For moderate to heavy vapor users and enthusiasts, upgrading to a more advanced vaping system can be more fulfilling and even more economical than standard e cigarettes. Vapestaff’s best vapes is the perfect place to start your search in landing a vape that checks all of your boxes.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ve broken down the best vapes into two categories.
Box mods are full sized vapes that offer all the bells and whistles of modern vaping devices. While the initial cost of box mod vapes are typically higher than standard e cigarettes or pod devices, their ‘usage costs’ (coils & e liquid) are significantly lower.
Mini box mods usually offer the exact same features as full-sized box mods. They are however, designed with size in mind. Mini box mods are a happy medium for vapor lovers who want maximum power, battery life and low usage costs in a device that still fits comfortably in their pocket.
Best Vape Overall for July 2020
Atomizer & Coil Replacement Availability
Available Features & Settings
Ease of Use
Tank & Device Combo
Table of Contents
- A Beginner’s Guide to Vapes
- A Brief History of Vaping
- How Vapes Work
- Understanding the Substance of Vapor
- Common Vape Terminology Concerning Batteries & Power
- Most Common Types of Vape Coils
- Matching Vapes & E Liquid Types
- Dealing With a Burnt E Liquid Taste
- Troubleshooting Leaking E Liquid Tanks
- Optimal Vapes Power Settings
- Mouth to Lung V. Direct Lung Vaping
- Sub-oHm Vaping
- Dripping and Rebuildable Atomizers
- Different Types of Vapes
- Average Cost of Vaping Comparison by Device Type
- Choosing a Vape
- How Buying Vapes Online Works
- What are The Most Popular Vapes?
- Trusted Online Vape Retailers
- Respected Vape Device Brands
A Beginner’s Guide to Vapes
A generic slang word, the term ‘vapes’ is often used to describe vapor devices. Due to the fact that there are so many different kinds of vapor devices, we’ve taken the liberty of categorizing vapes as box mods and mini box mods. Additionally, these vape mods are rechargeable, utilize refillable e liquid tanks and are typically designed with additional features such as adjustable wattage and voltage settings. All vapes (including box mods and mini box mods) are rated moderate to advanced in terms of complexity and or ease of operation.
Vapes are the result of the evolution of vapor product development. That development has been driven by a consumer demand for high performance vaping devices as well as a naturally occurring emerging market being propelled by technological innovation.
If you’re new to vaping, you’ve likely been subjected to a wide array of vapor terminology such as mAh, sub-ohm, dripping, rebuildable atomizers, coils and wicking. Perhaps you’ve been using pod or other simple e cigarettes and are considering upgrading to a more powerful or higher capacity system. Either way, it’s our mission to bring clarity and simplify vapor products to ensure users get the right equipment to meet their needs.
The anatomy of a vapor device (or vape) is generally as followed:
- Body or housing refers to the outer structure. While commonly plastic, vape housings can be made with a number of different materials including but not limited to steel, aluminum, brass, copper and composites.
- Mouthpieces refer to the relatively small part of a vape that the user places their mouth upon while inhaling and are typically attached to the e liquid tank. Some vapes feature removable, replaceable or interchangeable mouthpieces to fix or customize the vaping experience.
- Batteries are of course, self explanatory. However, because the majority of vapes feature removable or replaceable batteries it’s important to know common terminology such as size, mAH, wattage and amps.
- E liquid tanks refer to the part of the vape that houses the e liquid. Vape e liquid tanks range from relatively simple to quite complex. The main factors of e liquid tanks to consider are capacity, voltage, coil heads and leakage. At a minimum, every e liquid tank contains an e liquid chamber, atomizer, air-flow system and wicking material.
- Atomizer / heating elements refer to the most integral factor of vaping, which is namely turning e liquid into vapor form. Atomizers are the engines of e liquid tanks and are primarily responsible for heating e liquid. The main technical factor of an atomizer is its oHm rating, which directly correlates to the vapes electrical resistance and ultimately, the amount of power transferred from the battery during operation. Atomizers are found in all types of vapes including disposable, replaceable coil head and rebuildable (also known as RDA, RTA and RDTA).
- Coil heads refer to the component of an atomizer that in conjunction with the heating element and e liquid, creates vapor. Coil heads are composed of a tightly wrapped metal material (typically stainless steel, kanthal, nickel, nichrome or titanium) and wicking material. While RDA’s, RTA’s and RDTA’s essentially utilize custom made coil heads atop of atomizers, the vast majority of vapes utilize pre-built and replaceable coil heads that users replace in a cartridge like fashion.
- Wicking material is the material that soaks up e liquid around an atomizer and acts as an acute transfer method for heated coils to turn e liquid into vapor. Wicking material wears out with use as its primary function is to become saturated and it becomes less effective in the vaping process over time. Thus, most standard adjustable vapes utilize replaceable coil heads. Cotton and silica are the most common types of wicking material used for vapes.
- Power button mechanisms or triggers refer to the physical button that users press in order to activate their vape. While most disposables, pod systems and basic e cigarettes function automatically by users inhaling, the majority of adjustable vapes activate by users manually pressing a button on the side of the device.
- Navigational and buttons for settings are self explanatory. Unfortunately, many vapes are not intuitively designed to say the least. Therefore, it can take some time to get used to navigating adjustable settings such as wattage and voltage. Often times, vape devices feature two direction buttons and one select button. With that being said, there’s been a trend towards touch-screen settings, which are much more intuitive.
