OKCigs (UK) eCigarette Review by Dave Foster
We have watched our UK brothers and sisters deal with their ‘government’ issues concerning eCigarettes and have, at least, given moral support whenever possible. Because of that, I think, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in UK readership for Spinfuel eMagazine and the News Blog. Where we used to hoover around 3.5% of total readers we’re now enjoying 12-13% most months. Without giving too much away, that equates to thousands of people every month popping over the pond to read what was, and still is, mainly a US eCigarette eMagazine.
The bulk of our content is reviews, of e liquids and e cigarette hardware, and we also publish quite a bit of commentary. In any case, hardware reviews are clearly viable for both the US and the UK because they are products you can buy in both countries, but our e liquid reviews are different. Most vapers in the UK buy UK e liquids, though more and more are taking the time and effort to order premium e liquids from the US.
Beginning today, with this review, we are opening our doors to the UK eCigarette ‘Starter Kit’ market. By that I mean we plan to review more cig-a-like kits. Kits that are sold only in the UK market, which I think would be of interest to UK and US vapers.
Our first official UK eCigarette review is for OKCigs, a premium line of cig-a-likes that I’ve been interested in trying for months. I was delighted to be able to hook up with OKCigs, and after spending a couple of weeks vaping all their various tobacco flavors, and one cherry flavor, and really putting their battery to the test, I am excited to finally talk about this brand.
OKCigs will appeal to vapers looking for that traditional analog smoking experience. They haven’t expanded their flavors much beyond tobacco flavors, with the exception of ‘cherry’, and the different tobaccos are separated by the amount of nicotine and the boldness of the tobacco flavor. While you can distinguish the different strengths of tobacco they are similar in taste.
OKCigs from the UK
Here is the list of OKCigs tobaccos I’ve been vaping behind the scenes for the past two weeks.
Gold – 4.5% nicotine – Tobacco
Bold – 3.0% nicotine – Tobacco
Light – 1.5% nicotine – Tobacco
Menthol Bold – 4.5% nicotine Menthol Tobacco
Menthol Light – 3.0% nicotine Menthol Tobacco
Zero – Tobacco 0% nicotine tobacco
Light Cherry – 1.5% nicotine – Cherry Flavored
I’ll have a bit to say about each one, but first, let’s get the negatives out of the way. There are a couple, but nothing that’s a deal killer.
Battery – I like the battery. It has a gold band where the cartomizer and battery meet and it gives it a kind of sophisticated look. It’s a little shorter but a little heavier than most batteries used by US brands. It lasts long enough for a battery of its size, and I think you would like the performance.
Unfortunately, OKCigs doesn’t divulge the mAh rating or the voltage output. My tests with a dedicated voltage reader I picked up from MyVaporStore for $20 shows that a fully charged battery outputs 3.7v, and then gracefully decreases as you use it. It’s got a nice feel to it; it feels like a paper wrapper much like an analog cigarette, only heavier. Adopting a ‘smokers’ approach to these cig-a-likes I got close to the equivalent of a half a pack of analogs before the battery needed recharging.
When you buy an OKCigs starter kit you get only a single battery. I can never understand why companies do this so I’m left to speculate, and I don’t enjoy speculating. Might they offer just one battery in order to keep the price down, or are the kits sold mainly as an ‘impulse buy’, or a quick pickup if you happened to leave your main eCigarette at home, or is it something else? I don’t know, though I do know that any single-battery kit is usually a problem the very first time you need to recharge it and are left without a battery to vape with. Do you supplement that with an analog cigarette while you wait for the battery to recharge? Is it an UK thing, where most brands are sold in single battery kits?
OKCigs has put together a value deal that they called their “Committed Smoker” package. While it’s certainly one way to get an extra battery in the mix, it’s an unusual solution. The Committed Smoker Starter Kit will get you: Two Rechargeable batteries + Two 3-packs of refill cartomizers and 2 USB adapters. The price for this kit is just $58.12USD. The only problem is that you won’t get a wall adapter or a car adapter.
