Best vape 2020: vape pens and e-cigarettes for the discerning vapeur
Give up smoking or enjoy the biggest clouds of fruity or herb-tinged vapour possible with the best vaporisers
While we don’t exactly endorse vapes or e-cigs, they do seem to be safer than cigarettes, even if some medical establishments may tell you otherwise (see below). The best vapes fit into two categories really.
There are slim cartridge-based vape models made by big legacy tobacco brands, aimed at people trying to give up smoking cigarettes. And then there are those vapes aimed at a slightly more underground culture, which involves people who either vape because they like the flavour and the huge plumes of vapour they create, and those who have discovered the joys of herbal loose-leaf puffing without the excessive smell and the higher level of impurities associated with roll-ups.
There are also some tobacco heating products – Philip Morris’ iQOS, for instance – that the manufacturers insist are not vapes… But for simplicity’s sake, that’s what we’re going to call them.
Certainly, one obvious use of vapes, e-cigs, vaporisers, or whatever you choose to call them, is as part of a process of giving up smoking entirely. However, we’re starting from the assumption here that you’re intending to vape because you like it. Because the best vapes are not only cigarette replacements, they are WAY RAD. As this video amply demonstrates.
Is vaping bad for you?
It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment but according to recent reports, over 1,400 ‘unexplained’ cases of lung disease could be attributed to vaping. On the other hand, three quarters of those patients affected apparently reported that they had been using unregulated THC-based e-liquids (THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana). Some medical institutions have also suggested that some fruit flavours may be to blame. The US Food and Drug Administration is currently drafting a proposed ban on fruit flavours in cartridge-based vaping systems, and leading vape brand Juul has already suspended sales of its fruit-based products in light of that.
Until more conclusive evidence is put forward, and so long as you’re happy to take the risk in the meantime, we’d recommend sticking to well established e-liquid brands with high quality control – and perhaps forego the fruit flavours if you’re really not sure.
Menthol cigarettes banned from 20 May 2020
According to the European Union Revised Tobacco Products Directive, the smooth, refreshing flavour of menthol cigarettes could be considered an encouragement to take up smoking, especially among teenagers. As a result, a total ban on the manufacture and selling of menthol cigarettes came into force across Europe and the UK from 20 May, 2020.
However, this ban doesn’t include vaporisers, e-cigarettes or heated tobacco products like the IQOS system reviewed below so, if you’re not prepared to treat the new ban as an opportunity to quit tobacco once and for all, there are alternatives out there that will help quell the addiction.
You can find more information at the Association of Convenience Stores website.
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What IS a vaporiser or vape pen, then?
Vapes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes
Many smokers dread the thought of giving up or not being able to have a puff when they feel like it. Nicotine patches quell the urge to some degree but it’s not an instant solution. Vaporisers and e-Cigarettes (their ciggie-shaped counterparts) are arguably the best options in this respect because they fulfil the two main prerequisites of a smoker: nicotine grip in the throat and the sight of smoke being exhaled.
The great thing about vaporisers is that the smoke being exhaled isn’t actually smoke; it’s nicotine-infused vapour (or steam) which evaporates in a flash leaving no nasty smells or residues in its wake. Okay, if you’re a non-vaper, it does stink if you walk through a cloud of it, but your clothes won’t smell of synthetic fruit afterwards, which is a step up from fags.
Most vapes use a screw-in atomizer or clearomiser that encompasses a heating coil and a transparent e-liquid chamber. To prepare, fill the chamber with e-liquid (there’s a huge range of flavours and nicotine strengths to choose from, but more on that below), press the button a few times to turn it on, then press and hold the button while drawing on the mouthpiece.
Vaporisers produce far more vapour than e-cigarettes and ordinary ciggies (we’re talking plumes of the stuff – like an oral bonfire). Indeed, most ‘cloud chasers’ tend to opt for customisable sub-ohm models that are capable of producing massive quantities of vapour from a single draw. However, many of the more highfalutin models are so ludicrously complicated you’d need a degree in electrical engineering to operate them. For that reason we’ve mostly omitted those models from this list.
