Background

The Volcano Hybrid is the third iteration of Storz & Bickel’s series of desktop vaporizers and it is easily the best one yet. It might be the best desktop vaporizer period, and one of the most technologically-advanced vaporizers ever made. It is also one of the most expensive vaporizers ever made. It improves on the previous Volcanos in many different ways, but the most significant is that it can now use a whip as well as a balloon. There is a lot more to the Volcano Hybrid though, so keep reading to learn more about it and to find out if it’s worth its sky-high price tag. 

Volcano Hybrid vs Volcano Digital

Volcano Hybrid Background
The Volcano Hybrid has the same basic shape as the Volcano Digital and the Volcano Classic before it.

There are a lot of significant differences between the Hybrid and the Digital, but one area where they are strikingly similar is in their design. The basic shape has stayed the same ever since the launch of the Volcano Classic in 2001. It worked back then and it still works now, as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, there were a lot of things about the Digital that Storz & Bickel felt that needed fixing and the Hybrid is the result.

Vaping Method

The main difference between the Digital and the Hybrid is that the latter can use both whips and bags, while the Digital is bags only. That gives users more choices in how they want to vape, which is great. Even better is the fact that the bags used with the Digital can also be used with the Hybrid.

Heating Style

The Digital uses pure convection heating, but the Hybrid uses a convection/conduction combination. That provides more efficient heating, more thorough vaporization, and more flavorful vapor than convection heating alone.

Technology

It shouldn’t be surprising that the Hybrid is more advanced than the Digital, though it might be surprising just how advanced the Hybrid actually is. The Hybrid has a modern touch screen interface that eliminates the need for buttons, though admittedly buttons do give more immediate feedback. The Hybrid is also Bluetooth enabled so it can be controlled by the S&B smartphone app. In addition to controlling the various functions of the Hybrid, the app also lets users program heating and inflating profiles that give them an unprecedented level of customization.

Even though the Volcano Digital is still an excellent desktop vaporizer after all these years, the Hybrid is clearly superior. It retains everything that was great about the Digital while adding a bunch of great new options that give users a greater degree of customization. 

Kit and Accessories

Volcano Hybrid Kit and Accessories
L-R: Easy valve balloons, Volcano Hybrid, filling chamber with cap ring, tube system.
  • Volcano Hybrid vaporizer
  • Three Easy Valve balloons with mouthpieces
  • One Easy Valve balloon with an adapter 
  • One tube system
  • One filling chamber that includes a cap ring, screen set, drip pad for concentrates, and a cleaning brush
  • Power cord
  • Air filter set
  • Herb mill

Compatibility: The Volcano Hybrid is compatible with dry herb and wax concentrates.

Official Accessories

Volcano Hybrid Filling Chamber Reducer
The filling chamber reducer (left) can be used to vape smaller loads without compromising vapor quality.

Dosing Capsules – These are small capsules that you can pre-fill with herb and then place in the heater. You might be familiar with them from the Crafty and the Mighty, and just like in those handheld vapes, they make using the Hybrid simpler and more efficient. They are available from the Storz & Bickel website

Filling Set – You can fill up to forty dosing capsules simultaneously with this accessory. This accessory actually includes other bonus accessories like a grinder and a magazine that can hold eight dosing capsules.

Filling Chamber Reducer – This accessory reduces the size of the filling chamber so that it holds a smaller amount of dry herb. The reducer can be bought by itself or you can buy a filling chamber that includes the reducer. And in case you were wondering, yes, the dosing capsules also work with the reducer.

Design and Features

Design

Volcano Hybrid Design and Features
The Hybrid has a touchscreen interface that is highly responsive and keeps the surface smooth and free of buttons.

The Volcano follows the design language of the previous models with a pyramid shape, yes, like a volcano. However it has been updated with a digital display and a touch sensor interface, no more buttons for the Volcano, this is the 21st century! There is a heck of a lot of different accessories for the Hybrid, so a deep dive into the instruction manual is necessary at first. Fortunately, using it soon becomes second nature because of how intuitively all the pieces fit together.

The Hybrid also has Bluetooth connectivity, so it is compatible with the smartphone app that is used with the Crafty. Of course, the Hybrid has a different set of controls than that portable vape so the app functions differently here. In fact, the app makes the Hybrid the most customizable vape out there. In addition to the ability to adjust the settings, the app allows you to program the Hybrid in a variety of different and intriguing ways. Namely, you have iterations and workflows, and since you have no idea what either of those means, I’ll break them down for you.

