August 12, 2022

The Johnson Creek Vea™ Elite First-Look Review

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Vea™ Elite by Johnson Creek Vapor Company

For several days I have had the privilege of using the brand new Vea™ Elite box mod, as well as vaping six brand new vapor liquids from the Johnson Creek Vapor Company. Today I get to tell you all about this new state-of-the-art box mod and the new vapor liquids in two separate reviews. This review is all about the Vea™ Elite, you can read my impressions on the six new vapor liquids in this review here.

But first, a little about this new name change for Johnson Creek. As all of us move away from the word SMOKE and embrace the word VAPE, Johnson Creek felt the time was right for Johnson Creek™ 2.0. Their new logo and verbiage in their updated website will reflect this move to Johnson Creek™ Vapor Company. I think it’s a brilliant move. We ourselves have been moving away from “electronic cigarettes” and “e-cigarettes” in favor of the word “vaporizer” for the past several weeks, despite the loss of some Google search results.

But we all know vaping has never been about smoking… it’s about vaping, and we all know the difference is huge. In that light, it was time for Johnson Creek to move away from smoke juice and toward vapor liquid, and to do business under the new name. That said, all the great juices they have created up to this point will remain, grow, and be fully supported. You will be able to find them on their website under the category, Johnson Creek™ Classics.  Moving forward, look for the new flavors under Johnson Creek™ Vapor Liquids.

 So where was I? Ah yes…

There are so many things I want to tell you about the new Vea™ Elite that it isn’t easy to know where to start. I suppose I could begin with the heart of the Vea™ Elite, and then work toward the quality, the aesthetics, and finally my real world usage and opinion of the device. Sound good?

Evolv DNA 40 Meet Johnson Creek Vapor Company

At the heart of the new Vea™ Elite rests the newest Evolv DNA 40 board. The DNA 40 is also at the heart of the Vaporshark and the Vapor Flask. A lot has been written about the Evolv DNA 40 board, most of it good, some of it not so good, but there is no denying that it is the board of choice for high-end vaporizers, and the Vea™ Elite is a high-end vaporizer.

The Evolv DNA 40 is a power-regulated digital switch-mode DC-DC converter for vaporizers. Featuring Evolv’sVEA™ ELITE JOHNSON CREEK patented Wattage Control, Temperature Protection, Preheat technology, Step Up/Step Down Topology, Digital User Controls (DUC), a bright OLED Screen that uses minimum power, with Onboard Buttons and Synchronous Rectification that serves to maximize battery life with minimal heat generation. It is arguably the most advanced personal vaporizer controller on the market, and it is now at the heart of the Vea™ Elite.

What makes the Evolv DNA 40 such a good choice for the Vea™ Elite is that it gives this new box mod a feature set that has been proven successful in other vaporizers, and when you combine this proven board with the engineers and artists at Johnson Creek Vapor Company the end result is, quite simply, the finest box mod yet. While the heart may beat with the DNA 40, it is the outstanding craftsmanship, artistry, and dedication from Johnson Creek that makes the Vea™ Elite what it is.

Features of the Vea™ Elite

Johnson Creek incorporated the best features of the board with the creativity and engineering talents of the Johnson Creek Team. Here are the major features the DNA 40 brings to the Vea™ Elite:

  • Wattage range: 1-40watts in 1w increments
  • Ohm range: 0.3-2.0Ohms (standard resistance wire)
  • Ohm range: 0.1-1.0Ohms (using Ni200 coils)
  • Short circuit protection
  • Reverse battery protection
  • Pass-through charging
  • Bright OLED screen
  • 5-Click Lock/Unlock

These modern high-end features are critical to the ultimate success of the Vea™ Elite, but as good as these features are Johnson Creek didn’t want to create just another DNA 40 box mod, they wanted something more, something unique.

To make the Vea™ Elite that unique, homerun of a box mod that it is, for mainstream and advanced vapers, it took the ingenuity and dedication from the talent at Johnson Creek as they leveraged the power of the DNA 40 and built a beautiful, durable, high-end body that will have massive appeal to vapers from all walks of life.

The Ground Up: When creating a new box mod vaporizer from the ground up (much like they did with the original Vea™) there are a million questions that must be asked and answered before the project gets underway. Everything from the optimal size and weight of the mod itself, to the placement of the firing button, the wattage control buttons, the display, the battery (built in or removable?), access to the battery, what it should feel like in your hands, the ease of use, and a whole lot more, must to mulled over, massaged, an ultimately created. And, once you see the Vea™ Elite in person you’ll know instantly that the hundreds of hours of research and development that went into this fantastic vaporizer was time and money well spent. You’ll also recognize it as a Johnson Creek product immediately.

