What is the best tobacco pipe for me?
Are you asking yourself, “What is the best tobacco pipe for me?”
It’s a question all of us have asked, usually early on in our journey as pipe smokers. The answer isn’t easy, because every veteran smoker will tell you something different.
On other opinions
We love how active and helpful our friends in the forums are. However, when it comes to choosing the right pipe, the opinions are often contradicting:
- Spend a few hours in the forums and you’ll find long-time smokers who are die-hard corn cob fans and veterans who swear nothing less than a hand-made artisan pipe is worth smoking with.
- You’ll find 50-year collectors of balsa-filtered Savinelli pipes and those who think that filters are only for newbies.
- You’ll encounter a fair share of believers in the 7-Day Set and more than a handful of smokers using the same pipe, every single day, for twenty years.
With all these differing opinions, how in the world are you supposed to know which pipe to choose?
Here are three things to consider:
The first pipe you smoke probably won’t be your go-to forever. We think one of the most important considerations, as you are beginning your experience, is to choose from established brands known for their consistency and expertise. For your first few pipes, consider sticking with trusted brands like Peterson pipes or Savinelli.
Once you have a stronger idea about what types of pipe tobacco and what shapes you like, you’ll have an easier time choosing an artisan pipe that works well with your individual style.
Best tobacco pipe materials
No offense to our friends who are die-hard cob fans, but we think the best choice for new smokers is a briar pipe. Briar wood pipes are the easiest for new smokers to acclimate to and the least likely to cause tongue bite, burn out and other hallmark issues of new smokers.
If you follow our suggestion (and that of the majority of smokers) and choose a briar pipe to start there will be three more choices, in terms of functionality to make. The major functionality considerations at the beginning are filtered versus unfiltered and bent versus straight.
Filtered versus unfiltered pipes
Unfiltered pipes are most common in the United States, but the opposite is true in most other parts of the world. Many new smokers find smoking a filtered pipe in the beginning is easier, because it cuts down on moisture and forces you to smoke at a slower pace. However, some smokers believe the filtering dulls the flavor of the tobacco. This is another advantage of beginning with a Savinelli pipe. They are convertible, smokable with a balsa filter or unfiltered. This will allow you to try both ways and see which type works best for you.
Bent versus straight stems
Our unofficial Instagram poll shows that bent stems are far and away the most popular. However, that could just be indicative of our followers, because we sell almost equally as many straight pipes as bent. If you’re unsure where to start, choose a pipe that is visually appealing first and go from there.
We’ve found a new smoker tends to have an easier time with a bent stem in the beginning, because it keeps the bowl away from the nose and eyes more efficiently. However, this only holds true for the first few months, then you’ll usually have it figured out well enough to do well with either style.
The ultimate question
The most important question isn’t what shape to choose or even what material to choose. When you’re first starting out, the answer to the question, “What is the best tobacco pipe for me?” is simply this:
Whichever one appeals to you most.
Smoking a tobacco pipe is as much an emotional choice as it is a practical one. Choose a pipe you feel a connection with, for whatever reason. It doesn’t have to be logical, although it could be. It all depends on your own personality. As you learn, you’ll evolve. As you evolve you’ll probably form preferences. But for now, don’t take yourself too seriously. There will be plenty of time for that later when you have a double-digit collection and have to decide if you should sell or continue to acquire.
What about you, do you think we’ve missed any important considerations for picking a first pipe? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
- Pipe Collector Daniel Billings: His favorite awesome smokes
- Making Peterson Pipes in 10 Steps (+ awesome history from Mark Irwin)
- Tobacco Pipe Collector Eric Chilton's shares his fascinating story
- Artisan Pipe Maker Steve Morrisette talks ugly truths + gorgeous briar
- Father’s Day Gift Ideas for Pipe Smokers (Finish shopping fast)