The Leafly buyer’s guide to bongs
Bongs are tools for cannabis consumption that filters smoke through water, sequestering toxins and carcinogens for a smoother consumption experience. Built around a central tube that goes over rather than between the lips, cannabis is packed into a bowl piece which is then inserted into a downstem, a straight, narrow tube that pulls smoke into water in the main reservoir, conditioning a hit prior to inhalation.
While bongs didn’t become the contemporary glass objects they are today until the mid to late 1970s, water-filtered smoking tools are believed to be centuries old—used for cannabis consumption in Northern Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East long before Westerners transformed them into the increasingly intricate works of art and science that we see today.
Bongs have come a long way since the West took an interest, incorporating advancements like percolators and diffusers that improve filtration, and ice catchers for cooler hits. In very recent years, as bongs compete with dab rigs for center stage, futuristic innovations like integrated laser beams hope to recapture the hearts and minds of bong lovers.
We smoked through numerous makes and models from online stores and glass shops, spanning domestics and imports, classic designs, and accomplished contemporary pieces, as well as tools that break from tradition to innovate and enhance the consumption experience. Check out our guide to bongs.
Also, check out our buyer’s guide to weed pipes.
HVY 38mm Mini Straight Clear Tube
Made in USA
For a basic budget bong, I’ve been enjoying HVY’s 38mm Mini Straight Clear Tube.
Made in the USA out of clear borosilicate, the HVY tube sits atop a flat, circular base and features a triple-pinch ice catcher and removable flat-bottom downstem with slitted diffuser perc. It skips advanced features and ornamentation to reach consumers at a very affordable price point.
At roughly 10” tall, this HVY tube is small enough to tuck away into a backpack or even a purse, which is nice if you want a no-frills travel bong. Yet it’s still “bong” enough to condition and filter smoke, and delivers a satisfying, easygoing hit.
14” Beaker 55 Bong by US Tubes
Made in USA
US Tubes has a reputation for building high-quality bongs with a classic look and feel. The 14” Beaker 55 has become a fast favorite in my house—a great everyday piece that speaks to tradition while incorporating a few subtle, modern details.
The 5mm-thick glass is even throughout its walls and joints; quality craftsmanship that minimizes weak points, promising durability and many good years of use. Halfway up the neck it features a constriction—an ice catcher that doubles as a pressure differential for cooling smoke.
While larger and more feature-rich designs from US Tubes can get pretty expensive, this model strikes an excellent balance between cost and high-standard American craft, priced at $250. With the country of origin built into the name, consumers in the United States can take pride in enriching the national economy with this bong purchase.
Sandblasted Saucer Bong by Tattoo Glass
Made in USA
A 9” tall stemless borosilicate bong with a 14mm female joint, the Sandblasted Saucer Bong by Tattoo Glass features sacred geometric ornamentation and dual diffusers—a natural downstem percolator and a showerhead perc for added filtration of the splishy-splashy sort.
It takes design inspiration from companies like Kush Scientific and Seed Of Life Glass—name-brand pipemakers commanding name-brand prices—and opens up the aesthetic and scientific-glass functionality to those who can’t drop $500-1,000 on a piece.
The Sandblasted Saucer was sourced from Daily High Club, an online retailer specializing in budget alternatives to spendier glass. DHC offers subscription boxes that feature—amongst lighters, papers, hemp wicks, etc.—a low-cost bong, pipe, or dab rig with each monthly shipment.
Glass options span worth-a-chuckle seasonals like the Turkey Bong for Thanksgiving, as well as punny numbers like the Glassception Bong—a bong-shaped perc inside a bong, just like the movie with dreams inside dreams—and even exclusive collabs, such as the Rose Beaker Bong, co-created with tattoo artist Erick Khan.
DHC glass and monthly subscriptions could be a good idea for consumers looking to try various types of pieces before committing to a name-brand purchase. And I can definitely see my college-aged self—a breaker of many glass pipes and bongs—benefiting from a monthly box that anticipates my reckless relationship with glass.
Grav Labs’ Small Wide Base Water Pipe & Wave Bubbler
Price: Small Wide Base $134.99; Wave Bubbler $109.99
Made in China
Austin, TX-based Grav Labs first came to be known for making pipes that prioritize innovative, scientific-glass functionality and an improved smoking experience. The Helix Series of pipes is a brand-defining example; an impressive improvement to both hand and water pipes, yet it isn’t known for being particularly attractive.
Years later, Grav’s lineup expanded to encompass new products that double down on delivering superior smoke while embracing a pipe’s potential as decorative art. Pieces like Grav’s Small Wide Base Water Pipe tuck away between houseplants to establish an unassuming Art Deco vibe, only announcing a function beyond table art if and when a bowl piece is added and packed.
“I love that! It. Is. Beautiful,” my partner gasped while I unboxed the aforementioned Small Wide Base Water Pipe alongside Grav’s Wave Bubbler ($109.99).
She intuitively understood these pieces as home decor—their readiness to punctuate a coffee table reason enough to reserve space amongst architectural salvage, potted rubber trees, and framed photographs.
