Device Squad doesn’t advocate smoking in any way but we also know that most smokers dread the thought of not being able to have a puff when they feel like it, especially travellers on long-haul flights. Nicotine patches quell the urge to some degree but it’s not an instant solution. E-cigarettes and vaporisers are the best option 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 clever thing about e-cigarettes and vaporisers is that the smoke being exhaled isn’t actually smoke; it’s nicotine-infused vapour or steam which is said to be far less harmful than tobacco smoke. What’s more, it evaporates in a flash leaving no nasty smells in its wake.
So, if the first thing you think of is where you’ll get a chance to have a smoke, consider one of these new fandangled gizmos – many public places (including some airports) now accept them as the norm and, besides, because vaporisers don’t actually burn anything they’re not covered by international governments’ anti-smoking laws. Hell, this writer has even spied one being casually ‘vaped’ on an EVA Air longhaul flight and no one said a thing.
A vape pen or vaporiser doesn't necessarily look anything like a cigarette and that can be a good thing since no one can mistake it for a proper cigarette when used in a public place or at least those venues that allow it.
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.
Many vaporisers also leak e-liquid occasionally which is why this writer much prefers the sealed cartridge versions which involve zero maintenance. Why do some vaporisers leak? I haven’t a clue but clearly the system has a 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 are widely available through online outlets and on most high streets.
What's a vaporiser?
What's an e-cigarette?
Five Best e-Liquids
Cuttwood Tobacco Trail
There’s a shedload of tobacco flavours on the market but this exceptional 70% VG / 30% PG blend is smoother and a lot more aromatic than most. Even the faint toffee-like smell it emits is agreeable. If you’ve been searching for a decent tobacco taste then stop right here.
Zour Blue Raspberry
This e-liquid produces a wonderfully refreshing pallet-smacking zing that’s both smooth on the throat and deliciously berry like with faint following notes of freshly-plucked wild mint. Pretentious, moi?
Nasty Juice Devil Teeth
Nasty Juice produces some of the most imaginative blends on the market. This high concentrate VG blend is akin to having a melon breakfast on a sun terrace. It’s fresh and exceedingly fruity – it really does taste of honeydew melon – and the light menthol aftertaste is likeable, too.
Bryn’s Special Sauce: Papricot Custard
This apricot blend fuses the taste of custard with other fruits like apple, grape and plum to produce an appealingly smooth puff that clouts the palette with a zesty hit reminiscent of sticking your face in a fruit salad. This is a high VG blend (80%) that produces huge plumes of vapour without searing the throat.
Apollo Ala Mode Chocolate Chip Cookie
Puffing on this biscuit flavoured e-liquid is like chewing on an American-style cookie topped with a dollop of cream. However, it’s best used in small quantities since it can become quite sickly after several puffs. Available in nicotine strengths from 3mg to 6mg.
A cigarette-shaped, electronic smoking device comprised of three main components: a battery, a heating element and a sealed cartridge containing e-liquid (water, nicotine and other ingredients including glycerol). When a user sucks on the end, the e-liquid is automatically heated and turned into vapour, which delivers a decent hit of nicotine.
An average eCigarette produces almost the same amount of vapour as a cigarette does smoke. However, because the electronically-controlled cartridges they use are disposable, they can be more expensive to use in the long term than vaporisers. E-cigarettes are available from most corner shops.
What is e-Liquid?
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.
Vaporesso Renova Zero
This titchy new cartridge-based vaporiser from Vaporesso is such a game changer it’s waltzed straight to the top of the list. Available in nine colours, the Renova Zero measures just 8cm x 3cm and is small enough to fit the coin pocket on a pair of 501s. It’s also an absolute cinch to use: simply switch it on with five presses of the button and draw, baby, draw.
The Zero is superbly designed and comes with a hefty zinc alloy casing and a magnetic snap-in pod system that is a joy to use. It also produces more vapour than practically any other model in this roundup, possibly even more than the mighty sub-ohm Apollo reviewed below. We’re talking serious plumes, dude, serious plumes.
What’s more, you can also alter the device’s wattage by pressing the same button three times. Wattage adjustment supposedly affects the general volume of vapour though it must be said that this writer failed to detect any major differences between the three settings.
Where the average cartridge-based vaporiser uses sealed pods that you throw in the bin when empty, this one uses refillable 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 normal sealed cartridge-based systems simply cannot match. The Zero comes with just one 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 the Zero’s ingenious one-way press-to-fill valve.
Each cartridge is equipped with a high-quality, long-lasting ceramic coil that produces one of the smoothest, most satisfying puffing experiences in Vapeland.
The Zero also features dry hit protection that shuts down the coil when it’s time for a refill. This not only prevents damaging the coil but it also stops you getting a foul lungful of burnt vapour – a common anomaly with cotton-coil vaporisers. Another major bonus is that the Zero is said to be leak free and that means no more sticky, smelly liquid all over your clothes and hands.
If you’re looking for a discreet but extremely versatile vaporiser that delivers a constantly smooth hit replete with mammoth amounts of vapour, then look no further than this little pocket titan.
