If I were to describe the perfect pipe, it would be light as a feather, have a super-comfortable stem, would stay lit for 5 minutes without puffing on it, would always smoke cool and dry, would be visually stunning and would cost about $15. Of course, this animal doesn’t exist. And frankly, the perfect pipe today might not be perfect tomorrow because our tastes change along with our moods.
There are some things that are requirements for me when it comes to pipes. My biggest bugaboo has to do with stems. I prefer vulcanite, but acrylic stems are not a dealbreaker for me. For me, a stem has to be fairly thin because I tend to clench. For those who hold the pipe or set it in a rest, this isn’t a big deal. The button shouldn’t be too deep so the stem doesn’t rock. But notice that everything I’m mentioning is objective. I know plenty of people who like thick stems and deeper buttons because of the way they smoke.
So what’s my point? To gain perspective, let’s look at food. Do you like pizza? Odds are, you do, but you might not. I know people who hate pizza, and many real Italians can’t stand American pizza. When I cook at home, one of my favorite side dishes is steamed broccoli and cauliflower with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. I lost a lot of you with that one, didn’t I? Plenty of people hate those veggies, not to mention vinegar, but I enjoy them. Luckily, I don’t force you to eat broccoli and you can’t make me eat head cheese.
When I go to pipe shows, there are always a few people smoking gigantic pipes like Ardor Giants and Ashton Magnums. I prefer pipes more in the Dunhill Group 3 or 4 range, so you’ll never see me with one of those behemoths. But that’s what makes this an interesting hobby. The choices that are available are nearly limitless. Bent, straight, smooth, sandblasted, rusticated, colorful or neutral, there’s something for everyone.
The pipe I’m smoking right now is a sandblasted tomato nose-warmer. It has a black stem and is also finished in black, It’s super-light, and smokes incredibly dry and cool. The saddle bit is very comfortable and the button lets me keep the pipe in my mouth with no issues. I like the way it looks, and it was very reasonably priced. Is it the perfect pipe? It is right now.