Categories
BLOG

sidekick vaporizer review

SideKick Vaporizer Review

Coming from one of the heavyweights in the American vaporizer industry…

7 th Floor’s SideKick vaporizer has a lot of ‘reputation’ going for it.

The 7 th Floor desktop vaporizers like the Da Buddha Vaporizer and Life Saber Vaporizer, are among the highest quality desktop vaporizers…while having a very modest price tag.

And they have been so for the past 10+ years!

Ask any vaping veteran for the best value for money desktop vaporizer, and I bet you a lot of them will come up with a 7 th Floor desktop vaporizer.

A major reason for this is the power of these vaporizers, they hit hard and provide vapor of a very high quality.

But a stellar reputation and proven track record, does not automatically mean a product of impeccable quality…as we’ve seen with the Crafty (sorry Storz and Bickel).

Every vaporizer has to prove itself, there are no free handouts…especially in the fast-evolving portable vaporizer industry.

And even though the SideKick looks and feel like a very sophisticated vaporizer because it has some very cool features:

  • A built-in stirring tool for maximum extraction-efficiency;
  • A built-in cooling system for smooth and cool vapor;
  • A removable glass vapor path with its own compartment on the vape (zero risk of it breaking).

The question is:

How does it perform when looking at the core function of a vaporizer?

Or another way to put it…besides the bells and whistles, how well does it actually vape your herb/concentrates?

Continue below to find out.

Or go straight to the pros and cons and conclusion:

Where to buy the SideKick vaporizer:

Quick summary:

Design / Build Quality (8.5)

I already explained the SideKick looks and feels like a very sophisticated vape.

It has a very geeky, but classy feel to it.

Its modular design (almost every part of the vape comes off separately) and its extraordinary features, will definitely hit a spot with the vaping geeks among us.

The aluminium shell feels of a superb quality and makes it feel premium.

Its ergonomic shape also helps in this regard…

Technically it’s just a block of metal with a mouthpiece, but it doesn’t exactly feel that way like some other portable vapes.

But the main reason why they designed its shape the way they did, must be the ease with which you can hold this vape in your hands:

It feels super-smooth, but it doesn’t slide out of your hands so easily like some of the other portable vapes with a brushed aluminium shell (PAX3).

The materials used in the critical parts (bowl, air-path) are:

  • Ceramic;
  • Stainless steel, and;
  • Glass.

No plastic parts in this vape.

So, both health-obsessed users and vapers that hate plastic for taste-reasons will be satisfied.

Both the materials and the way everything clicks together make the SideKick a vaporizer with an outstanding build quality.

Because there’s so much metal and its size is big…

It definitely does feel clunky at times.

But more about its size and weight when we talk about its…

Portability (6)

This is not where the SideKick shines…

It’s big and heavy, but how big and heavy exactly?

Size & weight

Placing the SideKick next to a true pocket-vape like the PAX3…

You immediately realize:

This is definitely not a pocket-vape.

Then you hold it in your hand…

And the next thing you realize is:

This is going to weigh heavy and (slightly) uncomfortable in my pocket.

It’s probably the heaviest portable vaporizer that I’ve ever tested.

Its exact dimensions are as follows:

  • 5″ (h) x 2.25″ (w) x 1.25″ (d) x (12.7 x 5.7 x 3.2 cm)

And it weighs 320 grams.

So yes, it’s a bulky vape.

The SideKick Vaporizer is smaller than the MIGHTY but bigger than the Arizer Air for example.

Discreetness of design

When looking at the SideKick, especially with the mouthpiece sticking out like an antenna…

To me, it looks like a portable radio.

Its shape is definitely original and doesn’t scream WEED VAPORIZER like some other portable models like the MIGHTY for example.

But once you start sucking on that mouthpiece, it becomes quite clear for anyone with half a brain.

Add to that its size, and you quickly come to the conclusion that you really can’t be stealthy with the SideKick.

If stealth is your highest priority, check out the PAX3.

Smelliness

This vape does a GREAT job in containing the smell.

When the unit’s on, you don’t really smell it heating up. And while inhaling and blowing the fresh vapor out, it smells decently ‘clean’.

I think this has to with its long vapor path, the longer the vapor path, the weaker the smell.

Just be careful when opening your bowl up during use or right after use:

It will smell very pungent with the top lid off and the bowl wide open.

This vape extracts your material extremely fast and efficiently (more on that later), thus there is a lot of smell present. It’s just very well contained while the top lid is on the unit.

Also keep in mind that in a conduction-vaporizer-vaped-material, will have a stronger smell in general (the SideKick is 80% conduction with dry herb and 50% conduction with concentrates).

Battery life

A vaporizer as powerful as the SideKick will need powerful batteries to operate properly.

