In 1996, Markus Storz (of Storz and Bickel) set out to create a better way to consume herb without burning it. After 4 years of research and prototyping, in 2000 the first Volcano was released. A cone-shaped tabletop device that features a “crater” where users could insert the detachable balloon that came with it. 20 years down the road, S&B’s Volcano and portable vaporizers have since been the benchmark for exceptional vapor quality.
The Volcano also paved the way for vaporizers’ reputation as a healthier alternative to smoking cannabis in the traditional way. The Volcano was the first vape proven to produce no combustion contaminants – further raising the bar on health standards and is preferred vaporizer for lab studies. Now, the latest in the Volcano line of products is the Volcano Hybrid (review | buy) which allows users to program heating profiles so that you can select exactly how you want to vape. It also comes with both the balloon and a whip.
In 2014, S&B pushed the envelope further by releasing the Mighty (review | buy). A battery-powered vaporizer with fully onboard controls, efficient hybrid heating systems that deliver the excellent results the brand is known for. It’s also been a mainstay on our best dry herb vaporizers list. It features a rugged exterior made from medical grade plastic called PEEK, a swiveling mouthpiece that cools down the vapor before it reaches your lips
It’s worth noting that a brand with this much legacy in the vaporizer market and devices with such a high level of performance and quality obviously comes with a steeper-than-usual price tag. The Volcano Hybrid and the Mighty are one of the pricier devices in their categories- at $699 and $350 respectively. They are both compatible with dry herb and may also be used with concentrates (with the use of the included drip pad). I tested both devices with THC herb from a local dispensary and InHemp CBD herb and CBD wax from InHemp
Kit & Accessories
Both device kits come with everything you need to start using the device straight away. The Mighty’s kit is more apt to its portable nature while the Volcano Hybrid kit obviously comes with more pieces since it is more customizable and is a much more complex device. It comes with spare easy valve balloons with mouthpieces, the whip (tube system), air filter, power cord, and several other things.
The Storz & Bickel EcoSystem
Storz & Bickel’s line of accessories is compatible throughout their whole suite of devices and may be used interchangeably amongst them. All are available for sale on the Storz & Bickel website. These accessories include:
- Dosing Capsules– small capsules that may be pre-filled with herb and easily popped in and out of the oven while you’re on the go. The capsules also fit a keychain, eliminating the need to pack an oven at each turn. S&B also sells filling trays and filling aids that can fill nearly 40 capsules at a time.
- Filling Aid– this clips to the top of the vaporizer and is essentially a funnel into the oven. It also doubles as a container so you can store a small amount of herb inside. The filling aid securely clips onto the oven and ensures that no debris falls around the heating element- keeping your vape clean at all times.
The Volcano Hybrid retains the iconic design of the previous volcano models- which is of course, essentially the shape of a volcano. However, since its release 20 years ago, there are significant upgrades that make it more 21st century. The best being the new touch interface that replaces the old buttons and knobs on the original. While the knobs and buttons were definitely more tactile, this update smoothens the look of the device. The outer shell of the Volcano is made from stainless steel, just like the former devices.
Of the three Volcano units (Classic, Hybrid, and the now-discontinued Digit) - the Hybrid is the most complex since it has two inhalation methods - the balloon and the whip. The Hybrid also features two app-controlled modes - which depending on how you look at it, make the device either more complex or more flexible. Both modes allow you to use the app to set custom heating and inhalation schedules, and profiles that provide varying levels of potency and flavor.
The Mighty and its smaller counterpart- the Crafty, was S&B’s first foray into portables. It sports a rugged design that’s made from a medical-grade plastic called PEEK. While plastic may sometimes be frowned upon in vaporizers - PEEK is an advanced biomaterial often used in medical implants. The entire device is outlined by the brilliant ridged design that allows for excellent heat dispersion and keeps the unit cool and comfortable to hold. The mouthpiece design on the Mighty is quite exceptional too, other than its length aiding in cooling down vapor, it can also be easily tucked away when not in use.
The Mighty has analog controls and a digital display so you have precise temperature control. It may not be compatible with an app, but it surely doesn’t need one. The well-sized display makes it easy to see everything that’s going on in the device, from the battery level to the current heating temperature. Next to the screen are two tactile buttons that control the variable temperature. No extras required, everything you need to control is on the device itself- ready for you to start vaping right out of the box.
As mentioned earlier, the Mighty features onboard controls and a large digital display, eliminating the need for a secondary device. The same is quite true for the Volcano - meaning the app is more of a supplement rather than a necessity. The app interface is clear and direct, allowing users to create iterations, workflows and label them accordingly - in a nutshell, the app allows you to experiment (and essentially play) with your Volcano.