I suppose the best thing to do if OKCigs is your desired brand is to buy the first kit, and then add the Committed Smoker kit later. What I would like to see at some point is a bona fide 2-battery starter kit.
The Starter Kit – Rechargeable version
The starter kit contains a small, tall cardboard box that resembles the old free samples of cigarette packs they used to give away in Vegas and Atlantic City. It contains two cartomizers, a USB adapter and one battery. In addition to what’s in the box you get a wall adapter (a huge one compared to the US) a car charger, and a 3-pack of cartomizers for a total of 5 cartomizers.
The price for of all the above is, in US dollars, $41.15, a very affordable price. A 3-pack of cartomizers is on the expensive side for the US market, coming in at $16.60 for 3 cartos. (A possible explanation for the cost is below) But again, a single battery in the kit is the problem. They don’t appear to sell batteries a la carte, not that I could see anyway, so if you want another battery then you need to buy a second starter kit or the ‘Committed Smoker’ package.
So, where does OKCigs Cigs shine?
If I used cig-a-likes more than I do I would seriously consider using OKCigs as my exclusive brand. They would of course have to include a US wall adapter, and a USB adapter that works with US computers as well. Because where OKCigs really shines is in the tobacco flavors in their cartomizers and the length of time they last.
40 Cigarettes per Cartomizer?
OKCigs tells us on their website that each cartomizer is equivalent to 40 cigarettes. I don’t know the formulation they are using to come up with that figure, but considering that 40 analogs make up 2 packs of cigarettes, it is a bold claim to make. I decided to test that claim just as we would do when we look at eCigarette brands in the US.
The Puffs Equation: 12 puffs per cigarette x 20 12-puff sessions = one pack.
During my normal vaping times I use larger batteries and clearomizers/tanks, and I vape probably close to 10ML of eLiquid a day. At 12 puffs per cigarette that’s 4+ packs a day. I vape all the time, never going more than 5 or 6 minutes before picking it back up and vaping again. So, testing the cartomizer would require something different than my usual vaping habit.
Beginning the first morning of my official testing of the brand’s claim of 40 cigarettes per cartomizer I placed a fresh cartomizer on the battery. I then took 12 drags as hard as I used to when I smoked cigarettes, and then put it down. Remembering back to my smoking days I would smoke a pack a day, 20 cigarettes over 24 hours, minus 6 hours for sleeping, or 20 cigarettes over 18 hours. I decided that I would take my 12 drags and put it down to 50 minutes, then pick it back up and do it all over again.
Fifty minutes between vapes is a long time for me, so I supplemented my vaping with my normal hardware and e Liquid. I set my iPhone to remind me every 50 minutes (each 50 minute period began after the 12th drag), so that I wouldn’t forget to vape the eCigarette.
I maintained that style of vaping for 4 days and now I can say with certainty that each cartomizer does indeed last for the equivalent of nearly 40 cigarettes, providing the vaper uses the 12 puffs per cigarette equation. I was not only surprised that it would last that long, but the amount of vapor and flavor did not diminish until the last 2 or 3 vape ‘sessions’. I probably could have gotten more out of them, but I wasn’t trying to see how long they would last, just that they would, or wouldn’t, last the 40 cigarettes OKCigs claims. And they do. Whatever the reason, I was very pleased with the length of time these cartomizers lasted.
Vapor Production and Throat Hit
Vapor production was excellent on all the tobacco flavors and the Light Cherry. I can’t tell you the PG/VG makeup of the e liquid they use, but from the throat hit I received from all the flavors except ‘Zero Tobacco’ the PG has to be pretty high. If they are 50/50 blends I’d find that remarkable. OKCigs also creates their own unique flavors, they don’t buy off the shelf eLiquid or use some general purpose Chinese eliquid. They spend months and months coming up with recipes that would please today’s smokers.
Like everybody else in the office I use the X.Jet Spider quite a bit, and I’m not going to try to tell you that the OKCigs cartomizers produced the same amount of vapor as the Spider, but it did outperform the few cartomizers we had here that still worked, namely Blu Cig’s classic tobacco and Pina Colada. Vapor production blew away Blu Cigs, and made minced meat out of peach from South Beach. With a fully charged battery I would estimate the vapor production to be about 70% of the vapor in a 50/50 PG/VG ratio in an X.Jet Clearomizer. In other words, pretty darn good, especially for a cig-a-like.