- Chipsets are responsible for data flow management. As they pertain to vapes, chipsets measure, regulate and control temperature as well as output power settings which are chosen by the user or pre-set. Importantly, chipsets are also responsible for the safe operation of vapes, namely as they control cut-off timers.
- Charging Ports are where users plug charging cords into devices in order to charge them. Most vapes utilize either usb or micro-usb charging ports. Because so many different batteries exist in the world of vapor devices, it’s very important to only use chargers that are designed specifically for each device.
A Brief History of Vaping
Surprisingly, the first smokeless, non-tobacco cigarette device was patented in 1967 by a man named Herbert Gilbert who lived in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. However, it wasn’t until 2003 when Chinese pharmacist, Hon Lik invented a device which utilized the process of a heating element to vaporize a propylene glycol solution containing nicotine (what we all now know as vaping). Vaping was essentially born, although devices were initially designed in a very non-appealing or medical like fashion (think bulky and white). Finally, around 2007, electronic cigarettes were introduced to the American market and vaping has been growing exponentially ever since.
How Vapes Work
Vapes are simple electronic devices that turn e liquid into vapor form.
Below is a simplified version of how standard vapes work:
- Wicking material is saturated with e liquid.
- A battery or batteries transfers energy to a heating element.
- E liquid surrounding the heating element warms.
- A wire coil acutely heats wicking material saturated in e liquid, creating vapor.
- A user inhales the vapor, thus slightly desaturating the wicking material and clearing the chamber.
Understanding the Substance of Vapor
In physics, vapor is defined as a liquid substance in a gas phase which is at a temperature below that of its critical temperature. Conversely, an aerosol differentiates itself from vapor as it’s defined as a suspension of tiny particles of liquid, solid or both within a gas.
Determining exactly what’s in vapor as it relates to vaping common e liquid is at the center of debate, particularly in the United States as regulations and policies are considered on a now booming vapor product industry. While antagonists of the vapor industry as a whole are exhausting, further research is definitely warranted as it pertains to second-hand vapor and long-term use of vapor products and respiratory effects.
One thing is blatantly obvious and that is the fact that vaping is less harmful than smoking. However, even vaping (which involves no combustion and a tiny fraction of the ingredients found in tobacco cigarettes) contains ingredients that aren’t necessarily conducive to healthy lungs when inhaled.
The latest research of consuming vapor derived from e liquid is closely considering the interaction of aerosols on the respiratory system. The science currently stands at more research needing to be conducted, specifically as it relates to particle size dynamics after aerosols are released during inhalation of vapor products.
With all of that being said, the primary function of the human respiratory system is to take in oxygen and to expel carbon dioxide. Therefore, in our view, vapor products should function as a means to an end for inhaling anything except for oxygen.
General rules of thumb to consider in relation to the substance of vapor produced from e liquid.
- Even though it appears that there are no negative effects of second-hand vapor, just assume that there are and don’t exhale in the direction of others.
- A ton of great e liquids exist that only contain polypropylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavor concentrates. Therefore, always check or ask for the list of ingredients used for an e liquid you’re considering purchasing. If there are ingredients beyond those just mentioned, stay away from it. On a side note, salt nicotines have become extremely popular and include an additional acid ingredient which is commonly benzoic.
Common Vape Terminology Concerning Batteries & Power
It’s easy for new vapor users to get confused by vape terminology and common slang words used throughout the industry.
Below are some of the most common vape terms that all new vapor users should understand:
- Battery size refers completely to the physical size of the battery in millimeters and is condensed into one number. For example, the most common size of vape batteries is 18650, where 18 refers to 18mm in diameter and 650 refers to 65mm in length.
- mAh means milliampere hour and is the primary indicator for vapor users to use when considering battery longevity. Vape device batteries vary widely, from 200 mAh that will last 4-6 hours with regular use before needing to be recharged, all the way up to 4,200 mAh that can last a few days before needing to be recharged.
- Voltage is typically listed for vape battery specs. However, almost all vape batteries are 3.7V, with the occasional 3.6V option. Additionally, the term variable voltage is often used to describe vape devices that feature adjustable voltage settings. Adjusting the voltage of a vape can change the amount of vapor produced as well as the flavor created. Generally, voltage isn’t a setting that needs much tinkering and variable voltage devices typically operate best between 3 and 5 volts.
- oHms are simply a measure of resistance. As they relate to vapes, ohms are the primary measurement used to customize the vaping experience. Because vapor production and flavor is directly influenced by temperature, low-ohm rated coil heads are a popular solution for cloud and or flavor chasers. In simple terms, the lower the ohm rating, the hotter the coil. We go into more depth below, but any vape setup with a coil rating of 1 ohm or below is considered ‘sub-ohm’. Additionally, the majority of high VG e liquids perform far better with higher temperatures, thus the need for lower ohm rated coil heads.
- Temperature control, like cooking, is the name of the game when it comes to vaping. While most vapor devices can be customized to function satisfactorily by adjusting wattage, voltage and or using lower ohm rated coil heads, some users prefer an even more regulated system. Temperature controlled devices give users an additional function to regulate the exact amount of heat being supplied to the coil.
- Wattage is simply a measurement of electrical power. The most commonly used indicator to describe how powerful a vapor device is, wattage is the first adjustment users make to modify their vaping experience. While some vapor devices are designed to output over 200 watts, it’s important for new vapor users to understand that even 50 watts is more than enough power to produce huge clouds and a satisfying vaping experience.
