Kanger ProTank vs. iClear30 – The Clearomizer Wars

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By Tom McBride

Two new clearomizer tanks have the vape community’s attention these days. They are, if you didn’t know, the Kanger ProTank and the Innokin iClear 30. Both are designed as ‘tanks’ rather than a normal clearomizer. Both are 510-threaded and can be used on just about any battery. Larger batteries like ProVari, VAMO, ZMAX, Lambo, and so on can use either of them without an adapter. They are the “talk of the town”. But are they as good as the ‘buzz’ you’re hearing?

Nope.

Kanger ProTank

Kanger Protank Spinfuel Review

For the past couple of weeks a few of the staff members have been using an iClear 30 and the ProTank as their main battery attachment. Their goal was to see how well they (the clearomizers) functioned, i.e., the life of coil heads, the draw, vapor, taste, and overall ‘vaping experience’. The staffers weren’t sentenced to using the clearomizers exclusively (we’re not monsters after all), but they were asked to use them as long as they could before having to switch out to something else.

Before we get to the real world vaping experience with the iClear 30 and Kanger ProTank, let’s take a look at each one, and how they are marketed to Vapers and their individual ‘specs’.

Innokin iClear 30 – $12.99 – $14.99 (various vendors)

We purchased two iClear 30’s from TheDigitalCig, 2.0-ohm and 1.5-ohm resistances. The iClear 30 is both 510-threaded and eGo-threaded, allowing most Vapers to use them without any modifications or adapters.

The iClear 30 can hold just about 3.0ml of e liquid. It has a dual coil design and uses 16 wicks (4 strands of 4 wicks each) running the length of the interior of clearomizer. The iClear 30 also offers replaceable coil heads that come in packs of 5. A package of coil heads will cost you $12.49 (TheDigitalCig), or $2.49 a piece, and $14.99 or $2.98 (Vapor Beast).

The tank portion of the iClear 30 is a transparent plastic. The iClear 30 is said to be leak proof and its design is supposed to prevent e liquid from getting in to your mouth when you pull.  Lastly, it has a permanent {stainless} (base metal) rotatable drip tip affixed to the top of the unit. The drip tip rotates. It is quite wide at the end of the tip.

We could not find any specs on the lifespan of the coil heads. We have our own information about the length of their lifespan that we’ll get to later.

Innokin iClear 30

Innokin iClear 30

 

Innokin iClear 30

Kanger ProTank – $18.69 – $19.99 (various vendors)

We picked up 3 Kanger ProTanks from MyVaporStore, AquaVapor and Vapor Alley. The least expensive was MyVaporStore at $18.69, followed by AquaVapor at $18.96 and Vapor Alley at $19.99. Replaceable coil heads are $7.99 per 5-pack (Vapor Alley), $1.89 each, or $9.45 for 5 (MyVaporStore) and $8.95 for a 5-pack (AquaVapor).

Kanger Protank Spinfuel Review

About the coil heads – Replacement coil heads are available in 1.8-ohm and 2.4-ohm from MyVaporStore and 2.5-ohm only at Vapor Alley and AquaVapor. (We tend to think that the 2.4-ohm and 2.5-ohm is the same coil head). Eventually, as supply eases for the vendors there will be three different resistances available, 1.8, 2.2 and 2.5-ohm. Our tests were conducted with a 5-pack of 2.4-ohm (2.5?) from MyVaporStore.

The Kanger ProTank will fit the same batteries that the iClear 30 will fit, including nearly all 510-threaded and eGo-threaded devices. Additionally, the ProTank comes with an eGo cone cover for Vapers using eGo-style batteries.

The ProTank is a ‘bottom coil’ clearomizer with very short wick tips sticking out from the coil head. Advertised at 2.5ML capacity you can get close to 3ML of e Liquid by carefully topping it off. The biggest selling point to the ProTank is the Pyrex glass tank. The ProTank can handle any e Liquid you throw at it without burning up.

