We, humans, have invented many useful things throughout the course of our history, from the wheel to the printing press to the Double Stuf Oreo. Perhaps none of these inventions, however, has been such an unalloyed force for good in this world as the humble bong.
Bongs, or “water pipes” if you happen to be reading this story while browsing your local head shop, are a reflection of the magnificent creative spirit that lies within us all.
You may have enjoyed the pleasures of a 6-foot PVC monster whilst pursuing your studies at university, or fashioned a makeshift mini-bong out of an empty Coke bottle while ducking out the back of your most recent family gathering.
But no matter what they look like or what they’re made from, we can all appreciate the importance of a good bong. And so, with that in mind, it is our great honor to present to you the top 10 best bongs of 2020.
Every bong is a work of art, and as with any form of art, the people who make bongs can use a wide array of materials. Plastic, glass, metal, and bamboo are just a few of the many types of metaphorical “clay” that can be molded to create a given masterpiece (FYI: you could also, if you really wanted, make a bong out of actual clay).
Each of these materials has its benefits and drawbacks:
Glass bongs are beautiful and can have lovely color-changing properties. These are the “purists’ bongs,” since they deliver a smoke as clean as a Rocky Mountain spring (assuming you change out the water regularly). Unfortunately, they are also quite fragile and have been known to shatter with a single swipe from a bored house cat. This is especially bummerific because glass bongs can be very expensive, depending on the design.
Plastic bongs tend to be cheaper and more durable. You don’t have to worry about draining your bank account only to be left with a pile of shards on the floor, which is why these bongs are popular with those on a budget. Alas, some plastic bongs—especially the most inexpensive ones—have been known to impart a certain petrochemical-esque taste to one’s smoke.
Metal bongs are all but indestructible, and they do have a certain badass quality that makes them well-suited to doubling as decorations on your living room shelf. Alas, they are devilishly hard to clean. And if you’ve ever drunk from a tin cup, you have some idea of how these bongs can affect the taste of your smoke.
Bamboo bongs and ceramic bongs are two niche varieties known more for their curiosity factor than their practicality. The former are chic and eco-friendly but somewhat limited in variety (and difficult to find), while the latter is just as fragile as glass bongs (and considerably heavier).
It’s in your best interest to carefully consider the type of material that fits your lifestyle and wallet before purchasing a bong. An equally important factor to weigh is the bong’s design. To clarify: when we talk about design, we’re not necessarily talking about the shape. Like Walt Whitman once said, bong shapes contain multitudes—there are bongs shaped like generic tubes, and bongs shaped like sea turtles. There are bongs with sharp zig-zags and others with looping curls. These are interesting and wonderful, but they’re not what we mean when we say “design.”
Rather, the “design” of a bong refers to its core functionality, i.e. how it works. Here is a quick description of the most popular bong designs:
Tube bongs are perhaps the most common bongs of all. When the average person pictures a bong, this is usually what they see in their minds. There’s a long (or short) straight tube, which may (or may not) have a carburetor, commonly called a “choke.” This is basically an airhole: you cover it with your thumb as you spark the bowl, then release your grip as you inhale. The idea is to deliver a more potent rush of smoke. At the bottom of all-tube bongs is a base, which can take a number of forms:
Flat-bottom tube bongs are exactly what they sound like. Depending on the size of the flat bottom, these can be prone to tipping.
Bowl-bottom tube bongs are also exactly what they sound like (thank the cannabis gods for giving us clear terminology for once). Imagine a fishbowl on the bottom of a bong, and you can picture what these look like.
Beaker-bottom tube bongs have a base shaped like those glass containers full of weird-colored chemicals in a science lab. These tend to be the most tip-proof tube bongs, since they have a lower center of gravity and a greater amount of surface area in contact with your table, shelf, or floor.
Percolator bongs often resemble tube bongs in every aspect except for one: the presence of a percolator. This may, understandably, sound like a circular definition, so let’s explain the term “percolator.” Essentially, this is a special compartment of the bong between the base and the mouthpiece. A percolator acts like a filter, removing impurities and cooling the temperature of the smoke before it reaches your mouth. Many experienced smokers appreciate the smoothness (and the charming bubbling sounds) of a percolator, although they do take some practice when it comes to cleaning.
Multi-chamber bongs are like the double-headed guitars of the bong world. The extra chamber(s), each of which contain their own water, work to cool and purify the smoke so that by the time you take a hit, it feels as fresh and clean as a gentle sea breeze. These chambers can even contain their own percolators for the ultimate-ultimate Smoking Experience™. True aficionados respect the craftsmanship of a multi-chamber bong, though it’s worth pointing out that quality doesn’t come cheap (and once again, cleaning can be an adventure).