Most Common Types of Vape Coils
The majority of adjustable vapes sold as starter kits utilize pre-built and replaceable coil-heads that easily screw in and out of the tank. However, because so much of the vaping process is based around heat control, most of the innovation surrounding vapes is taking place around the design of coils. Thus, there are a plethora of different types of ‘coils’ available, most of them being built exclusively for individual tanks (meaning they’re most certainly not universal). Because vape coil wicking material deteriorates with use, it’s incredibly important to understand exactly what type of coil your tank requires.
- Regular coils is a broad definition of pre-built coil-heads that are typically sold in packs of 4 or 5. They are removable, contain a cotton wicking material and a coil made of stainless steel or kanthal. Regular coil heads further different themselves by their resistance ratings which are measured in ohms. For a bit more clarity, remember that anything 1 ohm or below is considered ‘sub-ohm’. The first factor to consider when trying any coil other than standard is figuring out what your atomizer ohm range is, which the manufacturer will gladly provide for you if the answer isn’t readily available online.
- Ceramic coils are a popular term online, however ceramic doesn’t actually conduct electricity. As such, the term ceramic coil is misleading for new vapor users trying to understand various vaping components. With that being said, ‘ceramic coils’ actually refer to the inner coil-head housing and are certainly an upgrade to vapor devices. The biggest benefits of using ceramic coils are better temperature control and longer lasting coil heads.
- Mesh coils are currently the king of the hill in terms of vape performance. Mesh coils are much like regular or standard coil-heads in that they are pre-built, contain a wicking material and are removable. However, rather than containing tightly wound metal wire that converts heat from the atomizer via wicking material, they contain a metal mesh that surrounds the inner body of the coil head. Essentially, the result of this design is a much larger surface area for e liquid to warm in the wicking material which creates more vapor and deeper flavor.
There are many additional types of vape coils available in the market and new designs are being developed every single day. Whatever vape you decide on, be sure it’s one that will have plenty of available replacement coils. There’s nothing worse than having a phenomenal vape but not being able to use it because you can’t find the appropriate replacement components.
Matching Vapes & E Liquid Types
One of the most important aspects of vaping for new users to understand is paring e liquid types with vapor devices and components. Unfortunately, most online vape shops don’t make this clear and new vapor consumers have no idea what types of coil heads to order.
Below are the most common types of e liquid and the device setup needed to vape them:
- Regular e liquid or standard, is defined as a 50PG/50VG ratio. Regular e liquid is the most popular option for new vapor users because of the throat hit that a 50% PG ratio is capable delivering (further depending on the nicotine strength itself). Furthermore, regular e liquid is more universal than high VG options in terms of devices being able to handle/appropriate it’s viscosity. As a general rule of thumb, regular or standard e liquid should be used in devices with coil ratings of around 2.5 ohms.
- High VG e liquid or max VG, is essentially defined as any ratio where the VG percentage is higher than the PG. Most commonly, high VG e liquid is sold as either 40PG/60VG or 30PG/VG, although 20PG/80VG certainly exists and there’s internet chatter about the potential of vaping 100% VG. The vast majority of dessert based e liquids are produced with high VG ratios, entirely due to the fact that flavor concentrates are more apparent with less PG. Importantly, if you’re going to vape high VG e liquids, you’ll need to ensure your coil rating is below 1 ohm (typically even between 0.2 and 0.5 ohms).
- Salt nicotine e liquid is largely produced with a 50PG/50VG ratio. Due to the fact that salt nics contain an acid (typically benzoic), larger amounts of nicotine are able to be consumed without negative flavor effects. Standard coils (non sub-ohm) in the 1 to 1.5 ohm range are a solid choice for salt nic e liquid.
Dealing With a Burnt E Liquid Taste
If you’ve vaped for any length of time, you’ve most likely experienced a burnt taste at least once. Unfortunately, that burnt taste is fairly common in vaping and is simply the result of e liquid getting overheated.
Common solutions to fixing the dreaded burnt taste when vaping removable coil-head devices:
- Remove the coil-head and set aside for a few hours. If you have replacements, screw a new coil-head into your tank and vape away. Try the old coil-head when the new is ready to be replaced, if it’s still delivering a burnt taste after 24 hours, it can be thrown away.
- If your vape continues to deliver a burnt taste even with new coil-heads, the temperature needs to be turned down on your device. This is can be done several ways depending on the vape itself, whether it’s literally adjusting the temperature, wattage or even voltage.
- Next, if the burnt taste problem is persisting regardless of temperature settings, check to ensure you’re using coil-heads that are compatible with your device. Coil-heads have an ohm rating imprinted on the side of the cylinder, if your atomizer isn’t built to handle the ohm rating of your coil-head, it could cause inaccurate temperatures.
- Another common problem associated with burnt tasting e liquid is the result of the power or fire button being activated unintentionally. This occurs more than you might think and can usually be solved by removing the tank, as well as batteries and pressing the fire button repetitively, until any sticking is broken loose. This problem is also the most evident, as you’ll hear the sound of your vape activating when you’re not pressing the button and or you’ll notice the power indicator light activating when it shouldn’t be.
- If each step above fails to solve the burnt taste problem, the solution lies either within the tank or the device itself. The atomizer located within the tank is faulty (in which case you’ll need a new tank), or the device itself is malfunctioning. If the atomizer is found to be working properly, replacing the batteries in the device is the next step. Finally, if the atomizer and batteries are found to be functioning correctly, the problem is likely to reside in the chipset or loose wiring.
