With so many products crossing our desks each week, it can be difficult to determine which items are “keepers,” and which ones end up gathering dust. Before it even arrived in my hands, I already knew the Revenant Vape Cartel BLAQ 160W Mod was going to be a keeper. And by golly, it was the right call.
If you’re a proud owner of the original Revenant Vape Cartel 160, there’s nothing the BLAQ brings to the table – on the inside, anyway. But if you want a new, gorgeous, flawlessly designed Mod for your collection, the BLAQ is a must-have device, whether or not you own the original.
Let’s see why.
Finding a Resin Mod in 2018 isn’t difficult. Once the territory of custom builders and higher-end vape companies, now everyone seems to be making Mods out this ubiquitous substance. But not all of them are doing it as well as Revenant and Vape Cartel, because this seemingly simple box Mod is simply beautiful.
My test Model featured a matte black steel frame (hence the “BLAQ” moniker) surrounding a mesmerizing blend of purple, green and blue swirled resin. To draw a comparison, if you look at the sky in Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting, you’ve got a good idea of what I’m holding right now.
Of course, describing any one Cartel Mod is pointless, since each is effectively one-of-a-kind. While you can usually pick a general color scheme, most outlets don’t offer many options when shopping. Of course, all of them are attractive, but this limited-edition practice makes each one a highly sought-after collector’s item, and I’m proud to have a second one in my collection.
Not only is the resin sharp-looking, but it’s also well-crafted, with a velvety touch that never becomes slick or sticky, like some cheaper resins can over time.
On a more functional level, the BLAQ is nearly identical to its big brother. Save for the black frame, and slightly different machining on the top and bottom plates, this is an identical Mod. Thankfully, that means it’s a great device.
Operating the Revenant Vape Cartel BLAQ 160W Mod
It’s kind of odd to describe a vibrant, loud resin Mod as “simple,” but that’s exactly the experience the BLAQ brings to the table. Rather than mess with a proven (and still HIGHLY successful formula), the Revenant-Vape Cartel partnership stuck to the plan, from top to bottom. The BLAQ is still a standard box shape – large by today’s compact standards – with smooth edges, soft grip areas, and flawless machining on all contact points and moving parts.
The BLAQ’s three-button control scheme is fairly straightforward for experienced vapers, though the third button does the lion’s share of the work for switching between Modes and presets. The well-designed user manual will be necessary for a few minutes, but the menu trees are pretty easy to learn overall.
The standard-issue 0.96-inch OLED screen is bright and displays the vital information necessary. However, this is one area in which I think the companies could have improved the BLAQ a bit. While I know they were going for an updated look on a classic Mod, the interface is comparatively boring and understated. Sure, it works fine, but I wouldn’t have minded a few more details onscreen, rather than staring at another replica DNA display.
The BLAQ is listed at 26.2mm wide, but I noticed some slight overhang with my 25mm atomizers. Of course, today’s gaudy tanks have a lot of juts, nooks and crannies throughout their designs, but this was concerning. The rock-solid 510 connection held every tank and RDA tight and flush, so there was no rattle or play. But like I mentioned in the preview, the BLAQ’s design seemed a little dated by 2017/18 standards.
Of course, we don’t vape with aesthetics, and thankfully, the stellar OMNI chipset makes sure the BLAQ delivers where it counts. While no longer the most “advanced” chipset, the OMNI still brings a lot to the table, including a fully fleshed temperature control suite, bypass Mode, TCR slots, customized curve wattage (CCW) and customized curve temperature (CCT) Modes, and a smart variable wattage system that accurately detects a coil and sets the appropriate power level.
I immediately noticed a vast improvement in the BLAQ’s coil detection versus its predecessor, and often found no need to adjust beyond a few watts in either direction.
Happily, the once-tricky temperature control adjustments have been simplified and improved with the BLAQ’s OMNI firmware. Using a wide range of coil types, the BLAQ was a pleasure to adjust and tinker with on our way to finding an ideal temperature.
Vaping the Revenant Vape Cartel BLAQ 160W Mod
Since this is effectively the same Mod as the original Revenant-Vape Cartel collaboration, there were happily no surprises with the BLAQ. This fast-ramping, highly accurate Mod easily hits its 160-watt limit on two 18650s, and can stay at this level without dramatic loss of battery power. Sure, 160 watts is hardly a big number by today’s standards, but high-power vapers can rest assured they won’t need to pack a ton of extra batteries when they head out for the day.
Wattage Mode is where I spend most of my time with the BLAQ, but as we mentioned earlier, the OMNI’s once-maligned TC has been sorted out and rectified. Using a number of test coils, the BLAQ had no problem with finicky wattage adjustment or jumpy ohm readings. To be fair, the original device wasn’t BAD with TC, but making adjustments was more difficult. Thankfully, the BLAQ’s TC is a little more “plug and play,” even when taking it down toward its lower resistance limits.
In wattage Mode, the BLAQ offers smooth, effortless ramping, even on the “soft” power setting. All of my test coils heated quickly and evenly, with no surprises, and no need to tinker with the firing power Modes. The options are there, but it was pretty damn good right out of the box.
The only negative I noticed during my time vaping the BLAQ is the weird tank overhang that stems from the curved top plate. Even relatively slender 25mm tanks seemed to stick out from the device, causing some to catch on fabric when pocketing the Mod.
Is this size a “problem” that should prevent you from buying the BLAQ? Hardly. But if any element of this classic design needed an update, perhaps an extra millimeter or two of flat surface would have allowed more tanks to sit truly flush.
Wrapping Up, and Score…
I have to say, if a few millimeters of width was my biggest gripe about the Revenant-Vape Cartel BLAQ 160W Mod, then it’s pretty clear this is a great Mod. The only other things that might prevent the BLAQ from flying off shelves is that it’s a dated design. From the boxy shape, to the limited display, to the lack of anything inherently “new and improved,” the BLAQ might suffer in the eyes of people who only want the latest in technology and enhancements.
But for vaping enthusiasts who want something altogether classy, high-performing, easy to use, and outright gorgeous, the Revenant-Vape Cartel BLAQ is a striking collector’s item that will continue to serve you for years of happy vaping. There’s a reason they didn’t change much from the original – it was a fantastic device then, and the BLAQ update only gives us more reasons to own one.