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Battle of the atomisers (or how almost to get to vaping heaven)

Published by Old Greybeard in the blog Old Greybeard's blog. Views: 31

Vaping is a strange business. Due to the subjective nature of the human psyche, what to the man or woman standing next to you might be greatest thing since sliced bread, could quite possibly leave you distinctly unimpressed. While there are lots of reviewers out there, there is also an awful lot of hype, vested interest and undoubtedly large piles of male bovine faecal matter. Being a particular, fussy type, these are my conclusions 6 months into my vaping journey, but more importantly, I’d like to share how you can - through the process of elimination - build a vaping setup that will make you smile from ear to ear and help you navigate through the vaping jungle of choice.

Part of the problem is there are so many variables – vaping style, number of coils, coil design, wicking technique, wicking type, wattage, juice flavour/PG/VG ratios, airflow, drip tip design, glass size, battery condition and mod efficiency. Other factors - time of day, environmental temperature, your mood, or even what you’ve eaten or drunk recently can have a subtle (or not so subtle) impact on your conclusions. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have coiled and wicked a new atty, been distinctly unimpressed and after coming back a few weeks later, forming a different impression entirely.

The key to all of this is to set a baseline reference point for your evaluation regime. Stick to it no matter how insane it might appear, and then tweak each of the variables until you reach a point where you feel you are getting more mileage. That way, you have a level playing field to compare against - there is absolutely no point trying to compare apples with paperclips unless you want to get frustrated. The parameters I use as a starting point to date are a simple coil (7 turns SS316L spaced on a 3mm former), Ruthless Dulche De Leche juice, Muji cotton wicks, fully open airflow and firing between 35-75 Watts.

Finally, try and ascertain what type of vape you really like. For me it has got to be full flavoured, full bodied, warm but not wet with the more clouds the better. I don’t like restrictive draws, in fact too tight a draw makes me physically ill, so airflow may or may not play an important part in your assessment. The less air, the more flavour and the hotter the vape, so once again it is a compromise and subjective.

Vaping style

The attys covered in my conclusions are all DTL (Direct to Lung) devices. What is important though is developing and understanding your vaping style. Do you chain vape? Are you a “purger”? My vaping style has changed from my first tank (Aspire Cleito) which I was always purging, I now tend just to take a deep hit and frequently chain vape if the flavour speaks to me (or I enjoy the cloud formations).

Number of coils

I’ve settled on single coil (even for the Dead Rabbit) but not for the Loop. Clearly, you won’t get 2 coils in a single coil deck without some persuasion. Once you’ve got your baseline, then tweak and see if it makes a significant difference. Often, you’ll be surprised. The Kylin, while primarily a dual coiler, performs superbly as a single coil device.

Coil design

It’s simple coils for me, but if alien, gold plated twisted claptons are your thing, go for it. Some decks though are just not really designed for heavy builds, so your mileage may vary.

Wicking technique

I generally follow the rule of thumb tight in the coil, loose on the deck. Each deck will bring up it’s own wicking challenges, but you want that juice to flow easily to the coil. Too much (or indeed too little) wick and you will suffer from dry hits or a leaking tank.

Wicking type

To date I’ve used Muji, but having sampled some Rayon recently I’m a convert. It is longer lasting, cleaner tasting, and I suspect gives much better flavour as the coil is more saturated.

Wattage

For me the range is 35-75 Watts. To really test an atomiser, you need to put it through its paces over a wide range. Once you hit the sweet spot, and if you use SS or Ni coils, you can then use Temperature Control on your mod to dial in that wattage and you will never have a dry hit again (provided your upper temperature limit is not insane). Personally, I’d avoid using Titanium coils, they are dangerous if overheated, which you can easily do by accidentally having your mod in wattage mod with a high setting.

Juice flavour/PG/VG ratios

Totally subjective, the only agreement is lower VG juices may carry more flavour at the expense of giving you a harsher throat hit. This will also effect cloud production, but we are not doing this for the theatrics, honest. Pick your favourite and go with it.

Airflow

While you can try and rationalise the amount of air in each test, due to differing size of airflow vents on different devices this is difficult to achieve in reality. I go for wide open, and go from there.

Drip tip design

Often overlooked, the internal diameter, shape and length of a drip tip will make a considerable difference to the taste and temperature of your vape. The stock drip tips supplied are generally pretty good, with a few exceptions. Often, you can change these, but sometimes you can’t and will just have to live with the manufacturers offering.

