UPDATE: NOV 5, 2017
I currently do not stand by any of the opinions found on this page.
The vape has changed materials, designs, and distribution. I am currently re-reviewing.
Buy the Alternate at your own risk.
The Alternate is a new portable dry herb/cannabis vaporizer from Vivant – also new. The Alternate is powered by a removable 18650 battery, has full temperature customization, and utilizes convection heating. At the $130 price point these features are unheard of, but the Alternate delivers.
Other portable convection vaporizers easily fetch $300+. The Crafty, as an example, is $340.
With a price difference of $210, lets see what the differences are between the luxury priced Crafty and the aptly named, Alternate.
Aside from the Crafty materials looking more refined and precise, the sidewall, screen, and everything underneath look very similar. Same thick silicon band, same dual bayonet mount with quarter turn locking.
The difference: The Crafty bowl is a truncated cone shape, 15.2mm at the opening and 13.9mm at its base. The Alternate’s bowl is straight walled cylinder at 13.4mm. Someone should double check my high school math skills, but I calculated the volume of the Crafty bowl to be about 1300 cubic mm and the volume of the Alternate’s to be only 1100 cubic mm. The depth of both bowls is 7.8mm. Numbers aren’t everything, but the Crafty bowl is slightly easier to unload because of it’s shape. The weed capacity of bowl volume isn’t a concern, as the Alternate performs well with over-packed bowls!
Here’s the important part, in my opinion. The Crafty produces some of the absolute best vapor of any portable. And this $130 Alternate produces surprisingly similar vapor. With a similar pack, hit for hit the Crafty and the Alternate are remarkably similar. The differences are subtle, but there are differences. The Alternate brings a little of that burnt popcorn flavor through in the roast. The bowl of the Alternate gets hotter than the bowl of the Crafty, but both are primarily convection driven. In the 2nd half of the session, the vapor from the Alternate gets slightly hotter and harsher than the Crafty – but still enjoyable. The Alternate also hits a high of 428F, compared to 410 of the Crafty.
The Crafty definitely has better vapor, but not $210 better.
The Mighty and Crafty have a perfect mix of heat in the bowl plus the heat from convection. The Alternate either has more conduction than the Crafty, or more intense convection heat. The Alternate’s vapor is slightly hotter and toastier.
Ease of use / Interface
I’ve never been impressed by the Crafty’s single button interface. I’d rather avoid the mobile app, so I keep the Crafty at 380 normal and 400 boost. It’s not my ideal control system, but it gets the job done and it’s easy enough.
The Alternate needs improvement here as well. The buttons are on the bottom. They’re tiny and difficult to press 5 times quickly. Holding the power button for 2 seconds to start the session seems like extra effort. I want to vape. That’s why I pressed the button 5 times to turn it on. Just start heating to the set temp. Please.
The Alternate shipped with the 60 second session firmware, but a quick and easy update gives the user the ability to set the session timer. VERY cool!! And major props to Vivant for being active in the community and providing updated firmware.
Temperature adjustments aren’t possible while the heater is on. Which means if you want to bump the temperature halfway through your session, you need to turn the heater off by holding the button down for 2 seconds, make your temp adjustment, and then hold the button down for 2 seconds to restart the heater. Hopefully that can be changed with a firmware update as well.
The Alternate has a high pitched beep that reminds me of my dishwasher. The Crafty has smooth haptic feedback and vibration alerts.
There are big differences here. Both units are plastic, but the Crafty feels tactical-ish while the Alternate is more toy-ish. Both units weigh about 5oz, with the Crafty coming in slightly under. The Crafty body has no flex or give when I squeeze, and no rattle when I shake. The Alternate feels significantly cheaper, which is to be expected with the price difference, but it’s really not that bad! The cooling unit has some flex in the side and the battery door doesn’t feel very promising.
I have already dropped it on concrete from about 4 feet, accidentally. There’s no cracks, only a small scratch where it landed.
The Alternate is powered by a standard 18650 battery that is easily swapped or charged via micro USB. I’ve been getting about 4 bowls (5 minute session) per charge.
The Crafty has a similar battery, but isn’t replaceable. It can only be charged via it’s slow USB charger. The Crafty also serves up about 4 or 5 bowls charge.
I love the replaceable battery feature. Convection is a battery hog and being able to carry multiple batteries is a must for many.
The Cooling Unit & Mouthpiece
Both cooling units are designed to lengthen the vapor path and cool the vapor. The method used in each is similar, but the Alternate has a small silicon ‘flap’ over the vapor inlet – almost like a valve. It appears to be innovative, I’m just not completely sure of the reason yet. Perhaps to catch reclaim?
The stem of the Crafty swivels, while the mouthpiece of the Alternate swings up from its recessed compartment. Slick. The Alternate has a funky metal screw. This screw holds the cooling unit together, and also serves as part of the vapor path connecting the cooling unit to the actual mouthpiece. The Alternate has a finer mesh screen, which means cooling unit cleanup is easier (and reclaim is cleaner). The cooling unit can get damn hot while vaping, unlike the Crafty.
Neither are really impressive here, which is unfortunate. There are some ultra fast heating convection heater designs out there. Neither of these vapes use them.
Both of these units take about a minute to heat up.
The Crafty comes with a plastic grinder and plastic loading system. The Alternate includes a plastic grinder / loading system combo device. Sounds like a one up, but it’s really not great.
Both units also come with a pretty nice little brush.
Both devices have built in stir-poke-tamp tools. The Alternate’s tool hides under the cooling unit, while the Crafty’s annoyingly blocks the daily-use-required USB port.
Is the Alternate the Crafty Killer?
No. I don’t think the Crafty is worth $340, but it’s certainly still a luxury worth spending more.
The Alternate is going to shake up the $100-$200 vape market. It satisfies the craving for portable convection (with conduction assistance) without dropping multiple hundos.
At $130 it’s a fucking steal. It’s obviously a knock-off of the Crafty, but they pushed some innovation as well.
Pack it right, and treat it right, and this vape brings Crafty-like vapor without the Crafty price.
You can pick yours up at Puffitup.com. Use coupon code PUFFEDUP to save an additional 15%.
** I purchased this device with my own money. I do not take payment for reviews whatsoever. I may receive a small commission if you buy after clicking the links above, but my reviews and opinions are 100% honest and objective.