Vape Gear - Making Good Decisions
After reading the previous parts of this guide you should now have a decent grasp on what vaping is, how it works and what it can do for you. Now it’s crunch time. What vape gear should you buy? First off, a warning. Many vaping websites use affiliate links when recommending products – be careful as these links are a stealthy form of advertising, meaning the site can be more inclined to promote products that make them the most money, rather than what is actually best.
Spinfuel has a long-standing policy of not participating in any affiliate programs, so you can be reassured that all our advice on vape gear and other vaping items is genuine and honest. With this in mind, rather than give you a blunt list of items to buy – some of which might not be suitable for your needs – we feel it’s better that your first purchases are based on your own decisions, inspired by our in-depth advice. In this section of our Guide for New Vapers, we’ll first help establish what you want from vaping and then provide an informed run-down of the types of products that are out there, many of which we have reviewed. Don’t worry, our only priority is making sure you buy the best vape gear for your needs.
People are interested in vaping for many reasons. A replacement for smoking cigarettes is the most common, but there are plenty of other possibilities. We’ll look at some of the most popular reasons for starting vaping, along with basic pointers on what you might need.
Vaping Goals - What are Yours?
People are interested in vaping for many reasons. A replacement for smoking real tobacco products like cigarettes is the most common, but there are plenty of other possibilities. We’ll look at some of the most popular reasons for starting vaping, along with basic pointers on what you might need.
Smoking Substitute – It’s no secret that vaping can successfully replace a smoking habit. Millions of people have already done this, and so can you. If you want your vape to closely replicate smoking a cigarette, there are a few things to be aware of. Firstly, you want a kit capable of plus-ohm vaping. A plus-ohm tank is most often associated with the ‘mouth to lung’ style inhale, similar to how you take a drag of a cigarettes, and provides a similar tight draw with a satisfying throat hit. The levels of PG and nicotine in your e-juice is also an important factor here, which we will discuss in the next section of this guide. For a cheaper, primitive option you could try out a Cig-A-Like, but there are drawbacks which we will explore later.
Flavor – It’s not all about nicotine. Vaping is an enjoyable activity in its own right, with many people enjoying sampling the countless flavors on offer. Indeed, many diabetics use vaping as a way to experience tastes that would otherwise make them ill.
Vaping is entirely calorie-free so it can even be used a dietary tool. For the strongest, most vivid flavor you want e-juice with high PG, which is best suited for a plus-ohm tank. However, don’t disregard sub-ohm vaping. The flavor hit is powerful in a different way as you inhale more at once. This provides a fuller and satisfying mouthfeel which can work well with certain flavors. For example, many dessert-based flavors seem to work best in eliquid designed for sub-ohm tanks. We will look at this in more detail in our buying e-juice section.
Clouds & Tricks – You’ve no doubt seen people blowing huge clouds of vapor, or performing physics-defying vape tricks that have names such as the Jellyfish, Vape Bend and French Inhale. If this has whet your appetite and you want to learn some awe-inspiring stunts to impress people at parties, you’ll need a powerful sub-ohm set-up as plus-ohm vaping will not provide enough vapor.
Hobbyist – If you have an inquisitive mind, especially when it comes to technology, vaping may well become your favorite new hobby. There are vast numbers of tanks and mods on the market, and each device has its own unique characteristics. If you’re looking to explore all the possibilities of your vape gear, there are plenty of cutting edge kits out there to look at. A mod with replaceable batteries should be a priority, and it is worth looking at some of the more progressive tanks that offer a range of coil types and strengths (resistance levels). While some of these might be more suited for vapers with a few months of experience, there’s no harm in planning for your next set-up – just make sure you have deep pockets!
Let's Talk Choices?
Cig-A-Likes are a common introduction to vaping, as they’re widely available and cheap. However, we at Spinfuel would not recommend them. The vapor is widely regarded as unsatisfactory and flavors are limited, which means you are not getting a true representation of what vaping can be like. Also, the battery life is generally poor, increasing the risk of reverting back to cigarettes if the battery runs out at an inopportune moment. There are enough affordable mod and tank combinations that there is simply no need to use these outdated e-cigarettes. But if you are convinced that Cig-A-Likes are your best first option, here are some handy hints.