The app also performs more basic functions like controlling the basic settings, controlling more advanced settings, monitoring the status of the Hybrid, and accessing the instruction manual. You can also set the auto-shutoff timer to up to six hours. Since Apple has currently banned all vaping-related apps from its App Store, the mobile app is only available on the Google Play store and may be accessed via your iPhone’s browser. please see the full set of instructions on connecting your Volcano to the Storz & Bickel web app.
Battery and Power
As a desktop vaporizer, the Volcano doesn’t need a battery - it simply needs to be plugged into a wall outlet.
The Mighty’s battery matches its name. It lasts for a record two and a half hours and charges in as quickly as 90 minutes. However, it does have a proprietary charger- which can sometimes be a little inconvenient. Once you’re out of juice and nowhere near your charger, then there’s really no way of getting the Mighty going again.
Ease of Use
While neither the Mighty nor the Volcano Hybrid are that difficult to use - it’s safe to say that the Mighty is definitely less complex. Figuring out its controls and modes is nearly intuitive and getting the most out of your device requires no learning curve.
There’s just a certain number of considerations that have to be taken into account with the Hybrid (or any desktop vaporizer) - so I’d recommend a run through the manual before your first use. Other than choosing between the balloon and the whip, there are also the fully customizable iterations and workflows that may be set via the accompanying app.
Iterations are a custom set of instructions that allow you to automatically increase the temperature by a certain number of degrees over a set period of time. So, for example, you can program an iteration that starts your session at 380°F and increases it by 10°F every five minutes over a period of twenty minutes. It’s a very cool feature because it gives you more complete vaporization without any manual adjustment. This seems to be more suited towards the whip since the fan isn’t involved in this function.
The Workflows on the other hand are more suited to the balloon since it programs the fan as well as the heat. You can program a workflow that begins and holds a specific temperature for 1 minute and then blows the fan for the next 30 seconds. The temperature may also be set to increase for 15 seconds and then blow the fan for 10. While this sounds like a lot (and it is) it’s all so you are the master of your entire experience - whether you want to microdose or take massive hits.
Performance and Vapor Quality
Vapor quality on both devices is (of course) excellent. There’s a reason why S&B sets the standard in quality. On the Mighty despite its small size- the resulting vapor is cool, flavorful, and just dense enough to be visible, but is not exactly cloudy and thick. The Mighty heats to temperature in 45 seconds or a minute on average and has a hybrid conduction/convection combination to heat the herb. That combination allows for more complete vaporization than either method could do on its own. The herb gets heated more thoroughly and efficiently - resulting in richer and more potent hits (when compared to the standard conduction oven).
While there aren’t exactly tiers to “excellent vapor” - the Volcano Hybrid’s vapor quality is unmatched and much better than what you would get from any portable vaporizer. It’s obviously a much larger, more powerful device that’s capable of providing you with cooler, more flavorful results. It also has the same hybrid conduction/convection heating method as its smaller counterpart. Regardless of whether you use the balloon or the whip, or if you used the fancy app programmable settings or not.
Between the balloon and the whip, I must say that I definitely preferred the balloon. While inhaling from a balloon does seem quite novel and odd compared to the mouthpieces we see today, The vapor in the balloon is untainted by any artificial materials and is cooler since there’s a lot more room to expand. There’s also zero draw resistance, so inhaling from them feels as natural as breathing. The whip on the other hand has a long air path made with neutral materials that cool down the pure vapor as it travels. Air resistance is also low, but it may be lowered even more with the help of the fan.
Both the Volcano and the Mighty are compatible with solid concentrates/dab and come with the necessary concentrate pads and inserts. However, the vapor is nowhere near as good as what you get when using the devices with dry herb. On the Volcano, it’s slightly better and is somewhat satisfactory, but I’d still highly recommend keeping your dry herb vaporizer and your wax pen separate.
A Storz & Bickel product equals excellent vapor quality and an overall exceptional experience. After all, they’ve spent the last 20 years as pioneers in the industry and using precision engineering to create a carefully curated product line of standard setters.
The Volcano Hybrid and the Mighty are at the top of their game, and if you’re wondering which is the best of two - the choice depends highly on your preferences and needs. The Volcano is definitely not portable and is made of domestic, at-home use. Its large size correlates with larger amounts of vapor and longer sessions, making it best for sharing. The medical-grade certification of the Volcano makes it the most ideal device for medical marijuana users. For users with lung issues, the use of the balloon and the "forced air" function which pushes the vapor out instead of having to deeply draw it out is also a definite advantage.
But for everyone else, the Mighty is the device to get. The Mighty is straightforward in function, portable, and delivers a near same quality as its larger counterpart. There’s no learning curve here - only an exceptional experience in a smaller package.