Glass size

Makes a surprising difference. Could be down to the air pressure inside the tank or other variables, but for me the smaller glasses rather than the bubble sized ones give the best flavour at the expense of juice quantity. It might just be me conflating small size with better flavour, though.

Battery condition

Only use fully charged batteries for testing, your flavour will drop off as the charge decreases.

Mod efficiency

Different mods deliver different power, some have High power modes, some variable temperature curves, some nothing at all. Be consistent and use the same mod on the same settings for your evaluations.

Conclusions

Ratings and opinions are purely my own, and I've tried to be as fair, objective and honest about my experiences as I can. Yes, of course, feel free to disagree, and comment.

Behemoth tanks

You will never get the same flavour from a tank as a decent dripper/squonker, but you can get pretty close.

Kylin II

Style 8.5
Ease of use 8.0
Durability 8.0
Flavour 9.0
Airflow 9.0
Shineyitis appeal 9.0

Not a flawless tank by any means, the refill cap and airflow are very stiff and if you are a new vaper, dual coiling this without having a dangerous short may prove a challenge with bigger 3.5mm coils. The wicking (especially in dual coil mode) is fussy, get it wrong and you will get a serious dry hit. It doesn't leak, but it is definitely “damp” in use. Flavour wise, it is unsurpassed in my collection at the time of writing.

Wotofo Serpent Elevate

Style 9.0
Ease of use 7.5
Durability 8.5
Flavour 7.5
Airflow 9.0
Shineyitis appeal 7.0

This tank just edges it over the DR on design. Like the DR, it is a pig to wick and coil to get the best out of it (keep the coil as low as possible). Again like the DR, it seems pretty leakproof. Unlike the DR, if you purge the tank you will not get a face-full of hot vape. The 2ml TPD complaint plastic reservoir is as functional as chocolate teapot. Flavour wise, it is not bad at all, and although the Kylin gives it a kicking, it is still a great tank. It took a couple of attempts at setting this up for best performance, and how it performs with chunky coils remains to be seen, but I suspect it will come into it’s own here.

Dead Rabbit RTA

Style 9.0
Ease of use 7.0
Durability 7.5
Flavour 7.5
Airflow 8.5
Shineyitis appeal 9.0

The best analogy I can use for this tank is to compare it to an ageing, classic sports car. Temperamental, coil height and wicking have got to be just right or you will suffer one way or another. It also has very bad manners, giving you a dose of hot vape if you accidentally purge the tank unawares. You also can’t assemble this when the deck is screwed into the mod. Get the sweet spot though, and this tank makes for a darned good vape and makes all the effort worthwhile.

Aspire Cleito / Cleito 120 rebuildable

Style 8.0
Ease of use 7.0
Durability 6.0
Flavour 6.0
Airflow 9.0
Shineyitis appeal 6.0

With the stock coils, these are excellent tanks. With rebuildable decks, it is another matter entirely. The build quality is not brilliant - the coil posts lean at an angle due to the insulating material and I stripped an allen screw and I am not Mike Tyson. Vaping is a bit harsh and hot, even with the temperature scaled down. You will also need to buy a separate bubble glass if you want to use the conversion kit. You are also limited to custom Aspire drip tip. A great tank if you are happy buying stock coils, if you are looking for a rebuildable there are better choices out there. Design and style-wise, the market has moved on.

Nautilus Survival Kit

Style 7.0
Ease of use 8.0
Durability 6.5
Flavour 7.5
Airflow 9.0
Shineyitis appeal 9.0

Aspire make innovative products, and this is one of their best. A convertible RTA/RDA with a squonk option, this piece of kit got me hooked on dripping then squonking. Finish isn’t great, the tank isn’t going to win any awards for flavour if compared to the Kylin, but due to sentimental value, you can claw this piece of kit from my cold, dead hands.

Dainty Drippers / Squonkers

I just love 22mm flavour bangers. My latest vaping obsession. If your after flavour, look no further. Anything lager than that, and you are into the arena of diminishing returns.