Gravity bongs are another common type of bong (they’re especially popular with DIYers). They come in two main forms, known as “bucket” and “waterfall.” The shapes of these bongs differ, but they both work on the same principle. A container is placed in water, with a bit of space between the top of the container and the surface of the water. This creates a vacuum. The bowl is sparked, and the size of the vacuum is slowly increased by removing either the container (in the case of a bucket gravity bong) or the water itself (as with a waterfall version). The end result is a veritable 2x4 of smoke to the face—definitely not for beginners, but deeply satisfying for advanced users.
Now that you know about the different types of bongs, it’s time to run through the top 10 bongs of 2020.
No matter what kind of bong you’re looking for, you’ll find something to fit your tastes (and budget) on this list. From the best big bongs to the best tiny bongs, the most technologically advanced bongs to the most old school classic bongs, we rounded up everything you need to know in one place:
This handsome glass bong has a wide, sturdy base and durable 5mm walls. It also comes with a percolator, ice tray, and a removable bowl—so not only will it stand up to your “active lifestyle” it’ll also deliver a premium quality smoke. Plus, it’s an official Bob Marley bong, so you’re paying tribute to a legend with every rip.
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Another beaker-bottomed beauty, this glass tube bong features a lovely rasta-colored logo and 3.2mm thick walls—a good choice for anyone looking for a durable-yet-aesthetically pleasing bong. It also comes with “ice notches” that allow you to drop a cube or two down the mouthpiece for an extra-cool smoke. Plus, the removable bowl features an extra-long double joint for added ease and security.
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This glass straight tube bong has one of the most beautiful bowls you’ll find at such a low price point—and it’s got substance to go along with its style, as the multi-slit diffuser and ice pinch help deliver a cool, pure smoke. With 4mm thick walls and a large round base, you can also be confident it’ll stand the test of time.
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One of the best cheap bongs on the market, the Roor 100 Blue Series is also one of the best small bongs you can buy (it’s only 22cm tall). This tube bong has a hexagonal base, making it unusually sturdy for a flat-bottom bong. Its 2mm thick walls and double-jointed, removable bowl are fashioned with Roor’s trademark craftsmanship, making it a great for beginners and people on a budget.
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This 60cm tall behemoth might be one of the best glass bongs money can buy. Two percolators and a downstem diffuser deliver rips as smooth as… well, imagine the smoothest thing you can think of. Plus, its gorgeously slender straight tube design doesn’t sacrifice durability for aesthetics, thanks to its 5mm thick walls and 12.5cm diameter base.
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Holy f****** s*** boys, this is a nice little bong. Inspired by the characters of the iconic TV show (and featuring the faces of Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles), it has an extra-thick base and extra-thick mouthpiece, along with a removable bowl and a nifty ice pinch. It’s perfect for those who like to live a little wild… or whose houses are full of kitties.
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Who said you had to pay a fortune for a quality percolator? This curvy, beaker-bottom glass bong features a deep bowl (and ash catcher!) along with a three-armed percolator to deliver extra-pure hits. Does the bong come with ice notches? You know it. Can you get it in different colors? Oh yeah. There’s a reason this is one of the best-selling bongs out there.
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The Roor 500 Blue Series is like the golden retriever of bongs—a throwback classic. This no-frills glass tube bong is perfect for those who want a sturdy (3mm glass walls and a hexagonal base), high-quality bong without spending a fortune. Its removable, double-jointed bowl and pinched mouthpiece make it easy to take deep, satisfying rips.
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This mighty mite of a glass tube bong—standing only 12mm tall—gets its name from the mushroom-shaped splashguard in the center of its cylinder, which prevents any water from actually entering your mouth after a too-vigorous rip. It also boasts an ice notch and a short, sturdy removable bowl.
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This acrylic bong is the only plastic one on this list, and it definitely earned its place. Its base, bowl, and other key parts are replaceable (and those replacements are cheap), making it an ideal option for those of us prone to clumsiness. The bong also features an ash catcher and an eye-catching “ice twist,” so it delivers an unusually smooth smoke for a bong of its material.
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So there you have it—a comprehensive list of the best bongs of 2020. Whether you’re a longtime herb connoisseur looking to splash out on a fancy double percolator or a relative novice seeking a simple, idiot-proof bong for when you’re too lazy to roll a joint, we hope you found something to suit your tastes. And remember: there’s no rule that says you can only own one bong. Variety is the spice of life, after all.