Bubblers vs. Hand Pipes – Which One?

Bubblers vs Bowls - Which One is Best
October 11, 2019 By Kyle Broussard

You are deciding on your next piece. You don’t quite want something as big and bulky as a bong, but still want something smoother than a hand pipe.

The solution is clear; a bubbler. But, before buying, you want to make sure that a bubbler is truly right for you, and that you don’t just need a better bowl, or a portable bong.

You probably have a few major questions like: 

  • What is the difference between bubblers and bowls? 
  • Which is better? 
  • How much do they cost? 
  • Which one is smoother? 
  • Which one is easier to clean? 

In this guide, we will answer all of these questions and more in more in order to help you figure out the answer to the question of bubblers vs. bongs – and find the right piece for you. Let’s get started.

What is the Difference Between Bowls and Bubblers? 

There are a few major differences between bubblers and hand pipes: 

  • Design 
  • Price 
  • Smoking Experience

Let’s take a dive into each category so you can understand the differences between bubblers and bowls. 

1. Design – How Are They Made & How Do They Work? 

The main difference between these two smoking devices is the way they are made, and therefore the way they work.



Bubblers are designed much like hand pipes, with one major difference; they have a chamber underneath the bowl pack for water. This allows for smoother hits, more filtration, and less ashes being sucked through by the user. 

Other than that, bubblers are almost exactly the same as bowls, with the exception of a neck that is usually curved in order to give them a design more similar to a sidecar dab rig than a bowl, with the base on the bottom of the water chamber, and the neck suspended off the ground. 

They still have a rush hole, a bowl pack, and a mouthpiece just like bowls, but are just in a different shape to leave room for the water chamber beneath the bowl pack.

There are a few different types of bubblers out there, but most of them fit into traditional bubbler category or the category of Sherlock bubblers, which are bubblers that share design similarities with the infamous Sherlock pipe. 

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Bowls come in a wide variety of designs that each have an effect on functionality. To name a few types of hand pipes, there are: 

  • Helix 
  • Spoon 
  • Sherlock Pipes 
  • One Hitters 
  • Chillums 
  • Steamrollers 
  • And more… 

Because they are less complex than bubblers and have been around far longer, hand pipes have evolved into a multitude of varieties that are usually not shared by bubblers. Some of these types of hand pipes are smoother, or larger, while others are more durable or cool smoke more efficiently. 

Overall though, no hand pipe can compete with the smoothness and coolness that water filtration brings to the table in bubblers. 

2. Price – What Should I Pay for a Good Piece? 

Generally speaking, bowls are cheaper than bubblers. Usually, you should expect to pay about $15-$35 for a standard hand pipe. Some more complex, larger, or more unique models may be more expensive, but overall, this is the average price range. As far as bubblers go, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $50 for a solid one. The price point is a bit more expensive, but well worth it if you need the convenience of a bowl combined with the smoothness of a bong. 

3. Smoking Experience – How Smooth is the Piece?  

At the end of the day, if you have ever smoked a bong – even a crappy one – you know that there is no comparison between the smoothness of it and that of a hand pipe. The same can be said about bubblers vs. bowls. 

While the water chamber in most bubblers are not as large as bongs, and usually do not have any percolators, the difference just a small amount of water makes is absolutely noticeable. 

If you are a frequent bowl smoker, you know that there are a few annoying things that typically get in your way: 

  • Clogging 
  • Ashes being pulled through 
  • Burning your throat 

While bubblers still clog periodically, and sometimes even easier than bowls, they also help to reduce ashes being pulled through, and burning your throat. This allows you to smoke them far more frequently with less issues, and makes for a much smoother smoking experience. 

Overall, as long as you know how to clean a bubbler, you should have no problem keeping your piece as good as new and avoiding annoying clogs that put a damper on your smoking experience. 

Bowls vs. Bubblers – Which is Best for Me? 

At the end of the day, this mostly depends on personal preference. Some people prefer to have a smaller, more concealable bowl, even if it means sacrificing smoothness. Others prefer to spend a bit more on a bubbler that can function as a bowl if they choose not to add water. Let’s take some time to explore the advantages and disadvantages of both. 

Advantages & Disadvantages to Bubblers 

Pros Cons 
Smoother smoking experience Can clog easier 
Can be used as a bowl alsoInternal parts can break easier
Not much more expensive Not as smooth as bongs 
Portable, not much bigger than bowls

Advantages & Disadvantages to Bowls 

Pros Cons 
Easier to cleanNot as smooth to smoke 
Slightly more affordable Can pull ashes through and burn you
More varietyMore resin buildup 
More portable 

Bowls vs. Bubblers – Our Conclusion

Overall, there really isn’t a clear victor here. While the largest argument we have in favor of bubblers vs. bowls is that they can function as both, that doesn’t outweigh the fact that most bowls are much smaller and therefore much easier to conceal and travel with. 

One area that bubblers definitely take the W is in terms of smoothness, as adding water to the equation always makes for a better smoking experience. 

However, hand pipes can also be much easier to clean, and tend to be more durable, as the intricate parts within bubblers can be hard to get to and can break if you are not careful. 

At the end of the day, this is a real toss up, and it mostly comes down to preference more than anything. For people who are looking for a solid cross between a bong and hand pipe without paying up for a mini bong, bubblers definitely make the most sense. But for people who want to keep their bongs separate from their hand pipes, and tend to enjoy both, you may be better off keeping the two separated. 

Either way, bubblers are one of those really cool pieces that your don’t often get the opportunity to smoke, so having one around can be a great way to mix up the smoke sesh, without making setup a full-blown task like using a dab rig or bong. 

Where to Find the Best Deals on Bubblers & Bowls

Looking for some great deals on some of the best bubblers and hand pipes? Check out our online headshop for a wide selection from some of the best brands.

Or, if you are looking for some ideas on where to start, check out these resources: 

If you found this guide helpful or have any questions, please leave us a comment below! For even more cannabis content, dank deals, and new Stoner gear, be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter and check out our blog! 

Thanks for reading, we hope to see you soon. Until then, stay up. 



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