The top hookah products of 2016 (U.S. Market)
Hello again, and welcome back to the Masonshishaware blog! In today’s post, we are going to be going over a brief synopsis of hookah in 2016 with the top products in mind, though some products from 2015 will creep on the list as well due to them still reigning supreme. To keep this on a lighter and unbiased note, I’ll be keeping my opinions out of the topics for the most part and aiming to cover the crowd favorites of the year starting from top to bottom.
Diamonds in the rough
Charcoal is obviously one of the most important parts of a hookah session. You can pack a bowl like a god but if you’re using inferior product, it’s going to be a sad session. Highlighting “flat” style coals first a name you see posted a lot about in nearly every group is Cocourth. These flats excel in many ways like their uniformity, heat output, and longevity. They proved they’re a force to be reckoned with as most vendors near the beginning and middle of 2016 couldn’t keep them in stock.
Moving on to the quintessential “cube” coal due to overwhelming response, and only narrowly beating others in the price range, the top spot for 2016 goes out to Prestige coals. These cubes get excellent reviews and it should be noted that the longevity of Prestige is outstanding. I have heard testimonials that the product has nearly hit the two-hour mark when using a Provost/foil setup. Apart from their longevity, the size of these cubes is also quite staggering along with the consistency.
The last thing that should be mentioned for 2016 in regards to charcoal is shapes. I don’t mean inconsistencies with brands here, but new shapes we saw released. The main product I want to touch upon is quarter circle coals. Charcoflare released some great coals, that although weren’t talked about a lot at the end of the year, made a big impact at their debut. These quarter circles meant to fill your Heat Management Device (HMD) with the optimal heat necessary for a long-lasting session and sought to remedy the problem of fitting multiple coals inside without compromising space. Another new shape we saw near the end of the year was the Titanium Cubette. Not quite a “cube” and not quite a “flat”, this shape was just another great stride put forth in the industry, and having already massed a sizeable following it wouldn’t be a true 2016 list without mentioning them.
I’d like to see a (heat) manager please
Moving right along down the hookah to the heating method, two products made their 2016 debut and slayed the only prior competition. These products are the Oduman Ignis and Shishabucks Stratus. Touching upon the Ignis first, this product revolutionized what we thought of a HMD. You wouldn’t know it from its simplistic design, but use it once and you’ll see immediately why it was regarded as such a great piece to add to your setup. Basically, the two additions this product made were everything we needed to see from its predecessor. The Ignis is designed to handle three cubed charcoals or three flat coals comfortably and the slight nodules the middle has placed around the bottom area to keep your charcoal fully stoked came as a godsend to many in the community. Factor in a cheap price point and there is all the more reason this thing is still regarded as the best HMD we have seen.
Now let me jump into the Stratus. Pound for pound this HMD is beautiful in more ways than one. Pushing aside the flashy aesthetics, the design and overall performance from a very well received brand has made this a pinnacle in the eyes of many. It should be noted that the range of heat you can either add to or take away with a simple quarter or even eighth turn is remarkable and unlike anything we have seen with other HMDs and paired alongside a larger capacity this makes the Stratus the new top dog in terms of heat management.
On to my favorite subject of any top list when talking about hookah; the tobacco. We saw a lot of different brands but undoubtedly the top dog of 2016 goes out to Trifecta tobacco dark blend. Originally released in very small batches at the beginning of the year, Trifecta dark blend came out swinging. If you were lucky enough to grab those first batches you were the envy of many. What makes Trifecta such a commodity is, well, everything. They focus on unique blends of flavors never seen in the industry and boast an insane longevity making it quite possibly the biggest name in the last decade amongst die hard enthusiasts. It is already apparent that 2017 will continue to be their territory as well.
Another great brand that received somewhat mixed emotions is Lavoo tobacco. Known for its extremely fine cut and low moisture content paired with that dark blend nicotine concentration we all know and for the most part love, there is no argument that Lavoo found its own place in the hearts and bowls of many during its short time in the industry. Apart from those characteristics the flavors are spot on yet unique enough to shine through in their own terms.
