The G Pen Elite vaporizer (Jessica Christian/SF Weekly)

Southern California’s PAX Buster

The G Pen Elite is the new flagship for LA-based Grenco Science, and is clearly meant to wrest control of the premium “ground product” vaporizer market from San Francisco-based PAX.

Maybe it’s too much to compare this vape grudge match to the rivalry between the Giants and the Dodgers, but spring is in the air, and I am determined to get Stephan interested in baseball this year.

Many of you are aware of Stephan, the monkey I live with – my roommate, editor, and all-around critic. Every moment I spend honing my autobiographical novel, The Tiger’s Revenge, I am reminded of how he saved my life that terrible day back in India when the tiger found me.

Stephan has not demonstrated any interest in baseball, but he is a passionate fan of the Pax 2, and very impatient with imitators. Tearing apart the G Pen’s overblown cylindrical packaging, he showed some appreciation for the device itself, but was enraged to find that whoever provided the vape for review had removed the G Card accessory, a business-card-sized cheese-grater-style grinder.

He shot out onto the fire escape and went up onto the roof of our Tenderloin building, probably to brood and plot against the human race as he has been known to do (see his screed in last month’s vape review if you dare).

The Dodgers are baseball’s top spenders, and while no misers, the Giants work with a more modest budget. With the vapes, it’s the opposite: the G Pen, at $170, undercuts the S.F. offering by over $100. While it does offer significant savings over the $279 Pax 2, is it worth the savings?

The G Pen starts with the elegant, utter simplicity that made the Pax a winner – and then adds to it.

There’s molding for the fingers to grip the device (has anyone ever had trouble holding onto a vaporizer, even after using it for a while?) as well as an LED temperature gauge with two buttons to control it. To pack the generous-sized chamber with your “ground product,” you detach the mouthpiece. The mouthpiece is set very firmly, and can fly out of your hand as you pry it off.

But the digital display is really the most notable feature. On one hand, it allows the user to fine tune the temperature (200 to 428 degrees), and it is very satisfying to watch the numbers shoot up, impressively quickly. On the other hand, I was sitting outside in the sunshine the first time I used it, and could not immediately verify the LED display was working at all.

There is some subtraction by addition of questionable features, but what about the basics? The draw of the G Pen Elite, while more than adequate, isn’t quite as steady and strong as the Pax 2.

The battery is strong, and you can see on the LED display what charge is left, but it doesn’t last like the Pax, or sport Pax’s magnetic charging dock.

Pax makes a better product, but factoring in the lower price of the G Pen, I’d call the contest a draw.

As I left the apartment to see if a day game was on at Aces, I ran into a neighbor a couple of blocks away.

“What fucking Dodger fan asshole would do this?” he said, standing over an elaborate, painted Giants banner normally hung outside of his bay windows, now torn down and lying on the sidewalk.

Parts of it were shredded, and Hunter Pence’s painstakingly reproduced visage was defaced, redrawn in what might have been feces to give the outfielder a rather… simian look.

My eyes scanned the Tenderloin’s skyline for a suspect. Rooftop leapers from a dozen action movies came to mind, but none of them had anything on Stephan.

THE VERDICT

Cool Factor: Not as cool as the ultra-minimalist Pax 2, but the LED readout does give an impressive account on how quickly the G Pen Elite heats up. Any amount of sunlight will result in a lot of fruitless squinting at it, however, which is not all that cool.

Practicality: The G Pen Elite’s payload is quite good, and the battery is strong enough to get through multiple sessions, but still loses out to the Pax 2.

Affordability: $170 is a good deal for a very high quality portable dry herb vaporizer. If you have to have the best, the Pax 2 will cost you $100 more – and it’s about $100 better. So your decision may well depend on whether or not you have bought a bunch of Giants tickets or not.

Overall: Grenco Science is so SoCal, they have product collaborations with Snoop Dogg. Hell, maybe you’re from LA and you want to spend your money supporting that degenerate culture. If so, you won’t go wrong – this is a very good product. But it ain’t hella good, as they say.

Rating: 4/5

Available at: VapeWorld
www.gpen.com/products/g-pen-elite-for-ground-material

Photo by Jessica Christian