A word of cautionIt is advisable to top off the ProTank when it gets to the 1/3 full level in order to maintain a vacuum. By doing so you can virtually eliminate any leaking.

The ProTank has a chrome finish, including the permanent drip tip. The drip tip does not swivel and is the more conventional type, except that you cannot unscrew it or replace it in any way.

Impressions

Above was information gleaned from various sources, including Kanger and Innokin. While this information is certainly important it tells you nothing about the quality of the units or how well they truly function. Certainly some of our impressions are subjective, probably most of them are, actually. Regardless, I will attempt to cut through all the chatter you’re hearing about these clearomizers and give you an unbiased tried-n-true report based on actually vaping with them on a variety of devices. The batteries I used included, but are not limited to, a ProVari, VAMO Rev 2, ZMAX (2), Vision Spinners, and Joyetech eGo Twist.

Basic Differences

These are two very different clearomizers. Although they look vastly different from one another they operate on two different coil systems. The iClear 30 is a long-wick, dual coil set up and the ProTank is a bottom coil, short wick set up.

Pricing

No matter where you buy them expect to pay $5 or $6 more for the ProTank itself, but the replaceable heads for the ProTanks are less money than the replaceable heads for the iClear. I suppose it will depend on how long you keep them and how often you use them before you can determine which is the better value.

 

Winner: Upfront Investment – iClear 30 – Long-Term? Undetermined.

Packages

The packaging for both products can only be described as ‘overkill’. The iClear packaging is horrendous when compared the to ProTank, but both are packaged in a way to signal to the buyer that they are buying something substantial.

Kanger ProTank

The iClear 30 comes in a clear plastic rectangular box with a removable plastic lid. The ProTank comes in a square, padded case that you would expect an expensive set of cufflinks to come in, or a gold bracelet. Because they are both manufactured in China we have no idea how much the fancy packaging adds to the overall cost of producing the product, especially the ProTank.

Winner – ProTank for attractiveness Loser –

Set Up

Both the iClear 30 and the Kanger ProTank are simple to set up and use. With the iClear 30 you unscrew the top, drip in the e Liquid, screw the top back on…and then WAIT… at least a few minutes so the e Liquid can be absorbed into the wicks. (I waited overnight). The ProTank is the opposite, unscrew the bottom, drip the e Liquid in, screw it back on…and WAIT… again, for a few minutes at least (I waited overnight).

Winner – iClear 30 because it’s a straight up drip down the tube.

Attractiveness – Yes, really.

Hand’s down the ProTank is the one that looks the best. Its chrome finish, the crystal clear Pyrex glass, and the sleek elongated nipple drip tip, it is a much better looking unit than the iClear 30. Additionally, one of the worst features in the “attractiveness” area is the iClear 30’s miserable drip tip. (Remember, I’m talking attractiveness here). I so strongly believe that Innokin is using the cheapest base metal it can find to make the drip tip. It has a dull finish, it’s very lightweight, and it feels like your putting cheap metal in your mouth. If you’ve used an iClear 30 and any other metal type drip tip from a carto-tank you have to know what I mean. I can’t stand the taste and feel of metal in my mouth but at least the ProTank has a heavy, polished chrome feel to it whereas the iClear feels as ‘wrong’ as cheap base metal fork scraping against your front teeth. If you know what type of metal is being used I’d love to know because I couldn’t find anything definitive.

Winner: ProTank by a mile.

Let’s Do Some Vaping!

Here’s where it really counts. The whole idea of buying a clearomizer is to use the best product you can for vaping. The criteria are simple; taste, vapor production, and throat hit. Yet, there is one more to consider, which one is the ‘hungrier’? Which of the two will suck down the most e Liquid?

I didn’t want to do a real world shootout by using Brand A for a certain amount of time and then switch to Brand B for the same length of time. Instead, I used both units and switched off between them often. Whereas I had 2 iClear 30’s to vape with, I had 3 Kanger ProTanks. To make things fair I let the 3rd ProTank sit it out.

