Known for their popular desktop units, most notably Da Buddha and the Silver Surfer, the new SideKick vaporizer is Colorado-based manufacturer 7th Floor’s first foray into portable vaporization. 7th Floor has a great reputation within the vaporizer community, as their passion and love of what they do shines through in the quality of their products.
I was able to get my hands on a production-ready version of the SideKick before it goes on sale to the general public – and here’s my review.
Like all 7th Floor vaporizers, the SideKick comes in a very heavily-padded travel bag. This is something I’ve always loved about 7th Floor units, as purchasing a vape case separately will typically run you about $50, so the fact that a case designed specifically for the device is included is really convenient and will help you protect your investment.
The SideKick itself stays true to familiar 7th Floor styling. Featuring the same anodized aluminum housing found on their popular Da Buddha desktop unit, the SideKick has a fairly simple look to it. The word ‘ergonomic’ is thrown around a lot by manufacturers, but the SK really does feel right at home in your hand. The body is slightly curved and feels natural and comfortable in your hand.
The SK utilizes a hand-blown glass mouthpiece, which is housed inside of the unit and slides out when in use (similar in that sense to the Ascent from DaVinci). The glass mouthpiece that is included with the SideKick is colorless glass, with color custom color options available as well. For an added element of water filtration, 7th Floor offers custom bubblers designed specifically for the SK that replace the standard glass mouthpiece.
What I really love about the SideKick’s aesthetics is that it combines the look of a modern day vaporizer with an old-school element of hand-blown glass pieces. It’s a device that the 19 y/o version of me (who was all about bongs and pipes) and my modern day self (vaporent) would both be stoked on.
SIZE & WEIGHT
Size-wise, the SideKick is definitely on the larger end of the portable vaporizer spectrum, but this is actually something I really like about the unit. It seems like portables nowadays keep getting smaller and smaller, which is great for portability, but bad for folks who lack dexterity. The SideKick is large enough to be easily handled, but still small and portable enough to carry with you in your pocket while you’re out-and-about.
Compared to the Mighty from Storz & Bickel (one of the largest portables on the market), the SideKick has a much slimmer and sleeker body, and is way more conducive to on-the-go usage.
While a little on the heavy side, there’s a direct correlation between the weight of the SideKick and the build-quality of the unit. You won’t find any cheap plastic on this device. Like the housing, the SK’s lid and base are also constructed from anodized aluminum and feature a powder-coat finish for enhanced durability.
If anything, the additional weight just makes the unit feel more substantial and heavy duty. When vapes are super-lightweight, even if they perform decently, they just doesn’t feel very well made. The SideKick, on the other hand, is extremely well-built and feels like it will last for the long haul.
The SideKick has three stainless steel buttons and extremely responsive. Next to the buttons are stylized ▲▼ arrows and a power button symbol that is reminiscent of the Star Wars Rebel Alliance insignia.
To the left of the buttons is the SK’s digital display. Once turned on, the SideKick’s logo pops up, which then changes to an information screen which shows heat setting, session duration time, operating voltage and battery life. The display is easy to read and the information is presented clearly. During the session, the text “Surfing” appears on the screen, and when you turn the unit off, the 7th Floor name and slogan “Ride the wave” appears.
Overall, I really dig the SideKick’s combination of unique styling and top-notch build-quality. In my opinion, the SideKick looks like what a portable vaporizer should look like. Unlike the PAX, which places more of an emphasis on fashion than function, the SK’s design is based around performance, and is geared towards true vaporizer and cannabis connoisseurs – not fashionistas.
The SideKick has some really cool features that set it apart from any other portable vaporizer I’ve used in the past. For starters, the top portion of the SK is equipped with a nifty little stirring mechanism that allows you to mix up the herbs in the chamber during your session.
Since the SideKick is a conduction/convection hybrid vaporizer (something we’ll go deeper into later in this review), having the ability to stir the herbs in the chamber while you vape is crucial in helping to ensure that the herbs are being heating evenly.
