Hello all! It’s been awhile but I’ve finally returned to write a new review. For those of you that don’t know me, I wrote my first review for The-Gadgeteer a few years ago. It was the ForYou in-dash DVD player. I’ve actually been behind the scenes at The-Gadgeteer for many years, and I was also one of the main motivational and supporting forces behind the start up of another gadget related website last year. I’m well known for my popular dive watch reviews (my favorite gadgets BTW!) that are located on other spots around the web, and I have a private forum dedicated to all things dive watch related. Well that’s enough blah-blah about me, I sure don’t want to sound bombastic!
Let’s get started with the task at hand. Today I’m going to review a cool little gadget called the Solopipe. Julie asked me if I’
d like to review this product because she knew I was a cigar smoker. I’m actually a longtime passionate cigar aficionado, so I jumped at the chance to put the Solopipe through most of its paces. I’ll explain what I mean by that later in the review.
The butane refill nozzle is on the left, the push button for the lighter mechanism is in the middle, and the lighter element is on the right
I’d never heard of this product until Julie sent me that initial email. Once I received the Solopipe and laid my hands on it, I was instantly gadgetized. I like all things stainless steel, especially hefty butane cigar lighters. So the fact that the Solopipe was a tobacco smoking pipe and butane lighter all rolled into one made it awfully hard to resist.
For those of you that don’t know, the Solopipe is a revolutionary self-igniting smoking apparatus that combines a refillable, adjustable butane lighter with a high quality tobacco smoking pipe. The Solopipe simplifies everything!
Lighting the tobacco
The tobacco bowl with sliding cover is on the left and the mouthpiece is on the right
Here are a few facts from Solopipe’s website.
Size comparison of the Solopipe next to my Canon Power Shot SD1000
One of the first things I noticed about the Solopipe was its heft and very solid construction. This thing is built to survive a nuclear blast! Hey here’s a thought, maybe I should do an unboxing video on YouTube since that seems to be all the rage! Hmm, let’s not and say I did shall we.
The generic packaging
My Solopipe arrived packaged inside a generic white cardboard box. I’ve since learned that the Solopipe now comes packaged in a nice branded black case and is also available in both copper and black finishes. This device is certainly deserving of nicer packaging. The pipe itself was enclosed in a faux suede drawstring pouch. The box contained a nifty cleaning kit that consisted of three spare bowl screens, and a small brush and the Solostick wire cleaning tool to remove any unwanted tobacco particles and resin.
The cleaning kit consisting of brush, three bowl screens and Solostick
Here you can see the Solostick cleaning tool inserted into the mouthpiece
Using the cleaning brush to remove tobacco particles and ashes
The bowl screen is removable so you can clean the tobacco resin inside the bowl
Tobacco resin inside bowl
The pipe is pocket sized and built as such to give the user many years of enjoyment. The Solopipe is primarily designed for right handed users. It can be operated with your left hand however, but it’s a bit awkward. I guess when you’re in a pinch for a nicotine buzz; you do what you gotta do!
Zippo lighter on top, Solopipe in the middle, and Samsung SGH-T629 cell phone on the bottom
The pipe is easy to grasp and operate with only your right hand due to its ingenious design. The edges are smooth and rounded. The trigger mechanism for the lighter is sturdy and easy to engage, as is the sliding bowl cover. You merely slide the bowl cover open, and fill it with the tobacco of your choice. Don’t forget to fill the lighter with butane just as you would any standard lighter. There is a small screw on the same end as the mouthpiece that you can adjust to get the perfect sized flame.
There’s nothing like the aroma of fine pipe tobacco
Placing tobacco in the bowl
Once you have the pipe filled with butane and tobacco you’re ready to go. With the bowl cover in the open position, you merely engage the lighter mechanism and take a draw on the mouthpiece. You can pack a nice amount of tobacco in the bowl itself, and could easily have quite a few good smokes depending on your particular weeds; err needs. That’s what I was referring too at the beginning of the review when I said I’d put the Solopipe through most of its paces.
