Vaping has gone a long way since the introduction of the first electronic cigarette almost ten years ago. Many of the veteran vapers can tell you stories about their struggles with faulty devices, leaking cartomizers, and horrible flavors but that’s all in the past now. Today the wide majority of vaporizers are good enough to offer a solid experience that can make you forget about the pesky analogs in no time. And I’m not only talking about the expensive advanced personal vaporizers that can go over 50W and authentic mechanical mods, no, I’m talking about the reasonably priced 2014-2015 eGos and compact box mods that are almost everywhere. Not to mention the thousands of e-juices with complex and delicious flavors that can make even the non-smokers jealous of our sweet treats.
Vaping in 2015
When I decided to write this guide to vaping in 2015 I wanted to let every smoker reading the article now that e-cigarettes have evolved so rapidly and many of the myths concerning their use have been debunked. As a matter of fact, people have stopped from referring to them as ‘e-cigarettes’ because they no longer look like combustibles and the experience they offer is far superior. In 2015 we have three main categories of vaping gear: the batteries (formerly known as vape pens), the advanced personal vaporizers (variable wattage & even temperature control), and the heavy duty mechanical mods packed with vape muscle.
Also, there is no right or wrong choice to make once you join vaping. Everything depends on personal preference and no one can pick the best options right from the start. You have to be ready to spend some money on products you are going to only use for a short period of time, before switching to something more powerful and also you need to keep an open mind. But regardless with what you start with, there is a very big chance you’ll stick to vaping and begin experimenting with different e-liquids, different setups and never look back on analog cigarettes.
The basic principle of vaping
So, in order to start vaping you will need to understand the principle and buy a couple of things. The principle is that a battery operated device heats up one of the elements of the tank connected to it and vaporizers the liquid stored inside into inhalable mist. So basically you need a battery operated device, a tank, and a bottle of e-liquid and you’re done –besides the extra accessories required to recharge, refill and replace.
Battery operated devices come in the form of eGos (like the EMOW), advanced personal vaporizers and mechanical mods. Egos are some of the simplest tools for vaping and they are essentially an elongated battery mounted inside a tube fitted with a standard connector (they are usually referred to as ‘batteries’ even though they don’t have the same shape). The name eGos traditionally comes from the eGo connector which is found on many of these batteries, however the majority of devices nowadays come also with the more popular 510 connector. The eGo has the threads on the outside and is bigger in diameter, while the 510 has the threads on the inside and it’s smaller in diameter. Some eGo batteries, like the Vision Spinner 2 come with variable voltage, an option that allows the user to adjust the vaping voltage via a button or dial. The bigger the voltage the more vapor it’s going to produce.
Advanced personal vaporizers
Advanced personal vaporizers come in many shapes and sizes from tubes to boxes, but their principle is quite similar. With the help of some boards and chips they regulate the current coming from the battery and allow for different options such as variable wattage / variable voltage and even temperature control, like the Smok XPro M80. They come with numerous safety features and they can reach go from 1W to 150W or even higher than this. As in the case of the voltage, the higher the wattage the bigger (but hotter) the clouds. Many of these devices are fitted with the 510 connector, but some of them can have both. Some come with an internal battery while others are powered by an external cell – usually a 18650 model. They are a very popular choice as they are generally considered safe and the clouds they produce are quite impressive.
Mechanical mods on the other hand don’t have any boards or circuits and they rely on the battery power alone to create clouds. They are generally used by people with an understanding of Ohm’s electricity laws because they can prove dangerous in the wrong hands. They don’t come with any safety features except for a venting hole to prevent the battery from overheating. However, these devices like the Flagship V2, are very popular as well and many vapers prefer brute muscle over variable wattage. You will need a separate battery (good quality, high drain one) and charger for any mechanical mod.
So now that we have the first section covered, it’s time to address the tanks or atomizers. Here we also have a few categories but we are going to focus mainly on the clearomizers and the RDAs or drippers. And since it’s 2015 when I say clearomizers I’m generally referring to the tanks fitted with removable atomizer heads. You see, the current from the battery heats up a coil (or multiple coils) inside the tank and that coil is surrounded by e-liquid soaked wicking (generally cotton). Like in the case of a candle wick slowly feeding the wax to the flame, the cotton provides a continuous flow of liquid from the reservoir to be vaporized by the atomizer. However, due to the high temperatures, this cannot go forever and after a period of time the coils need to be replaced because they burn out.
In the case of today’s clearomizers changing the coils is done very easily buy taking out the burned head and replacing it with a new one. These atomizer heads can be usually purchased in packs of 5 and alongside the e-liquid are the consumable parts of your vaping gear. So if you decide to buy a clearomizer for your battery / mod then make sure you also include some spare heads to the list. One such head can last from one to three weeks depending on usage. You should also know that these clearomizers come in different sizes and shapes from the thin ones that are usually fitted with the eGo connector (designed to match the eGo batteries) to the bigger ones designed to match mechanical mods and advanced personal vaporizers. As long as the tank has the same connector as the mod they can work together, but you need to do some research because you don’t want to end up with something that looks like a lollipop in your hands nor with something that looks like a lightning rod.
