The Johnson Creek Vea Review
I like ‘Fine Things’ and I always have. From my first Rolex (a relatively cheap stainless steel) to my collection of Mont Blanc fountain pens, right down to my Jura Impressa J9 Once Touch TFT coffee maker and every Apple product I’ve ever purchased, I’ve found that the finer things are always worth acquiring. They may cost more but they last forever. Of course, unless you’re rich these fine things are about the ‘only’ things you own. Which is fine by me. I live sparsely, but what I do have will be with me for decades.
With the finer things in life in mind, I purchased the new Johnson Creek Vea after seeing how magnificently it was constructed. With care and precision I’ve not seen in a vaping product to date, I was impressed beyond words. And when I saw the price tag I was even more impressed. At $59.99 (at johnsoncreeksmokejuice.com) the price is much lower than I expected.
But before I get into the proper review it might be worth providing a little background on my vaping experience. Everything is seen from a perspective, and to know my perspective is to better understand my review.
From Smoker to Vaper
When I decided that I could no longer believe my own lies about tobacco cigarettes, in that cigarettes kill but you must carry the cancer gene or the heart disease gene (neither of which my mother and father gene pool has had in many generations), I made the decision to use an eCigarette to wean myself off all types of smoking. Discovering that only 10% of all cancers are gene-related can scare the hell out of you, it certainly did me, so I stopped smoking tobacco products in order to gain better odds.
It’s been two years ago since I took up vaping and when I made another decision, that eCigarettes pose no real cancer or heart disease risks, I determined that it was something I wanted to continue doing. So I have.
Now, following in my past desires to only acquire the finer things in life I started off in vaping with American Blue Tip and then I moved on to Blu Cigs after Blu moved to the 2-piece eCig. I stuck with Blu Cigs right up until 2 weeks ago when the long-awaited Johnson Creek Vea finally began shipping. I loved using Blu Cigs products, and I still do, so while the Vea is my main vaping source today I maintain about 20% for using Blu Cigs. Blu Cigs uses specially blended Johnson Creek smoke juice so there is a certain synchronicity to the whole thing.
Vea – The Right Way
If you know any Latin you might know that Vea is Latin for “The Right Way”, (don’t believe me, check here: http://www.stars21.com/translator/latin_to_english.html), a term that certainly describes Johnson Creek’s first foray into the hardware side of the electronic cigarette market.
Engineered Like No Other
The first thing you notice about the Johnson Creek Vea is that it is a finely engineered device that was obviously designed by a team that understands and is passionate about vaping. Designed as a brand new device, a standalone product of such perfection you cannot help but feel that old American pride in a “job well done”.
The Vea is coated with a rubberized finish that feels great to the touch. Once you pick it up you know it isn’t going to slip off your hand, and yet it feels rich, delicate, but tough too. You’ll want to run your fingers along the length of the device in order to feel the luxurious of the finish. It instantly impresses.
The Johnson Creek logo, that of the majestic oak, is finely and ever-so-lightly imprinted onto the rubberized finish just as the logo for an expensive china is imprinted onto the back of the chinaware. Subtle, but it says so much about the mindset that went into it. This is a testament to the finer things in life and a testament to the dedication of the design team.
Every piece of this exquisite device has been thought out so precisely, that even the cone that covers the cartomizer was designed to maximize air flow, (which adds to the experience of vaping with the Vea,) and it slips over the end of the battery instead of being screwed onto the battery. It holds extremely well, and it adds to the overall feeling that this is both something new, and something refined.
The Roots of the Vea
I’ve had previous experiences with standard eCigs and devices generically called “ego” as well as most of their variants. The best of which is the Apollo TGo. To begin to understand the Johnson Creek Vea we need to start there, with the ‘ego’ concept.
These devices all began with a simple system that is comprised of a larger, more powerful battery than is used in the standard eCigarette battery, an atomizer and some kind of tank/cartridge to contain the smoke juice.
Depending on the tank/cartridge, as well as the power of the battery, the ego carries various letters next to the name that indicates which device it ultimately will wind up being. Sold at anywhere between $50-$90 dollars, these devices sell extremely well.
