise temperatures, this isn’t the vape for you. The Grasshopper vaporizer has 5 lines that denote the different temperatures.
The 5 temperature lines range from 130°C-210°C and go up in increments of 20°C.
- Line 1 – 130°C
- Line 2 – 150°C
- Line 3 – 170°C
- Line 4 – 190°C
- Line 5 – 210°C
With around 3mm between each line you a small twist can make a big difference. I usually start between line 2 and 3 (160°C) for the first few rips, increasing to line 3 (170°C) and finishing the session between lines 3 and 4 (180°C)
How to Use The Grasshopper Vaporizer
This first video shows the basics of how it works. The temperature control, turning it on and off, how to change the battery and how to pack it. Personally I wouldn’t pack it as they do in the video (this is an official video from Hopper Labs too) as this is wasteful and looks a pain. I will explain what I do below.
If you’ve just watched this you will have seen they pinch the herb and drop it in a little at a time. It is messy and more ends up on the table than in the pen! Here’s what I do:
- Grind the herb finely.
- Tap out the amount you will use onto the palm of your hand.
- Unscrew the pen and lay it flat on your hand so the opening is next to your herb.
- Use a finger from your spare hand to gently move the herb in until full.
- Close up, heat and rip.
This second video is from when the product was first envisaged and they crowd funded the startup cash. This details some of their aims and also looks at some of the features that make the Grasshopper better than many other portable/pen vapes available. Note that this is an older video and some changes have been made since.
This is where the Grasshopper is both excellent and poor. The device itself is a beautifully crafted piece of engineering. The stainless steel version that I have is solid, I have dropped it many times, taken it out into nature, to friends houses and to the pub, so far it hasn’t even been scratched. I have never used a case to protect it either.
Unlike many other portable vapes you are able to swap out the battery. Each one will last 4-5 sessions on average, depending on the temperatures you use. Replacements must be purchased from Hopper Labs directly. Order replacements well in advance as many people are reporting long waits for shipping.
A massive plus is that they have managed to fit so much power and capacity (around 0.3g inthe chamber) into such a small space. They were confident of its quality and sold all devices with a life time warranty. Impressive.
Well, it is impressive until you visit their Reddit forum or their social pages and see how many people have had issues. There have been hundreds of failures and this has seen the Grasshopper vaporizer go through various updates (early 2019 saw version 5 released) to try and resolve these.
If your vape has failed and you have had to use the life time warranty (you are responsible for paying shipping when claiming on your warranty) then you will understand the pain that posters are expressing. The failure rate has seen the team backed up massively and some have had to wait over a year for problems to be fixed.
The 5th iteration recently released has come with bold claims about reduced failure rates and improved testing. I will keep an eye on this and update the page once we see if this is truly the case.
Without doubt the best quality and the main reason you should purchase the Grasshopper vaporizer is the vapour. This is why Hopper Labs still have a devoted following despite the problems with failures.
The taste is excellent, this is down to the Grasshopper being a convection vape. Most vape pens and portables are conduction based where heat is applied directly to the herb. With the hopper, you draw the heat through the herb and it vaporizes evenly, without combustion.
The downside is that the very top of the chamber can have a tiny dead spot. Once you have finished your session, there is sometimes a little dark green piece of herb left at the top. The style of the pen means it can’t be stirred but I add it to my ABV jar and use it to make edibles later.
You won’t produce massive clouds with the hopper but hit it low and slow and you will produce enough vapour to know it’s working. As standard the hopper has an end piece that is pretty restrictive to air flow, causing some draw resistance. Further down the line they introduced the Performance Front End (see image in “Value for Money” section) and this opens it up and gives a much better experience. However, it does reduce the stealthiness of the device as it makes it longer and you lose the faint illusion of it being a pen.
It can also get a little warm on your lips when in use as the device is pretty small. The hopper end is 14mm and has been designed to fit with a bubbler/recylcler out of the box. To get really good quality vapour, that is both smoother and cooler, use it with a glass piece!
Cleaning and Maintenance
Cleaning is pretty simple and should be carried out regularly. All you will need is a shot glass, cotton buds and Isopropyl alcohol.
- Remove the mouthpiece, put it into the shot glass and pour in some Isopropyl.
- Remove the battery and empty the chamber.
- Dip the cotton buds into the alcohol and gently wipe down the inside of the chamber and around the mouthpiece threads. Do so until the inside is clean. Once clean use a cotton bud with water to remove any alcohol residue.
- Give the shot glass a gentle swirl and you should see the mouthpiece is getting clearer. Leave for longer if needed. When clean, empty the alcohol and rinse with water.
- Leave everything to dry, then rebuild.
Value for Money
When I got my Grasshopper (stainless steel version) it came in at $200 (£150) plus customs fees as I purchased from the US. I thought this was excellent value as it came with a lifetime warranty. Recently the cost has increased to around $225 (£170) for a stainless steel model on the official site. Or if you buy in the UK it can be between £180-200 depending on where you purchase.
If you have a little more cash to spend there is also a Titanium version which is a lot lighter and costs $265 (£200) direct from Hopper Labs. If you want to go all out there is a heat treated Titanium model, this will cost you $365 (£275).
What you will need to make the most of this vape is the Performance Front End. It is good without it but with it, excellent. This will set you back another £30.
Grasshopper Essential Accessories
- Performance Front End (PFE) – this will increase air flow and reduce draw resistance.
- Separate Battery Charger – the standard charger can only charge one battery at a time.
- Bubbler – if you plan on going all out get a decent bubbler to water cool your vapour.