Iterations allow you to program a set of instructions over a period of time and seem to be designed with the whip in mind since the fan is not involved. Iterations 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 350°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.  

Workflows are more for the balloon since they involve programming the fan as well as the heat. With workflows, you can do the following: 

  1. Program the Hybrid to heat to a predetermined temperature for a preset amount of time 
  2. Hold that temperature for a set time limit 
  3. Blow the fan for a set number of seconds
  4. Increase the heat to a higher temperature and then repeat steps 1 through 3 for various different times
Volcano Hybrid Smartphone App
The Hybrid’s smartphone app allows you to program iterations and workflows. Iterations are better for the whip, while workflows are more suited for the balloon.

So, in practice, you could program a workflow that heats the Hybrid up to 370°F and then holds it at that temperature for one minute and then blows the fan for twenty seconds. The temperature would then increase to 385°F for thirty seconds and then the fan would blow for fifteen seconds. The purpose of all this tinkering is to give users a way to completely customize their vaping experience. Whether it is to take big, huge, flavorful rips or smaller, milder inhales for anyone who wants to microdose. 

The app interface is clear and simple so using iterations or workflows is extremely simple. You can then save and label any sequences you have programmed so that you can access them whenever you want. It’s a lot of fun to play around with, but you don’t need to use it if you don’t want to. 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.

All the previous Volcanos have been sturdy, solid units with tough metal bodies, and the Hybrid is no different, I’m pretty sure that it can last for a lifetime. There are some smart design choices too, the electrical cord can be removed from the body of the Hybrid, which makes both the cord and the device easier to carry around and store. The attachment for the whip allows it to spin around 360° so that you can access it from any angle. Clearly Storz & Bickel thought of everything in their desire to make this a user-friendly device.

Features

Volcano Hybrid Filling Chamber
The filling chamber of the Hybrid has a metal ring that provides some conduction heating to go along with the convection heating from below.

The Hybrid in the title tells you all about the key features of this desktop vape. It refers to its ability to use a whip and a balloon, something it shares with the Arizer Extreme-Q. However, it also refers to its new heating system. Previous Volcano models were convection only, but the Hybrid uses a convection/conduction combo. The Hybrid has a metal ring on top that heats up and comes into contact with the metal outer ring of the herb chamber. 

This causes the herb to be heated both by the hot air passing through it and the heat from the metal ring. The hybrid heating vaporizes the herb more efficiently and you can see the evidence of this by checking out the dark color of the post-session AVBs. I already mentioned the advanced smartphone app, but it’s worth mentioning again because of how customizable and configurable it is. 

How to Use

With The Balloon

Volcano Hybrid How to Use: Balloon
The balloon has a valve that prevents air from escaping when it is removed from the Hybrid.
  1. Remove the filling chamber cap from the filling chamber.
  2. Place dry herb into the chamber and then replace the cap.
  3. Place the filling chamber on to the hot air outlet and firmly turn it clockwise.
  4. Select the desired temperature setting and wait for heating to be completed.
  5. Once heating is complete, remove the mouthpiece from the balloon and attach the balloon to the filling chamber.
  6. Switch on the pump to start filling the balloon with vapor.
  7. Turn off the pump once the balloon has been filled with the desired amount of vapor.
  8. Hold the filling chamber cap and rotate it counterclockwise to remove the balloon from the vaporizer.
  9. Reattach the mouthpiece to the balloon.
  10. Place the mouthpiece against your lips and lightly press against it to inhale the vapor.

With The Whip 

Volcano Hybrid How to Use Whip
The whip of the Hybrid can be rotated 360°, which makes it easy to use from any angle without any trouble.
  1. Remove the filling chamber cap from the filling chamber.
  2. Place dry herb into the chamber and then replace the cap.
  3. Place the filling chamber on to the hot air outlet and firmly turn it clockwise.
  4. Select the desired temperature setting and wait for heating to be completed.
  5. Once heating is complete, attach the tube flexer to the filling chamber and inhale from the mouthpiece. 
  6. (Optional) Turn on the pump to push the vapor through the tube and into the mouthpiece.