But don’t let terms like “home decor” limit your expectations for functionality and performance. Grav’s Small Wide Base bong features an almost-hidden conical diffuser—similar to a pyramid perc—at the base of its downstem, adding a touch of scientific-glass filtration to an undercover, adult-contemporary ripper.
In stark contrast to the blackened tubes you might think of when you hear the word “bong,” pieces like Grav’s Short Wide Base Water Pipe and Wave Bubbler show us that a workable tube can coexist with a consciously considered sense of decorum.
The Chongo by Summerland
Made in USA
The Chongo by Summerland is a round-bottom ceramic bong that looks back to move forward. A fresh departure from typical headshop options, bongs were originally made of items and materials as diverse as gourds, bamboo, and clay, like the Chongo.
With a minimalist yet rich feel, the Chongo considers details without flaunting its modernity. Its matte ceramic exterior reminds us that the piece is of the earth, while a glazed interior makes for easy cleaning and protects against permanent resin accumulations, tar flavors, and mold or fungi that can find a home in humid, porous places.
A silicone seal joins the bowl piece and downstem for a snug, efficient draw, but not so snug that the bowl can’t be removed when clearing a hit.
Photographed above in charcoal, the Chongo is also available in naturalistic Terra Cotta and a chic off-white finish called “Dust,” as well as a Glossy White model that’s fit to furnish a break room on a spaceship, suggesting an “astronauts taking it easy” vibe.
Pyramid to Single UFO Beaker + honeycomb splashproof ash catcher by Maverick Glass
Price: Bong $299; Ash catcher $49
Made in USA
Not too many years ago, any one of the percolators in MAV’s 16” Pyramid to Single UFO Beaker Bong would’ve jacked up the price of the piece by hundreds of dollars. Yet times have changed.
Today, ambitious scientific glass bongs with percolator arrangements fit to make Rube Goldberg blush are sold at very reasonable prices, as evidenced throughout MAV’s lineup.
Look no further than the featured Pyramid to Single UFO Beaker Bong, pictured above.
At its bottom, a pyramid diffuser percolator is suspended inside the beaker base, affixed at the end of the downstem in place of more common natural percs and slitted flat-bottoms. Above the pyramid is a UFO percolator—a second amusement park ride for smoke and water that further filters and mellows a hit.
Higher still, what looks a bit like a third diffuser, is a splash guard. Lastly, closest to the mouth, a trio of indentations traps ice cubes above everything for one last frosty blast. While chilly, fog-in-the-cemetery rips are fun, I found that if I skipped the ice, the flavor improved a touch, as did the smoke’s texture, which at times felt a little swampy in the presence of ice.
Notice the Honeycomb Splashproof Ash Catcher, also by MAV, situated between the bowl piece and the downstem ($49, sold separately).
The ash catcher captures any debris that might pull through, intercepting nasty bits before they have a chance to gunk up the integrated, internal perc gauntlet. In addition to catching ash, it features yet another diffuser: a flat glass disc known as a honeycomb perc, the surface of which is dotted in a concentric pattern of holes. Just add water for some extra bubbles and filtration.
Even with an ash catcher, all bongs should be serviced regularly, especially multi-perc models populated by diffusers that can’t be reached with cotton swabs and cleaning tools. Otherwise, I’ve found that the resin will impart a burnt flavor that can overpower a flower’s subtleties.
Signature Series Tall 65mm Triple Bottle Perc & 80mm Tall Double Tree Perc by MOLTN Glass
Price: Triple Bottle Perc $450; Double Tree Perc $530
Made in USA
To the untrained eye, scientific glass can look like a lot of fancy dancing water rides offering uncertain improvements for smoke. But there are sci-glass pieces that simply can’t be denied their right to the throne.
Enter MOLTN Glass and their Signature Series Tall 65mm Triple Bottle, posed in the above family portrait on the right, beside their 80mm Tall Double Tree Perc, both of which will win over scientific glass detractors and skeptics in a single rip.
The Triple Bottle looks like it’s sitting between two mirrors: The vertical-stem bottle contains a smaller, visually identical bottle-shaped perc, which in turn houses yet another even smaller bottle perc of its own—each fused into the one before it for a “zero vibration” build.
The bottle percs and their nested configuration are MOTLN exclusives. Each bottle-neck constriction cools a rip as it moves through the piece. The recursive pressure differentials work in concert with dozens of diffusion points, greatly increasing the water’s contact area and amplifying the piece’s filtration capacity. The result is one of the smoothest, coolest hits I’ve had the pleasure of pulling down a tube—all physics, no ice cubes.
A majority of folks may not have heard of MOLTN and their Renaissance-level capacity for uncommonly accomplished designs, but that’s because they’re a new company. Launched in April 2021, MOLTN is the brainchild of Chris “Chip” Chippari, whose work with budget-focused American tube makers Zob Glass helped him leave fingerprints on numerous spendy name brands, including Illadelph, Toro, Lux, PHX, and so forth.
At Zob, Chippari “poured his heart and soul” into what became one of the most recognizable names in American glass. In 2018, after helping to design and fabricate things like the first production-scaled showerhead percs and more, Chippari broke off from Zob to create his own company.