As it turns out:

The SideKick’s batteries are not that powerful and its battery life is quite bad.

A single set of 2 batteries will last you 20-25 mins.

This is probably in the top 3 of portables with the shortest run-time I’ve come across (along with the MFLB and Grasshopper).

The batteries are swappable and 7 th Floor does offer another free set of 2 batteries with your SideKick purchase. Which brings the total run-time up to 40-50 mins of continues use, which is decent.

Safety (9)

You already know the materials used in the SideKick:

  • Ceramic (bowl);
  • Glass (mouthpiece / vapor path);
  • Stainless steel (Vortex cooling system);
  • Anodized aluminum (shell).

The parts that really matter for your safety, the…

The heating element and air path

Are made of ceramic, stainless steel and glass.

From a safety perspective, these materials are absolutely fine.

Starting with the ceramic bowl…

Ceramic is perfectly safe as long as it’s of the right type and quality. The ceramic in earlier 7 th Floor vaporizers was Alumina ceramic. Alumina ceramic is perfectly safe.

Stainless steel when of the right type is also perfectly safe.

And glass is without a doubt, the safest material as it’s the most inert material that can be used in a vaporizer.

But is there any…

Air passing over the electronics?

When you disassemble your SideKick and really take all the parts out, you can clearly see the air-path of the unit.

And you can clearly see the air-path is fully separated from the electronics by a lid which comes off for cleaning purposes.

The lid that separates the electronics from the air-path is taken off here. But you can clearly see how easily it is to put it back on.

Not much to discuss here…

Vapor Potency (9)

This vape hits HARD.

The extraction power of the SideKick is immense.

It can extract a full bowl (0.25 grams) in 4-5 big hits (!)

You can imagine how densely packed with cannabinoids 4-5 hits must be if you cramp 0.25 grams in them…

The funny thing is:

Although the hits are big they’re not that brutal. They’re not true face slammers…but the effects are those of true face slammers.

And to be honest…I’d rather just have the medical effects of a face slammer (the effects caused by the cannabinoids in your herb) …than true face-slammer type of hits that are taxing to your whole respiratory system (hence why you should always use a bubbler with your VapeXhale Cloud EVO for example).

This comes as no surprise since the 7 th Floor desktop vaporizers are true heavy hitters as well. We know what they’re capable of.

If your top priority is a vaporizer that will get you where you want FAST, you can’t go wrong with the SideKick.

But if you’re looking for small and modest hits while you slowly puff away and let the effects slowly creep up on you, finishing your bowl over the course of 30-40 mins…I advise you check out an on-demand vape like the Firefly 2.

The SideKick is a true heavy-hitter.

Vapor Flavor (8)

For a mostly conduction vape, the flavor of the SideKick is great.

Now, why do I say ‘for a mostly conduction vape’?

If you’re a Herbonaut regular, you know convection vapes are king in terms of flavor.

This doesn’t mean that conduction vapes always have bad flavor…

But with most conduction vapes, the flavor does deteriorate pretty quickly after the first few hits.

Luckily, with the SideKick, you can finish a bowl in just a few hits…so you don’t ever need to experience the flavor deterioration.

Most portable vaporizers are notorious for their harsh flavor in the higher temperature ranges…

But the SideKick has a got a neat little built-in system to cool the vapor:

  • The Vortex cooling system.

The Vortex Rod is the metal piece sticking out. The lid that normally separates the air path from the batteries is taken off here to show you the air path.

Essentially, it’s just a vortexed metal rod, which doubles the length of the vapor path.

And you can even put it in the freezer for further cooling power.

It sounds gimmicky, but it actually is very effective:

Even on the higher temperature settings the vapor is comfortable and doesn’t feel harsh.

Don’t go higher than 8 though as this is concentrate territory, and you will risk combustion.

Efficiency (8.5)

If you’re new to vaporizer efficiency, here’s a quick recap of the different types of efficiency:

  1. Threshold-efficiency (what’s the minimum amount of herb you need to produce proper vapor);
  2. Session-efficiency (how much herb gets baked and potentially wasted while you’re not drawing);
  3. Extraction-efficiency (how even and how quick do the goods get extracted out of your bowl).

In the potency paragraph, you already learned that the extraction efficiency of the SideKick is immense.

It extracts the compounds in your herb extremely fast and extremely well.

How can you be sure everything is extracted?

Just look at the color and how even the color is distributed in your already vaped bud (AVB).

After any session with the SideKick where you truly finished your bowl (inhaling and stirring until nothing comes out), your herb will look dark brown in every part.

Then onto the threshold-efficiency.

