When I got the offer to do this review, I was stoked. As a professional writer, one of my favorite things to do—in any industry—is try the newest technologies. And as a human, one of my favorite things to do is smoke cannabis concentrates. So when I was approached about reviewing the GAGS system from The Kind Pen, it was like my birthday and Christmas rolled into one. At the same time, the fact that those two things are my favorite to do gave this particular concentrate vaporizer a very high bar to clear, because I’ve tried enough of them doing my own independent research. The GAGS didn’t clear that bar so much as circumvent it; despite, or perhaps because of this, it still made it to a permanent spot in my rotation.
Somehow both sleek and hefty, the GAGS comes in multiple colors (I was lucky enough to get purple), and it won’t look bad on a coffee table or shelf. Because the touch-button is integrated, the whole thing doesn’t necessarily look like a smoking device—a feature that plays in its favor in terms of displayability. I don’t feel the need to hide mine when less-pot-friendly guests are over. However, the weight of the base and the delicate quality of the glass do mean that the GAGS is not necessarily the most portable way of smoking. Still, there are plenty of extremely portable ways of smoking concentrates, including other products from The Kind Pen, so if the GAGS is mostly an at-home sesh machine, so be it. Odds are, if you’ve found your way to this review or the GAGS, you have a few other smoking devices and don’t need to carry this specific one around.
This is particularly true for the form of concentrates I found myself using most frequently with the GAGS, which is…*drum roll, please*…cartridges, for god-knows-what reason. Don’t get me wrong, I do use good, authentic cartridges—I initially tested the GAGS out with Jetty Extracts Solventless XXX, if you want to get specific with it—but that doesn’t mean I think they’re the purest way of smoking. In fact, before this, I ran through one cartridge every few weeks. So I was deeply surprised to find that I had gone through three cartridges in the two weeks following the arrival of the GAGS. In case you’re not getting what I’m saying: I use this thing nonstop. I use it nearly as much as I use my PuffCo Peak, which I’m obsessed with. The GAGS is now a daily driver for me. And, while I’m reluctant to admit it, I pretty much never use anything but cartridges with it.
So, how did we get here? Because honestly, upon opening the box, I had a hard time figuring out how to use the system and almost never used cartridges. I couldn’t tell if you were supposed to put water in it, although nowhere on the packaging or in the instructions does it tell you that you should (you shouldn’t). I also couldn’t really determine whether you were supposed to pick the globe up and hit it, or hit it with the globe on the base like you would basically any other smoking device. I’m of the firm belief that when it comes to stoner products, you have to remember you’re building for the stoned. Good, clear instructions on what to do and what not to do go a long way, particularly when you’re dealing with something digital like the GAGS. The last thing you want to do is get water onto a component you’re not supposed to and fry the whole thing, and when you’re dealing with cannabis most devices of this complexity use a water filtration system. Maybe it’s a nitpick, but the instructions weren’t very clear and that made getting off the ground with the device a bit difficult.
Once I figured out how to use it, however, I was flying. This thing gets you absolutely ripped. I tried the cartridge before the ceramic or quartz nails, purely out of sheer laziness (it’s so easy), and the sort of dry-dab-nectar-collector-type-thing it has going on will have you in an absolute haze. Seemingly, there is genuinely something to the idea that you’ll get higher from a harsher hit, and dry dabs certainly provide that. If you want an intense hit from loose concentrates, go for the ceramic or quartz nails, which also screw in through the 510 threaded connector.
The ceramic nail is your run-of-the-mill ceramic nail encased in a metal conductive sleeve. Because it has to screw into the connector, there’s going to be a metal component, so I can’t fault them for that. It works like any ceramic nail will, just make sure (as with most nails of this type) that you get your concentrates onto the bottom of the nail, not the sides. The quartz nail, on the other hand, is different from your standard quartz nails. It’s not a banger or a bucket, instead it’s a 3-rod system where wire is wrapped around the rods to heat them up. Both nails worked perfectly fine, but I’m not personally a huge fan of the intensity of dry dabs of that magnitude, so I’ve found myself sticking with using the GAGS for cartridges.
But what a good system it is for cartridges. Wow. The GAGS is massively convenient. For those moments when you need a no-fuss option of just something to smoke, it’s right there and I find myself reaching for it more often than not. An example? When I’m running out the door, the Uber is already downstairs, and I don’t have the time to pack a dab. I just tap the button a few times, watch the cup fill up, hit it, and go on my merry way. It’s great for getting very high, very efficiently in terms of time and effort. It’s also great for the terminally lazy, because you rarely need to charge it and there’s no clean up, save for the occasional cleaning of the globe. This should come as good news if you don’t want to deal with the whole q-tips and cleaning situation that typically comes with loose concentrates.
Also, not for nothing, the user-friendliness once you know how to use it is insane. You don’t pull on it; instead, the GAGS sort of hits it for you, so the cup slowly pools with extremely thick smoke from the bottom to about halfway up. My partner and I have taken to asking each other “Want a glass of milk?” every so often when we’re offering the other a hit, because it genuinely looks like a glass of milk. It’s been a fun way to smoke when people are over due to the ease of pouring a hit for someone else. You can even sip it, if you so choose, because the mouth is so wide. Is that how you’re supposed to hit it? Probably not. But it does make for a great party trick.
Ultimately, the GAGS is a very novel system, and it does its job of getting you high impeccably. If convenience is a priority for you at home, or you want a new, fun way of smoking cartridges, this will become a staple for you. If you really need the portability, go buy a 510 battery or a disposable. This is meant for the mantle.