Now we should address a particularly strange anomaly that seems to affect the majority of e-liquid vaporisers, even sealed cartridge versions – leaks! Yes, you’d like to think that the e-liquid vaporiser at the bottom of your bag is sitting there doing no harm. However, there’s a fair chance it’s leaked sweet, sticky e-liquid all over your Smythson’s diary. In fact, it takes only a few drops to make the entire bag smell like a Haribo factory. Worse still, the sickly sweet smell is almost impossible to remove. To date, almost every vaporiser I’ve tested has leaked at some point yet rarely during the first week or so of ownership. It only happens when the product lies on its side – which is precisely how it will inevitably end up if stored in a large pocket or handbag. Why do some vaporiser e-liquid chambers leak? I haven’t a clue but clearly the system has a major design fault in there somewhere. Answers on a postcard please.
The other downside with refillable vaporisers is that, depending on usage, the small screw-in coil section (the part that heats the liquid) will need to be replaced roughly every two weeks, but thankfully they’re cheap to buy.
Vaporisers and e-liquids are available through online outlets and in most high streets and corner shops.
What is E-liquid?
Some vape accessory packaging is not the most sophisticated, admittedly
Most vaporisers use a liquid suspension called e-liquid to deliver nicotine, throat hit and flavour. The vast majority of e-liquids are comprised of vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG) and nicotine.
VG is a thick, sticky, sweet liquid that produces maximum vapour at the expense of throat grip and flavour. Hence, E-liquids with higher VG to PG ratios are preferred by ardent cloud chasers who tend to use the direct to lung technique (DTL), a method that involves literally sucking in a full lungful of vapour as if breathing through a pipe.
PG liquid, on the other hand, provides a much better throat hit similar to that of a tobacco cigarette. E-liquids with a higher PG ratio are therefore better suited to those more used to the mouth to lung (MTL) technique of cigarette smoking.
In a nutshell, a VG50/PG50 mix is best for those who like an intense flavour as well as a throat hit, while a PG20/VG80 provides a much smoother inhale with bigger clouds and a mild flavour.
Nicotine is the final ingredient that indicates the amount of throat grip and overall satisfaction. As a general rule, consider choosing a 3mg e-liquid if you only smoked one or two cigarettes a day, 6mg if you smoked under 10 per day and want a decent throat hit, 12mg if you were up to and above 20 a day and 18mg and higher if you puffed like a chimney.
What is the best vape pen?
There are all sorts of vapes in this guide but our overall favourite is the refillable cartridge-based Vaporesso Osmall. This might not be to the taste of cloud-chasing extremists due to its ease of use and lack of resemblance to something from the Star Wars cantina scene, but it is currently the best you can get. However, for those seeking a genuine alternative to standard cigarettes, there’s nothing more suitable on the market right now than the IQOS system, which uses proper tobacco that is heated rather than burned.
The best vaporisers, in order
1. Vaporesso Osmall
Pocket-sized pal is the best vape pen money can buy
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Where the average cartridge-based vaporiser uses sealed factory-filled pods that you throw in the bin when empty, this one uses refillable magnetic 2ml cartridges that can be used for at least ten refills before they need replacing. This opens up a whole new world of e-liquid flavours and VG/PG mixes that conventional sealed cartridge-based systems simply cannot match. The Osmall comes with just one empty cartridge but they’re readily available to buy online at around £5 a pair. All you have to do is buy an e-liquid of your choice and fill the cartridge via its redesigned side-mounted filling port.
Despite the body being made of cheap ribbed plastic rather than the much nicer smooth metal used in construction of the Renova Zero (reviewed below), the Osmall nabs our new number one spot because it’s pod-filling system is better designed and less messy to fill. Where the Renova Zero had to be filled via a plastic bottle with a special spout, this model can accept pretty much any third-party e-liquid bottle and that means not having to decant your favourite e-liquid first. A major bonus in our book.
