The Stratos Tank Review
The following review is geared toward the intermediate vaper. If you spend most of your vape time building coils, using mechanical mods, and shopping for the next great rebuildable, you might find this review a bit underwhelming.
When it comes to good-looking products I’m an easy sell. It’s the reason my first computer was an Apple, my first smartphone was an iPhone, and although I didn’t have any immediate use for a tablet I made sure to be the first on my block to own an iPad (and now I can’t imagine my life without one).
In the world of vaping I’m an easy mark for good-looking APV’s and glassomizers. So when I first laid eyes on the Council of Vapor Stratos I knew I had to have one…or two, with zero knowledge on how well they function. I’ve been fortunate more often than not that my “pretty things” have often been great performers as well. As you will see, my luck is holding out.
Tom and John Meet The Stratos
Tom and I have been using the new Stratos Tank from Council of Vapor exclusively for more than two weeks now. During that time we’ve used their proprietary coil heads rated at .8 Ω and 1.2 Ω, and have vaped more than half a dozen eliquids ranging from ‘High-VG’, 50:50 PG/VG, as well as a 70:30 PG/VG.
I’ve been using the Stratos stainless steel tank most of the time while Tom has been using the brass tank exclusively. I tell you this because between us we have more than 80 hours of experience with these tanks and have pushed through several bottles of ejuice through them. Our impressions, and ultimately our decisions about their value and continued use, come from a thorough period of heavy usage.
Hardware Used In This Review
Between Tom and myself we used the following batteries and mods with the Stratos tanks.
- ZNA from House of Hybrids
- Provari 2.5 from Provape
- Kindred mod from Council of Vapor
- Sigelei 50W
- SMOK 50W BEC Pro
- eVic Supreme by Joyetech
There hasn’t been a lot written (yet) about any of the Council of Vapor products, but Nick Bessette, the host of Spinfuel’s Daily Vape TV has done video reviews of the two tanks, the Stratos and RDA Aries, as well as the Council of Vapor Kindred Mod. I highly recommend watching his Stratos review after reading our review. In any case, this written review will be the first, I believe, comprehensive review of the Stratos tank.
Council of Vapor
The Council of Vapor Company was founded in 2013 by self-proclaimed passionate vapers seeking tools “to cope with a long life expectancy and range of uses.” Their mods and tanks (delivery systems) are designed in the US by the Council’s founding team and then manufactured in Taiwan.
Their main point of interaction with fans is through their Facebook page, though they do have a beautiful website as well. Their main distributor in the US is Eve eLiquids, which is where we purchased the tanks, the Kindred mod, and the coil head replacements.
– 510 Thread compatible
– Replaceable Coil Heads: 0.8Ω, 1.2Ω, 2.0Ω, 2.4Ω
– Adjustable Airflow control
– Full Glass Reservoir
– Full Glass Drip Tip
Stainless Steel & Gold Plated Brass
Without a doubt Council of Vapor knows design. Their tanks, both the Stratos and Aries (an RDA), are gorgeous to a fault. The packaging is ultra deluxe and well deserved, with heavy cardboard boxes with a wood grain pattern that function as a slipcase, soft texture insert cutouts for the tank and extra coil head, a heavyweight and glossy paper stock for the manual (written in perfect English), and a gold-stamped logo on the top of the box. Oh, and the box is tamper-proofed with a peel-off sticker so you’ll know instantly if the box has been opened since leaving the warehouse. These are the finishing touches that do an excellent job of convincing you that you’re dealing with high-end gear. Make no mistake; Council of Vapor produces beautiful high-end gear of the utmost quality.
We’ve included several photos with this review to show you just how beautiful the Stratos truly is. The takeaway from these photos should be this; although the photography is stunning, they do not do the tanks full justice. In person they are breath-taking beautiful (for what they are). The Stratos is heavy, strong, with a deadly serious appearance. The Stratos tank makes it competitors; the Aspire Nautilus and Kanger Aerotank series look pitiful in comparison. And as much as I like the Nautilus and Aerotank that is no easy task.
Council of Vapor has designed a very effective, and every easy to use airflow controller. The wide rotatable ring directly below the glass tank features a single hole that you use to select your airflow setting. Of course, easy-to-use is relative. Before it can be ‘easy’ you need to know how it works. If you don’t you do something dumb…as I did. The following is 100% true, as embarrassing as it may be, but it illustrates a good point.
For the first two days I mistakenly changed the airflow by carefully moving the wide ring to expose what I believed to be the singular airflow hole under that ring, believing that the more I closed off the visible hole the less air would flow through the tank and the tighter the draw. Believe it or not, that actually works, and it’s completely and utterly wrong.