The e Liquid Choice

For my main tests with the Innokin iClear 30 I used FanceeJuice Mellow Mango, properly aged, and Mountain Oak Vapors “White Leaf”, also properly aged. Both were around 12MG nicotine, standard PG/VG for the vendor, and standard flavoring.

For the Kanger ProTank I used Mt Baker Vapor “Sticky Bun” and Ginger’s eJuice “Iced Vanilla Cupcake”.

Additionally I used the following: Ginger’s eJuice “Totally Nanners”, “Cinnamon Candy” in the ProTank and Mt Baker Vapor “Mango” and “Caramel Coffee” in the iClear 30. All in same nicotine range, 11-12MG. Changing flavors is much easier with a bottom coil then it is with a long-wick top coil, but in both cases I managed to swap flavors out often enough.

The Given – The iClear 30 is a plastic tube clearomizer. To use an e Liquid that would skew the results, like a heavy cinnamon-based flavor, is not in anyone’s best interest. It should be obvious that the ProTank’s Pyrex glass can withstand any flavor while the iClear could not. Why push it to make a point? Oh, and both the iClear 30 and ProTank eat e Liquid faster than anything I’ve used before. Clearomizers have a tendency to suck down the eJuice faster than a cartomizer, but these two sucked down more than the average clearomizer for some reason.

The Innokin iClear 30 – “Like a sieve”

The thing I hear most, and read most under the product page on vendor sites about the iClear 30 is how they never leak. That was not true in my case. The iClear 30’s DO in fact leak, like…a lot.

After using my iClear for a couple of hours I began to get a “gurgling” sound from it. In the beginning of the vape, with a brand new coil head and a full tank I often got that great ‘popping’ sound you sometimes get when using a carto-based tank like a Texas Tuff Tank with a dual-punched 3.0-ohm Boge cartomizer. Like many people, I enjoy hearing that popping sound, it makes for great feedback and it is usually accompanied by some great vapor production. Afterwards the gurgling sounds came.

A dead giveaway that your clearomizer is beginning to leak is when you hear any type of gurgling sound. It might sound like you’re blowing bubbles or it might sound like an old-fashioned coffee maker that percolates. Either way, chances are if you remove the clearomizer from the battery you’ll need to wipe away some e Liquid from the battery connector. I found this happening a lot with the iClear 30. Somehow, even with the iClear 30 being more than half full it will lose the vacuum and the vapor production decreases and the leaking starts. The best way to fight that, if you’ve already purchased some of these clearomizers, is to make sure you’re topping it off often enough. Also make sure the coil head is tightly fastened. Many leaking situations in many different clearomizers can be traced back to loose heads. Still, not matter what I tried the iClear wouldn’t stop leaking.

The iClear is top-heavy, and while that’s not a problem when attached to a battery it is worth noting. The plastic tube (tank) isn’t nearly as clear and transparent as glass, but again, that’s not a real problem for actual vaping, it’s more of a cosmetic thing. Speaking cosmetically, the iClear 30 looks pretty “cool”, but on closer inspection the metal parts are dull. This could be because I was using a Kanger ProTank during the same period.

Now, having said all that, the Innokin iClear 30 vapes better than the slightly more expensive Vision Vivi Nova. It’s not nearly as attractive. I like the rubberized paint jobs of the metal outer tube of the Vivi’s. It does produce a more consistent vapor but that’s not to say it is always producing vapor at the same level. It can and does leak, you do get dry hits on occasion, and it does require topping off to maintain the vacuum.

Having vaped the same flavors before on other devices I can’t tell you that the flavor produced by the iClear 30 is any better than anything else. (see box)

 Lastly, while vaping the ‘Mellow Mango’ I detected a taste of metal. This taste does not come from the e Liquid itself (I’ve vaped Mellow Mango quite a bit), so I have to say that the taste is coming from the iClear and it could be the acidic flavoring in the eJuice reacting on the cheap metal components of the iClear 30.

Flavors?

