The progression of Pax2 to Pax3

Reflections on a Decade of Peace

I’ve always suspected that the real drug of choice for the weed connoisseur is nostalgia. Those of us who’ve hit our thirties or beyond have reached unfathomable times of responsibility in our lives, the days loaded with overdue tasks and unexpected complications. What we’re really chasing when we get high is that warm sense of comfort and familiarity that comes when we set ourselves adrift through memories of a simpler past.

​The problem for many of us has been smoke. Sure, there’s an appeal to the bitter flavour of a joint, or the white fire in the chest of a bong hit. But the older you get, the more the rewards start to outweigh the risk. 

​Ten years ago I was trying to solve the smoking problem once and for all. As aspiring non-smokers often are, I was terrified of my life without tobacco. I thought ditching smoking meant I’d never get high again.

​Then one night in Melbourne, the stars aligned and an old friend introduced me to his Pax. For an early 2010’s invention, the original Pax had a certain old-tech charm to it. It was bulky and mysterious, with its glowing ‘X’ that changed colour. And the retractable, spring loaded mouthpiece reminded me of my first VCR player. It was a gadget that seemed to belong in an eighties sci-fi movie. Technology of the future imagined by the past.


​The high that thing gave me was spectacular. Unlike joints or bongs, this was a pure weed hit. It didn’t get mixed up with the tobacco head spin. Instead it crept over me like a warm blanket. There I was with my old mate, gloriously stoned by the Yarra River and talking about those good old days that we were now old enough to be able to reminisce about. All of that minus the guilt that comes with classic combustion methods.

​I had to get one of those things.

​The original Pax was an expensive piece of hardware, and you couldn’t buy it in Australia at the time. It took a month and about five hundred bucks for me to get one shipped from California, a spit-take worthy price even now. But it was worth every penny.

​Not only did it keep me from going back to combustibles, the economics soon became apparent when seven grams started lasting months, instead of weeks.

​I’ve got fond memories of my first Pax – years of taking it with me on bushwalks, to parties, or just a bit of alone time jamming with my old acoustic.

​Then one day I lost the damn thing. I think it fell out of my pocket on a train, but I’ll never know for sure. I just remember the panicked searching of my coat and trousers, emptying my bag upside down, swearing my head off and wondering how I was going to wait a month or more for an expensive replacement from California.

​As it turned out, the times had changed since my first purchase. The cultural fog of the e-cigarette had descended upon the east coast of Australia and veiled in its mists were the first retailers of weed vaporisers.

​The options even then were vast. My eyes popped out of my head looking at all the different brands and styles that had now flooded this once non-existent market. It was beautiful. 

​Even so, my heart was set on just getting a new Pax. It had served me well, and I saw no reason to play the field. Sadly, the original Pax was no longer being sold, only the Pax 2.

​At the time it felt like a bitter pill. I didn’t want a damn upgrade, I wanted the exact same thing that I’d lost, with its hefty weight and its goofy spring-loaded mouthpiece. We live in a world of sequels, and I resented that my Pax was no exemption.

​Still, the free market had muscled me into a position where I had no choice, so I handed over my money and bought the Pax 2.

​It took me a while to come around to it. The fact that it was a lot smaller than the original didn’t impress me at the time – it just made me more worried I’d lose it. I also didn’t feel like it packed the same punch as the original, given its smaller oven.

​But you know, there’s a danger to living in the past. My twenties were a cavalcade of madness and adventure, a time where I had little to be responsible for and an instinct for self-destruction. You can’t romanticize that stuff too much, or you don’t grow beyond it.

​I worked out that taking more hits from the Pax 2 solved the issue of it not getting me high enough. That’s a private school education for you. And I had to admit, the spring-loaded mouthpiece of the Pax 1 I’d been so enamoured with had also caused functional problems - the ‘on’ state of the device was linked to whether the mouthpiece was out or not, and over time both the sensor that detected this and the spring mechanism got faulty. Sometimes I had trouble getting it to turn on, and sometimes it turned on when I didn’t want it to.

​After a little time, I concluded that Pax had done well with their second entry into the market. Fitting the same functionality into something much smaller was in hindsight, plain good engineering. The battery lasted longer and the oven was much quicker to heat up. Having an on button instead of the retractable mouthpiece also made a pile of sense - among other things it prevented the Pax from clicking open in my pocket during a family dinner and filling the room with weed stink. 

​Important too is the integrity of Pax’s warranty on their products. Like the original, Pax 2 came with ten years of warranty. I’ve never heard of another product that offers this much quality assurance.

​I’d now had my Pax 2 for about six of those ten years. Ithad seen frequent, almost daily use and was still holding strong as ever. 

​Which begged the question, why would I even bother with the Pax 3? I already had everything I needed.

​Because the times had once more changed, and I now own a dry herb vaporiser store I needed to try this thing out so I could tell you why you should (or shouldn’t) buy one yourself.