Available in a range of eight rather dull colours and measuring just 8cm x 3cm, the budget-priced Osmall is an absolute cinch to use – since there are no on/off or draw activation buttons on board, you simply put lips to the mouthpiece and draw, baby, draw.
If you’re in the market for a discreet but extremely simple vaporiser that delivers a constantly smooth hit replete with mammoth amounts of vapour (really, this thing rocks on the plume front), then look no further than this little pocket titan.
And if you’re on the lookout for a decent e-liquid to fill it with, mosey on over to our e-liquid guide and nab yourself some new tantalising flavours.
Left: IQOS 3 Duo; Right: IQOS 3 Multi
2. IQOS 3 Duo & iQOS 3 Multi
Best straight cigarette replacement
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
If you find that e-liquid vaporisers ultimately fail to emulate both the taste and experience of real cigarettes, then consider this excellent tobacco-heating alternative from Marlboro man, Philip Morris.
The new, much improved IQOS 3 Duo (and its stablemate, IQOS 3 Multi), uses proprietary HEETS (tobacco sticks that resemble filtered cigarettes in all but length). These specially formulated mini Marlboros are pushed, filter up, into a small handheld battery unit that heats the tobacco to 350 degrees – real cigarettes burn at around 800 degrees.
To ‘smoke’ a HEETS, you simply put filter tip to lips and draw. The effect is remarkably similar to that of a traditional cigarette: it produces roughly the same amount of smoke (in this instance a quick dissolving vapour) and provides the exact same nicotine grip in the throat. Similarly, taste, sensation and satisfaction levels are all much closer to that of a conventional cigarette. Granted, it’s not precisely the same taste and smell but nothing else on this page comes as close to replicating the genuine experience. Another point in its favour is that the system can’t leak like most e-liquid vaporisers seem to do.
You should get about 15 puffs or six minutes out of each HEETS stick before the heating element turns off and the unit emits a warning buzz. While the system does initially leave a faint tobacco smell in the air, it soon evaporates and leaves no smell on your clothes.
The IQOS 3 Duo has to be used with the provided pocket charger to function correctly: whenever you’ve finished puffing, simply drop the mouth unit into the charger and it’ll be topped up in about four minutes. The great thing about this particular model is that it allows two consecutive puffing sessions on a single charge – good news for those who need two lots of nicotine hits in a row.
By contrast, the Duo’s stablemate, IQOS 3 Multi, comes as a complete all-in-one package comprised of the HEET holder with built-in charger. This means it can be used multiple times – around ten puffing sessions according to IQOS – before requiring a top up via any USB charging device.
As to which model is best, the IQOS 3 Duo’s charger is 1cm shorter and twice the width of the IQOS 3 Multi, though its HEETS holder is much smaller (nearly 3cm shorter and half the width of the Multi), more tactile and much more discreet. Both the Duo and Multi can also be customised with a range of different coloured and textured body shells.
If you’re trying to give up cigarettes then this system is an excellent alternative but we wouldn’t advise using it if you’ve never smoked before because the jury’s still out on how much safer the system is than regular cigarettes.
According to independent research carried out on behalf of Philip Morris, the IQOS system reduces the harm and risk of tobacco smoking. However, the US Food and Drug Administration declared that this claim could not be made in US advertising, although it did agree that ‘heat-not-burn’ cigarettes reduce a smoker’s exposure to harmful chemicals, carbon monoxide and tar.
HEETS retail at £5 a pack (much cheaper than cigarettes) and are available in five Marlboro-esque tobacco flavours: Amber, Yellow, Sienna, Turquoise and Blue. Amber is the nearest to a red Marlboro cigarette and has the most agreeable taste and smell while Yellow and Sienna have a stronger hit and a more intense flavour. Turquoise and Blue are both equivalent to a Marlboro Green (menthol) and taste very similar. HEETS are available direct from IQOS and some major supermarkets like Sainsbury’s.