Batteries – Make sure you have a back-up battery. Any decent Cig-A-Like starter kit will come with two batteries, so ensure one is always fully charged.
Price – Not all Cig-A-Likes are priced the same. Never pay over $60 for a Cig-A-Like kit that contains two batteries and five cartomizers. Similarly, you shouldn’t pay more than $12 for a pack of five cartomizers.
Avoid Hidden Costs – Some unscrupulous vendors include recurring payments, such as ‘auto-shipment’ or offer a free starter kit that you are charged an extortionate amount at a later date. You can read more about this in our article about E-Cig Scams.
Consider Upgrading – If you enjoy your Cig-A-Like and it works for you, do consider upgrading to a box mod and tank set-up. In the long-run this can save you money, as well as providing a much better quality vaping experience.
First Box Mod
Your chances of successfully switching from cigarettes to vaping are much stronger with a box mod set-up. As discussed in the battery section, this is the device that provides the power to your tank. If you are determined that plus-ohm vaping is all you need, you will need a battery that can put out roughly 20-30 watts of power. Various respected brands make these kinds of mods, such as eLeaf and Innokin. However, these lower-powered mods usually come with built-in batteries that cannot be replaced. A better option is to buy a mod with replaceable batteries and higher wattage, allowing the possibility of trying sub-ohm vaping one day. Here are our suggestions when it comes to buying your first box mod.
Batteries – The smart choice is replaceable batteries. You can find decent beginner’s box mods that take one or two 18650 replaceable batteries. Buy at least two extra batteries and a Nitecore battery charger. Always keep these spare batteries with you as a backup, and always keep them in a safe battery holder.
Power – Your mod should have variable wattage, and to give you the option of both sub-ohm and plus-ohm vaping, and should have an output of at least 40 watts. If you’re interested in sub-ohm vaping 75 watts is better, providing your budget allows.
Keep It Simple – For this purchase, we recommend keeping things simple. Modern mods can come with all manner of bonus features, such as Bluetooth connectivity, touchscreen and firmware updates. Unless you’re a hobbyist who wants to futureproof your device, these features are not necessary at this stage. Temperature Control can be useful but we advise you spend a few months vaping with Variable Wattage before tackling this feature. If you’re curious, you can read more about this in our TC guide.
Established Brands – Don’t go for cheap knock-offs when buying such a powerful piece of kit. It’s best to stick to trusted brands. Here at Spinfuel we have had positive experiences with Aspire, Joyetech, Kanger, eLeaf, WISMEC, and Innokin, although there are many more companies entering the market. Keep checking our review section for the latest equipment and our opinions and impressions on these new mods and tanks.
As we explained in our atomizer section, the tank is a key element in deciding the type and quality of vapor you inhale. The battery or mod section provides power but choosing the right tank is crucial. Here are some points to keep in mind when it comes to purchasing your first tank.
Plus-Ohm – There are some advantages for the vaper who wants a dedicated plus-ohm tank. These are generally cheaper and less complicated than sub-ohm tanks, though there are fewer models to purchase. Aspire are the market leader when it comes to plus-ohm, with the Nautilus, Mini Nautilus and Mini Triton tanks proving popular with vapers who prefer the mouth-to-lung style inhale. Just recently, Aspire introduced a small, Mouth to Lung tank with 1.5-ohm coils that promise to give an excellent vape for plus-ohm, mouth-to-lung users. (Nautilus X)
Sub-Ohm – There is much more variety when it comes to sub-ohm vaping, and in recent years most innovation in vaping has been based on these tanks. Make sure your box mod is powerful enough to heat the coils – a 0.5ohm coil can be vaped at 30w, but as coil resistance lowers you will need more power output for a satisfying vape. Many manufacturers make good quality sub-ohm tanks. Check our review section for companies such as Uwell, Kanger, Joyetech, Aspire and SMOK.
Go For Both – The best option for new vapers is to buy a tank that offers coils for both plus and sub ohm vaping. Many tank companies have started to offer both coils with their tanks, so you can try both out and see which you enjoy most. Joyetech, Kanger and SMOK, and Aspire all offer 1.5 or 1.2 ohm coils despite being mostly designed for coils with resistance under 1 ohm. However, the vape from a plus-ohm coil is affected by the size of the tank and the shape of the drip tip, and some plus-ohm vapers claim the experience can be inferior to a dedicated plus-ohm tank.