A friend of mine is an Apollo TGo loyalist and you never see him without it. I myself have used the TGo, as well as a few others, as I was looking for a device that would do right by the exquisite juices made by Johnson Creek. Ultimately, I tired of leaky cartridges and cleaning atomizers that became clogged because of those leaky cartridges, so it wasn’t long before I settled into a long, and still going, relationship with Blu Cigs.
The Johnson Creek Vea is a product that has the unique blend of the larger battery available to eGo/TGo users (only much more advanced), and the cartomizer concept available on modern eCigarettes like Blu Cigs; it is the best of both worlds, but a product of neither. It is revolutionary in its concept, not evolutionary. Johnson Creek may very well want to call it an eCigarette, but it to me, and many others, is more than that.
The Lowly Cartomizer
Like the eGo and TGo devices the early days of eCigarettes consisted of 3 pieces as well. Comprised of a small, cigarette-like battery instead of the larger eGo size battery, and a cartridge that contained a mesh material that was infused with smoke juice, and between the two sat an atomizer that turned the juice into the vapor we all inhale. It was like this for quite some time, and companies like American Blue Tip sold a lot of them. This was the world of eCigarettes before the next jump in technology.
The biggest leap to come to eCig industry was a combination of an atomizer and a cartridge; it is called the “cartomizer”. This invention is responsible for a huge increase in eCig users because it made vaping easy and relatable, more closely simulating tobacco cigarette smoking.
The cartomizer functions as the “filter” on a regular cigarette, with a mesh of material that is infused with smoke juice like the abovementioned cartridge, and a tiny strand of fine wire running through it (the atomizer), which creates the heat that vaporizes the juice. Each time you screw on a new cartomizer you are screwing on a new atomizer as well. No more cleaning expensive atomizers, just use and toss. No more 3-piece hassles. It was truly a Godsend.
The cartomizer did more for the eCig business than anything else at that point. Including the marvelous ability to mellow out some rather cheap and awful juices you wouldn’t dare use in an eGo/TGo device. There is something about the cartomizer that gives it the ability to deliver a better tasting, thicker vapor experience over the use of an atomizer and cartridge combination. At least to me.
The Vea Cartomizer – The Right Way To Make A Cartomizer
While the cartomizer turned the eCig industry on its head and helped millions of people make the switch from tobacco to eCigs, they can be a pain in a butt at times. It is hard to remove the end cap to fill it with juice, they can and do leak, and they are good for roughly 3 refills of juice. Where the cartomizer truly shined was in the prefilled arena, where eCig companies sprung up on the Internet offering eCigs with their special blends of smoke juice already infused into their cartomizers.
Johnson Creek has designed a near perfect cartomizer to work with the Vea, (although you can use these cartomizers with other batteries) while at the same time setting a new standard that will ultimately make its way to most eCig brands. Johnson Creek did not invent a brand new product, but rather it improved an existing product immensely.
The Johnson Creek cartomizer was, like the Vea, designed from the ground up, and designed in such a way as to maximize the flavor and vapor that can be produced by the Vea battery and the line of Johnson Creek smoke juice. It’s like a winning a trifecta with its powerful and advanced lithium-ion battery, a near perfect cartomizer and smoke juice, each maximizing the other to create a vaping experience that was unheard of until now.
The Vea cartomizer holds a bit more than 1ML of smoke juice, enough to last most of us more than a day of vaping. Adding the smoke juice is very easy; the black rubber cap comes off easily enough with a tug by your finger or fingernail. Johnson Creek added a thin lip design that allows easy removal. No more struggling with removing cartomizer caps.
When filling a Vea Cartomizer you remove the cap and fill it up to the top of the mesh material, making sure not to get juice into the hole in the middle (if you do, simply blow it out before using). Make sure the material has been saturated with juice and let it sit a few minutes. Some may disagree, but to me allowing the juice to rest in the mesh, even overnight, gives the user a richer taste while still maintaining a nice throat hit. Using any cartomizer seconds after filling gives ME a burning sensation at the back of the throat. I find it akin to drinking Gin from a still. (And yes, being from Atlanta I’ve had the pleasure of drinking booze from a still in my neighbor’s backyard, an investment banker working in Peachtree Plaza with a penchant for making booze. Go figure.)
