When I unpacked the Grav Empress bong for my last Gadget Corner column, I was confronted by my old nemesis: The Grav funnel bowl. It’s the bowl that comes with most Grav bongs and in my experience it’s just not that great. The angled sides mean it doesn’t burn evenly, which either leaves a fair bit of green when you’re done or you’ll harsh yourself out trying to get everything lit.
Grav conveniently — perhaps a little too conveniently — sells a wide range of alternative bowls in just about every joint size and color. And so, it was after one too many coughing fits that I decided to just go ahead and buy every single 14mm bowl on Grav’s website — the Octobowl, Caldera and Basin bowls, the Cup Bowl and the Triple Pinch Bowl—and give them a test.
After a month and a couple cleaning sessions later, this is what I’ve found:
The Octobowl is perhaps the best smoke of the bunch, providing an even and smooth-burning smoke thanks to its array of eight openings in the bowl. However, those eight little openings are a major drawback, making it easy to get clogged and gunky. Even with my trusty metal awl in hand, it was difficult to get it clean enough to take another good hit and fishing around with a metal pick seemed like a good way to break the glass. It cleans up nicely with a bit of isopropyl, but it seems to me that it’d require frequent cleanings — far more than my renewed interesting clean bongs requires — to stay functional. Grade: C, considering the cleaning involved.
Grav also makes more traditional bowls in the Caldera and Basin bowls. Both have the traditional bowl shape and come in a variety of nice colors. If you’ve smoked out of a traditional bowl before, you’ll know what you’re in for with these. Of the two, I preferred the shallower Basin Bowl because it was a cinch to clean out with whatever you have handy. Grade: B
The Cup Bowl is a great little bowl that reminds me of one-hitter chillum pieces. The capacity is smaller than every other option, but there are times where that’s exactly what you’re looking for. Instead of a longer smoke session on the back patio, it’s well-suited for what my friends have started to call the “drive-by” where you might pop out for a quick hit and head back inside. Simple and effective. Grade: B
Of the pack, my favorite was the 14mm Triple Pinch Bowl. While it looks suspiciously like the funnel bowl, the steeper walls accomplish a lot of what I liked about the Octobowl, making for a smooth and complete burn of the bowl’s contents. It’s also far easier to clean because the bowl closes in a pinch with three little glass nubs that keep the flower in place while maintaining a lot of airflow. It’s far easier to clean out with something like the awl. It also has a little handle to make pulling the bowl a bit easier. Grade: A
Bowls $10-$14 from Grav.com.