The stirring mechanism is attached to the underside of the lid portion of the device, and consists of a a tiny 90° stainless steel arm that screws into a stainless steel screen, both of which can be removed and cleaned easily. The stir stick is controlled by a notched dial located on the side of the lid.
The added stirring capability is a feature that I really like, and is something that I think we’re going to see more manufacturers start incorporating into conduction and conduction/convection portables. It’s one of those innovations that once somebody thinks of it, everyone asks, “Why hasn’t anyone else done this before?” With that said, I expect go see a lot more portables with stirring capability in the near future.
VORTEX VAPOR COOLER
This is another extremely ‘cool’ innovation that makes the SideKick truly unique. The SK comes equipped with a removable spiral-shaped rod that 7th Floor has dubbed the ‘vortex vapor cooler‘. When inserted into the SK’s stainless steel vapor path, the vortex cooling insert effectively extends the vapor path from 7″ to 18″, giving vapor another 11″ of travel and cooling time before being drawn.
In addition to extending the vapor path, the vortex insert also tightens up the SideKick’s draw resistance and serves as a secondary filter. You can also remove the insert and chill it in the the fridge in between sessions for an added element of vapor cooling.
I love this kind of ingenuity, and really have to hand it to 7th Floor for their solution to the ‘harsh’ vapor issue that has plagued so many portable vaporizers in the past.
The SideKick is powered by two removable 18350 lithium-ion batteries, and comes with two sets (four batteries in all). This is the first portable I’ve seen that runs off 18350’s, as 18650’s are pretty much the industry standard. Batteries are charged externally using the included Efest SODA Charger.
According to 7th Floor’s website, a single set of batteries will last for around 25 minutes of continuous use – which is about 50 minutes when using both sets. I had similar results, which I’ll touch on more later in the review.
Personally, I wish all portable vaporizers utilized removable/replaceable batteries, as issues with embedded batteries can be a pain to deal with, and often require the entire unit to be replaced. Removable batteries give you one less thing to worry about. If you do run into an issue, you can simply replace the batteries and not have to deal with warranty claims or sending your vaporizer in for repair.
21 TEMPERATURE SETTINGS
Even though the SideKick’s temperature settings are preset, there are so many that it essentially gives you precise control. There are 21 different settings, which correspond to numbers 1-11 (adjustable in increments of .5), ranging from 248° – 455°F. There’s a difference of about 10 degrees between each setting, so even if one of the presets isn’t exactly the temperature that you like to vape at, you’ll be able to split the difference and get pretty close.
CERAMIC HEATING ELEMENT/CHAMBER
7th Floor was the first manufacturer to utilize a ceramic heating element in their desktop vaporizers, so it should come as no surprise that the SideKick employs the same type of ceramic heater. Ceramic heating elements have been proven to last, and 7th Floor guarantees them for 2000 hours of use, which equates to about five years.
USING WITH HERBS
For my first session with the SideKick, I decided to use it how most people would right out of the gates – with the standard glass mouthpiece and vortex cooling insert (at room temperature) inserted into the vapor path, and utilizing the stirring mechanism.
After loading up your herbs into the chamber, hold down the power button for a couple seconds to turn the SideKick on. From there, you use the up/down arrows to pick your temperature settings, which are displayed on the unit’s digital display. I decided to go with heat setting 6, which is 365°F. Once you pick your temp level, press the power button again to begin the heating process.
At this point, you’ll see the ‘Vape Time’ counter begin and ‘Heat Setting’ indicator start rising. Depending on the selected setting, the SideKick’s vibration notification will buzz after about 40 seconds, signifying that the SK is fully heated.
In my experience, I’ve found that giving portable vaporizers an additional 15-20 seconds of additional heat time after the unit says it’s ready is usually a good idea if you want to see visible vapor from the very first draw. This is really just my preference, and not something 7th Floor necessarily suggests. If you do this, I recommend using the stirring mechanism as you wait.Upon taking my first draw, I found the vapor produced by the SideKick to be extremely pleasant overall. The combination of a glass mouthpiece, ceramic chamber and stainless steel vapor path and vortex insert equate to some seriously tasty vapor. The vortex cooler performs its job excellently, as the vapor produced isn’t harsh is the slightest.
