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Evolv Cricket: Ahead of Itself or Ahead of Its Time?

Updated: Feb 28

New Rig on the Block


done Seen Everything But the Lord

Since I started using concentrates more than a decade ago, I’ve been back and forth through the gamut of both analog and electronic devices, from the bell and metal swing attachment, to the glass bulb atomizer I affectionately called “the digital crack-pipe”, to G-pens, titanium-tipped nectar collectors, and more.


These days, an artistic rig and a simple quartz banger suit my homebody lifestyle the best, but I often wonder what I’m missing on the more technological side. Not to mention, transitioning away from BHO, it’s hard to shake the sense of irony that comes from blasting butane fuel into the air that you’re about to inhale a solventless dab through. Furthermore, the challenge of portability typically means compromising on the vapor experience on those rare occasions when I do go out. Though the Puffco Peak has become the vessel of choice for much of the modern dabbing world, whenever I hit one, I find myself coughing excessively, even at low temperatures, and usually end up cutting my session short out of discomfort.


Crickets Making Noise

Recently, Instagram posts began trickling into the feed describing a revolutionary new “pocket dab rig”, the Evolv Cricket. Resembling a low-profile nicotine vape with its slim and understated body design, its appearance was totally innocuous. A bit more digging unearthed three more points of interest: American manufacturing based in Hudson, OH, single-degree temperature control (no more vague “low-medium-high” settings), and a uniquely-engineered air path that promised comfortable, flavorful hits. Cricket’s $399 price tag certainly implies a serious device for serious users, exceeding that of the Peak Pro, the ostensible gold standard in dabbing technology. With the advent of Puffco’s Proxy device, it seems that a new day for the popularity of dry dabbing is dawning. Could Cricket be the next step forward?

First Impressions

Though Cricket is frequently pictured in its package with a cardboard belt securing it in place, mine had mysteriously pulled a Houdini and slipped out of the restraint, so my first impression was the device clattering around the plastic box. Despite some scuffs on the inside of the box, the Cricket was unscathed, speaking to the resilience of its CNC-machined billet stainless steel construction. The instruction manual was a minimal document, recommending a BB-sized dab to be loaded in the chamber and pre-melted with the magnetic cap off before vaporization. To support this function, Evolv has included an intelligent sensor that detects cap removal and switches to a secondary heat setting that is also programmable, with a suggested range of 150-190F.

Evolv Cricket box contents
Cricket box contents

The titanium loading tub initially raised an eyebrow with respect to flavor preservation, harkening back to the days of searing domeless nails, but ultimately delivered the full glory of the concentrates it was fed, even delicate water hash. The advantage of the tub’s clog-resistant solidity was apparent as well, offering much easier cleaning, not to mention superior taste, over the ubiquitous wire-wrapped quartz rods in cheaper pens. If a deep clean is desired, the tub can be removed using the provided hex key to take out the screws keeping it in place so that it may be immersed in alcohol, but users should take care not to lose the miniscule screws, lest they need to visit a hardware store or order a $20 replacement pack from Evolv before their next dab.

Evolv Cricket loading tub
Cap on, f*ck it, cap off
Evolv Cricket loading tub assembly
A peek under the hood

Pocket-Sized Performance

The user interface is as simple as can be, with one button for activation and two for temperature adjustment seated in the device’s carbon fiber face beneath a thumbnail-sized display screen. A helpful autolock feature kicks in after a period of inactivity, preventing accidental pocket hits. Speaking of, Cricket is one of the first truly pocket-sized vaporizers of its caliber, fitting snugly in the coin pocket of a pair of pants with the cap protruding to minimize dust entering through the mouthpiece or vent holes on either side. Another quirkily charming design feature was the tiny dab tool built into the bottom corner of the device. A downward swipe of the thumb with a bit of pressure against the ridges at the connection point reveals the roughly 1.5-inch tool, which itself has a built-in storage space for a silicone capsule with the capacity for about 0.2 grams of concentrate, or about three dabs in this context.

Evolv Cricket dab tool rosin
Scooping up some servings
Evolv Cricket dab tool storage capsule
Hash for now, and for later

Cricket heats up rapidly, capable of reaching dabbing temperatures in less than five seconds. Cooling occurs at the same pace, solidifying leftover oil after a puff nearly instantaneously. Despite the manufacturer’s advice, pre-melting is not strictly necessary, though it will certainly improve efficiency and prevent globs from being sucked into the mouthpiece. The loading tub’s dab capacity may seem restrictive to voracious consumers (aka Hungry Hungry Headies) at first, but the device’s function is remarkably conservative—after three consecutive five-second hits at 480F, it seemed that half of the dab still remained. One physical constraint, however, is the shallowness of the tub itself, which makes it prone to spilling when tipped if overloaded, so users should expect to cut their typical dab size in half or less. Fine-tuning the optimal firing temperature and ramp-up speed for a satisfying hit is an adventure in itself, with clouds starting to gain visibility around the 485F mark or above.


Micro-Globs on the Go

Not to deny any credit to the advanced thermodynamics at play, much of the legwork of flavor retention is performed by the borosilicate “chimney” that lines the inside of the mouthpiece like a clarinet reed, secured by a silicone clip. This simple assembly, again, allows for easy cleaning and withstands wear better than devices with more fine components. But one of the most important attributes of a portable device is its durability, as it will be exposed to more elements and more drop risk than a piece that stays at home. As such, I put the Cricket through two drop tests, both at standing height, to simulate a likely accident.