Troubleshooting Leaking E Liquid Tanks
For the most part, e liquid tanks are designed much better than they were a few years back, at the beginning of the vapor boom. With that being said, if you’re purchasing clearance priced vaping equipment, there’s always a chance that it didn’t sell well due to known problems such as leaking e liquid.
Common factors to consider in troubleshooting an e liquid tank that leaks:
- As aforementioned, some vape tanks are flat-out poorly designed and leak as a result. Whether the vape is placed right side up, to the side, upside down or during the act of vaping, if it’s poorly designed, it could potentially leak in any position or during operation.
- Along the same thread, some tanks are built with a manual airflow adjustment into the base. Believe it or not, we’ve found several tanks that leak as a result of a poorly designed airflow opening.
- The other most common and somewhat obvious area of an e liquid tank that tends to leak is around the mouthpiece, especially if the device is turned upside down. While most vape and tank manufactures recognize this potential problem and design entirely around it, devices that utilize removable coil-heads are often disassembled at least once (if not multiple times) per day. Thus, always ensure that you’re not cross-threading tank components when reassembling your tank.
- Last but certainly not least, even the most bulletproof e liquid tanks are prone to leaks over time and continuous use. If you have a tried and trusted tank that begin leaking after several months of no issues, it’s most likely the result of seals or gasket material beginning to fail. All e liquid tanks that utilize removable coil-heads implement a system of rubber (or similar material) gaskets to seal removable components. These gaskets wear out over time and are fairly universal in terms of finding replacements for, online or even in your local hardware.
In our experience concerning e liquid tanks that leak, we find that the less parts or components the better. It’s simple physics, a chamber that contains e liquid needs to be as enclosed as possible with as few seams, threads or connections as possible in order to minimize the chances of leaking. If you come across a vape that utilizes an extremely complex tank with a large number of components and thus threads, it’s usually a good indicator of a headache in the making.
Optimal Vapes Power Settings
Trying to find the best power settings is a common question that we get from new vapor users. The problem is that there are so many different factors involved in the vaping process to give one-size fits all answers, not to mention the shear subjectivity involved.
With that being said, the information below should steer you in the right direction as you dial in your device to your personal ‘taste’.
- Cloud chasers are vapor users who more than anything else, need the satisfaction of exhaling enormous amounts of vapor. To this type of vapor user, having the most hard hitting vape setup isn’t their priority. Cloud chasers want more vapor production, end of story. In order to achieve this type of vaping setup, users will need to ensure that they’re using High VG e liquid and have a device capable of high wattage and low resistance. Cloud chasing is directly related to terms such as sub-ohm vaping and dripping, which we’ll get into more detail about below.
- Hard hitters are vapor users who couldn’t care less about vapor production and most highly prioritize throat hit. Throat-hit is the rather slang term used to describe how strong nicotine hits the back of the throat and enters the bloodstream. Because long-time tobacco cigarette smokers build a tolerance for nicotine consumption, they typically desire a similarly strong nicotine effect from vapor. Frankly, vaping for this type of user that doesn’t include a recognizably strong throat hit, is completely pointless (at least in the beginning). Additionally, for hard hitters that fancy themselves tech savvy, direct lung (DL) vaping setups are a phenomenal option, which we go into more detail below. The vaping setup for hard hitters nearly completely revolves around the e liquid itself, making wattage, ohms, mAh, voltage and resistance mostly mute measurements. Hard hitters need an e liquid with a 50PG/50VG blend (50VG max) and a nicotine strength of at least 5% by volume.
- Happy mediums are where the majority of vapor users progress towards over time. This type of user seeks an acute or very recognizable throat hit along with a pleasant taste on inhale and satisfactory amount of vapor upon exhale. Because the throat hit is diminished as the ratio of PG decreases (even with high nicotine strengths), we recommend sticking with a 50PG/50VG ratio vaped around 40 watts. Actually finding your unique happy medium setup is half the enjoyment of vaping and will lead you down numerous different setting and flavor options.
Getting an Atomizer Short or Check Atomizer Message
You just got a new vape, screw in a new coil-head and fill your tank with e liquid for the first time only to receive an ‘atomizer short’ or ‘check atomizer’ message on your vapor device. Have no fear, this is quite common and is essentially a safety feature aimed at eliminating electrical malfunctions and or accidents. However, because safety has become a type priority among vapor device manufacturers, this particular feature can be very sensitive.
- This problem is resolved 9 out of 10 times by simply opening your tank, removing the coil-head before screwing it back in place.
- If the problem persist, simply unscrew the coil-head and examine it further for signs of faults such as stripped threads, unevenness/symmetry or broken seals. Because coil-heads are small and mass produced, it isn’t out of the ordinary to get a faulty one here and there. Simply set it to the side and use a new one. Some vape shops will be more than happy to replace faulty products.
- After analyzing and ruling out the coil-head as the culprit if the problem persist, you could have a mess on your hands. You’ll need to empty the tank, analyze the tank and the atomizer themselves. After ensuring that all components of the tank are tightly secured, power on the device without e liquid to ensure the message is gone. Lastly, in rare cases you may need to either replace the atomizer or tank all together.
Mouth to Lung V. Direct Lung Vaping
As a new vapor, you’ll likely come across the vaping terms ‘mouth to lung’ and direct lung’. These are two different types of vaping experiences that require specific vapes. The two terms define themselves pretty well and as you might have guessed, they loosely refer to the path of vapor upon inhaling. While the vast majority of vapes on the market are indeed mouth to lung, a different type of vaping style exists and it’s known as direct lung.