Design – Aesthetics – Handling

The Vea™ Elite looks unlike any box mod you’ve seen before. The rich JC-red satin finish, the rounded corners juxtaposed against certain straight lines, a gently sloping top that leads the user to the large, round firing button, the recessed front side that houses the bright OLED display surrounded by a black bezel, the careful placement of the adjustment buttons at either end of the OLED display, the inspired placement of the USB port resting on the bumped-out front/bottom of the mod, and the latched lid to remove and replace the 35amp 18650 battery under the Vea™ Elite… all these carefully reasoned, brilliantly executed design decisions serve to make this amazing product something new and exciting when the very thought of ‘new and exciting’ in the world of box mods is getting harder and harder to realize.

When I first got words that Jonson Creek Vapor Company was going to launch the Vea™ Elite I had no idea what to expect, and when it arrived I had not yet seen any photos or read any specs on it. But, I knew it would be something special…and I was not wrong. After more than three years of being a Johnson Creek customer I had every reason to believe that a new hardware product would not launch until they had nailed it down to exactly what they wanted it to be.

Hang in here with me a little while longer as I talk about the new tank debuting today, and once I do that I’ll tell you what it’s like to use a Vea™ Elite, and why you should want one of your very own.

The Canteen™ Elite

CANTEEN™ ELITE JOHNSON CREEKIn order to create a new tank that would match the Vea™ Elite in performance Johnson Creek Vapor Company looked to Kangertech. The enormous success of the Kanger Subtank doesn’t happen often, so the product development team at Johnson Creek took the Kanger Subtank Mini, made some modifications to the airflow control ring, added the words “Canteen™ Elite”, changed the color of the O-Rings to match the Vea™ Elite’s JC-red, and built the perfect companion tank. While some companies “rebrand” products and jack up the price, Johnson Creek is choosing to sell the Canteen™ Elite at the same price of the Kanger Subtank.

While vaping with the Vea™ Elite, I used and continue to use the Canteen™ Elite with excellent results. Of course, the Subtank Mini is a tank I already own, and already reviewed in Spinfuel, and if there are any differences in the way the Canteen™ Elite vapes I can’t tell what they are. I also used several sub-ohm tanks with the Vea™ Elite, including the Delta 2, the Arctic tank, the Zephyrus, Vision MK, and several others, all with the same fantastic results.

Why Rebrand At All?

Since the new Canteen™ Elite is in fact a slightly modified Kanger Subtank Mini, you might wonder why Johnson Creek would bother to spend the time and money creating a Canteen™ version. It is a fair question, especially since Johnson Creek isn’t adding a premium price to the cost of the tank.

My Answer: I can see Johnson Creek fans wanting to stay within the JCVC family and as such they would very much like to purchase the Canteen™ Elite to use with their new Vea™ Elite because they trust Johnson Creek and they know that before the Canteen™ name would be engraved into any product it would pass muster with Johnson Creek, and it would carry the same trusted warranty by Johnson Creek.

On the other hand, I can also understand why the more experienced vapers would look to Johnson Creek for this state-of-the-art Evolv DNA 40 box mod and use his or her favorite tanks instead of the Canteen™ Elite. As good as the Canteen™ Elite is, and as good as the Kanger Subtank is, there are other options out there and the Vea™ Elite provides a wonderful vape experience with good tank, no matter what the brand.

Like the Kanger Subtank, the Canteen™ Elite comes with a 0.5-ohm OCC, a 1.2-ohm OCC, the new RBA deck, organic cotton, pre-wound 0.5-ohm coils, and the ubiquitous blue screwdriver. Also included in every Canteen Elite box is extra O-Rings and an extra glass tank. And unlike other vendors, including Kanger itself, the Canteen Elite is covered by Johnson Creek’s 1-year warranty.

And finally we get to…

My Real World Report

Yes, I’m sure that you can see that this part of my review is going to reflect a very positive experience with the Vea™ Elite. Honestly, how can it not be? Add together the excellence of Johnson Creek products and the proven success of the Evolv DNA 40 and the result is the finest DNA 40 box mod, period.

As the owner of three Vapor Flask’s, and a Vaporshark rDNA, I know and respect the Evolv DNA 40. I also know the issues that Vapor Flask has had with their DNA 40 vaporizer, issues that somehow elude the VaporShark’s DNA 40. Considering the talent behind Johnson Creek, not to mention the power of the Johnson Creek name and reputation, is it any wonder the Vea™ Elite has performed perfectly?