Oumier Wasp Nano

Style 8.5
Ease of use 9.0
Durability 8.0
Flavour 9.5
Airflow 9.0
Shineyitis appeal 9.5

If you are after 100% flavour, this is the atty for you. It is the Deux Chevaux of drippers/squonkers – functional, quirky and incredible value. There is an RTA version available, with a 2ml tank. Don’t bother, it is a pig to fill, by the time you have inhaled sufficient nicotine to restore your sanity, it will be refill time again. The only way I can see Oumier improving the design is coming out with a stainless steel cap and having 4 rather than 2 post screws so you can install LH and RH wound coils. Trifling matters though, this is a classic piece of vape kit. Some have people report spitback, but if you wick the coil tight enough, you shouldn't suffer this. At a push, you can add a custom 510 drip tip, but this defeats the object. The whole beauty of the design is your mouth is close to the action. Unlike the Nixon, while the tip is a small diameter, there is sufficient depth to cover it with your lips.

Coilart Dpro Mini


Style 9.0
Ease of use 8.5
Durability 8.5
Flavour 8.5
Airflow 8.5
Shineyitis appeal 9.0

Not quite a flavoursome as the Wasp, but a lovely vape all the same. Beats the Wasp on build quality, this is more high-end executive car than farmers runabout, only let down by the slight lack of flavour. The 3 drip tips supplied compensate for this to a degree, or you could always add you own.

Hadalay (clone)

Style 8.5
Ease of use 6.0
Durability 4.0
Flavour 8.5
Airflow 9.0
Shineyitis appeal 8.0

Appalling build quality, I had to clear out metal swarf from the air vent (that I could have easily inhaled) before use. Flavour wise, it is up there with the Wasp most of the time. I’d love to buy a genuine version, but am hard pressed to reconcile paying 4 times the price of the Wasp for virtually the same performance. I do prefer the stainless steel cap with removable drip tip, though.

Gas Mods Nixon S

Style 9.0
Ease of use 6.5
Durability 9.0
Flavour 8.0
Airflow 7.5
Shineyitis appeal 9.0

I have a love-hate relationship with this atty. I love the overall look and the design of the deck, and the build quality is very high indeed. What lets it down is the lilliputian drip tip, the airflow noise, and the flavour. Maybe my lips are the wrong shape, but the drip tip is just far too shallow. Yes you can replace it, but as the cap is so thin you have to be careful you don’t end up burning your tip on the coil if it is too long. Flavour wise it is very consistent across juices, and it is not flavourless by any means, it just hasn’t got the range and the “in your face” attitude of the Wasp.

Blitz vape Hermetic RDA

Style 9.0
Ease of use 8.0
Durability 9.0
Flavour 7.0
Airflow 8.5
Shineyitis appeal 8.0

Beautiful build quality, only let down by the 3 O-rings that keep the cap clamped on as tight as aeroplane wings glued on with Araldite (which indeed they are). It also uses a proprietary clamp design to hold the coil in place. Flavour wise, nothing to write home about compared to a 22mm, but I suspect to get the best from this you need a heavyweight coil, something I will try at a later date.

Geekvape Loop

Style 9.0
Ease of use 8.0
Durability 8.5
Flavour 7.0
Airflow 9.0
Shineyitis appeal 8.5

Another well built atty, the flavour is OK if you get the coils in the right place. You can single coil this, but as the coil will be outside the airflow and close to your lips, the experience will not necessarily be pleasant. The unique “W” airflow design seems to be a case of form over function, and the Wasp, with a much simpler arrangement annihilates it. I do like the look and feel of it though, and it will probably take a lot more punishment than the Wasp if dropped.

Hugsvape Ringlord

Style 9.5
Ease of use 7.5
Durability 7.0
Flavour 5.0
Airflow 8.0
Shineyitis appeal 9.5

Why I bought this atty I don’t know. Well actually, I do. It looks phenomenal, and the concept of forcing the airflow over the top of the coil teases you with innovation and great performance. In reality, what you get is something akin to a noisy wet, over friendly dog that vaguely smells. I’m probably being a bit harsh here, with a larger coil to support the huge air chamber, it might come into it’s own - once you work out how to trim the leads to the right length. It is essential to stop coil from shorting on the airflow bridge, which requires a lot of trial and error. No way is this a stealth vape device, either from looks, cloud output or the sound it makes – especially the sound of glass smashing if you drop it on the floor. More novel than functional, the biggest appeal is its design, the worst feature the vape experience.
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