At the end of the second day of the review period Tom noticed I was futzing around with the airflow controller and he said to me, “What the heck are you doing?” so I told him. After a solid minute of hysterical laughing, to the point where I thought he was going to wet his pants, he walked over, took the tank in his hand, put it up about 6 inches from my face, and proceeded to turn the airflow ring while asking me if I noticed anything “unusual”. I told him I didn’t. He told me to look closer, so I stared at it while he kept turning it round and round. I guess about 30 seconds (or longer) went by before it finally dawned on me; the holes were getting smaller. I felt like a fool. There wasn’t one hole under the ring… there were four! So, before you buy your Stratos let me spell it out for you just in case you’re as “thick” as I am and never bother reading manuals.
Under the airflow ring are 4 differently sized holes. As you turn the ring the outer hole passes over the various sized holes. Each time one of the holes passes directly under the outer hole you’ll feel a click. To adjust the airflow you choose the size of the hole by turning the ring, and once you find the right size for your current vape you stop turning when you feel that click. And unless you physically move the ring to another hole it stays in place. In other words, you can set it and forget it. Had I bothered to read the manual I would have known that, but I have this dumb aversion to reading manuals and its not the first time its bit me on the ass.
This airflow control method is very effective, allowing you to set your preferred draw easily, quickly and securely. It is one of the defining features of the Stratos, and one I’m not likely to forget anytime soon. And as you will see, if this is your first foray into sub-ohm vaping, the airflow controller will play a much larger role than it does in the higher resistance coils. I should note that the Aspire Nautilus airflow controller works the same way. With the Nautilus you also dial into the correct size hole (also 4 different size holes) and it too snaps into place.
While not the first to offer a sub-ohm prebuilt coil (Kanger offers .8 Ω coils for their tanks as a separate purchase), Council of Vapor offers the first “substantial” sub-ohm .8 Ω coil heads as part of your initial purchase. Coils for the Stratos are also available in 1.2 Ω, 2.0 Ω, and 2.4 Ω. Because high wattage vaping is all the rage Tom and I purchased a Stratos that came equipped with one .8 Ω and one 1.2 Ω coil. In hindsight I wish I had purchased a few of the higher Ω coils as well. But more on that later.
In our Spinfuel’s Daily Vape TV Stratos video review Nick mentioned an anomaly with the coils he used. He experienced a moderate fluctuation in the coil readings while he vaped. As it turns out Tom and I noticed a similar, but a less significant anomaly.
While using the .8 Ω coil my ZNA display kept changing from .8 Ω to .9 Ω and back again. Using the 1.2 Ω I noticed a change from 1.1 Ω to 1.3 Ω, but mostly settling on the 1.2 Ω reading. Tom had the same experience with the Joyetech eVic Supreme. Whether or not this is a situation with the first batch of coils to come out of Taiwan, or systemic and ongoing we just don’t know.
Having said that, I couldn’t tell the difference in the quality of the vape during these fluctuations. And coils that jump around in Ω’s isn’t new or restricted to the Council of Vapor coils, so I’m not going to condemn the Stratos for this slight issue. Had the readings jumped more than .1 Ω at any given time that would be a concern, otherwise it’s just a slight annoyance for the advanced vaper and probably undetectable for the intermediate vaper.
Vaping With .8 Ω and 1.2 Ω Coils
Unlike Tom or Nick, I’m not a high-wattage vaper. In my experience sub-ohm vaping sacrifices flavor in favor of vapor, and I’m all about flavor.
Example: I vaped a couple of tanks of ejuice from a brand called Golden Vapors during the VCCTN weekend. The flavor was called Cinna-Bun, and the PG/VG was probably 50:50, nicotine strength was 18mg. With the .8 Ω coil and my ZNA the sweet spot for maximum flavor was just 11w. Anything higher produced more vapor but practically killed the sweet, delicious cinna-bon flavor that drew me to the juice in the first place. Vaping at 9.5w was also acceptable, though it produced slightly cooler vapor, but it was fully flavored at that setting… for me.
Tom’s experience with the .8 Ω coils was different, but Tom is also a bit of cloud chaser so he pushed the wattage higher than I did (15w), which resulted in flavor and vapor that he found very pleasing, to say the least.
Switching to the 1.2 Ω I often found myself down in 8-8.5w range with very pleasant results with the largest airflow hole, and with a variety of eliquids, including some high-VG juice from Kind Juice.
While most intermediate vapers use the airflow controller to adjust the tightness of the draw it plays a more significant role in the lower Ω’s. For instance, having found an acceptable wattage setting for my chosen eliquid using the .8 Ω coil I discovered a deeper, sweeter flavor with a wider airflow. The concentration of air flowing over and through the coils and ejuice not only enhances the vapor it brings out a better, more nuanced flavor in many of the eliquids I used. Combined with a wide-mouth drip tip the draw was not nearly as tight as I am used to but the flavor and vapor was extraordinary.
