Having a collection of functional glass is really fun, and I’ve been proud of mine, even though they weren’t expensive pieces. At the height of my collection I had maybe six water pipes, none of which cost more than $200. I was kind of like a wine collector who extols the virtues of boxed wine and the Trader Joe’s special.
It’s not to say that less expensive mass-produced options aren’t perfectly fine, but when you smoke from a water pipe made by a glass artisan, something in the $400-$500 range, you might notice an improvement. Sturdier design, more complex functions, smoother and cooler smoke, better flavor… it’s all noticeable even from one corner of a bowl when you’re hitting a high-end bong.
That said, cheap bongs are popular, and fly off the shelves. With the advent of online headshops, legal paraphernalia in a lot of locales and easy shipping from China, it’s easier than ever for people to find inexpensive glass. Over the last few years, I’ve gotten some great pieces from all over the internet, and even purchased a couple pieces locally. Here are some of my best finds!
The Heavy Duty Bong
If you need a bong that’s suitable for home defense but won’t break the bank like a genuine Louisville Slugger baseball bat, Thick Ass Glass is the best production glass brand for your needs. These bongs live up to their name. TAG offers a wide range of pipes, water pipes, and glass accessories in varying heights and thickness.
Their quintessential product in my mind is the 16 inch 6.5mm thick beaker with no percolators. This piece is heavy and sturdy, and will get you some of the fattest plumes of smoke suitable for hotboxing any space. The design and construction is easy to clean, and will last for years. It can be found for as cheap as $120 on TAG’s website, and buyers can expect prompt shipping in secure packaging. TAG is also stocked at many glass shops in the DMV.
Bongs for Dabbers
MJ Arsenal has some wonderfully designed glass, but make sure you look at the dimensions before purchasing. I’m currently running their Titan XL rig for cold-starting rosin dabs and there’s a lot to love about it. It’s roughly 7 inches tall, constructed from borosilicate. The joints are nearly seamless, and the incycler function is excellent for getting the most flavor from extracts.
Most of the pieces from MJ Arsenal are small rigs, and many of them are 10mm threads, which is smaller than the standard 14mm thread. These pieces are perfect for use with the included banger for dabs, a small e-nail setup, or with an herb vape and water pipe adapter. You can find MJ Arsenal Pieces on their website and many online smoke shops, as well as in local smoke shops.
Artisan Bongs Imported from China
If you’re looking for clones of artisan pieces that function like high-end pipes, Biao.t, founder of the mLglass store on DHGate is the definitive choice. Just be warned that you may have to wait several weeks for your piece to arrive. Recently I ran his mini recycler with my e-nail setup, and the size and function made for a perfect dab experience. The glass isn’t the thickest, and getting the water level right is key, but the $40 price tag makes the effort worth it. If you don’t want to wait for your piece to arrive, you can get pieces more quickly from the Greek Glass Shop, but they don’t have the selection of pieces that DHGate does.
Great Value Bongs with Extra Flair
Pulsar, known for their APX line of portable vapes, also has a large selection of glass for under $250. The production glass pieces are usually in stock on their website, which isn't something every online shop can claim. Pulsar offers a wide range of bubblers and water pipe bongs, with designs that are a bit more ornate than the average plain beaker bong. Many of their bongs also feature well-engineered percolators, which make for a smooth smoking experience.
My Personal Bong Setup
Right now I only have one bong, but out of all the bongs I’ve owned, it's the only brand I’ve bought twice. A bong of this quality lasts me for about a year, and this year I decided to go back to an old favorite from LA Pipes. Formerly known as UPC Glass, LA Pipes is known for simple beakers and straight tubes, usually with a percolator in the middle. I prefer this style because it’s easy to clean, the clear glass lets users see the change in the water level from melted ice, I get cool consistent rips every time, and the sturdiness is great considering the weight of the glass.
The first piece I owned from them was the 12-inch straight tube with a five-arm tree perc. I got amazing plumes and many smooth smoking sessions with that piece. Now I use the 16-inch beaker tube with a UFO perc in the middle. It’s perfect for the rare occasion when I have friends over, or it snows and I can put fresh powder in the ice catch.
The Takeaway on Cheap Bongs
If you’re just getting into smoking, but don’t want to break the bank on a bong, there are tons of great options out there for you. No matter what style and size you’re looking for, there are lots of choices online and in local smoke shops. If you buy a piece, it’s reasonable to expect that it will serve you well, and give you many enjoyable seshes!