Rebuildable dripping atomizers
RDAs on the other hand are a totally different story. They allow the users to build their own coils and experiment with different layouts, different wicking and different types of wire. Building your own coils is not extremely difficult and there are numerous tutorials online, as long as you are willing to learn some basics about electricity. RDAs, like the Holmes RDA are also referred to as drippers because – as opposed to clearomizers – they don’t have a tank to store the e-liquid in. Instead they have something called a ‘well’ located on the base where the wicking material needs to be placed and the user has to constantly drip e-liquid on the cotton to keep it saturated. So after a few puffs, depending on the size of the well, it’s going to need more e-juice. So with all the fuss, you might ask yourself why are these so popular – well, because they offer unparalleled flavor and a massive vapor production that’s hard to match with regular clearomizers. However, there are some sub-ohm tanks out there (with sub ohm heads) that come very close at mimicking the experience you get with an RDA.
E-liquids, here's what you need to know
So we have a battery or a mod, a tank or an RDA – all we need is some e-liquid. And the choice is yours because there are so many brands out there and the variety is endless. From genuine tobacco flavors for sweet, fruity and even gourmet flavor, there no doubt you will find at least one to suit your needs. Many of them come in customizable VG to PG ratios, predefined nicotine levels and if you’re not entirely satisfied with what you can buy from vendor you do have to option to do it yourself with the wide range of bases and flavor concentrates.
Chargers - they come in many shapes and sizes
Last but not least, you are going to need something to recharge your battery with. eGo batteries (with some exceptions) need eGo chargers, advanced personal vaporizers usually require micro-USB cables and mechanical mods require an external smart charger. You need to know that not all mods come with chargers and you need to be very careful on the box contents and figure out if you require an extra cable. Usually this involves doing some research on the manufacturer’s website, reading a few reviews or downloading the PDF manual.
Starter kits we recommend
Ok, now that you have an understanding of the fundamental principles, it’s time to pick your first ever vaping gear. Some starter kits are a great choice for any beginner, but I’m not referring to those mediocre one you buy in a pouch or blister. Yes, they get the job done, but chances are you’re never going to be completely satisfied with the experience. This is why I recommend increasing the budget for a bit but purchase something truly worth making the switch from combustible analogs.
The Aspire Premium Starter Kit is a wise choice for instance. It comes with a powerful Variable Voltage battery, a Nautilus Mini Tank, a wall charger & USB cable, and a five pack of atomizer heads that are going to last you for at least 2-3 months. There are many variations on the Aspire kits, but all of them are worth it. Then we have the EVOD & EMOW kits from Kanger, which are also packed with enough power and plenty of goodies to get you started (if the kit doesn’t include the spare atomizer heads, make sure you get one that does or make sure to order them separately). Further down the list we have the Joyetech eGo ONE kits which also come in numerous variations, depending on the size of the battery and color – these also are some of the best alternatives on the market today. If you prefer a compact box mod that comes in a kit then you might want to take a look at the eGrip from Joyetech.
If you are a beginner or intermediate vaper and want to go straight for high end vape gear that includes sub-ohm tanks and is able to match the RDAs in terms of vapor production and flavor, then we have a couple of suggestions: The eGO ONE Mega kit from Joyetech includes a big battery, a charger & wall adapter, a tank and two atomizers that pack a massive punch. Other alternatives are the Kanger Subox Mini Kit, the Joyetech eVic VT, and the Innokin MVP 3.0 60W Kit.
However, these suggestions don’t necessarily mean you only have to stick with them. You can make your own starter kit now that you know everything that is required for a good vaping experience. You can pick any eGo battery for instance and go for a smaller eGo threaded tank – the Kanger Mini Protank 3 and the Aspire K1 are great alternatives. You can also create a sub-ohm kit with Aspire’s CF SUB-OHM battery one the Atlantis Tank. Or you can buy an advanced personal vaporizer / mechanical mod and a separate tank / RDA. Just be careful on what’s included in the box and what else you need to get things going. Don’t forget about the batteries, chargers, spare atomizer heads or DIY tools for building coils – depending on the case.
Remember that e-liquids are very important
A good e-liquid can transform the whole experience and it represents the soul of vaping itself. Make sure you read a few reviews before picking a bottle and may we suggest going for a sampler pack at first with different nicotine concentrations just to have an idea about your preference. You can only figure this out by trying and you have enough alternatives out there to find the perfect flavor. Just be careful that there’s a huge difference from vaping the same e-liquid with a regular eGo battery and a regular tank as opposed to vaping from a sub-ohm combo. If for instance a 1.2% nicotine e-liquid had the ideal throat hit in the eGo, the same e-liquid is going to be too harsh in a sub-ohm tank. This is why, it’s better to start with lower nicotine levels such as 0.6%.
I sincerely hope that this small guide can help you decide on which kit or combo to go for, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me.