The Throat hit on the higher nicotine flavors was excellent as well. The Bold has 4.5% nicotine content, the Gold has 3%, and the Light has 1.5%, and then it starts over with the various Menthols. The Light Cherry I had was 1.5% (15mg) and the throat hit was very pleasant. The Bold, at 4.5% was much too hard for me, but Tom loved it.
Bold, Gold, and Light tobacco flavors were all rich, slightly sweet, and full-flavored tobaccos that you would expect with high-end cigarettes. There is a definite cigarette taste to the tobaccos and cigarette smoke with the vapor, which may or may not be something you want. M-Type from The Plume Room is similar, but won’t taste the same tobacco leaf flavors you would get from Rocket Fuel Vapes or Hurricane Vapor. OKCigs is going for that current cigarette smoker, not the hobbyist vaper looking for a wide variety of flavors. To vape an OKCigs eCigarette is like vaping a “safe” cigarette.
Menthol Flavors (continued on Page Two)
Just about every menthol cartomizer I’ve had over the past couple of years tasted awful. Some were so bad I couldn’t even give it an honest try. Menthol can be ‘minty’, cough syrupy’, or ‘icy’. OKCigs lean more toward ‘icy’, or very much like smoking a Kool, or Salem. My girlfriend says they taste like Marlboro Menthol, her old brand, but the point is they taste like menthol cigarettes, not cough syrup or mints. Unlike most of the staff I enjoy a good menthol, and I vaped all the menthol cartomizers that were sent my way, 6 in all, in Bold and Light. Again, the Bold cartomizers have a higher nicotine level than I’m used to, 45mg, and I wouldn’t have been able to all-day-vape a Bold at all. Heavy smokers though would love the Bold Tobacco or Menthol.
The Light Cherry (1.5% nicotine) was by far my favorite flavor, and I am not even a big cherry fan. This was a like a creamy, full-flavored sweet cherry e liquid I would buy by the bottle. I only received 3 of them, so I vaped them only when I had the time to sit back and relax with them, not at work doing other things. It was tough to stick to the “12 puffs and down” method with Light Cherry. I could have pacified vaped all 3 of them.
I was surprised, and delighted, to see such a marked difference between a UK cig-a-like brand and a US brand. When it comes to a vaper that chooses to vape a more traditional eCigarette, the cig-a-like, this is an excellent brand to use.
It is clear to me that OKCigs has staked out that part of the market that wants to appeal to smokers looking for a similar, albeit much safer way to continue smoking. The flavors are all cigarette tobacco flavors, not pipe tobacco, and certainly not fancy-flavored-fusion tobaccos.
If you live in the UK and you’re looking for a great smoking experience in an eCigarette you should definitely give OKCigs a try. If you live in the US and have not been able to find that smoking experience in a cig-a-like form, then reaching out across the pond makes sense.
I would like to see OKCigs put together a two-battery starter kit, and I would love to know if single battery kits are the norm in the UK. I just can’t see waiting around for the battery to recharge; I would need a second battery without a doubt.
Given the fact that the cartomizers obviously hold more e liquid than any I’ve seen in most brands in the US, and that they passed my test for the 2-pack claim, (which I thought would never happen) I can’t really fault their $16 price tag, especially knowing how a Blu Cig cartomizer (5 for $13) never lasts more than 10 cigarettes worth, if that.
I came into this review expecting to see and taste pretty much what we have here in the US, but the results were so much better than I believed they would be. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’d say that OKCigs is definitely a 5 Star in flavor/vapor/throat hit, a 5 Star in the cartomizer/cigarette equivalency, and 4 for the battery.
We hope to be able to offer a UK product review at least on a monthly basis. So if you’re based in the UK and have certain brands you would like to see reviewed in Spinfuel eMagazine let us know. We’ll contact the company and invite them to be reviewed.