Since HEETS aren’t classified as cigarettes, they are not affected by the forthcoming European menthol cigarette ban. So if, as a menthol cigarette smoker, you’re worried about how you’ll survive, consider the IQOS system and use either the Turquoise or Blue flavour, or a vaporiser with a menthol flavour – there are literally loads of them about.Give up smoking or enjoy the biggest clouds of fruity or herb-tinged vapour possible with the best vaporisers
When and How to Change Your Vape Coil: Everything You Need to Know
Changing out coils is an essential part of owning a vape. It’s the price we pay for the convenience and effectiveness of vape mods. Replacing worn-out coils is part of your mod’s basic maintenance, and keeping up with it will extend your device’s lifespan. Neglect to change your coil and you’ll find yourself buying a new vape mod sooner than you’d like.
If you’re a seasoned vaper, then you’re probably all too familiar with the consequences of trying to use a coil beyond the end of its lifespan. Burnt out coils make vaping an unpleasant experience, so you should always be prepared to change one out. Vapers go through a lot of coils each year, so don’t be shy about stocking up.
In this post, we’ll detail the reasons why your coil may have worn out sooner than usual, how to immediately tell if your coil is dead, and how to replace it with a new one.
All about vape coils
The coil is the key to a smooth-tasting vape experience. Many new vapers are turned off of vaping all together because they’ve inadvertently used a coil for too long and don’t realize the terrible taste they’re experiencing can be avoided.
Coils consist of a wire and a wick and are housed within your mod’s cartridge. Coils are typically made of resistance wire and covered by cotton in fiberglass or synthetic foam. The wick soaks up e-Juice and the coil then heats the wick.
Vape coil versus atomizer
You may have heard the terms coil and atomizer used interchangeably. They’re not exactly the same thing, but many people don’t bother to differentiate between them. Put simply, an atomizer is anything that creates a mist from a liquid. In the world of vaping, an atomizer can refer to the coil that holds your e-Juice while it vaporizes or the entire device that contains the coil. So when you’re looking for replacement coils, don’t be surprised if the products you find are labeled as atomizers.
Vape coil longevity: how vape coils break down over time
Coils just aren’t meant to last forever. They suffer repeated re-heating and cool downs, meaning they’ll eventually burn out. Sometimes, the way you use your vape device can cause them to burn out even faster than normal.
Chain vaping (taking multiple hits within a short period of time) is often responsible for the quick degradation of coils. Taking multiple draws from your device within a few seconds can also dry out your wick because you’re not giving it enough time to soak up the proper amount of e-Juice.
Give your device a good 30 seconds between hits to help slow down the death of your coil and wick.
How often do I need to change my vape coil?
Your coil will need to be replaced fairly frequently. Depending on how much you vape, it may need changed as often as once a week or as infrequently as once a month. Using your vape more frequently means you’ll need to change the coil more often, but even if you rarely vape, your coil will still need to be replaced at least once a month.
Signs it’s time to change your vape coil
To make sure you’re not vaping with a damaged coil (or changing out a perfectly good one), keep an eye out for these four signs that your coil has reached the end of its life.
A burning taste
Vaping a dead coil will eventually result in an acrid, burning taste. Usually, this taste is so unpleasant that it completely ruins your hit. Never try to continue vaping if you’re getting a foul taste. It’s not worth it. While an accidental hit off a worn-out coil won’t do lasting harm, it’s something you want to avoid doing repeatedly. If you push a coil past its lifespan and the vape begins to burn the coil, you may be exposing yourself to heavy metals.
Want to make your coil last longer? Sometimes, when your vape starts to taste a little off, you can salvage the coil by cleaning it. Not all coils can be cleaned, so check which device you have. Cleaning your coil may buy you a few extra days or a week, but you will still have to replace the coil eventually.
Vapes shouldn’t gurgle. Gurgling sounds are always a bad sign and require a prompt investigation. Changing out your coil is the easiest solution to gurgling noises, but it may not always be the correct one. If your device continues to produce gurgling noises even after you’ve replaced the coil, it’s a sign that something more serious is wrong with your vape.
Weak or “off” e-Juice flavor
This often precedes a burnt taste. Sometimes a worn coil can make your flavored e-Liquid seem just a little bit off. You’re most likely to notice this with flavors you’re familiar with. If your favorite lemonade-flavored e-Juice just suddenly tastes “off”, then it could be a sign that you’re coil is dying.