Johnson Creek says that tests show their cartomizer lasts 3 times longer than other cartomizers, so extrapolating that most cartomizers can easily be refilled 3 times (more like 4 or 5 most of the time), the JC cartomizer should work fine with at least 12 refills, making them very economical.
You would expect that these large, finely crafted cartomizers would cost more than other cartomizers of lesser quality, but you’d be wrong. At the cost of $11.99 for 5 blank cartomizers, and $15.99 for 5 prefilled cartomizers they sit right in the middle of the pricing range. That alone certainly explains why Johnson Creek has been out of stock on blank cartomizers since less than a week after launch. More should be available in mid-June, and I suspect the next shipment won’t last very long either. From what I understand Johnson Creek is so backordered on blank cartomizers that as of today you can’t even place an order for them.
I don’t suspect that we will see ample supply, readily available to ship, for a few months. If you decide to buy a Vea I recommend you order as many blank or prefilled cartomizers that your budget allows when they are available to order, just in case they are out of stock the next time you need them. (Interestingly, prefilled cartomizers are available now.)
The Vea Battery
The battery is a 650-mAh lithium-ion rechargeable. It will last a long time, a few days at least, before it needs to be recharged, and the Vea comes with two batteries so there is no way you’re going to run out of power no matter how much you vape. In addition, the lithium-ion can be recharged a few hundred times, you can expect a few years of use before needing to purchase another. The Vea uses a 3-click off/on system. Click 3 times to turn the battery on or off.
Johnson Creek has added several safety measures into the battery design as well. There are vent holes at the bottom of the battery near the end cap, and vent holes at the top. These holes serve to allow something called “outgassing” to prevent a very unlikely overcharge or short circuit or some other far-fetched idea. Like everything else, Johnson Creek designed in safety measures far beyond the norm.
Even the end cap of the battery is thoughtfully designed; its thin and light weight, screws securely into place, and has a nice V cutout that allows the light in the battery to shine through. Yes, it’s a marketing thing, but I like it. If you don’t you can buy a plain end cap without the V cutout.
Pass Through Technology
Charging the battery is a pretty straightforward approach. Unscrew the end cap at the bottom of the battery, attach the mini-USB cable to it, and plug the other end into a computer USB port or use the wall adapter and plug into an outlet. When plugged in a red light indicates that it is charging, when done the light shuts off. When plugged into a computer USB port you can use the Vea as a pass-through device and vape while it charges.
Real World Experience
I’ve had my Vea a little more than a week. It has worked flawlessly. It feels great to the touch and it is extremely well balanced. Because you place the end of the cartomizer in your mouth and not a flattened plastic tip it feels much more like an eCigarette than any larger eGo derivative.
The vapor production is first class. I don’t think anyone, even the harshest of critics, would complain about vapor production. Thick, warm, and plenty of taste coming through, it produces much more than any standard size eCig and more than a generic eGo system. A completely unscientific comparison with my best friend and his TGo and my Vea the vapor production was about the same. Considering my vapor was coming from a cartomizer we were both impressed. My Vea has fewer parts to worry about than his TGo, and although I don’t suspect he will give his TGo up, he praised the Vea more than I thought he would.
Who Is The Vea Customer?
I think the Vea customer is a lot like me. Perhaps not the snob that I am; but rather someone that enjoys the cartomizer experience over the atomizer/cartridge combo. Someone that wants a great tasting experience with plenty of vapor as well. Someone who is already a Johnson Creek user, or at least someone that is willing to try Johnson Creek smoke juice. You won’t find any better. And finally, if you are that someone that wants to simplify your vaping with an easy-to-use, beautiful and dependable product without spending a ton of money, the Vea is the perfect solution.
Johnson Creek Smoke Juice
Speaking of Johnson Creek smoke juice, the Vea was designed for using their smoke juice. That means that the specs of their smoke juice was used as a design spec, to get the most flavor and the most vapor from THEIR smoke juice. That’s not to say you can’t use any others, but for me Johnson Creek is the smoke juice I use, in the Vea and even in Blu Cigs.
