This article is from the perspective of the pipe maker Hector Campos. Different yet valid opinions on the matter are out there.
What makes someone come back to their favorite smoking device day after day, year after year, over other toys in their collection?
In this article I'm going to point out some design points that many pipe shoppers may not think of when choosing their next pipe (or their first pipe). Our scope is going to cover the common dry hand pipe. We're putting aside the solar dome capability of a pipe called the Sun Token, and looking at some fundamental aspects of its design that I believe makes the "optimum hand pipe".
#1- Distance from the mouth to the bowl. See your hit, save your throat, and sometimes your mustache.
Many spoon, chillum, and sherlock pipes you will see may have a very short air path from the bowl to the mouth opening. These make for great discrete pipes. But for a full sized, and well rounded smoking experience, the ember will often be very close to your mouth. The Sun Token has been designed so that the air path is just long enough for the hit to cool down a little and feel "smoother" to your senses, but not so long that it tastes stale or is hard to pull on. Many shorter pipes, despite your best efforts, will feel hot to the throat, or overwhelming even with just a little pull. Sometimes it feels like "all or nothing" with these little pipes for beginner smokers. Many mustaches have been singed this way. The medium size and ruggedness of the pipe still makes it viable for throwing into a back pack while not comprising the drag.
Another consequence of small-format pipes (and even some water pipes), is that the bowl and its material is either out of sight, or so close that your eyes cannot focus on it easily. Sometimes you have to go a little cross eyed when lighting a spoon pipe. We designed our mouthpiece length so that the bowl is in clear view while drawing in air, so that you can see the smoke show easily.
#2- Airflow. How easy is it to draw in air?
The Sun Token's holes are all designed for the user to take easy breaths. The only limiting factor to your desired airflow is the 14mm attachment you use and how clean it is. Many pipes require you to exert a fair amount of lung power to influence the flame into the bowl, and to clear all the smoke from inside the pipe. Pipes made with narrow air paths feel like breathing through a thin straw and require extra lung effort. Many times, you will not know how a pipe will feel until you pay for it. With the Sun Token, you may pull very gently and still have great pulling influence, while feeling very little resistance. If your personal smoking style is to pull hard and generate extremely hot hits, then you will be pleasantly surprised with how much power you can pull with the Sun Token (you may end up pulling softer than usual). There are no sections of the Sun Token that will get "clogged" from plant resin (except for your 14mm attachments). You may clean this pipe very infrequently!
#3- Ergonomics, and the "tip factor".
A lot of smoking apparatuses look really freakin' cool, but are begging to be dropped or tipped over by that "friend" who came over. Some pipes are amazing in all respects, but take a unique way of passing around and holding that just doesn't feel natural enough to be a daily tool. We designed the Sun Token to feel like a nice heavy apple in your hand. Perhaps even better than an apple, because the octagonal shape has an unforeseen nuance: the side edges line up perfectly with the creases in your fingers as they wrap around it. And because it tapers off towards the bottom, any size hand will find the right fit somewhere up and down the pipe. These edges and the wood make for a non-slip grip. It sits and balances with tank like confidence when set down. You can sit the pipe on its side and it is still hesitant to tip over. Even if it does tip over- the glass parts are not in a critical position to break. And if they do break, this leads to the next design point-
#4- Modular designs allow repair, customization, and growth.
If a glass piece breaks, than you are not out of a whole pipe. The individual glass parts of a Sun Token are priced lower than the "retail cost" of these goods on the website's store. It's easy for Sun Token customers to get extra parts. Even the stainless steel ring, and magnetic ring that are permanently bonded to their other components can be replaced and repaired by the manufacturer if something ever happens to them. The steel ring's connection to the Sun Token and the magnetic ring's connection to the solar dome are both covered under warranty for the life of the product.
The 14mm connection on top means that you can go to any smoke shop and pick out a new 14mm bowl that fits your fancy. There are even water filters, concentrate attachments, and vaporizer attachments that will all plug into that standard size hole, (This will be another blog topic soon! email firstname.lastname@example.org for product suggestions on adding to your pipe). The possibility of growth and options to enhance the Sun Token platform is promising. New 14mm attachments, dome apparatuses, and heady mouthpieces are currently being designed to evolve the base Sun Token platform.
Thank you for those who have made it this far, and nerding out about smoking pipes. Agree? Disagree? Found a typo? Have an idea? Contact the Sun Token team: email@example.com. Instagram: @thesuntoken. Facebook: @thesuntoken.