I could just say it’s “okay” and leave it at that. But I won’t. Both the iClear 30 and the ProTank are poor at producing true ‘flavor’. Before I committed to stating something as serious as that in this dual review I decided to do a specific flavor test and enlisted the help of John Manzione, the editor. I set up the iClear, the ProTank and simple 510 DCTank and filled all three with FanceeJuice MeeseTracks, John’s favorite e Liquid flavor. I then asked John to test all three, while blindfolded (seriously), and to tell me which one delivered the best flavor. He didn’t hesitate to tell me that the “only” one to deliver the MeeseTracks true flavor was the DCTank, a cartomizer-based tank. That was when I knew that my own impressions were accurate.

I’m not trying to say that the iClear and ProTank didn’t deliver any flavor, what I am saying is that the flavor was somewhat muted. Dull. 

What I like about the iClear 30:

  1. Cost

What I don’t like about the iClear 30:

  1. Cheap metal finish
  2. Plastic tank
  3. Base metal drip tip
  4. Won’t deliver warm vapor at any voltage
  5. Leaks
  6. Metal taste leaks through high acidic juices
  7. Coil Heads lifespan with a heavy Vaper like me is about 6 days, max.

Bottom Line – For $12.99 you’re getting your money’s worth it and that’s it. It is a slightly better than a Vivi Nova, it is not leak-proof; it doesn’t improve the flavor of your e Liquids. It is an adequate clearomizer. No more. No Less.

                          The Kanger ProTank “Long steady pulls

At first glance the Kanger ProTank is impressive as hell. Like I mentioned above, the packaging is extravagant as all get-out. Opening the box and peering down at the highly polished chrome finished and Pyrex glass clearomizer, with its extra coil heads, is almost as cool as doing an unboxing for a new Apple product. The ProTank even features a nicely laser-etched engraving of the name of company, the logo, and ‘ProTank’ in smaller letters underneath the company name. It’s a nice touch.

 

The ProTank is heavier than I expected, which really is my fault, not Kanger. Pyrex glass clearomizers that can hold nearly 3ML of eJuice is not going to be anywhere near as light as plastic. Add to that the chrome finish metal and you have one heavy clearomizer. It’s only a fraction lighter than an AGA-T RBA or the ProVape Z-Atty, both Pyrex glass RBA’s. It also looks and feels like it’s in the same ‘class’ as those two RBA’s. (But it isn’t)

Being a bottom coil clearomizer means giving up some valuable space inside the tank for the hollow post to run up 2/3 the length. You cannot fill it to the very top of the tank or the e Liquid will slip down inside the post. Not really a performance issue, but worth mentioning.

There are some things about the ProTank that are fantastic and there are other things that are ‘not that great’. I’ll go over some of them now.

As with any bottom coil by Kanger the ProTank improves after a break in period. Depending on what e Liquid you use and how often you vape with it, as well as the volts or wattage you use, the break in period can last a day to a week. My break in period was about 2 days.

Upon initial use the ProTank is kind of ‘airy’. It’s as though you are sucking in more air and vapor and this can last for the entire period of the break in. Once you get past that the ‘pull’ tightens up and the vapor production increases. I found it difficult to keep a vacuum going and as the juice got lower and was replaced by air the pull begins to loosen again and I needed to stop, unscrew it from the battery, unscrew the bottom and add some juice. Once I did that it took some 10-15 minutes to get a vacuum going again.

Both the iClear 30 and ProTank can be pushed quite high in the voltage department. For each one I began vaping at 3.3v (very much on the low end) and worked my up to 4.4-4.5v without experiencing a burnt taste. Although I had both the 1.5-ohm and 2.0-ohm heads for the iClear (actually two different iClear clearomizers) and the 2.4-ohm for the ProTank both gave the same amount of ‘actual’ resistance to the voltage. In other words, all three provided the same type of vape at the higher voltages. I found the sweet spot for the ProTank to be 4.4v on most batteries, and 3.8-3.9v with Vision Spinners.