Evolv Cricket at the beach
In case of emergency, rip dabs

Drop Test 1: Indoors, Vinyl Flooring with 1cm Carpet

Dab tool popped out, cap stayed on. No marks, damage or impairment of function.


Drop Test 2: Outdoors, Sandy Concrete

Minor cosmetic scratches on the bottom where it made impact. Cap came off, tool stayed in. Slight contamination of loading area but easy to wipe clean. No other damage or impairment of function.

Impact marks on Evolv Cricket
'Tis but a scratch

Knowing that the Cricket can withstand a reasonable beating instilled confidence to make it one of my essential “go” items in a way that a more delicate piece couldn’t match. PKW, meet C! If more dabs are needed for the day than can be held in the built-in tool’s silicone capsule, four more interchangeable capsules are included in the kit. Of course, you can just bring the original jar or puck too, but the color coding aspect enables switching between flavors with minimal fiddling so the majority of your material can chill in the fridge while you’re out and about with more than enough to last the journey.


Heady Gadgetry at the Helm

I had nearly finished this review before speaking with Evolv president Brandon Ward, but came away from the hour-long conversation with new appreciation for the company’s precise and thorough dedication to engineering an optimized vapor experience. After several years focused on improving e-cigarette technology, Ward wanted to enter the cannabis space with a pre-filled pod system but ran into red tape trying to coordinate with licensed producers in Ohio’s yet-immature medical market. Once the decision was made to pivot to concentrates, Ward found people coming out of the woodwork, ones he didn’t even know were cannabis users, expressing interest and offering input.


5 Sound Bites from Brandon Ward, President of Evolv LLC


On heating technology:

“From an engineering standpoint, heating air in a controlled way is ridiculously challenging, but we have a model that can measure airflow and adjust to people’s individual draw rates. Most battery-operated devices are somewhere between 70 and 80% efficient, so there’s a loss of material. Anytime you run something through water, you have particles slamming into each other, touching the sides, and getting larger as they approach the mouth, so you’re going to lose things there. We wanted to create a laminar airflow that would capture the particle at its smallest size, so about 60% of what the user gets from the Cricket is in gas phase, which is a smaller particle than aerosol, meaning it can be deposited in the lungs rather than the mouth and at a higher concentration.”


On materials selection:

“The tub itself is made from Grade 9 titanium, which is a medical grade titanium foil. Titanium is a very biocompatible substance, more so than ceramic, it’s got a long-studied safety history, and we’re using it in a very controlled environment from a temperature standpoint.”


On engineering philosophy:

“We didn’t pay attention to what anyone else was doing. We simply said ‘give us the problems, and we’ll solve those’.”


On future plans:

“One of the things we’re going to be doing in the future is a dry herb vaporizer. The problem with most is that you end up singeing or combusting the outer flower that touches the surrounding area while there’s still a lot of moisture left on the inside. So we came up with a way of heating incoming air so you don’t have to keep the cup that the flower sits in as hot. That’s about six months to a year down the line.”


On best user practices:

“Don’t overload it and slow the ramp time down. It comes preset at about two to three seconds; try taking that up to five. This will counteract the Leidenfrost effect and prevent more solid concentrates like diamonds from splattering. It will also increase your surface area and yield better flavors.”


Modd Deep

As rugged as Cricket’s hardware is, it can be paired with Evolv’s EScribe software to show its true nerdy colors. The desktop software allows users to monitor and modify settings of the device digitally, including the ability to upload custom graphic themes and share them with other users on Evolv’s community forum. From scanning the forum boards, it seems that usage of these creative and social features is not yet as extensive for Cricket as it is for the company’s more established nicotine devices, but the feature is intriguing nonetheless. The EScribe program also includes interfaces for research parameters, and allows users to change the settings for power, temperature (both quantitatively and between Fahrenheit and Celsius units) and more.

Evolv Cricket device history Escribe
My device history
Evolv EScribe atomizer analyzer
EScribe Atomizer Analyzer
Evolv EScribe device monitor
Monitoring dabbing performance
Evolv EScribe Mod Software
Extensive mod options going right over my head

In stark contrast to the physical device, this interface is rather clunky, geared almost exclusively toward programmers and vape science wizards. Hopefully, future updates will make it more streamlined and attractive so users can more readily take advantage of the plethora of features.


Final Thoughts

Cricket doesn’t replace a full rig setup, but it doesn’t need to. It’s ideal for people with highly active lifestyles like hikers, bikers, skaters, and athletes, but equally so for urban commuters. For situations where a water pipe or obvious cannabis consumption would be unwelcome, Cricket blends in visually and can produce flavorful, effective vapor with nearly imperceptible clouds. It’s tough to imagine it breaking from anything short of a deliberate fastball pitch into a brick wall (and even then, I’d be more concerned for the wall), and the high-quality materials and American assembly take much of the apprehension out of inhaling through something so metallic. What the industrial-looking device lacks in conventional beauty and the punchy, chest-expanding sensation of a rig dab, it makes up for in great taste, oil conservation, simplicity, control, and intelligent features. The only inaccessible thing about Cricket is its price, and even so, it could conceivably pay for itself and then some over time.

Evolv Cricket and jar of hash
Hash be yankin'


 

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