It is more important than ever that smoke juice for any vaping product is produced in the United States. With Johnson Creek there is no need to worry about the purity of the ingredients you are vaping. Johnson Creek has an entire section on their website called “Learn” where they talk about the quality and testing of their smoke juice.
Today there are 10 flavors that come prefilled with the cartomizers for the Vea. I suspect more flavors will be made available down the road, as soon as they are able to catch their breath from an outstanding launch of the Vea.
Why Did I Buy One And Am I Glad I Did?
To be honest, after all is said and done, after all the hardware I’ve tested and purchased, and after all the brands of eCigs I’ve tried and purchased, I am a decidedly not an “eGo” or other tank system person. To me, vaping smoke juice, even Johnson Creek smoke juice, without a cartomizer, creates a taste that I just don’t like. I taste a “base” flavor in every juice I’ve tried. Perhaps it’s the glycerin, or the PG or the VG, I don’t know for sure, but I do know that the base flavor comes through every time, and depending on the juice and the maker of the juice, the amount of real flavor is ‘none to barely noticeable’ when vaped with an atomizer/cartridge. eCigs tastes much better to me than vaping smoke juice applied to an atomizer. Period.
The cartomizer concept with the Vea was the main motivator for buying one. Had it been designed with an atomizer and a cartridge instead I would have passed on it.
With respect to standard eCigarettes I was frustrated with always having to recharge my eCig batteries, or having a battery die on me when I least needed it to. Seeing the Vea, how it came from Johnson Creek, that it worked with their Cartomizer, and it used their smoke juice, I figured this would allow me to move to a much better battery solution and still stay with the cartomizer system.
I’m glad I did buy one because I am enjoying it. However, if Blu Cigs made better batteries, and if Blu Cigs stayed with their current flavor blends, and if the pricing for Blu remained the same, than no, I wouldn’t have purchased the Vea. That’s the simple truth. But because their batteries do not last long enough for my vaping habits, because they are often out of stock, and because who knows where Blu Cigs is headed now that its been purchased by Lorillard Tobacco, the Vea is the next best thing.
In The Retail Box
- 2 Vea 650 mAh batteries
- cartomizer cone (Friction mounted system)
- USB cable
- AC Adapter
- 5-pack cartomizers (prefilled or blank) +1 blank cartomizer on the device (though my Vea contained 4 cartomizers in the box, 1 cartomizer on the device.
- Plastic Warranty card
- Printed and illustrated user’s manual that is quite extensive and easy to understand.
Where To Buy
I bought mine at Premium eCigs in Melbourne Florida. Other Official Johnson Creek resellers will either stock the Vea, or order it for you. Just be aware that buying blank cartomizers may be tight for sometime, but prefilled cartomizers seem to be in stock all the time.
I’ve found that allowing a cartomizers I’ve filled with juice to mellow out a day or so taste much better than a freshly filled cartomizer makes the prefilled carts a good way to go. Though the premium you pay for being prefilled is pretty high.
I was very surprised that Johnson Creek sells the Vea for $59.99. This is less than most generic eGo systems out there.
The Apollo TGo is a fine device, built very well with many finishing touches exclusive to Apollo, but the TGo is a variant of the generic eGo. The Apollo TGo sells for $64.95. If you decide to go the atomizer/cartridge route then this is your best bet by far.
The Vea, on the other hand, is a cartomizer device, and best used with other Johnson Creek products. If you like the cartomizer way to vape and want more than the standard eCigarette can offer, then by all means the Vea is a great product for you.
At $59.99 I don’t see any way that Johnson Creek is making back the R&D costs that went into designing this impressive device, but then I come from the technology sector where prices start high to recover R&D and then come down later after the costs have been recaptured. This price point is new to me, and I’m impressed. A device this well built, that feels so good to the touch, and can produce an abundance of vapor, the Vea is a great buy. Just don’t expect to stick a Dual Coil Tank on it, it won’t happen.
Douglass O’ Hare and John Manzione