Contrasting mouth to lung and direct lung vaping:
- Mouth to lung (MTL) is the most widely used vaping setup and experience. Exactly like tobacco cigarettes, the user inhales vapor into their mouth where it lingerers for a few seconds before ending the drag and finishing the inhale to the lungs. Unless you’re using a device that is setup for sub-ohm vaping, you’re experiencing mouth to lung.
- Direct lung (DL) vaping is popular among advanced users who have experimented with sub-ohm devices and enjoy increased vapor production, warmer and more complete flavor notes.
Sub-ohm vaping is a widely popular vape style for experienced vapor users. Sub-ohm vaping refers to a vape device setup to function at just 1 ohm or below, which creates a huge amount of warm vapor and more flavor definition than standard setups. While some devices are designed and marketing specifically for sub-ohm vaping, most advanced vapes can be customized to vape at sub-ohm levels. The key is of course the atomizer ohm rating. The lower the atomizer ohm rating, the more resistance it’s capable of creating, which in-turn equates to the sub-ohm vaping experience.
Prime factors regarding a sub-ohm vaping setup:
- Atomizers need to be capable of functioning at 1 ohm or below, in-fact, most sub-ohm users vape at around .5 ohms.
- Coil-heads, similar to atomizers, need to be rated at 1 ohm or below. Finding the ideal setup for your device and coil-head ohm rating that is the most satisfying to you will only be discovered by experimenting, but generally the sweet-spot is around .5 ohms.
- Batteries are an important part of a sub-ohm vaping setup. Because of the lower resistance in the coil, you’ll need batteries capable of long duration and high discharge rates.
- Wattage isn’t actually much of a factor concerning a sub-ohm setup. As long as your vape can handle between 20 to 50 watts, you’ll be fine.
- Voltage will need to dialed in but typically ranges from 3.6 to 4.2. The higher the voltage, the more resistance is needed for safe vaping and eliminating a burnt taste.
Dripping and Rebuildable Atomizers
A specialty style of vaping, dripping is where the user manually drips e liquid onto an exposed vape coil and wicking material before vaping. Dripping is considered a specialty form of vaping because it requires specific vaping hardware and isn’t a process that the average vapor user has the time or patience to undertake. In other words, dripping is a rather meticulous process and isn’t something that vapor users can do on-the-go. Furthermore, because rebuildable atomizers are essentially mechanical components, they’re considered unregulated. In other words, there’s little to no circuitry or chipset in place to regulate temperature. This raises safety concerns as you can imagine.
Dripping is a process that requires an RDA (rebuildable dripping atomizer) tank and manually using an eye dropper to drip 3 to 5 drops of e liquid directly onto the exposed coil and wicking material. This process is repeated for every 3 to 5 drags. Your assumptions are correct, this isn’t an efficient form of vaping.
The question then becomes, why does anyone go through the trouble of dripping their vape? As much of a hassle as dripping is, there are actually benefits to this painstaking process. To date, dripping is one of the best forms of vaping to taste e liquid flavors to an exacting degree. Additionally, dripping allows users to vape several different flavors of e liquid without having to constantly empty and refill their entire tank. Lastly, dripping creates warm and satisfying vapor, along with a huge amount of vapor production.
If you enjoy tinkering and know what you’re doing, having a drip vape setup for home trial use and flavor experiments can be enjoyable and beneficial. On the other hand, dripping is not, by any means, a practical form of vaping for the typical user.
Considerations when setting up a vape to drip:
- Dripping is entirely based around an RDA atomizer. Because dripping requires total vape customization (building your own coils), most advanced users utilize mechanical vape mods as opposed to regulated. We’ll go into more detail regarding mechanical mods (mech mods) below.
- In terms of e liquid, dripping a high VG ratio such as 30PG/70VG is recommended. Due to the higher viscosity (friction) of high VG e liquid, it reduces the potential of runoff when dripping onto an RDA.
- You’ll need to familiarize yourself with Ohm’s Law, electrical theory as well as add additional tools to your vaping cabinet such as wicking material, coil material and speciality hand tools (often sold in kits).
- If you’re very interested in dripping but don’t have the skills or desire to learn the technical aspects of building your own coils or setting up a mechanical mod, consider a squonk mod. Squonk mods are essentially a type of vape that utilizes an RDA, but have a built in e liquid tank that drip feeds the coil from the bottom of the device. While squonks aren’t necessarily a go to option for new vapor users, they are a simplified and somewhat efficient dripping device.
Further clarifying various rebuildable atomizer setups:
- The original rebuildable vape and as previously noted, rebuildable dripping atomizers (RDA’s) are the crème de la crème of rebuildable vaping setups in terms of vapor production and distinctive flavor. However, they aren’t practical to say the least as users are required to manually drip e liquid onto the coil every 3 to 5 drags. RDA’s are for vaping pros and those who pursue vapor flavor nirvana.
- Because of the flavor definition and vapor production of RDA’s, a pursuit to duplicate the same performance in a much more practical tank design ensued. As a result, rebuildable tank atomizers (RTA’s) were born. RTA’s deliver a comparable vaping experience to that of an RDA with the convenience of an added e liquid reservoir. However, RTA’s are known to be prone to leakage due to, among other things, the tank being located on top of the build deck.
- In continued pursuit of vaping glory, the rebuildable dripping tank atomizer (RDTA) is essentially a second generation of an RTA. With e liquid leakage being the most common problem associated with RTA’s, RDTA’s are designed with the e liquid reservoir below the build deck. In addition, RDTA’s are designed with the adjustable airflow control above the atomizer, further minimizing the leaking problem.