IQOS 2.4 Plus Starter Kit
If you find that vaporisers ultimately fail to emulate both the taste and experience of real cigarettes, then consider this tobacco-heating alternative from Marlboro producer Philip Morris. The new, improved iQOS 2.4 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’ it, simply put filter to lips and draw. The effect is very 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 same nicotine grip in the throat. Similarly, taste, sensation and satisfaction levels are all much closer to that of a conventional cigarette. And, while it does initially leave a faint tobacco smell in the air, it soon evaporates and leaves no smell on your clothes. The IQOS 2.4 system also includes a pocket charger: when you’ve finished puffing, simply put the mouth unit in the charger and it’ll be topped up in about four minutes.
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 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 has allegedly rejected that claim, though it does agree that smokeless cigarettes definitely do reduce a smoker’s exposure to harmful chemicals. That said, most people agree that heat-not-burn products like this do not produce carbon monoxide and tar, so that’s a bonus.
Heets sticks are available in three Marlboro-esque flavours: Amber, Yellow and Turquoise. Amber is the nearest to a red Marlboro cigarette and has the most agreeable taste and smell. By contrast, the milder Yellow isn’t as smooth a smoke and it doesn’t smell that great. Turquoise is equivalent to a Marloboro Green (menthol) and tastes very similar. Five packets of 20 Heets retail at £37.50.
Designed in France, this ultra stylish vape pen is one of the most elegant models on the market and one of the easiest to use. This vaporiser doesn’t have any buttons to press; in fact, it doesn’t even have an on/off button. Simply press in a pre-filled, colour-coded cartridge (called a Bo Cap), put your lips around the mouthpiece and suck like a limpet.
Against all odds, the Bo produces a satisfyingly large volume of lovely smooth vapour. Indeed, it’s already become this writer’s go-to vaporiser because I just love the fact I can change flavours instantly and there’s no sticky e-liquid to fiddle. Better still, there’s no leaking – a ridiculous anomaly that taints the majority of refillable vaporisers. And because the cartomiser – the bit that heats up the liquid – is built into each throw-away capsule, there’s never the need to screw in a new one. It’s win win situation all the way.
The Bo Vape system comes in two configurations: the Bo One and the Bo+. The One is a slim stick of a thing (10cm x 1.5cm) that’s perfect for a few hours of vaping. It’s smooth Nextel coating feels lush in the hand and for an extra £40 you can purchase the pocket-sized, leather clad charging station.; simply pop the Bo into the slot for a quick battery boost. The Bo+ is the same height and a centimetre wider and its battery lasts for quite a bit longer. It comes with a nice leather holster, too.
Bo produces some great e-liquids too in both 8mg and 16mg nicotine configurations at £5.99 for three capsules. I’ve tested quite a few flavours and my two favourites are: Classique Tobacco RY4 (a smooth tobacco taste with a hint of caramel) and Orange Light (a delicious pear flavour with a very faint hint of mint). UK buys should consider purchasing from Electric Tobacconist for quick delivery and great prices.
If you’re looking for something extremely discreet that screams style, then make this gorgeous Gallic duo your first port of call.
British American Tobacco’s cute Pebble has just been given a makeover and it’s a little cracker. This is easily one of the smallest, most pocketable and convenient vaporising units on the market right now. Its flat pebble shape is perfect for stashing in even the tightest of slim jeans pockets and a boon for those who might occasionally sneak a quick puff where they shouldn’t.
The Pebble is a conventional e-liquid vaporiser that uses disposable pre-sealed cartridges in six different flavours (from Golden Tobacco and Tingling Mint to Wild Berries and Fresh Apple) and three nicotine strengths (6, 12 and 18mg).
A sealed cartridge system like this is far and away the best option for beginners and those who just want to vape without the rigmarole of having to fill a chamber with sticky e-liquid. With this model you simply swap cartridges whenever you want to change flavours.
The Pebble couldn’t be easier to use. Simply push in a disposable e-liquid cartridge (£5.99 for two), charge it up via the Mini USB port, press the titchy ‘on’ button and puff. There is no need to hold in buttons while you draw on this model as the heating coil is activated automatically. Against all odds, the Pebble produces a substantial amount of vapour, too.
Of all the vaporisers I’ve tested, this is the model I use the most – it’s just so small and practical. The new model – replete with Dodge Viper-style racing stripes – is due to start shipping in early 2018.
JAC Vapour S17
This snazzy model from the house of JAC is perfect for beginners and former smokers seeking a vaporiser that emulates the tight draw of a cigarette. However, because it comes with an air-resistance valve to adjust the strength of the draw, it’s also suitable for those who prefer the direct-to-lung technique and massive plumes of vapour.
In the pantheon of refillable vaporisers, this one’s easier to use than most: simply fill the chamber with e-liquid, adjust the draw strength by turning the little thumb wheel, hold in the button and puff.
If you want a longer-lasting vaping experience, consider its bigger stablemate, the S22 instead; it’s essentially the same product as the S17 but with a wider mouthpiece and a larger battery and e-liquid chamber. Excellent choice.