There is always the possibility that you got a bad bottle of e-Juice, but a dead coil is much more likely. Sometimes a burnt-out coil can also weaken your e-Juice flavor. Normally, the last hit you take should be just as flavorful as the first, so a weak flavor is also a sign of a dead coil.
Finally, worn-out coils can cause flavors to mix. If you’ve switched from lemonade e-Juice to mint and now you’re getting a hideous combination of the two, your coil may also be to blame. Many vapers change coils each time they switch flavors to completely avoid this problem.
Low vapor production
The vapor produced by your coil will gradually lessen with time. By the end of your coil’s lifespan, you’ll be seeing a much lower vapor output than usual. So, if your cloud chasing seems to be going much worse than usual, you may be vaping with an old coil. Whether you choose to change the coil immediately when you notice a lower vapor output or continue using it until other symptoms appear is up to you.
It is possible that low vapor production may also be the result of a dying battery. Be sure to check your device’s charge to make sure the battery isn’t running out of power before you commit to replacing your entire coil. (Device no longer holding a charge? It may be time to upgrade your mod’s battery.)
How to change a coil on a vape: 5 quick steps to change your own coil
If you’re just coming over to mods after a lifetime of disposable cig-a-likes, then you may not be familiar with changing a coil. Fortunately, it’s a simple and painless process that you’ll soon be very good at.
Disassemble your vape
To change out your coils, you’ll need to fully disassemble your vape. Don’t worry, this isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Every vape is a little bit different, so check your manual, but typically all you have to do is unscrew the tank from the bottom of your vape. You may want to wrap your device in a paper towel to keep your hands from getting e-Juice on them. Next, simply flip your tank upside down and twist counterclockwise to remove your tank.
Empty your tank
You want to replace your coil while there’s little to no vape juice left in your device, so go ahead and empty your tank out now. You can pour the vape juice into a trash can. If you want to be extra careful, pour it into a small bag of something super absorbent, like cat litter, and then throw the bag away.
Pre-soak your new coil’s wicking material
You don’t want to put a new coil straight into your vape device because the dry wick will burn. Instead, pre-saturated your new wick using 5-10 drops of e-Liquid, depending on the size of your coil. Obviously, you’ll be using the e-Juice you plan to refill your tank with to avoid mixing flavors.
Swap the coils
Your coil will easily unscrew from the bottom of your device. Now you’re free to replace it with the new, pre-soaked coil. Feel free to continue using the paper towel to keep your hands clean.
Replace and refill your tank
Once your new coil is in place, you’ll be able to reassemble your vape by screwing the tank back on. Next, fill your tank with your preferred e-Liquid. Now that you’re ready to rock with a new coil and fresh e-Juice, feel free to vape away!
Prebuilt coils versus making your own
Pre-made coil replacements are often called coil heads. The ease and convenience of prebuilt coils make them the preferred method of coil replacement. However, for the adventurous out there, you can also build your own coils. Doing so gives you a greater degree of control over your vaping experience, especially the ability to produce extremely high levels of vapor. So for all, you cloud chasers out there, building your own coil might be worth it. For those who are just looking for a good hit, there’s no reason not to stick with pre-made coils.
Never be left without a coil
Replacing coils is something you’ll quickly grow accustomed to as you continue to vape. Don’t wait until your vape tastes like a burnt newspaper to order more coils. Stock up ahead of time so you’ll never be caught short.
Pieces of your vaping rig will need replacing from time to time. Sometimes parts wear out, and other times you may just be looking to upgrade. Whatever the reason, AtmosRx has you covered with all the vape replacement parts you need. Check out our wide selection here.
Michael is a long established writer of Fiction, Poetry, and Marketing based content. When he’s not working on his countless literary projects, he spends his time educating customers on various growing industries and products.Keeping up with cleaning your device and changing its coil will extend your mod’s longevity, postponing the date when you have to buy yourself a new one. ]]>