The last brand that really found its way after a slow start in 2016 was Ugly Hookah Tobacco. Ugly is beautiful, despite its namesake. What ugly offers is a higher nicotine leaf, a natural honey binder, a medium amount of glycerin, and traditional flavors with modern twists. In any flavor recommendation thread or comment in a community you will see an Ugly flavor or two being brought up for these specific reasons.
Lips more famous than a Kardashian’s
Yes, 2016 was all about the lips. Not the kind seen on YouTube “challenges” or reality TV, but the kind that doesn’t make your heart stop when a friend knocks into your hookah. Lip bowls were the biggest niche we saw due to the overwhelmingly large portion of the community flocking to various HMDs. We saw many different types ranging from full aluminum, glass and silicone combined, and even stoneware.
A brand that stood out in the community for innovation, functionality, and aesthetics were Stone Hookah Bowls. With the release of the Genesis and artist collection it was the need to have accessory for most of the year. Most of the products featured a lip designed to hold your HMD in place quite snuggly and were the first of their kind to incorporate a clay body lipped design. Factor in the handmade nature, beautiful glaze work, and uniqueness of each one and you have a product that is in its own realm.
The other lipped style bowl that received the most attention and positive reviews in 2016 is the Masonshishaware Onyx bowl. This product was heavily teased for nearly seven months drumming up a huge amount of hype and it wasn’t until the first batch made its debut that we really began to see just why it would change what we thought we knew about a bowl. The Onyx’s basin, overall artisanship, and unique design elements all come together in a perfect symphony making for the most technical piece of clay we have seen thus far in the hookah evolution.
The dawn of the machines
2016 had a lot to offer in terms of hookah pipes. With companies switching to machines to make clean and thicker pipes than we have seen in the past, the divide of traditional look hookah lovers versus the modern and sleek look enthusiasts was more apparent. Based on the community’s choices, brand’s sales records, and recommendations given out, a champion of each type was crowned.
For the modern look, it goes to B2 hookahs with no question. These pipes incorporate different height settings, feature “heat sinks” to help with cooling the metal and smoke, and are flat out gorgeous pipes. The initial batches were quite pricy but since then the price has come down making these stems more feasible for the average consumer.
In terms of traditional hookahs, Shika proved to be the most widely talked about pipe in every community. These hookahs are works of art and despite the brand being handmade, the models come nearly identical especially in quality. Shika hookahs are known for the beautiful exterior but the wide draw on just about every model keeps a firm customer base coming back and back again. It is apparent from many of the online hookah retailers that these pipes never stay on the shelves, which I contribute to having a full package deal that is absolutely worthwhile.
Not just for phone cases anymore
In 2016 only a few hoses came to market and even less seemed to be rampant through the communities. The most common hose for the year is easily made of silicone. These hoses use modern designs over their hot glue and pvc pipe predecessors and often come with an aluminum tip. Brands like Mya, Pharaohs, Droid, and Dream all laid their claims on the wallets of the community this year. Each did something a little different usually in terms of the aluminum tip, so respectfully each did well in their own way. Dream still seemed to hold the title of most purchased, but Droid and Mya certainly gave it a run for its money.
As far bases go for 2016 one has always remained a constant in any hookah community, and these are Bohemian bases. Classified by their Czech origins, Bohemian vases are not only a status symbol for anyone trying to make a certain hookah pop, but they are downright gorgeous. Reaching anywhere from around 80 to 100+ dollars, these vases are without a doubt the most sought after and highly praised item in the category. Search for a base recommendation comment or thread in one of the hookah communities and you will find at least a few people advocating these.
That’s 2016 in a nutshell in regards to the community favorites! Based on everything we saw it is safe to say this year will be even better and I personally can’t wait to see what comes next. If you didn’t see your personal favorites listed, leave a comment down below and let us know what they are and why they made the year great for you.