With most conduction vapes (the SideKick is not fully conduction, but mostly conduction), the threshold-efficiency Is quite bad…

Which means you need to either fully or close to fully pack the bowl to get proper vapor production.

Interestingly enough…the SideKick works well with just a pinch of 0.05 grams.

This means its threshold-efficiency is up there with the most efficient vaporizers, which is extraordinary for a (mostly) conduction vape.

You don’t have to fill the bowl up as I did here. The SideKick easily handles less!

Lastly its session-efficiency:

Conduction vapes don’t have the best reputation in this area either…

Because the nature of conduction-vaping is such that your herb gets constantly baked whether you’re drawing or not…plus it needs a lot of stirring to extract everything.

And it seems 7 th Floor was clearly aware of this since you can finish a full bowl in just 4-5 hits…leaving you no room to waist much material. PLUS you can just re-load small amounts every time.

Then they also found something for the stirring problem which is quite ingenious:

  • A built-in stirring tool.

Again, just like the Vortex cooling system, this sounds quite gimmicky…but again, it is surprisingly effective!

To really maximize the vapor out of your bowl, stir after every draw.

Ease of Use (8)

All these tools, accessories and features…

Would make you think this vape is a pain in the ass to use…

But after the initial ‘getting to know your vape’ part…which is slightly longer than usual because of the SideKick’s modular design…

There isn’t much technique left.

Learning curve

The SideKick doesn’t really have a specific learning curve…

But if you’re completely new to vaporizers, you should always keep the following tips in mind:

  • Since it’s a mostly conduction vaporizer, grind your herb fine for best results (but not powder-fine with the SideKick!);
  • Draw slowly and controlled for at least 5-10 seconds;
  • Conduction vapes always need stirring for maximum extraction: use the built-in stirring tool;
  • Use the right temperature setting for what you want.

With other conduction vapes, you really want to pack your bowl tight and compress it lightly…

But with the SideKick, this is really not needed.

You can get proper vapor production with only 0.05 grams. I don’t have an explanation for this, but I’ll take it and so should you.

One thing which I do highly recommend is, when you first get your unit, immediately pull the mouthpiece out and lubricate it with the included tube of coconut oil. Otherwise, this thing has a hard time coming out…

Draw resistance…?

Well, there isn’t much.

Just a healthy amount which is not annoying in the slightest.

A little bit of draw-resistance helps with drawing-convenience, as you will notice. If there’s literally zero draw-resistance, you will need some technique to not draw huge uncomfortable hits.

It’s probably a little less free-flowing than the MIGHTY, but more free-flowing than most other portable vaporizers, including the Arizer Solo 2.

Maintenance/cleaning downtime

There are quite a few parts which need regular cleaning.

But because of its modular design, all these parts are cleaned easily.

The main parts that need regular cleaning are:

  • The top screen (above the bowl), and;
  • The bowl.

Just brush these parts with the included brush after every session.

And after every 5-10 sessions, you can leave the screen in ISO alcohol for 10 mins then rinse it with warm water.

The bowl you can clean with an ISO dipped Q-Tip (never put your unit as a whole into ISO alcohol).

The vapor path and Vortex cooling stick also need periodic cleaning.

The vapor path you can clean with the included special brush.

And the Vortex cooling stick, you can dip in ISO alcohol for 10 mins and rinse it with warm water.

The bottom line is:

This vaporizer is very convenient to clean.

Temperature Control (8.5)

As portable vaporizers get more and more advanced…

Precise temperature control, or interval-based temperature control that’s close to precise, is getting more common.

And the SideKick’s temp control is an interval-based system which is close to precise.

You get 21 different temperature settings:

SideKick Vaporizer Temperature Setting Temperature in Fahrenheit & Celsius
Level 1 100°F / 38°C
Level 1.5 130°F / 54°C
Level 2 160°F / 71°C
Level 2.5 190°F / 88°C
Level 3 230°F / 110°C
Level 3.5 250°F / 121°C
Level 4 270°F / 132°C
Level 4.5 290°F / 144°C
Level 5 320°F / 160°C
Level 5.5 340°F / 171°C
Level 6 355°F / 179°C
Level 6.5 365°F / 185°C
Level 7 375°F / 190°C
Level 7.5 385°F / 196°C
Level 8 395°F / 202°C
Level 8.5 405°F / 207°C
Level 9 415°F / 212°C
Level 9.5 425°F / 218°C
Level 10 435°F / 224°C
Level 10.5 445°F / 229°C
Level 11 455°F / 235°C

As you can see its temperature range is wide enough to get any type of effect from your vapor: from super light mental effects to heavy sedating effects.

As a general guideline:

  • If you want a regular dry herb session go for a setting between 5-8.
  • Best for flavor would be between 5-6.
  • Best for a heavy sedating session is between 7-8.
  • Concentrates start vaping from 7 and onward.

