When it comes to my smoking gear, I generally prefer to keep things domestic as much as possible. But when I happened upon Danish accessory company Høj (the Danish word for “high,” pronounced like “hoy”), my interest was piqued, mainly due to the tagline for its Køl pipe “coughing is just bad design.” As a daily dabber and frequent smoker with asthma, coughing is an expected part of my medicating process, and this seemingly bold claim just presented a game-changing alternative.
I looked into Høj a bit further and discovered the high-design principles at work in the construction of the pipe as well as the company’s Klip grinder, another ostensibly new approach to an essential task. To even call it a grinder is inaccurate, since it features parallel blades that slice through inflorescence in contrast to the more common vertical opposing teeth that crush the foliage. This distinction, Høj says, allows the Klip to preserve more intact trichomes, thereby improving the smell and taste of the smoke. Between the two items, Høj promised an overhaul of my smoking experience, and I had to check out if Danish design really was what I was always missing.
Danish design theory, partially influenced by the Bauhaus movement of the 1920s, is characterized by symmetry, concentricity, and soft, organic lines. Ergonomic comfort and functional form are at the center of the Danish mentality, which Høj’s founder and CEO Simon Folmann applies to the brand, adding his own eclectic touch. Folmann, an entrepreneur with a background in both software and renewable energy, says, “I’ve always been an avid smoker and wanted to legitimize the imagery of smoking.” Interestingly, while Denmark’s medical cannabis program is strictly regulated with few products eligible for prescription, a quasi-independent district of Copenhagen called Freetown Christiania has been known for years to be home to a centralized open-air market for hash from the Rif mountains, though activity has been curtailed recently following a violent incident in 2016.
In standing up to the stigma of cannabis use, Folmann created Køl (“cool”), a sleek, all-black pipe made of two pieces of anodized aluminum held together with magnets. Where the halves meet, one piece has a set of tiny divots, the other a corresponding set of bumps. Folmann says Køl’s unique design was inspired by the mako shark one stoned day watching the nature channel. Just as the shark’s scales absorb heat from the surrounding water, the pits and ridges along the pipe’s air path absorb heat and block impurities from smoke so that, as it travels from the bowl to the mouthpiece, it is diverted and cooled by the internal architecture. The bowl itself, seated between two flaring wings, spirals smoke into the thinnest part of the aluminum at the center and immediately conducts heat outward to the sides, supplementing the cooling effect. The Køl Mini 2 model I received came with three gauges of screen, marked to indicate coarse, medium, and fine filtration, allowing users to experiment and select their preference.
On the subject of experiments, I had to test for myself whether all the thought that went into the concept of Køl actually translated to a better smoking experience or not. For comparison, I used one of my favorite glass pieces, a fumed sherlock scored from the final inventory of the now-defunct legendary Chicago head shop Adam’s Apple. I took both pipes outside and alternated loading each with a bowl of Aeriz Rainbowz flower, smoking it continuously to completion before switching to the other instrument. To see how the pipes performed when lightly used as well as freshly cleaned, I smoked two bowls in each during the session.
In the first round, the glass bowl delivered radically superior flavor, as the Køl imparted a slight metallic taste (less so with the coarse screen than with the others) that harshed the flower’s intense grapefruit candy sweetness. Køl was also quicker to self-extinguish, since the flat, shallow bowl didn’t funnel the burn down toward the center like the sherlock did. Moreover, Køl’s lack of carburetion required a more joint-like toking technique, whereas the glass pipe made it easy to closely control the density of smoke in any given draw. It took around 8-10 hits to finish the Køl and more than double that for the ‘lock, at which point the latter could be thoroughly cleared with a swift blow into the mouthpiece while the former had to be scraped clean, with half-burned material remaining around the edges of the bowl.
To my surprise, despite the glass piece having a leg up initially, Køl pulled ahead for me in the second round of bowls, providing a more consistent, less degraded smoke when the glass was getting hotter on my throat and losing taste quickly. Thus, based on my observations, I’d say Køl is better suited than the average pipe for smoking multiple rapid bowls if comfort is a higher priority than flavor. It also felt like a safer choice to bring outdoors into the elements since it would survive at least a short drop onto a hard surface, not to mention being exceedingly quick to wipe clean after use.