Standing on its own, MOLTN’s detailing and craftsmanship are remarkable—sturdy, heavy-duty Schott glass completing the high-value package. And its capacity for invention speaks for itself with features like the “trash collector”—similar to a rudimentary ash catcher but fully integrated into the bottom of a bong’s vertical stem. Even MOLTN’s bowl pieces communicate a higher standard, with a 360° constriction disc in place of the usual nub handle.
After taking a long, hard look at today’s domestic bongmakers, MOLTN is one of the more exciting companies to surface in recent years, truly improving the consumption experience while raising the bar for American craft glass.
Designer Bong by Session Goods
Made in China
While on the topic of bongs that don’t immediately clash with the look of your home, see the Designer Bong in Ash by Session Goods. Released for Session’s fourth anniversary, this graduated cone features an inset platform for the bowl piece and a downstem with diffusion slits.
The Designer Bong comes together for a clean, space age look, and it can be capped up with an included set of silicone stoppers for travel and cleaning. The rubberized base gives it a solid grip on a table without cheapening the look, as is more the rule than the exception with other silicone and no-tip glass bongs I’ve come across.
Where many fashion and decorum-minded bongs seem to be aimed at older crowds or exude a decided femininity, the Designer Bong is more gender-neutral, youthful, and targeted at streetwear audiences.
The Gravity Infuser by Stündenglass
Made in China
The Gravity Infuser by Stündenglass is a decidedly social smoking tool drawing from two worlds: the low-brow realms of the gravity bong and the traditionalist territory of the shisha hookah, found across the Middle East and at themed bars in the West.
No longer a last resort involving a 2-liter soda bottle, an improvised bowl piece, and a bucket of water, the German engineers at Stündenglass have transformed the gravity bong into a sleek, contemporary piece of analog consumption technology.
Like an hourglass containing water instead of sand, when flipped, a pill-shaped, two-chamber reservoir—suspended mid-air on an aluminum alloy base—exchanges water through a constriction to create a negative pressure system. As the water passes from one chamber to the other, smoke is drawn into the system via a modernized shisha bowl piece. Once the chamber is filled, flip the globe one more time to push the smoke out of the system.
Featuring a large glass bowl piece capable of handling roughly a gram of flower and a caddy that goes over the top to accept a coal—like the puck-shaped ones for shisha hookahs—the Gravity Infuser is outfitted to deliver a gentle, slow-roast session that can be shared by friends.
Removing the glass bowl, it can also be configured for flavored-tobacco shisha mixes. A lighter also works just fine if you’re looking for a zero-to-sixty headshift.
Experientially, you’re looking at large rips that might be a little harsh or overwhelming, given the forced-air design. So it strikes me more as a party piece, especially when accounting for the larger-than-average serving sizes it can accommodate.
All in all, it’s a fun piece that makes a ton of sense for someone who frequently entertains guests or wants a piece that can run both shisha and weed.
The Trident Laser Bong (V2) by Hitoki
Price: $499 (MSRP); 25% off with Black Friday code ‘TRI25‘
Made in China
The Trident Laser Bong by Hitoki ($499) is one of the more exciting electrified cannabis consumption tools around today.
Like the name suggests, the Trident emits a timed laser pulse in three power levels. The lowest level hovers around the vaporization threshold before combustion takes over; the highest level starts a little fire in seconds.
Unlike visually similar vaporizers, the point here isn’t to avoid combustion. Rather, it’s to avoid inefficient and limited organic fuel sources like butane that impart a chemical flavor and waste energy compared to electric heating sources. Also, lighting weed with a badass thread of blue light is an indescribable pleasure.
Experientially, the quality of smoke generated by the Trident is similar to that of a plasma-arc lighter. Like a little taser for weed, a plasma arc lighter offers a butane-free clarity of flavor that exceeds hemp wicks for something more like a solar hit—that is, the practice of lighting herb on fire with a magnifying glass and the sun.
Though a plasma-ignition pipe was perhaps inevitable, the Trident’s integrated beam greatly exceeds the power of standalone laser lighters, torching a bowl pack in just a few seconds. It’s a serious amount of firepower, far from the plasma arcs that suddenly feel toy-grade after using the Trident. It’s more like a legit laser than anything else I’ve come across or envisioned for cannabis consumption.
Outfitted with a fast-charging USB-C power port, Hitoki says the Trident can perform 280 run cycles on a single charge. It comes stock with a whip for hookah-styled hits, which can be swapped for a straight, sidecar tube made of silicone ($29.99, sold separately). It also features a carb button for clearing hits, while the body is composed of a durable aircraft-grade aluminum.
A removable ceramic bowl piece cleans with relative ease. The retail package includes an extra bowl piece, as well as a dental pick for clearing air passages between rubbing alcohol baths.
Sold in matte black, shown in the photo above, as well as metallic rose gold and 24k gold finishes, buyers get some shiny options to match the laser light show—visible through a little purpose-built, radiation-blocking window.
And a show it is, indeed.