I’m sure the HighTimes crowd can find gnarly uses for the Solopipe, as it seems that’s who it’s primarily aimed at. Solopipe mentions in their advertising that the handicapped or disabled can use the pipe since it is able to be operated with one hand. I guess I can see a certain medicinal use for this gadget. Especially by cancer patients who suffer from severe nausea and weakness while undergoing chemotherapy. However, I imagine arthritis sufferers would have a tough time trying to operate the Solopipe.
Say that reminds me, I know of a guy in Houston that would really enjoy this gadget! Especially at 4:20pm everyday, cough-cough. Now I know there are people that have legitimate medical needs for the wacky tobaccy, but he’s not one of them! Ah, but I divagate.
Engaging the lighter mechanism
I found the draw of the pipe to be effortless. During the first few draws or puffs, I did notice a metallic taste, but that went away the more I used the pipe. The flame routinely stayed lit and always did a great job of lighting the tobacco. Even when tilting the pipe to the right to allow the flame to come into full contact with the tobacco that is in the lowest part of the bowl. The bowl is deep and holds a generous amount of tobacco.
For my particular usage and enjoyment, I purchased some Peterson’s Irish Oak pipe tobacco. It’s imported from Ireland and contains a nice blend of Cavendish, Zimbabwean, Orange, Thailand Burley, and Black Perique tobacco that is matured in Oak Sherry barrels. I spent many hours sitting in the sunroom enjoying our peaceful bayou setting while testing the Solopipe. I also used it while touring the lush grounds of a local plantation home and while attending the VooDoo Fest in New Orleans.
My beautiful girlfriend and future wife Regina took this photo of me enjoying the Solopipe and some Irish Oak tobacco
The way the Solopipe is designed, you can operate it with only your right hand. So if you happened to be outdoors and it was windy, you could use your left hand to shield the flame from the wind. I didn’t encounter any such problems when using the pipe outdoors. The pipe has a nice brushed satin finish on the stainless steel. It doesn’t creek and there are no loose parts and the fit and finish is meticulous. There is a small screw at one end that allows you to disassemble the pipe if needed.
The pipe has a nice ergonomic design and the mouthpiece protrudes from the case ever so slightly so as not to snag on anything. The mouthpiece is polished stainless steel which is a nice touch. The Solopipe web address is tastefully engraved into the top portion of the pipe. The pipe is larger than your typical Zippo lighter for obvious reasons, but is still easily transportable in your shirt or pants pocket. I took comparison photos of the Solopipe, my trusty Zippo torch lighter, and Samsung SGH-T629 cell phone in order for you to get a better idea of the overall size of the pipe.
Samsung SGH-T629 cell phone, Solopipe, and Zippo lighter
The dimensions of the Solopipe are as follows, Width: 40mm, Length: 86mm (excluding mouthpiece), Length: 92mm (including mouthpiece), Thickness: 17mm, Weight: about 250 grams.
I’m very impressed with the design of the Solopipe and find it quite worth the $80 retail price. As is usually the case, it can be found for a bit less on the web. Most high quality butane torch lighters cost at least $50 and can easily run as high as $2,500 a piece. So the fact that the Solopipe is both a lighter and a pipe, and that it also comes with a generous replacement policy makes it an even greater value in my opinion. I like things that are unique and well built, so the Solopipe now has a permanent place alongside all my cigar smoking accoutrements.
The adjustment screw for flame strength is on the left, the mouthpiece is in the center, and the screw to remove the outer shell on the right
If you happen to be a smoker then you may enjoy the convenience and novelty of this pipe. And if you’re the aforementioned and you also enjoy the “wow factor” of showing off the latest and coolest gadget to all your friends, then I’d say the Solopipe would be a nice addition to your gear bag. Just remember to smoke in moderation and don’t inhale.
Until next time my fellow Gadgetscenti!