It takes a lot to get me excited about a squonk mod these days. Like I’ve mentioned before, there’s only so much innovation that can come from limited wattage and silicone bottles. But I was excited to get this relative newcomer on my desk – the Nikola Niagara 200W regulated squonk mod. I just wish was still excited after using it.
Oh, don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of positives to find in the Niagara, especially when compared to the awesome but unwieldy Geek Vape GBOX (reviewed here), or the countless underpowered, unregulated squonk boxes out there. But the Niagara hasn’t quite yet earned a place at the table.
My first impression of the dual-18650 Niagara wasn’t a good one. Looks are subjective, but I find the squatty, dense, top-button design to be a little too rotund for my tastes. The Niagara is definitely pocket-friendly (as pocket-friendly as an open-fronted squonker can be, anyway) but the odd mix of girth, curves and angles makes for a mixed visual bag.
For starters, the recessed RDA section makes it feel like you’re biting/swallowing the entire top of the compact box, which makes for an amusing visual, unless you’re the one actually using it. More importantly, the lack of airflow around the RDA means there’s a bunch of residual heat that comes whenever firing. On a 60-watt squonker, I’m not too concerned. But at the Niagara’s max of 200 watts? Well, have that Chapstick ready, friends.
The top-mounted, “detonator-like” button doesn’t look too comfortable, but I got used to thumb-firing the mod pretty easily. Considering how close you’ll be holding the Niagara to your mouth because of the RDA placement, the thumb position isn’t as much of a concern as you’d think. Definitely a “try before you buy” offering, but I was proven wrong after firing it up.
One thing I didn’t get used to was refilling. The Nikola Niagara comes with one solitary 6mL silicone bottle, which is perfectly adequate, save for two things. One, it’s proprietary, so your other squonk bottles aren’t going to work right here. Two, it’s a lousy 6mL, with a cap design that really limits you to about five. Because if you overfill the thing, prepare to wipe down the inner casing for an hour trying to absorb e-liquid from every crevice on the device.
(And you WILL overfill and spill. Quote me on it.)
I understand the need to conserve space for a comfortable, compact hand feel. But anyone who thought matching 200 watts, dual 18650 batteries and a mere 6mL of capacity clearly doesn’t understand squonking or value your time. Within minutes of testing the Niagara, I was disassembling the rig, refilling and inevitably wiping down the mod from excess spillage.
This part was made more difficult by a fiddly bottle compartment door, AND a too-loose bottom battery door, which has an odd way of latching, leading me to dump fully charged cells onto my desk more than once. For all the advancements modern vape mods make, why am I still mentioning battery doors in my reviews? Because companies still can’t master this geometry, that’s why.
The side-positioned display was a nice highlight. It’s nothing spectacular, nor does it need to be. But the vertically oriented OLED display does one thing particularly well – it doesn’t look like anything else out there. The screen simply conveys what you need, illustrates adjustment options in the linear menu system, and lets you go about your day. It’s attractive and functional – a strangely rare combination these days.
Speaking of which, the menus are very straightforward, and with good reason – the Niagara has no ridiculous temperature control modes. And that goodness for that. I can count on one finger the number of people I know that use TC modes on squonk mods (and that finger ain’t pointing in my direction). Instead, the Niagara sticks to smooth-ramping wattage, with adjustable preheat/ramp settings, all of which provide distinct experiences.
The physical mechanics are equally strong. Not only are the fire and control buttons firm and clicky, but they’re uber-responsive, leading to near-immediate rushes of flavor and vapor from whatever RDA you have attached to the deep 510 connector.
If only the included 25mm Niagara Squonk RDA was worthy of the ink. Unfortunately, even though the companion atomizer looks fantastic when connected, the performance is middling at best. The staggered dual-post build deck seems like it wants to be innovative, but the positioning of the ports just makes it annoying to build on, limiting the creativity considerably.
Once I had a build in place and wicked appropriately, the squonk performance was aggressive. Even the most minor squeezes rushed juice through the shallow juice well, and to the coil in milliseconds, leading to several floods out of the Niagara RDA’s lower-positioned airflow. Hell, I accidentally bumped a half-full bottle once, and found liquid seeping out the side.
Worse yet, after I got a handle on the physics, the RDA’s flavor and vapor production was just average. Nothing horrendous, but nothing I’d dedicate a review to, either. After switching to other BF-RDAs, I saw more flavor and performance, but the intense juice flow remained an issue no matter how deep the juice wells were.
Ironically, using the Geek Vape Radar RDA, which was included in the GBOX kit, provided the most satisfying experience overall.
Nikola Niagara Squonk Mod Specs:
- 6ml silicone bottle
- Wattage range: 7~200W
- Voltage range: 1~7.5V
- Resistance range: 0.1~3ohm
- Powered by 2 x 18650 batteries (not included)
- USB charging: 5V / 1A
- Taste mode: Norm / Soft / Hard / User
- Memory mode: M1 / M2 / M3
- 0.96inch OLED display;
Nikola Niagara Squonk-Ready RDA:
- Diameter: 25mm;
- Stainless steel construction;
- 510 threading connection;
- Adjustable airflow control;
- Removable wide bore drip tip;
- Comes with bottom feeder pin
Nikola Niagara Squonk Kit Contents:
- 1x Niagara Squonk 200W Mod
- 1x Niagara Squonk RDA
- 1x User Manual
There’s honestly not much to say here beyond what’s already printed. Overall, I somewhat liked my time with the Niagara… at least after swapping out the semi-lame RDA. Once I got control of the mechanics, I found it easy to use with one hand, both when removing the top cap and squonking with a ring finger. And I imagine squonk enthusiasts will feel the same way.
One annoying quirk is how hypersensitive the “old/new atomizer” feature is, because not only did it ask me this every time I slightly tightened the RDA base, but it even started asking when I tilted the mod past a certain point, or when removing the top cap.
What was worse was how my coils continually read at different resistances after the Niagara asked me “old/new?” for the umpteenth time in a row. The resistances never jumped once set, but every time the question appeared onscreen, I’d notice a different number before the ohm symbol.
Still, while that was a pain in the neck, my biggest concern with the Niagara is the amount of refilling I had to do. Even the GBOX wasn’t this needy. Sure, part of it can be attributed to juice loss and overflooding from the aggressive squonk mechanics. And it might also be related to the RDA itself. But it’s mostly about that disappointing number 6… as in 6mL of capacity.
The Nikola Niagara is a better-than-average dual-18650 squonk mod, hindered by odd format and a poor companion RDA. I saw much better flavor performance after swapping in a more reputable atomizer, but nothing can change the fact that the Niagara loses points for lack of convenience and questionable design choices. I like the stout appearance, and the fact that a dual-18650 squonker can fit in my pocket, but some of these flaws simply outweigh the positives.