The Klip herb slicer, Høj’s other major innovation, trades aquatic design cues for unmatched modularity, as users can swap out collection discs (fine, medium, and coarse) and even remove the sieve-bottomed section above the kief chamber based on their needs. Resembling a minimalist pagoda, Klip’s stages are connected magnetically, eliminating the possibility of screw threads sticking, rusting, distorting, or stripping over time. Like the Køl, it arrived in attractive, reusable cork and hard plastic packaging with the message “Hello, herb lover” nestled inside. The cork base of the package is hollowed to fit a spare set of blades, one five-spoke rotating and one three-spoke static, identical to those in the slicer’s housing. The idea of a cutting action comes from Folmann’s younger days of using scissors to try to stretch the utility of his precious flower when he was able to obtain it. He says, “hash was always around but skunk was more of a rarity.”
I set up a similar trial for the Klip to verify Høj’s value proposition that it is less destructive to trichomes than traditional grinders, which Folmann pointed out to me were originally created to extract aromatic oils from inside hardy plant tissues like anise seeds. Though widely adopted for processing cannabis into a usable form, its mechanism of crushing and shredding flower did not account for the fact that all its desirable resin grows on the surface. Alongside the Klip, fitted with the medium-gauge collection disc, I tested a two-piece Santa Cruz Shredder made of hemp plastic given to me by Logan Local as well as a standard metal three-piece promotional grinder picked up at [Higher Love]. I measured out one gram of Fig Farms’ Dark Karma flower for each device, taking magnified photos before and after use to observe trichome integrity, and rolled a joint from each gram in one of Høj’s Hamp papers. As an aside, one in every 200 packs of Hamp papers includes a gold leaf paper that entitles the recipient to a free Høj product of choice.
Frankly, the images I took did not reveal much insight, as the trichome content of each sample looked about equivalent. That said, Klip produced a marginally more fragrant grind than its counterparts, though it took many more turns to get there and would come apart from the resistance of nugs against the rotating blade unless compression was applied due to the weakness of the magnets in the bottom of the slicing stage.
The joint rolled from Klip-processed flower was the only one of the three not to canoe or require re-lighting. Its billowing, airy pulls tasted of dark roast coffee and charred garlic. The Shredder, the lightest and simplest grinder, yielded a joint that seemed to burn a bit hotter with a woodier flavor and a significant canoe. Finally, the generic grinder’s joint highlighted a note of dark chocolate in the flower with the richest tokes of the group, canoeing briefly before self-correcting. Overall, I could detect a subtle improvement in terpene expression from using Klip over the more ubiquitous grinders, but felt like the functionality could use an upgrade.
Although I appreciate the creativity, functional logic and striking uniqueness of both the Køl and Klip, I found Høj’s technology to be somewhat over-engineered and still favor my simpler, American-made tools for most use cases. For example, Klip’s modular quality is neat at first but, pragmatically, I imagine most users will have one preferred configuration with which they’ll stick, leaving the oher parts in the box. I’d love to see more smoking implements with Køl’s design aspects incorporating slightly different materials like a ceramic bowl to enhance the taste of flower, as well as a lighter version of Klip with stronger magnets or a locking mechanism. Without letting details slip, Folmann hinted at several products, including some possible electronics, to look forward to further down the pipeline that will hit the market in the next few years.
-Durable aluminum construction
-Easy to clean
-Doesn’t store much smoke so no stale hits
-Smokes consistently over several bowls
-Screen prevents “Scooby snacks”
-Carbless design may simplify experience for some
-Cooling action fairly subtle
-No way to control size of hit besides breath
-Edge of bowl area is a dead zone for a flame, leaving unburned material
-Can adjust settings to your liking
-Enhances aromas & possibly burn rate more than other grinders
-Smooth rotation with minimal friction
-Can take many rotations to fully process flower
-Magnets slip when rotating
-Quite heavy to carry around
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