First-time writer, long-time reader here. I'm an experienced, daily toker, using many different varieties of smoking tools. I own several pipes (metal, wood, plastic and glass) a table-top vaporizer and a few bongs, well, actually only one bong, but let me give you a foreword before getting deep into the thread.
For the last couple of years I've been mostly using one bong (15", bent tube with a metal stem and a tiny bowl), which was perfect for a quick, one hitter "punch" smoke. RIP "The Fu#$er Upper" was shattered recently due to a a certain furry animal, that almost ended up on a BBQ because of that.
The unfortunate demise of my favourite tool forced me to pull out "The Icebreaker", which is a simple, 18" straight tube with a pull choke and a mid-size bowl. This bong SUCKS! It is harsh on the pull, sends a weird aftertaste, heats up the smoke instead of cooling it and a BITCH to clean.
After giving some thought to the matter, I realized that I've purchased both of my bongs at a variety store for $50 over four years ago and it is time for a serious upgrade.
As of now, I've spend hours researching stuff online, and going to some headshops to see what the difference in prices, quality and availability is like.
So far, this GC has some of the best variety, but there is also everyonedoesit.com (which I find a little more difficult to navigate) and there is tons of info on the forums, but it's kinda scattered and very brand specific.
What I want to achieve with this thread is some better understanding of the bongs that are out there. I'll start with 10 things to consider when buying a bong. This is NOT a list for beginners, frankly, a Gatorade bottle with a bamboo tube will work fine for starters. I'd love to get some comments and some answers, as well as advice from the people of this forum. So here goes, in no particular order:
This is a necessity at this point of bong production, at least that's what I get from all the info. I've tried a few perc bongs in my life, but haven't had a good enough chance to give them a solid go. How many percs is too much? Is it better to get a tree perc or a dome? Is it better to have a one 12-tree perc or two chambers with 6-tree percs? I'd love some advice on that from people who've tried both. Also, are percs worth the hassle of filling and cleaning them? Or am I better off with a tube full of ice?
Similar to a perc, but usually located on the downstem, creating more bubbles for a better surface coverage of the smoke. What's a showerhead diffuser? Does it make much of a difference? Does it make a difference in smoking?
3. Beaker Base vs. Tube base
Personally, I feel like anything that has a tube base is just simply not enough room for my smoke to accumulate. Am I being stupid? Maybe. How about stability of the Tube compared to a Beaker?
4. Ice Notches
I've had a bong with ice notches before and I gotta admit that I didn't use the feature as often as I wanted, mainly because I would forget, ice would melt and bongwater spillage was imminent. Who swears by them and why?
5. Ash Catcher
Never used one, but never really needed to, mainly cause I had an easily cleanable bong. Do they work well?
Obviously there are all different shapes and sizes, but the majority of bongs come in 12"-20" height. Any preference on sizes from the users, and why? Any size that you just would not do?
At the level of income that I'm at right now, I just cannot justify to spend more then $300 on a new bong, but it doesn't mean that I won't save up for a pricier one in the future. How much would you spend?
8. Horizontal (Lazy Bongs)
Saw a couple of those kicking around online. Interesting idea, and frankly with my history of breaking bongs it seems like a great tool that would be less "breakable" But I have never tried one of these things and don't quite get the concept: does the water pour out if you rest it on its side? Would I have to dump the water after each use?
Off course, we all know, that don't matter how good of a bong you have, or what kind of crazy filtration system it has set up, if the bong is dirty and the water is old: your smoke will be disgusting and harsh. I HATE cleaning bongs, it is always a hassle and I can never get it super clean. I've purchased some cleaning liquids, and still it is not the easiest (now, mind you, I'm using a crappy, straight tube, skinny, long bong, so that could be the reason). Thinking back to my old "Fu#$er Upper", it had a removable rubber base and easy access to the bowl.
I've stumbled on some 2/3 piece bongs: BLAZE has a "mix & match" line and HOSS makes some of the same. These seem like a godsend for cleaning purposes, but how good are they on durability and seal? The more joints you have, the more chances of a break in a seal somewhere, no? Does anybody have a two-piece and can share, that would be appreciated.
10. Overall Durability
I don't see a lot of bongs with less then 3mm thickness anymore, well, they're definitely out there, but that is not that I'm in the market for. So, how much of a difference is it between a 5mm and 7mm glass? How about all those intricate percs on the inside, are they susceptible to cracks? As mentioned earlier, I have a furry creature that likes to get his paws into a lot of different places, so I need to know if a 5mm will stand up to tipping, or is 7mm a better option.
Bonus: Beauty as an Art Piece.
There are some SICK bongs out there. I saw a 6 foot stand up piece with a full skeleton like structure for over 4 g's, but that's a piece that you wouldn't smoke everyday. And this also depends on the smoker and his/her living conditions. Not everybody can "display" their pieces, and not everybody has physical space for a 6 foot bong. As much as I appreciate these pieces and they definitely are a good party conversation, but they're not usually very functional, or don't include any extra filtration systems.
Here's the story. I would love to hear some opinions on different bongs and their options. Throw some pics of your favourite pieces on here too. Hope to hear from you guys soon.
Peace & Love.