Different Types of Vapes
We’ve now covered several different types and forms of vaping. Because the vapor products are growing globally in popularity, the entire industry is literally evolving before our eyes. Thus, there is no doubt that new types of vapes (and components) will be developed in the months and years to come. With that being said, let’s take a moment to recap and consider the current main types of vape devices.
Main Vape Device Categories
If you’re relatively new to vaping and are simply looking for a more powerful, economical and efficient vape, we recommend a standard box mod or vape pen. Importantly, by standard we mean a box mod or vape pen that utilizes pre-built coil heads that simply screw in and out of an e liquid tank. As a newbie, it should be your goal to find a vape that you like the look and size of and one that is easy to operate and maintain.
Nevertheless, it’s not uncommon for even standard box mods to feature additional options such as temperature control, variable voltage or variable wattage. Don’t let these options scare you away, in most cases, they’re simply additional settings that you can easily configure to satisfy your desired throat hit and vapor production. In addition, a number of online vape shops categorize their devices by beginner, starter kits and even built-in battery sub-sections to help newbies find devices that will work for them.
Lastly, standard box mods are built with a significant amount of regulated safety functions to limit short-circuiting, over-heating and or unintentional firing. This is opposed to non-standard box mods or mechanical mods and the like that are built to operate with rebuildable atomizers (RDA’s, RTA’s & RDTA’s).
Below are vapor devices that you’ll most likely run into when shopping for your next vape:
- Pen vapes are fairly self-explanatory. They are vape devices that are generally shaped like a pen and utilize an e liquid tank system with removable coil-heads. Pen vapes are great for newbies because of their simplicity and or intuitiveness. The knock on pen vapes is their relatively small e liquid chambers and sometimes lack of vaping power and or battery longevity.
- Box mod vapes refer to vapor devices with a generally boxy physical design. Box mods come in a huge variety of available features but all generally share the same characteristics such as a digital screen, buttons for navigation and adjustability. Additionally, most box mods are capable of operating a wide range of different tanks and atomizers. The best aspects of box mods are their power, durability, battery longevity and e liquid storage capacity. Check out our list of the best box mod vapes to help in your decision making process.
- Mini box mod vapes are exactly like box mods but smaller, as you may have guessed. While box mods are the go-to for vapor lovers the world around, their only knock is their often bulky size, making mini-box mods a perfect option for users concerned about size. See our complete compilation of the best mini box mod vapes for exact devices that we recommend.
- Squonk mod vapes are an interesting and relatively new vape device category. While they usually look very similar to box mods and share many of the same functions, they distinguish themselves by being designed around a large e liquid reservoir that feeds and RDA. In many ways squonkers are really the fourth generation of RBA’s, following the RDA, RTA and RDTA setups.
- Mechanical mod vapes are for advanced vapor users who seek total customization. Typically composed of the bare minimum of components, mech mods are generally cylindrical in shape, housing a battery (or batteries) and an atomizer. The term mechanical mod is derived from the fact that the device functions without a circuit board or any other regulating electronic component. Because of the lack of regulation and potential for accidents, a large percentage of vape shops no longer carry mech mods at all.
Average Cost of Vaping Comparison by Device Type
Now that we’ve established the greatness of vaping in general, let’s dig into and compare the costs associated with the most commonly used types of vapes.
This is going to be obvious for most, but the difference in monthly usage costs between refillable tanks and non-refillable pods is astronomical.
- Refillable Tank Systems: The average monthly usage cost for any vapor device that utilizes a refillable tank is $34.98. This is derived from consuming one 30 mL bottle of e liquid priced at $19.99 and using 5 coil heads priced at $14.99 per package in a 1 month timespan. By multiplying that number by 12, the yearly cost equates to $419.76
- Non-refillable pod systems Conversely, the average monthly usage cost for any vapor device that utilizes a non-refillable pod is $112.43. This number is derived from consuming 1 pod per day at a cost of $3.75 per pod (4 pack of JUUL’s cost $15) over a 30 day period. For the sake of comparison, this equates to a yearly cost of $1,349.16.
Therefore, it is over 220% cheaper to vape with a refillable tank system than with non-refillable pods.
Additional Vape Cost Considerations
The monthly and yearly refillable tank system costs referenced above refer to an e liquid tank that utilizes coil-heads. For advanced vapor users who build their own coils in RBA setups, the savings will be even greater as they’re able to purchase materials in bulk.
In terms of what to expect to pay for a vape, tank and needed components, the prices typically range from $20 to around $150 but is dependent on the brand, features and what’s included with the purchase.
Importantly, be sure to be aware of what is included in your vape purchase. Many vapor devices are indeed sold alone, meaning they sometimes don’t come with tanks or even batteries, all of which would need to be purchased separately.
In our opinion, the average new vapor user upgrading to a standard box mod can land a solid device, tank, e liquid and initial supply coil heads for under $150.
Choosing a Vape
Now that all of the vapor nerd jargon is out of the way, you may find yourself confused and wondering which vape you should buy. The shear number of options can be intimidating to even experienced users, so don’t feel as though you’re behind the curve. The fact is, vapor is one of the most dynamic and fastest evolving personal electronics categories in the market and we’re all in it together. Furthermore, we as users are actually shaping it, mostly through trial and error.