​There are many pitfalls to running your own business. Work no longer stops when my shift does. In fact, work and life are so interwoven now that they’re like inseparable Siamese twins. The days are stressful, and there’s no escaping it. Being your own boss means forking out for your own sickdays. 

​But what you’ll never catch me complaining about it all the toys I get in the mail. All those different vapes that I saw when I was first browsing around, looking to replace my lost Pax 1 – I get to try them all out.

​Some incredible gadgets have hit the market in recent years, each of them an innovation in their own right. 

​But the Pax 3 was always going to be a bit special. I had a history with this brand, and I felt like I was about to meet its grandchild. 

​What I first noticed when cracking open the box, was that the Pax 3 is not the major design departure that the 2 was. At a superficial level, the two vaporisers were identical. 

​On closer inspection, I began to understand what they’d done. Like a beautifying Instagram filter, the Pax 3 had smoothed over all its edges. It had worked through the colour palettes to find the perfect greens and reds. You could almost see the days of boardroom meetings that went into choosing the matte aluminium over the brushed. And you know, those meetings worked - the Pax 3 is bloody gorgeous.

​It feels slightly heavier than the 2, but it’s got a lot of extra features on offer for those scant few grams. As you might expect it’s more powerful, going from zero to ready in less than half a minute. There’s little difference in the battery life, which is actually an achievement given all the extras this thing is keeping under its hood. 

​First, there’s the haptic feedback. Not satisfied with simply cutting down the time it takes to heat up, Pax have also eliminated the need for you to stare at your unit, waiting for the purple X to turn green. The Pax 3 gives you a gentle buzz when it’s ready, soft like a whispering lover. It will also give you a nudge if you’ve been drawing too long and the oven needs time to recover, or if you’re bogarting the damn thing like some of my friends have a tendency to do. It’s useful, cute, and it isn’t an innovative overkill.

​But while we are on the subject of innovative overkill, its worth mentioning the app. The tendency of everything having an accompanying app irks me. Sometimes I feel like I can’t buy a packet of chips without it trying to extract my email address and install something on my phone.

​If it weren’t for the fact that I sell these things, I probably wouldn’t have tried the Pax app at all. But now that I have, I can tell you it’s … alright. The best thing about it is you can use it to dial in exact temperatures, as well as temperature modes. The boost setting in particular is pretty neat, which puts a bit of extra power into keeping your herbs piping hot between puffs, and ramps up the temperature while you’re drawing on it, giving you just a little bit more of a hit for those times you want it.

​The other features I found less relevant. There’s a built in information leaflet that covers a few relevant weed topics, a store finder for Pax weed concentrates (which obviously doesn’t work in this country) and the dreaded page where you give yet another company all your personal details.

​I also noticed a ‘find my pax’ feature, which I seemed the ideal candidate for. But here’s the thing. The app has a lot of connectivity issues. I have to restart the app between sessions if I want to use it, which is fidgety and at odds with the streamlined efficiency that the rest of the unit presents. I doubt this app will ever be able to find my Pax for me if it falls out of my pocket at the beach, or gets stolen.

​The other trend that Pax have hitched their wagon to is the extra content phenomena. The unit with its charger and a few pipe cleaners is referred to as the basic kit. You can also shell out a bit more for the complete one. 

​For an Australian, the extras in the complete kit are not especially compelling. There’s a packing tool, which is the perfect shape for pressing your herbs into your oven, a ‘half-pack’ oven lid that allows you to only half fill the Pax, and an insert for vaping concentrates. Of these things, the concentrates insert is what draws my attention the most. It’s pretty cool that the Pax 3 has the versatility to handle oils and resins. But concentrates are about as rare as rocking-horse shit in this country, and I expect that to remain the case until our draconian laws surrounding recreational weed use get a do-over. I didn’t end up getting the complete kit, so I can’t really make any judgements about it.

​The nonchalance I feel towards the extra frills of the Pax 3 notwithstanding, it’s a brilliant device – the culmination of over a decade of product development and refinement. On its own, it’s prettier, more efficient and more user friendly than ever. And given it looks like the Pax 2 with a facelift, my sentimentality isn’t too offended by it either. 

​Like all of us, the Pax brand has done it’s best to evolve with the ever-lengthening stride of the times we live in. The great challenge of growing up is to make sure that we don’t lose ourselves in the process – that the person we become is still familiar, and not some Frankenstein monstrosity of all the things we think people want us to be.

​Did Pax manage this perfectly? No, but I suspect nobody does. It’s enough though. When I load up the Pax 3 after a stressful afternoon and watch the last of the light seep out of the sky, I can feel my old self with me. He’s sitting there with his first vaporiser, having recently made a decision that has probably saved my life, getting high after what he thinks was a tough day. He’s not perfect, and neither is the gadget he’s using, but they don’t need to be. I’m grateful for them both.

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