PuffCo has continually improved upon the form and function of its heating element since the Peak made its debut at CES 2018. In 2020 it showed off a more reliable and precise heater with the over-accessorized Peak Pro. In 2022, PuffCo has once again refined its vaporizing system — further shrinking the heating element and doing away with the water chamber entirely — into a one-handed vape experience, the Proxy.
The Proxy takes much of the same crucible tech found in the Peak Pro — such as side walls that heat instead of the floor to prevent the hash from boiling off until you actually draw — and makes it small enough to fit into the formfactor of a pipe. In fact, the idea behind the Proxy came about because Peak users kept using their devices dry (without water in the chamber) to taste more of the terpenes.
It measures about five inches long and just under four inches from the base to carb cap, not much larger or heavier than a conventional tobacco pipe. It feels more comfortable in hand than the Firefly 2 or the Storz & Bickel Mighty, the latter of which is hefty enough to double as a self-defense brick when the need arises. Smashy, smashy.
The vape is composed of three modular parts: the glass pipe section, a base unit and the replaceable chamber inside of that. The chamber twists and clicks into the base, and the base slides into the pipe body. Easy peasy.
Cleaning is also a breeze, as everything is swabbable if not fully submersible in 90-percent isopropyl. That’s a relief because good lord this thing spills hot hash like a hung over short order cook working the deep frier on Sunday morning. Within four sessions, I’ve got congealed ABX Live Resin pooling around the underside of the chamber, dribbling out of the base’s airflow path and encrusted around the inner lip of the pipe body. That said, cleaning up from what you see below took about three fluid ounces of iso, a paper towel and five minutes of my time (three of those dedicated to letting the parts soak). It’s a lot easier to swab clean than the blown-glass dab monstrosities popular in the previous decade.
The fact that the Proxy tends to dribble all over itself isn't so much a matter of its various pieces not fitting together snugly (they do!) but rather a limitation inherent to the material it vaporizes. CO2 oil by its nature tends to be an ooey-gooey mess, which is a big part of why I stopped messing around with oils in the first place — there’s just so much more cleanup and maintenance required than with flower or edibles. At least with this, I don’t have to worry about accidentally knocking it over and spilling bong water across the rug.
Messiness aside, the Proxy is dead simple to use. Once the base has been charged using the included USB to USB-C cable, which takes about 30 minutes on average, simply spoon a little hash into the chamber, hold the only button on the device for three seconds to unlock it (so it doesn't accidentally activate in your bag or pocket), single tap to select between the unit’s four increasing temperature settings (colored in order blue, green, red and white), and then double click to get it heating.
Like the Peak and Peak Pro, the Proxy will rumble when it reaches the selected temperature and will stay hot for around four drags before automatically turning off the heat. You can extend the session by double tapping the control button up to four times and I got around a half dozen, four-puff sessions on Green heat level before having to recharge. Triple clicking gives you an estimate of the remaining battery life, with Green, Orange and Red denoting the three levels.
And, like the Peak, the Proxy communicates through a series of colored patterns emitted by the LED ringing the chamber: a slow pulse means it's heating up, three red flashes means the battery is spent and a solid red ring means you let the unit get too hot and it won’t respond until it’s had time to sufficiently cool off. But unlike the Peak, the Proxy isn’t encumbered by a companion smartphone app so you’ll never have to worry about keeping the thing updated or having your personal data leak.
Given my own cannabis habits which centers mostly on middling strength 510 cartridges — all the hash, less of the mess! — and chomping on Breez tablets, I don’t see the Proxy becoming a daily driver — with an MSRP of $300, it had damn well better. But for those days when I want a more tactile experience and to be so high I’m looking down on stars, the Proxy will be first out of my magic funtime drawer.