Coils – Coils can be expensive, and you should be aware that they will need replacing often – this can range from a couple of days to several weeks. Most manufacturers offer a wide range of resistance strengths, but there are also coil types with various metal materials for heating elements, such as Kanthal for Variable Wattage mods, Stainless Steel, Pure Nickel (Ni200) Titanium (Ti) for temperature control mods. Some coil heads off Single, Dual, and even Triple coils within the coil head. And not to confuse the matter, but when you are ready you can delve into coil builds for specialty coils, including Clapton coils (and many more). This means you can spend a lot of money testing them out before finding your favorite type. While this range of choice is useful, you should be aware that larger coils, such as those for the SMOK TFV4 are more expensive than others, although they do tend to last longer.
Then there is the Ceramic Coil Heads – Ceramic Coils are making a big splash on vape scene. There are many advantages of today’s modern ceramic materials, they are porous so as to allow e liquid to saturate the coil wire inside the ceramic core, and they last a very long time…up to 3 months. Trusted ceramic coils can be had from Atom Vapes gCeramic series, Vaporesso cCell coil heads, and others. Refer to our Spinfuel Reviews by using our Search option and simply type in ‘ceramic’ and you’ll see reviews for ceramic tanks and coils.
Drip Tips – The shape of the drip can affect the vape in noticeable ways. If you prefer mouth-to-lung vaping, it’s usually best to use a long narrow drip tip, while direct-lung vapers often go for wide-bore drip tips. Most tanks allow you to replace these, although some have top-fill systems, such as the Uwell Rafale and the Aspire Mini Triton, that prevent this.
Many options and choices when deciding on vape gear, think about needs vs wants.
Secondary or Backup Vape Gear
In time, it’s inevitable that you’ll want a second mod. While it’s important to carry fully charged batteries, this isn’t always possible and if your gear runs out of power you might end up reverting to cigarettes, and no one wants that. To avoid this, it’s common for most vapers to have one or more backup vaping kits. Many hobbyists will build a collection of mods and tanks over time that will number in the dozens.
Here are some ideas to consider for when you reach this stage.
Be Creative – Now you’re committed to vaping, you can be more adventurous with your purchases. If you like the design of a new mod, and the reviews are positive, there’s no harm in spending the money you’ve saved on smoking to buy it.
Futureproof – With a few months of experience under your belt, you can buy vape gear with more options. While a New Vaper should avoid complex set-ups, now that you know the ropes it can be useful to buy a box mod with functions that can keep up with innovations in vape technology.
Luxury Mods – This is a category of mods reserved for hobbyist vapers with disposable income. Luxury mods might not offer technologies that less expensive mods offer, but some offer superior building materials, and aesthetics that demand a higher price. A tube-shaped mod from ProVape is a US made mod that sells for around $200 but it will last decades. ProVape released their Box Mod, called the ‘Radius’, that offer basic variable wattage with military grade craftsmanship. Others, like the DNA200 mods are all between $150-$300, but they are often built like tanks (the war machine type) and designed with a lot of flair and sophistication.
Built-In Obsolescence – A sad fact about most modern technology from China (where 90% or more of the vape gear is manufactured) is that it’s not designed to last forever. In fact, it’s not designed to last more than a year in most cases. While some items have a solid and sturdy build and a longer lifespan, others have many points of failure. When your primary mod fails, it’s vital to have a back-up option so you can continue vaping.
Variety – A secondary mod can also provide a different kind of vape. Many vapers have one mod solely for plus-ohm vaping, with a more powerful model used for sub-ohm vaping. If you prefer different flavors at different times of the day, you can have different tanks dedicated to specific flavors if you want.
To Sum Up
In this section we took a comprehensive look at what you, the reader, wants from vaping. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to vaping, so the best option is to make your own decision using our comprehensive advice.
Using the information in this guide, you should browse our review section and read detailed information about the mods and tanks that are currently available before making your first purchase. In the next section of our guide, we’ll look to offer you some guidance when it comes to choosing e-juice, as well as tips on how to handle, and possibly reduce, your nicotine intake. Like this section, we cannot suggest that you purchase any specific brands or flavors, but we’ll try to offer some inside information on some of the brands our Spinfuel eLiquid Review Team has reviewed over the past 4.5 years.