While flashy looks and fancy features can no doubt be alluring, we’ve compiled a short list of the most important factors in choosing your next vape below:
- Intended Purpose: By now you understand that there are many different styles and types of vaping and thus vapor devices. By breaking your short list of devices down to two categories, you can begin the process of elimination. The two top-level categories we recommend are basic (or standard) and specialty. If you’re simply looking for more power, battery longevity and the most economically friendly way to vape, stick to standard vapes without all the bells and whistles. However, if you’re seeking total customization and enjoy tinkering with electronics, consider devices designed to operate with RBA’s and adjustable settings.
- Overall Size: If you’re a tech savvy individual who seeks to customize your entire vaping experience, you’re not necessarily concerned with the overall size of your vape. Alternatively, if you’re new to vapor, you likely prioritize ease of use, innovative design, simplicity and ultimately physical size as the most important factors. Additionally, if your daily routine and setting aren’t conducive to fumbling around and tinkering with a vape, compact standard vapes are likely your best option.
- Tech Savvy Scale: If you have no desire to adjust wattage, voltage or any other electrical settings (let alone build your own coils or optimize your vape for sub-ohm output), steer clear of devices that are designed with such features. Besides, there are plenty of standard vapes on the market that are built for a ‘plug and play’ experience.
- Power: Specifically surrounding wattage output, power is one of the most highly marketed aspect of vapor devices. However, 40 to 60 watts (or even lower) is more than enough power to satisfy any vapor users cravings. In other words, consumers are drawn to highly marketed wattage numbers when comparing various vape devices to purchase. For example, a consumer in the market for a new vape device finds two devices that are virtually identical physically and in terms of features, however, one is listed with 230 watts and one as 150 watts. The average consumer, to no fault of their own, assumes that the 230 watt device must be a ‘better’ option or at least worthy of the high price tag. Let us be clear, unless you’re literally entering a cloud chasing competition and are tinkering with a myriad of coil setups to achieve vapor production that could be mistaken for actual atmospheric clouds, you don’t need anywhere near 200+ watts. With that being said, many new vapes are built with robust wattage output and are great devices, we just don’t want to encourage choosing vapes solely on wattage.
- Battery Longevity: The number one way to gauge battery longevity is mAh. A large majority of vapes will have their battery mAh listed on their spec sheet. If battery longevity (the duration of time between charging) is a high priority for you, choose a device that is meant to function with a 1,200 mAh battery and up. 1,200 mAh is a strict number, it can certainly be 1,000 or even as much as 2,400 mAh. Keep in mind however, that typically longer battery life means larger batteries and thus, a larger device.
- Tank Capacity: The size of e liquid tanks, chambers or reservoirs will be a bigger concern for some than others. However, the vast majority of vapor users consume less than 1 mL of e liquid per day. It’s a subjective factor because a lot of vapor users don’t like having to refill their tanks and find larger tanks more convenient. The average sized standard tank is roughly 3.5 mL and is a solid baseline for your new device.
- Brand Credibility: As previously stated, new devices and vape manufacturers pop up across the world all the time as vaping continues to increase in popularity. While experienced vapor users who dabble with experimenting on new vaping equipment love the added possibilities that this emergence creates, new users are better served by sticking to vapor brands that have proven credibility with sales volume and satisfaction to prove it.
Comparing Additional Features of Vapes
Because vapes are becoming mainstream across the world, their everyday practicality and special use durability demands continue to increase. Just as consumers seek personal electronics such as laptops, phones and tablets that can withstand the wear and tear of daily use, drops and accidents, they’re also seeking vapes designed to last.
Frankly, the majority of the vapor product market is currently focused on simply developing devices that function properly. Secondarily, we’re really just beginning to see devices designed to withstand dropping, water and the elements of the great outdoors.
It’s not as if vapes are made of glass (minus some tanks), most are actually housed within plastic or metal and are quite durable. In addition, many vapes have optional silicone or rubberized cases for added protection.
If however, you know that you’ll be subjecting your vape to more than a few drops and or water (at least to a degree), opt for a device specifically designed with extra durability or characteristics.
- Rugged or shockproof vapes, although somewhat limited in availability, typically feature rubberized exteriors or at least corners. In addition, some rugged vapes are considered dust-proof and have extra gasket material around screws and seams. An additional material commonly found on some rugged vapes is leather which helps cushion impacts.
- Water resistant vapes typically refer to the components being resistant to rust and corrosion. If you’re routinely around water and want your vape to last, it’s imperative to have stainless steel components. In terms of a vape being actually waterproof, out of the thousands of vapes in the marketplace, we currently know of one and that’s the Vandy Vape Jackaroo.
Touch or Analog Vape Interface
A rising and welcomed trend in vapes is touchscreen displays. When it comes to adjusting a wide range of settings and options, touchscreen displays are much more intuitive and efficient than the alternative, which is typically 2 – 3 physical buttons with a tiny display. We strongly recommend that new vapor users who are interested in vapes with adjustable settings, consider full touchscreen interfaces. In contrast, advanced vapor users or those who are tech savvy, will have little to no problem navigating a non-touchscreen or analog device in order to adjust settings.
Vape Tank Adaptability and Compatibility
One of the added bonuses of using vapes is the ability to utilize different tanks on the same device. While this can be an expensive journey, users can potentially use an assortment of tanks with the same device, which is great for sampling a variety of different e liquid flavors. Just keep in mind that you’ll need the appropriate coil head replacements for each tank.
There are a number of reasons that users end up with multiple tanks. For example, some tanks fail and or have ongoing issues with leaking. Users also enjoy upgrading to the latest versions of tanks for peak performance. Additionally, along with overall performance, users often enjoy trying sub-ohm vaping which requires a tank with an atomizer capable of functioning at 1 ohm or less.