Cleaning and Maintenance

The Hybrid is a pretty low maintenance device because the only parts that you need to clean on a regular basis are the screen and the filling chamber. You can easily and quickly clean both using the included cleaning brush to dust off any residue. You will eventually need to replace the bags and tubes, you can tell when that is necessary if they start to become discolored, grimy, and brittle. When that happens, flavor quality goes downhill and they have a higher chance of rupturing, so don’t hang on to them for any longer than you need to.

Performance and Vapor Quality

Performance

Volcano Hybrid Balloon
The Hybrid heats up in under ninety seconds and the balloon inflates quickly as well, however the fan is very loud.

One of the big improvements of the Hybrid is its improved heating times because getting up to any temperature never takes longer than ninety seconds. Inflating the bag is super-quick, too. Unfortunately, it is accompanied by the roar of the fan, which is surprisingly loud. With over ten years of improvement since the last Volcano, it is surprising that they haven’t managed to make the fan any quieter.

Vapor Quality

Volcano Hybrid Performance and Vapor Quality
The vapor from the Hybrid is dense and flavorful regardless of whether you use the balloon or the whip.

Vapor quality is, in a word, excellent. Regardless of whether you use the balloon or the whip, whether you use the fancy smartphone programmable settings or not, the vapor is rich and flavorful to a degree that even the best dry herb vaporizers cannot reach. The hybrid convection/conduction heating system is a huge part of that because it provides more complete vaporization than either method would on its own. Between the whip and the balloon, I preferred the latter because, even without the app, I was able to get richer vapor. That vapor improved once I started messing around with the workflow program. 

Once I played around with the app and set a workflow that I liked, I was able to get powerful, delicious vapor that gave me some of the best dry herb vapor I’ve ever experienced. No matter how you decide to use the balloon, I would advise you to vape from it within about five minutes of filling it. If you wait any longer, the flavor starts to degrade. If you can’t handle a whole bag, then you don’t have to, just fill it with enough vapor that you can handle.

Using the tube is a better idea if you don’t want to get overwhelmed since you can just inhale when you want, as long as you don’t use the pump of course. If you do, inhaling becomes easier, but you can’t control the flow of vapor as easily. Both methods provide some of the biggest clouds you will ever experience in a dry herb vaporizer. The Hybrid works great regardless of the density of your grind as well, so you don’t have to grind your herb as finely as you would with a portable weed vape. No matter how you decide to use the Hybrid, you won’t be disappointed.

Performance vs Portability

So how does the Volcano Hybrid, and desktop vaporizers in general, compare to portables? Keep reading to see the positives and negatives of desktop vaporizers.

Pros

Volcano Hybrid vs Mighty
The Mighty and the Volcano Hybrid are both made by Storz & Bickel and they each have pros and cons that will make them appealing to different users.

Vapor Quality – Desktops simply produce more flavorful vapor than portables thanks to their larger sizes and more powerful heating elements.

Inhalation Method – Desktop vaporizers use either a balloon filled with vapor or a tube for vapor inhalation. Both methods are superior to any of the mouthpiece types used in portables. Balloons give users a pure hit of vapor that’s untainted by any artificial materials. They also keep the vapor cool because they give it lots of room to expand. They have practically no air resistance, so inhaling from them feels as natural as breathing. 

Since they don’t need to be fully inflated you can fill them with as much or as little vapor as you want. Plus bags are easy to pass around and share. Whips have a long air path that helps to cool down the vapor and they are made of neutral materials that don’t affect the vapor’s flavor. Air resistance is also low, but even then, some desktop vapes, like the Hybrid, can use their fan to pump air through the tube, lowering the air resistance even more.

Heat Time – Another advantage of the increased power of desktops is that they heat up very quickly and can reach higher temperatures than portable vaporizers.

Larger Herb Capacity – The larger sizes of desktop vaporizers means that they can hold a much larger amount of dry herb than any portable vaporizer.

Cons

Portability – Needless to say, you won’t be carrying a desktop anywhere that isn’t within range of the vaporizer’s power cord. 

Set-Up – Desktop vaporizers take longer to assemble than portables because they have more pieces to put together. 

Ease of Use – While desktops are not difficult to use, the fact that you need to worry about the fan, as well as the temperature, means that they have a higher learning curve than portable vaporizers.