If you’re looking to vape other herbs than bud, check the boiling temperature for that specific herb…but most will be doable with the SideKick as its temperature range is wide enough.

Reputation and Reliability (8)

7 th Floor has got a stellar reputation.

Their desktop vaporizers have been some of the ‘go to’ vaporizers for 10+ years.

They’re known for making vaporizers that are:

  • High quality;
  • Reliable, and;
  • Great value for money.

But here’s the kicker:

The SideKick is actually their first portable vaporizer…

And if you’ve been following the vaporizer industry for a while, you know making top quality desktop vaporizers doesn’t automatically mean you can make top quality portable vaporizers as well.

Portable vaporizers really are a different beast:

Condensing all that power in a small unit that needs to be able to fit in your hand, without unlimited power-draw AND while keeping everything safe, convenient and reliable for the user…has proven to be a difficult task.

So far, the SideKick has so far proven to be a reliable vaporizer…do take this with a grain of salt though because it has not even been around for 2+ years.

But if 7 th Floor’s earlier vaporizers are any indication for the SideKick’s reliability, we can assume this too will be an extremely reliable vaporizer.

The unit comes with 1-year general warranty and 5-year warranty on the heater. Which is average.

Pros & Cons and Conclusion

The SideKick is a sophisticated vaping gadget, which has some very cool features that sound gimmicky…

But actually, are surprisingly effective.

Combine this with its modular design, and you got yourself the vaping geek’s wet dream.

Some cool features and a modular design won’t help a vaporizer if its core function leaves much to be desired…

As it turns out:

The core function of the SideKick is GREAT!

SideKick Vape Pros and Cons

  • Especially in terms of how quickly it gets you where you want to be. it’s up there with best of the best. You will get medicated hard and fast with the SideKick.
  • Its flavor is above average, especially the smoothness of vapor is amazing. No choking or an uncomfortable feeling in your throat (this is highly personal though! I have friends who DO choke when they inhale from the SideKick).
  • Being a mostly conduction vape, you wouldn’t expect it…but it scores extremely high on every type of efficiency. So, if you need to be economical with your herb, the SideKick has got you covered.
  • Although it’s a geeky vape, there are no ‘special’ techniques required to get the most out of this vape: it’s easy to use and easy to clean.
  • If you want full control over the effects of your vapor: its temperature control is close to precise.
  • The materials used in it are premium both from a safety and design perspective for a welcome peace of mind.

That’s for the pros, what about the cons?

Yes, the SideKick definitely could use a few improvements as well…

  • Its battery-life is bad. Yes, they’re swappable…but 20-25 mins of usage time with 1 set of batteries is WAY below average.
  • Its consistency does lack a little bit in terms of vapor production: every once in a while the vapor production is just not up there.
  • It does not facilitate every type of vaping style: especially sitting back, while slowly puffing away, finishing your bowl over the course of 30 minutes is really not possible with the SideKick.
  • You also need to be careful with the temperature setting, go a bit too high and you will combust…destroying all the benefits associated with vaping.

Other than that, I wouldn’t necessarily see the SideKick as an upgrade over other high-end vapes…

UNLESS you mostly vape concentrates ! Its performance with concentrates is amazing!

For dry herb, I would recommend it:

  • If you don’t have a portable vaporizer yet and the pros described above inspired you;
  • Or all you have is a Flowermate or another low-end vape…and you’re looking to take a step-up in performance, or;
  • You’re a true vaping-geek that drools over ingenious designs and likes to play and mod with his/her unit.

Where to buy the SideKick vaporizer:

SideKick Tips and Tricks

How to grind your herb:

For best results:

Grind your herb fine, but not powder fine.

I actually made it work with a finger-grind as well.

But for best results, I recommend a quality grinder like the 2-piece Space Case Grinder.

How to pack your bowl:

You can pack it any way you want to get proper vapor production.

But for best results:

Pack it loosely compressed and try to fill the bowl up for 80-90%.

How to draw:

I like to take slow, long and controlled draws.

I found quick sips, don’t really work with the SideKick.

As long as you keep that in mind, there isn’t any specific draw-technique which works better.

How to Use Water Filtration / Attach a Bubbler to the SideKick

Although you don’t really need a bubbler with the SideKick to get smooth hits…

It does help if you want to go for those monster of monster hits.

Plus, humidified vapor always feels more comfortable on the throat.

The easiest way to get some water filtration with your SideKick is to get the:

You just put water in it and attach it your SideKick.

If you already got a bubbler, you can get the:

The SideKick is a geeky vaporizer with some very cool features and a strong core performance. Learn its strengths and weaknesses and who's it for.