At heat setting 6, I was able to get 6 or 7 nice draws (or a vape time of around 2 and a half minutes) before getting the burnt popcorn taste, which signifies the herb is spent. This is right on par with the draws per session I’ve experienced with most other portable vaporizers I’ve used, so nothing out of the ordinary here.
Hitting the SideKick feels a lot like hitting a glass pipe. The draw resistance is perfect. There’s just enough where you feel like you’re pulling against something, but not so much where it feels like you’re sipping a thick milkshake through a straw, which in my mind is the biggest downfall of two of my other favorite portable vaporizers – the Arizer Solo and Arizer Air.
After the session, I dumped out the ABV to inspect (moment of truth). The coloration is just what I was hoping for – a light golden brown. The herbs looked to be heated very evenly with no signs of burning or charring, which means the stirring mechanism did its job. This solidified heat setting 6 as being my go-to for future sessions.
Now that I had found a heat setting which gave me the results I was looking for, I decided to experiment with other ways to use the SideKick, keeping the heat level as my control. For session 2, I chilled the vortex insert in the fridge for 30 minutes to see what kind of impact it would have.
After inserting the chilled vortex cooler into the chamber, I did everything the same as my previous session – setting the heat to level 6 (365°F) and waiting for about fifteen additional seconds after the unit signified it was heated before taking my first draw.
Chilling the vortex insert definitely has a noticeable effect on the coolness of the vapor. As 7th Floor describes it, popping the vortex insert into the freezer between sessions results in “vapor as cool and crisp as a Rocky Mountain breeze!” I must say, I found that sentiment to be spot-on, and I love the enhanced functionality that chilling the vortex cooler adds.
This time around, I decided to try the SideKick out without the vortex cooling insert, as I was curious as to the effect it would have on the draw resistance and vapor quality.
Without the vortex insert, vapor takes a straight shot through the stainless steal vapor path, traveling just 7″ as opposed to 18″. Additionally, without the vortex insert in place, the vapor path is completely wide open, allowing the vapor to flow more freely. As I already felt like the draw resistance was perfect with the vortex cooler inserted, I was curious if removing the insert would have a negative or positive effect on this.
I found that without the vortex cooling insert to tighten up the draw resistance, the draw just didn’t feel right. There needs to be something there to provide a small amount of resistance, or it just feels like your sucking air through a straw. Also, the vapor is much harsher without the cooling insert. You really notice how integral the vortex cooler is when you try to use the unit without it. I personally wouldn’t recommend it.
For my final test, I replaced the SK’s standard glass mouthpiece with one of the water filtration bubblers that are specially designed for the SideKick. This is one of the aspects of the SK that I was really amped on when I first read about the unit, and was really looking forward to using it in this manner.
What’s different about the SideKick’s water filtration bubbler is that you don’t need an adapter for it. Instead, the bubbler is designed to replace the standard glass mouthpiece, and is fits directly into the unit. To my knowledge, this is the only portable vaporizer that employs this type of water filtration system – and is something I think we’ll be seeing more of in the future.
Aesthetically speaking, the SideKick looks frickin’ sweet with the bubbler! The combination of custom glass and modern technology gives the unit a look unequivocally its own, and really make it one of the coolest portable vaporizer setups I’ve ever seen,.
From a functionality standpoint, the bubbler certainly serves its purpose. Hydrating and moisturizing the vapor makes the experience that much more enjoyable, and improves the already awesome vapor quality of the SideKick. I highly recommend picking up a bubbler attachment if you plan on purchasing the SK. You’ll be glad you did.
The glass bubbler attachment isn’t tiny, and obviously limits the SideKick’s overall portability. I see it mostly as something you’ll use around the house, and is not necessarily suited for on-the-go sessions due to the fragile nature of glass.
