Your First Mechanical Mod
I think it’s fairly safe to say that at some point, just about every Vaper will look at a mechanical mod and think to him or herself, “Wow, that looks really nice! I wonder if I should get me a mechanical mod?”
For me, it was the first time I laid eyes on the SMOKTech Magneto. The question occurred to me again when I started using rebuildable atomizers and found that some of my very best builds came it at under 1 ohm of resistance, paired with the discovery that although my sleek and sexy little iTaste VV 3 wouldn’t fire my beautiful and perfectly stable sub-ohm build, a mechanical would.
So whether you’ve only just made the switch from smoking to vaping and are looking for something simple but powerful, or whether you’ve come a good long way and are pondering a more complex level of vaping that involves RBAs and sub ohm vaping (itself a separate subject and a contentious one, therefore not a focus in this article), it may be time for you to look into mechanical mods.
The purpose of this article will be to lay out for you, in my own view, the pros and cons of these devices, and my personal recommendation for when it may be time for you to take the plunge and pick one up, if you haven’t already.
One of the most outstanding features of mechanical mods — particularly of a “telescopic” mechanical mod — is flexibility. I’m referring mostly here to the ability to use multiple battery sizes with these devices.
This is not to say that an 18350-only mechanical such as the SMOKTech e-Pipe or the Kamry K1000 isn’t a good mechanical — but when you have the flexibility to use the same device with either an 18350 battery for just an evening out or an 18650 battery when going out for a long weekend away from home, that’s the device I would be more likely to throw in my jacket pocket on a more consistent basis.
There are two ways in which mods can display this kind of flexibility in battery choices. Some mods, particularly the more expensive ones, ship with separate one-piece battery tubes, each one tailor made to fit a specific battery size. The Adam mod is an example of this.
Other mechanicals achieve this battery flexibility through a telescoping action between an inner and an outer tube. This is the case with the majority of mechanical mods from the Kamry K101 to the SMOKTech Magneto to the TEC mod.
With a telescopic mechanical, one simply rotates the outer tube counterclockwise as if unscrewing it from the inner tube in order to increase the overall length of the mod; conversely, one would rotate the outer tube clockwise to shorten the mod’s overall length. In this way, the mod can accommodate batteries from 18350 to 18650.
Another advantage mechanical mods offer over cig-a-like or eGo-based systems is their ruggedness. While some eGo batteries can offer the power in the same ballpark as a mechanical equipped with an 800mAh 18350 battery, the eGo always feels, to me at least, lighter and, therefore, more fragile.
Now, if I’m spending my entire day at home in front of my desk, the only worry that gives me cause for is that I may accidentally brush it off of my desktop and onto the floor while reaching for it. But if I’m biking, I certainly wouldn’t want one in my pocket if the unexpected happens. If I’m hill-walking, I would be a lot more worried about dropping an eGo than I would be about dropping the Magneto.
For an active person, there’s a lot of reassurance to be found in a compact and sturdy mechanical mod over devices which may certainly be smaller but which also have a sense of fragility about them.
On the other hand, there are some scenarios where a Vaper will want a device with more battery life than even the biggest eGo provides, but without having to tether the eGo to a computer to use the pass-through function some of those provide.
Here’s an example: it’s a beautiful spring day. You’d like to get some reading in, so you pack up your Kindle or iPad Mini and head off to a lovely outdoor cafe. You’d really like to make an entire afternoon of it. Well, even an 1100mAh eGo might not cut it for you. What to bring, then? Simple: your trusty and handsome mechanical packed with a 2000mAh 18650 battery and wearing a 6ml tank. You’re good from the moment you step out the door until well into the evening.
So far, I’ve compared mechanicals to eGo and cig-a-like systems. But do mechanicals offer any advantages over APVs with their resistance checking and their adjustable voltage and wattage functions? In my opinion, they certainly can.
The first of these is compactness. While they are usually thicker than eGo batteries at any length, they are significantly shorter, when equipped with an 18350 battery, than anything other than a 450mAh eGo Mini class battery.
Contrast that with practically any APV, from the Vamo to the Provari to the Innokin iTaste 134, none of which are really pocket-friendly, in my opinion, and you have comparable power and longevity with much less of a demand for space in your hand or in your pocket.
Even with an 18650 battery installed — the usual battery required for APVs — the average mechanical is much less intimidating simply by virtue of the fact that APVs require more space for their control circuitry, adjustment and firing buttons, and displays.
Another advantage mechanical mods offer over APVs is their simplicity of use. While resistance checking and voltage/wattage adjustment capabilities are wonderful, they’re not strictly necessary for a good, flavorful, satisfying vape.
They can even, in certain circumstances, complicate matters. Most of my eliquid testing, in fact, is done predominantly on a mechanical mod. The reason? It’s what I would logically deduce eliquid vendors test their own liquids at. It’s what their liquids are most likely made to be vaped at, that baseline power output setting.
I find, sometimes, that fiddle as I might with power or voltage, I never do accomplish much other than… fiddling. When I vape on a mechanical, there’s no distraction. No over complication. The experience is just dead simple. There’s a lot to be said for simplicity when vaping is simply something you’re enjoying while you’re actively doing something else.
Now, to be fair, let me touch on the disadvantages to mechanicals; the ones I can think of, anyway. And, to be frank, I really couldn’t think of very many.
One of them, though; the one that really kept me from jumping right in as soon as I would have liked to, is the initial investment. When you’re just getting started with vaping, and you find that your choices for a first hardware setup are split between a conveniently arranged “starter kit” and a device for which you will also have to purchase batteries and a charger and atomization devices and eliquid… the temptation is simply to make the less “involved” purchase. The simpler choice, in other words, is almost always the easiest choice.
A second disadvantage of many (but not all!) mechanical mods is that they tend to be geared toward more advanced atomization devices, such as rebuildable atomizers, both of the flat-deck style and tank style, and cartomizer tanks.
Invariably, these devices all use 510 connection threads rather than the eGo connection threads found on many popular clearomizers. Yep, you guessed it — that means that most mechanical mods tend to be built with 510-only connections.
While this disadvantage can be overcome with the use of 510-to-eGo adapters, there you have another initial purchase to add separately to your shopping cart when you prepare to purchase your first mechanical, further complicating an already often-complicated initial purchase.
One final disadvantage — although not a terribly serious one in any event — is charging, hand-in-hand with monitoring the battery life remaining as you use your mechanical mod.
To the second point… there just isn’t any way to do it “as you go.” The only way to know when your battery is going to run out is to get to know your battery. If you use it for 2 hours and it goes dead, you know that battery will give you about 2 hours of steady use before it needs recharging. The challenge with that is to keep track of how long you’ve been using the device, and how heavily, and sort of… do the math in your head as you go.
I’m terrible at math. The way I do it is simply to note when vapor, throat hit and flavor are dropping off, and check my atomization device. If it’s getting near empty, I refill it. If that doesn’t work, time to charge the current battery and pop in a fresh one.
Charging is, itself, the other minor disadvantage here — mechanical mods don’t offer pass-through capability. When you’re charging your mod battery, if you don’t have a fresh one ready to go, you’re not vaping until that battery is charged. So when you buy your first mechanical, remember: buy at least a pair of batteries for it, so you’ll always have a fresh one ready to tag in.
In conclusion, we come to that question again: Is a mechanical right for you? I couldn’t tell you individually. Having read all of the preceding, you’ll have to decide for yourself. What I can tell you is that I love them, for all the reasons just given. Knowing that all those reasons will apply to the vast majority of people, I think that you’ll love them, too. Sound off in the comments to tell me what you think of them.