This single most important aspect of tank interchangeability is the threading. Fortunately for all of us, the vast majority of vapor devices that function from e liquid tanks have what is known as 510 threading. In other words, most vape devices have female 510 threading and most e liquid tanks have male 510 threading, making them generally compatible. In some instances the diameter of the tank will also come into play concerning compatibility.
How Buying Vapes Online Works
Buying vapes online is exactly like making any other purchase online, with a few additional consideration to keep in mind. In America, consumers are now rightfully required to verify their age when purchasing any vaping hardware or e liquid online. While the online age verification is in it’s relatively infancy and largely able to be tricked, we suspect more strict requirements in the near future to help combat underage vaping.
Additional factors to consider when buying vapes online:
- Source Trustworthiness: Due to the popularity of vapes, we’ve been seeing an increase across the board in terms of websites offering vapor products. While there are certainly a plethora of online vape shops that are trustworthy and do a tremendous job, it’s important for new vapor users to be aware of spammers and scammers. A few good rules of thumb to remember when shopping for vapor products online are verifying that the site shows expertise, is up to date, is well built, has no dead-links and has accurate contact information.
- Online Vape Retail Location: In addition, it’s a good idea for all Americans to only purchase vapor products from retailers indeed operating within the United States. This will minimize the potential for long shipping times, the impossibility of efficiently returning faulty products and further minimizing the chance of US consumers falling victim to fraudulent online retailers.
- Return Policies: A number of basic or standard vapor products such as e cigarettes and pod based products have a small return rate due to their low amount of add-ons or additional components. With more advanced vapor devices however, the number of components and additional hardware increases. Therefore, it’s imperative to know the return policies of the online vape shop you’re placing an order with, both in terms of their overall policies as well as with individual products. For example, it’s industry standard that there are no returns (or at least very limited) on e liquids or coil-heads. Furthermore, as with any online retailer, it’s typical to see no refund policies on clearance or close-out sales.
- Promotions & Discounts: Loyal vapor product consumers are highly sought after and as such, online vape shops often make available tremendous promotions and discounts to keep your business. From percentage per order and shipping discounts to residual savings via subscription services, vapor users are constantly presented with additional ways to save on their vape purchases.
What are The Most Popular Vapes?
Because the vapor product market is constantly and rapidly evolving, the top 5 most popular vapes often change within as little as a 1 week timespan. With that being said, every now and then, a vape goes viral and becomes extremely popular. Furthermore, it’s increasingly apparent that vapes under certain brands or product lines have a pattern of outperforming others.
Vapes and vapor product lines that rocked the internet upon their release (strictly as we define vapes, as opposed to including pod based systems):
- SMOK Alien
- SMOK G-PRIV
- Vaporesso Revenger
- Vaporesso Target
- Vandy Vape Jackaroo
- VooPoo Drag
- GeekVape Aegis
- Wismec Reuleaux
- KangerTech Subox
What If You Can’t Decide On a Vape?
Due to the huge amount of vapes on the market, it can be difficult to decide exactly which vapor product to purchase. This is of course why most vapor users end up having several different devices in their arsenal. On one hand, personal trial and error is the absolute best way to find out the exact type of vape meets your needs. On the other hand, trying several different vapes can be an expensive process. If your concerned about the expense of trying a number of different vapor devices, we recommend sticking to more simple pod based devices, many of which are high performance and readily available across America. Do your due diligence and research the exact type of vape setup that you know meets your unique specifications before randomly purchasing vapor products.
The Evolution of Vaping & Vapes
The evolution of vapes has been interesting to witness. What started as simple disposables and rechargeable e cigarettes that utilized cartridges, vaping devices quickly morphed into high performing, complex and adjustable systems. After a few years of consumers chasing more performance, adjustability, settings and wattage, the market did a 180 degree turn towards compact, sleek and intuitive devices. This market move was largely led by the success of the JUUL pod system, although the desire for economical performance in a compact design has always been the desire of the majority of vapor users.
With the overwhelming popularity of vape pod based lines like the SMOK NORD and NOVO, along with the NJOY Ace, it’s becoming increasingly evident where the industry is headed. The future of the vapor device marketplace is bright is revolves around innovative, intuitive, high performing, economical and most importantly, compact systems.
Vape Device Companies
Like pretty much all product manufacturing in the world, China handles the production of the vast majority of vapor devices. Unlike e liquid, where a large number of reputable American companies produce products, devices are almost entirely imported. There are a few American companies producing mechanical mods, although the sub-category as a whole is slowly becoming irrelevant due to safety concerns and the general lack of intuitiveness involved with such devices.
Below are well-known, established and trusted online vaping retailers, along with leading vape brands:
Trusted Online Vape Retailers
The following is not an exhaustive list, but each of the following online vape shops have been operating for a number of years, have solid product availability and are known to have competent customer service teams.
Where to shop for your vaping hardware and e liquid:
- Direct Vapor
- Halo Cigs
- Element Vape
- Giant Vapes
- Vape Wild
- My Freedom Smokes
- Eight Vape
- Mad Vapes
- 101 Vape
- Mig Vapor
Respected Vape Device Brands
We’re sure to catch some flack for not including certain brands, but by and large, the following list is a phenomenal starting point for new users when choosing which device to purchase.
Vape brands to consider when upgrading devices and or vapor equipment:
- Geek Vape
- Vandy Vape
- Lost Vape
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