It is safe to say that this second portable unit from manufacturer Organicix (who also brought us the DaVinci vaporizer) is the most hyped vaporizer of 2013. Originally scheduled for release in May 2013, it was then pushed back to mid-June (only to be postponed again). However, at the time of writing (mid-July), its definite release to the public is only days away.
The delay caused quite a bit of unrest amongst those who were eagerly looking forward to get a hold of this vape, but let’s assume that the makers did not want to release a product with significant flaws. After all, you can only make a first impression once. In our review we’re discussing the most recent unit.
Features and specifications
It’s not without reason that the Ascent is such a highly anticipated portable vaporizer. Features include an all-glass air path, temperature control (and OLED display), programmable vape cycles, use while charging, 120+ minute battery life, dual-functionality (flowers and oil) and a motion shutdown sensor.
Inside the box we find the following:
- The Ascent Vaporizer
- Wall adapter charger
- Velvet carrying pouch
- 2 glass mouthpieces and inner tubes
- 2 metal picks/tools
- Stainless steel screens
- 2 glass oil cans
- 2 rubber seals (help prevent vapor from escaping through the mouthpiece)
The Ascent is currently available in three styles: Burl Wood, Stealth (all black) and Croc Skin. Customizable styles will become available in the future. For our review we received the Crocodile skin edition – which does not contain actual croc skin leather but bovine leather pressed into a croc pattern. A lot of detail is put into packaging and presentation, and unboxing the Ascent is an enjoyable experience in itself.
The Ascent features a sophisticated look. Chrome-like outlining and rounded edges are combined with rubberized buttons and finishing. At about the size of a (thick) smartphone, the Ascent is easy to carry around in your pocket or purse. It can stand upright, but is not stable at all. The location of the bowl also requires the user to hold the unit while accessing this compartment.
The on/off button is located at the very top, next to the (retractable) glass mouthpiece. The charger connector sits at the bottom of the device, next to the stainless steel grill – which also acts as air inlet. A LED display is positioned on the front, with a plus button at the top and minus and ‘settings’ button sitting just below the screen.
How to use the Ascent Vaporizer
Despite the limited number of buttons and dials, the Ascent has more tricks up its sleeve than one might suspect. Here’s a quick rundown on the basic use.
Accessing the herb chamber would be the first thing to do; this is achieved by swiveling the lower part of the vaporizer in one direction. Doing so reveals the ceramic bowl, and herb or oil cans can now be inserted. While I do recommend grinding your herb before use, grinding it too finely may cause smaller particles to either fall through the ventilation holes at the bottom, or to be inhaled through the glass tube (ending up in your mouth). Inserting a metal screen to the bottom of the chamber will prevent any herb from falling through. Don’t pack the herb too tight either, as this will restrict airflow.
If you’re using oil cans, simply fill the glass container, put the rubber cap back on and slip the can into the herb chamber. To take it out again, use the hook-tip of the metal tool to lift it from the compartment.
After swiveling the chamber around again and switching the vape on, the LED screen will show some activity and the Ascent will instantly begin to heat up to the temperature last used, or to a pre-programmed temperature.
Due to the removable glass tube, which runs all the way through the center of the device, cleaning is relatively easy. Removing this inner piece, along with the glass mouthpiece (that connects to the all-glass vapor path) and soaking it in ISO alcohol should get rid of most of the resin that tends to build up over time. Cleaning the bowl is best done by using cotton sticks soaked in ISO alcohol.
Vapor quality and taste
To me, it’s all about taste. As expected (and hoped for) the Ascent’s glass vapor path proves to be a great way to conserve the taste of your herb. The first hits (depending on the temperature you’re using it at) are absolutely loaded with flavor. The temperature can be set to anywhere between 0 (although it doesn’t work as a cooler ;)) and 430°F (221°C). I find 365°F (185 °C) to be the best temperature for me, but this is very personal. If you prefer thicker clouds vapor, you’ll want to run it at a slightly hotter temperature. Speaking of vapor density, the Ascent also performs great here, easily comparing to the Solo or Pax, but with a smoother draw. No ‘milkshake’ sipping!
The spent herb (commonly refered to as ABV – Already Been Vaped) comes out nice and evenly roasted. Stirring in between hits will release additional flavor, so make sure you apply the metal pick to do so.
Ease of use
The folks at Organicix have clearly listened to the feedback they received from DaVinci users, and have overcome some of the minor issues that (initially) plagued this vaporizer. There seem to be no issues with taste or smell at all now, mainly due to the glass parts used. Also, with the (first versions of the) DV the bowl was somewhat difficult to reach; the swivel-system of the Ascent solves this. There is now only one power button, no second switch to prevent it from heating up. However, the location of the power button should already prevent this from happening, so I don’t see any problems here.
Pulling out the glass mouthpiece requires the user to grab it with the tips of his/her fingers, or nails rather. I had no problems doing so, but I can see this become a problem for those with very short nails. Furthermore, the hygiene of this procedure can be questioned, as the edge of the mouthpiece will come into contact with user’s nails (and mouth). Now, I don’t consider myself a clean freak, but we all have that (stoner) friend whose nails aren’t exactly well manicured, leave alone cleaned. I’d think twice before taking a hit from his Ascent, heh.
One of the things I disliked after first using this vape was the loss of vapor when it’s not in use. After taking a hit there will be some additional vapor building up all the way down in the bowl, and this vapor will try to escape through the top. It was only after closer examining the contents of the accessory bag when I found out that DaVinci found a solution for this: a tiny rubber seal that can be placed around the top the mouthpiece and will prevent any vapor (and smell) from ‘leaking’. A great find, if you ask me. Keeping this seal on will also eliminate the hygiene ‘issue’, as it makes the mouthpiece easier to lift by grabbing the rubber part.
Then there’s glass oil cans: I’m not sure if I like ‘em that much. A higher temperature is required to properly vaporize your oil, and the glass seems to absorb a lot of the heat needed to vaporize the oil. The resulting vapor is a bit weak, despite experimenting with the speed of drawing. It works, but if vaporizing oils is your main method of medicating, I’d suggest looking for a more efficient pen-vape.
Durability, battery life
The Ascent might not be as indestructible as its predecessor, with the mouthpiece retracted it should be able to withstand some (light) abuse. That said, the mouthpiece and glass vapor path are the most fragile parts, and I managed to break both within just one day. This was mostly due to clumsiness on my part however. (don’t try to wrap the rubber seal around the stem without taking it out first, you WILL crack the second inner tube.) But yes, glass can break, and that’s probably also the reason the Ascent comes with an additional stem and tube. My advice: Order a few spares.
Overall, the Ascent is a well-built device that feels comfortable in your hand, and is small enough to carry around in your pocket. What I also like is that you don’t need any additional parts or cleaners, at least not for everyday use. Having the cleaning tool sit onto the device itself is an addition that stands out in its simplicity. Still, with too many vaporizers I feel like I need to carry a bunch of accessories (or extra batteries, like with the MFLB) that are also easy to forgot. Not with the Ascent: just grab the vape and some vapeables and you’re good to go.
Two internal lithium-ION batteries may add some weight to this vape, but you’ll quickly forget about that when you experience the impressive amount of vape-time the Ascent provides. The motion sensitive auto shutdown is a great help in preserving battery power. Some testing showed that batteries easily last long enough for multiple sessions (6-8 at medium temperatures).