Comparing The Competition
Setting the Stratos down next to an Aspire Nautilus, Nautilus Mini and various Aerotanks really drives home the point that the Stratos takes design and aesthetics to a new level in vaping with glassomizer tanks. Based on looks alone I could easily ditch every Nautilus and Aerotank I own and restrict my vaping to Stratos tanks exclusively. However… looks alone isn’t enough.
Flavor – A few days ago I took a 30ML bottle of Rocket Fuel Vapes Reaper (12mg nicotine) and filled a Stratos (1.2 Ω), a Nautilus (1.8 Ω), a Nautilus Mini (1.8 Ω BVC coil) and an Aerotank v2 (1.8 Ω) and did a flavor comparison. For this taste test I opened the airflow to their widest settings, and placed wide-mouth drip tips on all the tanks.
The winner of the flavor comparison was, for me, the Aspire Nautilus Mini, but that is a ‘qualified’ winning choice. I say qualified because I have a strong suspicion that because of the way I vape it would have been the Stratos hand’s down had the Stratos been equipped with their 2.0 or 2.4 Ω coils.
Again using my ZNA for the comparison I dialed back the 1.2 Ω to 8w, not nearly enough to satisfy the ZNA, it kept blinking, telling me with certainty that I needed to up the wattage. However, down in 8w range the flavor of the Reaper juice was just incredible. All the textures of the 6-flavor tobacco blend came alive, though the vapor production suffered a bit. Taking the wattage up into the 12w range, still low for many but acceptable to the ZNA, I still got good flavor, but not great flavor, and the vapor production shot through the roof. That tells me that had I stayed in the coil range that I usually use, 1.8-2.4 Ω the Stratos would have exceeded the flavor produced by the Nautilus Mini, had the Ω been equal. That’s saying something because before now the Nautilus Mini, and its new coil head was, in my opinion, the best glassomizer out there for flavor vapers like me.
For Tom it was a very different experience. Using the same tanks and eliquid (the actual tanks and juice I used) he judged the Stratos as being the superior tank when it came to ‘performance’. I agreed that the vapor production in the Stratos beat the pants off the other tanks, however the .8 Ω and 1.2 Ω are too low of a resistance for me, though not for Tom. For the record, Tom is a very advanced vaper and I consider myself an intermediate vaper. I still find pleasure with a Spinner and an X.Jet Spider, so we’re not really on the same level.
To be fair the Nautiluses do not offer .8 Ω or 1.2 Ω coils. The Aerotanks (mini, mega, and standard) on the other hand can use .8 Ω coils, unfortunately we didn’t have any of the .8 Ω left to use in our test because Tom uses them in the Aerotanks all the time. (The Aerotanks come with 1.8 Ω coils)
Capacity, Battery Life
The Stratos tank has a juice capacity of 3.5ml, which is plenty of 99% of our vape needs. If you decide to go with .8 Ω or 1.2 Ω coils you can expect to burn through battery life about 25% faster (on average) than the 2.0 Ω and 2.4 Ω coils, and burn through your juice a lot faster as well.
Conclusion and Buying Advice
If you were an advanced vaper building your own coils the Stratos would be a fine addition for times when you want a quality vape without having to sit down and wrap a coil. If you’re an intermediate vaper who has been buying Aspire Nautiluses and Kanger Aerotanks the Stratos is a significant step up, especially in aesthetics. There is no comparison in beauty and style, and having one on your VV/VW device you’ll look like your using a high-end RBA.
As for performance the combination of a superior airflow system, a wide mouth glass drip tip, and varied coil resistances the performance is top-notch, especially in vapor production. Huge flavor and true fidelity is certainly possible, for me it was in the lower wattage range, for Tom it was in the mid-wattage range (15w on average). If you were not a fan of sub-ohm vaping I would highly recommend buying the Stratos with the 2 Ω or 2.4 Ω coils. These coils are comparable to the Nautilus and Aerotank stock coils. If you are an intermediate vaper looking to see what sub-ohm vaping is like without having to learn to wrap your own coils or investing in a good RBA/RDA, then by all means try the .8 Ω coils.
The Council of Vapor Stratos is without a doubt the most beautiful non-RBA/RDA tank on the market. Thankfully there is plenty of substance behind the good looks. At $40 it’s priced comparable to the Nautilus and Aerotank family, and when you consider its extraordinary good looks, its powerful performance, its downright inability to leak eliquid, and its long life span, it simply has to be your next tank purchase. To do otherwise would be to deny yourself one very special tank.John Manzione Tom McBride