USING WITH WAX
For the dab heads out there, the SideKick is also compatible with wax concentrates and includes a stainless steal oil with a high-temp silicone lid (similar to the oil can used by the Haze). You’ll obviously want to use the higher heat settings when using the SK with wax. 7th Floor recommends setting it between 9-11, but I’d say just go all the way up to 11.
To use the SideKick with wax, you’ll need to use the included screwdriver to remove the screen and stirring attachment from the underside of the lid, otherwise the top won’t fit on with the wax cup in the chamber. In my opinion, this is my biggest (and maybe only) gripe about the SK, as it’s a little more work then I’d like to do. If you primarily vape just flower or just wax, this won’t really be an issue. However, if you like to go back and forth between the two, it might get a little annoying to keep having to disconnect and reattach the screen and stirring mechanism.
If you plan on using the SideKick with wax concentrates, I’d also recommenced picking up a glass bubbler attachment to go along with it. When using a portable like the SK for dabs, the vapor can be a little harsh since you typically need to crank the unit up to the highest heat setting when dealing with wax. To combat this, a water filtration bubbler is a must, as the extra cooling and hydration will help diffuse the heat.
With that said, the SideKick’s wax functionality is superb. I’ve never really been a fan of using portable vaporizers for wax, but the SK performs way better than most. And since you load the wax into a can which is then placed into the chamber, it’s essentially mess-free.
COMPARED TO OTHER TOP-TIER PORTABLES
With a price tag of $300, the SideKick is joining the ranks of top-tier portables like the Haze ($250), Arizer Air ($260), Vapir Prima ($260), PAX 2 ($280), Firefly 2 ($330), Crafty ($340) and the Mighty ($400). So how does it stack up against the competition?
IMO, I think the SideKick fits right in with the aforementioned portables and performs well enough to justify its $300 billing. If you do find yourself going into sticker shock, there are a few things you should consider.
For starters, the SideKick’s build-quality is second to none. This isn’t some cheaply made rebrand, it’s a completely original and proprietary unit that features incredibly solid construction. This should come as no surprise, as 7th Floor is a name that has always been associated with quality. Unlike a lot of other manufacturers, 7th Floor doesn’t mass-produce overpriced crap. They really care about their customers, and it shows in the superiority of the vaporizers they produce.
Second, the SideKick is a very innovative product. With the exception of the Firefly 2, which operates solely on convection, all of the portable vaporizers at this price point all have very similar features. The SK, however, has some capabilities that no other portable has. The stirring mechanism, vortex vapor cooler, herb & wax comparability, and plethora of customer glass options make the SideKick one of the most unique and versatile portable vaporizers on the market today.
I think the SideKick will be a hit with the core of the vaporizer community, who judge the value of a vaporizer by its overall quality and performance. The SideKick fits right in with other top-shelf portable vaporizer options like the Crafty, Mighty, PAX, Prima and Haze – and is a unit that I believe any true vape connoisseur will enjoy and appreciate.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE SIDEKICK
- Easy to clean
- Original design
- Great build-quality
- Excelllent performance
- Unique, innovative features
- Dual-compatibility (herb & wax)
- Constructed from high-quality materials
- Optional custom glass and water filtration attachments available
WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT THE SIDEKICK
- Tough to operate with one hand
- Rattling sound created by the buttons
- Using with wax requires you to remove the screen and stirring attachment
- Mouthpiece sticks (although applying the included coconut oil solves this issue)
Overall, I think the SideKick is a phenomenal portable vaporizer. It has quickly become an instant favorite of mine, and my everyday go-to. This SK’s build-quality, innovative features, performance and versatility make it one of the best portable vaporizers on the market today.
I recommend purchasing the SideKick vaporizer from VaporNation – they ship for free, and are also the exclusive online distributor of 7th Floor products (I also receive a small commission if you purchase through my link). Or, you can also purchase directly through 7th Floor Vaporizers.