Unlike the iClear 30, I have, even to this day, not experienced a single drop of leaking ejuice. I find that remarkable. Every time I unscrewed the ProTank from the batteries I checked the connector for juice and they were all bone dry, every time.

The Secret – The secret to getting the most out of every pull on a ProTank is to take nice, steady, long pulls. I mean about 5 or 6 seconds minimum. It didn’t matter what flavor or brand of eJuice that was in the tank, as long as my drags were steady and long I was able to inhale about as much vapor as is humanly possible. Short, stronger pulls resulted in less vapor, less flavor, and underwhelming vaping.

Cost vs. Experience

Certainly the Innokin iClear 30 has a stiffer pull and when it’s working it can fill your lungs with thick vapor. It can also leak like sieve. With sales tax thrown in you’re going to pay just about $20 or a little more (shipping is another cost factor) for a ProTank. Is it worth it? That depends.

What I like about the ProTank

  1. Does not leak (no bullshit)
  2. Heavy like an AGA-T and Z-Atty
  3. Pyrex baby!
  4. Long steady pulls results in vast vapor
  5. Chrome finish
  6. Packaging

What I don’t like about the ProTank

  1. Packaging (wasteful)
  2. Break in period
  3. Requires long steady pulls
  4. Price (fair but high)
  5. Won’t deliver ‘warm’ vapor at any setting
  6. Coil Head lifespan for a heavy Vaper like me is about a week.

Bottom Line – For $18.69 to $19.99 this is a hard decision to commit to buying. You would expect “to-die-for” results from a $20 Clearomizer and that doesn’t happen. On a good day a Vivi Nova is going to provide one helluva vape. While if you keep the ProTank topped off and have the time to think about your vaping style (to ensure a long and steady pull every time), then you will like the experience a ProTank offers.

Despite being a close approximation in appearance to a more expensive RBA, (the ProVape Z-Atty is $150), you do not get the same level of vaping. Heavy, Pyrex glass, chrome finish…these are all splendid physical traits for a clearomizer, but the actual vape is about the same as you get from any other Kanger Clearomizer, including the $6 Kanger EVOD.

Marketing Hype

Both the iClear 30 and the ProTank are hot items right now. For the life of me I don’t know why. Neither product is the ‘end-all- be-all’ of clearomizers.

I definitely like the ProTank more than the iClear 30 and not because it looks like an expensive RBA. The fact that it really doesn’t leak makes it my obvious choice for that reason alone, and if I can remember to take long steady pulls from the ProTank than I am more than satisfied with the performance. Its good looks are a bonus.

Buying Advice

I just know there are many readers of Spinfuel that own, owned, or plan to own, an Innokin iClear 30. I would love for you to comment below and tell us your experience with it, or what you hope, or even what you’ve heard from others you know that own one. I am bewildered (yes, bewildered) by product reviews under the product pages for various vendors from users that state they do not leak and that they perform better than anything they’ve ever used. A good-sized part of me wants to think that they are ‘planted’ reviews made by who knows whom. (Innokin maybe?) I bought 2 of them and both leak like crazy. How can I suggest that anyone buy one?

As for the ProTank, if you can spare $20+ for a ProTank, if you can adopt a long steady vaping style, and if you don’t mind paying about $2 a pop for the coil heads, then you could do much worse than the ProTank.

While a $3 adapter allows you to use a Kanger EVOD or MT3, or a T3 on any 510-threaded battery you still have to deal with the capacity issues of these smaller clearomizers. I don’t mind screwing on an adapter, but I do mind the 2ML capacity.

Neither clearomizer deserve the hype they are currently receiving. Neither one will leave you wondering how you ever lived before getting one, and neither one will change your life for the better.

Personally, when it’s just my vaping gear, and me I prefer a Texas Tuff Tank with a double-punched cartomizer. With it I get wicked thick plumes of vapor, full of vapor and a massive throat hit. A Texas Tuff Tank, when you can get them (VapeDudes) is $7.99 and the pre-punched cartomizers are $1.49 each. Inexpensive yet powerful; isn’t that what we all want?

Tom McBride