I’m sure that there are many advanced vapers that now all over the new SX 350J chipset found in vaporizers like the SX Mini M Class and the IPV4, but, really, working in wattage is so much easier than working with Joules, so I prefer the Evolv DNA 40 over the SX 350J any time.

First Impression– The Vea™ Elite is lighter than I thought it would be, much lighter than the smaller Vaporshark rDNA in fact. When I removed it from the package I reached for a charged Sony VTC 30a 18650 battery to install into the Vea™ Elite and was very surprised to see that it already had an LG 35a 18650 battery installed. Still, I removed the battery and placed it in a Nitecore Charger and read through the manual and looked through the variety of vapor liquids that was sent with the Vea™ and the Canteen™ Elite. Once the battery was fully charged I placed it in the Vea™ and off I went.

Handling and Balance: My preferred method for holding the Vea™ Elite is with the front side (firing button, display) facing outward, with my thumb resting straight up the tall flat side of the device. My thumb rests on the firing button easily and with a slight backward move of my hand the Vea™ can be used with barely a flick of the wrist. The Vea™ Elite is perfectly balanced and handles like a dream. Comparing it to the Vaporshark and the Vapor Flask early on in the review period I realized for the first time that a DNA 40 box mod need not be so heavy. And, let’s not forget the satin finish that makes it feel like you’re caressing it rather that holding it.

The Evolve DNA 40 – As I stated above, unlike the Vapor Flask, I’ve yet to see any type of error codes or any sort of “weak battery” drainage problems. In fact, I noticed great battery life compared to the others. It’s obvious that the DNA 40 board used in the Vea™ Elite are top quality boards, and that Johnson Creek Vapor Company made sure that each and every DNA 40 board was triple-checked for quality before becoming a part of the Vea™ Elite. I would be very surprised to hear any DNA 40 horror stories coming from owners of the Vea™ Elite. I’m not saying it won’t happen, I’m just saying that after several days I experienced zero problems, and I have every reason to believe that this will continue.

Manuals – Something worth mentioning that may not seem like a big deal right off is the quality of the manuals that come with the Vea™ Elite and the Canteen™ Elite. Both manuals are written in perfect, easy to understand English and every topic is given the full treatment. Its pretty obvious that JCVC was heavily involved in every aspect of the Vea™ and the Canteen™ Elite creation, right down to writing the manuals.

So, How Does It Vape?

Well, it vapes like a box mod equipped with an Evolv DNA 40 board. Using the Canteen™ Elite with Kanger Ni200 OCC’s I get the same fantastic vape experience that I would expect to get in a DNA 40 box mod. I can, and have, used tanks with coil resistances down to 0.3-ohm with excellent results. That said, I think the DNA 40 performs best with 0.5-ohm coils, as well as the 1.2-ohm OCC’s.

Combining the awesome design, the perfect handling, and the great feel, along with the high quality of every Johnson Creek product, the Vea™ Elite is a box mod that will sell equally well to mainstream vapers looking for a beautiful first box mod, and very advanced vapers looking for a the best Evolv DNA 40 box mod.

How Much?

Now, what haven’t I mentioned yet? The Price. My Vaporshark set me back $199.99, my Vapor Flask set me back $325… the Vea™ Elite, with the same beating heart that is the DNA 40, with a build quality that surpasses all other DNA 40 devices, not to mention that it comes with the best warranty of any DNA 40 box mod, can be yours for just $109. When I read over the materials I received with the Vea™ Elite, the Canteen™ Elite, and the new Vapor Liquids, I fully expected the price of a Johnson Creek box mod made with the Evolv DNA 40 to carry a premium price of at least the price of a Vaporshark rDNA. Seeing the price of $109 I honestly thought I was looking at the wholesale price.

UPDATE: I acknowledge that Vaporshark has recently slashed the prices of their rDNA box mods to $130, arguably because they found out about the Vea™ Elite coming out today. In any case, the better-built, more attractive Vea™ Elite is still $21 less than the new price of the Vaporshark rDNA.

Johnson Creek Vapor Company did something amazing today. Instead of taking a half-measure with the next Vea™ product they went all-out with a top-of-the-line, Evolv-DNA-40-equipped box mod and put it all on the line… at an affordable price.

I have a favorite new box mod and its name is Vea™ Elite. Available now.

And now the question we all answer when we review vape gear: “If I lost my Vea™ Elite would I replace it?”

Answer: “In a heartbeat. In fact, I ordered two more for Tom and Dave this morning. At $109 for a state-of-the-art Evolv 40 DNA 40 box mod, how could I not?”

 John Manzione

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