What a surprisingly impressive little steam engine this Zippo lighter-style model turned out to be. Granted, it’s fiddly to fill and the magnetic e-liquid reservoir is tiny but what an easy thing to use. Just flick the lid Steve McQueen style, swivel the pipe-like mouthpiece a few degrees and draw; the e-liquid is automatically heated with no button pressing required.
Despite its size, this thing produces a surprisingly large volume of flavoursome vapour that is smooth enough to allow the use of higher nicotine contents without having your throat ripped to shreds. For the ultimate tobacco flavour, I recommend loading it with Gourmet E-Liquid’s superb Cuttwood Tobacco Trail blend.
The Aurora is available in a range of liveries and is arguably the coolest looking model in the roundup. Well worth a punt.
V2 Pro Series 3
The V2 Pro is a well-designed model with a refillable mouthpiece cartridge attached using magnets. Unlike other vaporisers, the V2's refillable e-liquid cartridges don't need unscrewing and emptying in order to change to a different flavour; you simply pull out one pre-filled capsule and drop in another.
The V2’s draw resistance is set just right and is pretty close to that of a real cigarette. It also produces ample vapour. Specialist baccy fans will equally fancy a punt on the optional dry herb atomizer (£17.25). It's essentially the same as the liquid-carrying cartridge only it's been adapted to take herbal remedies. Despite having experienced a few leaky cartridges (an anomaly that many users have complained about), the V2 still remains one of the most convenient vaporising pens on the market. However, it’s no longer the best.
If herbal puffing is your bag, consider putting your lips round this feature-filled loose-leaf vaporiser designed by former Apple employee Mark Williams.
In the arena of vaping products, the Firefly 2 is a fine thing to behold and is comprised of a borosilicate glass vapour path and herb bowl that accepts both dry herbs and wax concentrates. Touch sensor activation, dynamic convection heating tech and lightweight magnesium alloy construction add classy functionality.
The Firefly 2 heats up in seconds and comes with six preset temperatures accessed via a free iOS and Android app. Users have nothing but praise for this model and this writer is inclined to agree.
Right now I can’t think of another loose-leaf model that provides such a consistently smooth vaping experience, but like most fine things, you do have to pay for it – a lot of decent phones are cheaper than this vape.
Apollo OHM GO Vaping Kit
Apollo is a major player in vapeland and its e-liquids are among the very best. This highly engineered beast is the largest and most highly-specced model on the page (16cm in length) so if you want to go head-to-head against the city’s most ardent cloud chasers then this is the model to turn up with. It produces spectacular levels of smooth stratocumulus-like vapour that just keeps on coming. Very impressive.
It’s easy to use, too, and comes with a draw-resistance dial and an extra coil that allows users to engage in two methods of vaping: mouth-to-lung (rather like a cigarette) and direct lung inhale (like a shisha pipe). Expect a full day of vaping on a single charge. Top cloud-chasing choice.
The current trend among herbal smokers (including, of course, those who like a bit of THC in their pipe) is towards loose-leaf vaporisers like this elegant and discreet, tech-filled model from PAX. The PAX3 is about four inches tall and less than an inch in width, making it arguably the smallest two-way herbal vaporiser on the market.
Rather uniquely, the PAX3 accommodates both dry herb (like hemp) and concentrate (usually in the form of a wax) so discerning vape aficionados get the best of both worlds. The onboard technology here is pretty impressive, too. The main unit activates as soon as you draw and offers four different heat levels which can be adjusted with the press of a button or, better still, using the accompanying app.
The unit itself comes with all the paraphernalia required, including an alternative mouthpiece, a half-size ‘oven lid’ for smaller loads, a concentrate container, cleaning gear and a magnetic charging cradle. Loose-leaf products like this don’t produce much vapour but herbalists love them because they produce the desired taste and effect without the wiffy fumes.
V2 Pro Series 7
The V2 Pro Series 3 (see review above) is one of the most fuss-free vaporisers on the market. Well here’s its newly-launched big brother. The Pro Series 7 is shorter than the Series 3 and about twice the width, but it’s just as pocketable. It also uses the same magnetic attachment system for both the cartridges and the USB charger. Really, this thing couldn’t be easier to use. Simply fill the cartridge with your favourite e-liquid flavour and drop it into the chamber. Now tap the power button three times and you’re ready to vape alongside all those trendy Soho middle-management types outside their GoogleFaceTwit workplaces.
The Series 7 comes replete with an e-liquid cartridge, a cavernous dry herb cartridge for puffing on herbal tobacco (but more likely Mary Jane), a USB charging lead and a mains adaptor. It has three main advantages over the smaller Series 3. Its 1800mAh battery is much larger and longer lasting (over 24 hours with standard use), its dry herb and e-liquid cartridges are bigger (2.5ml) which means fewer top ups, and it features variable voltage for different volumes of vapour. (As with any vaporiser, you will need to change the cartridge every month or so – at a cost of around £16.99 a piece – or when the taste becomes a little harsh on the throat.)
So, which one to choose: Series 3 or Series 7? Well if you’re an avid vapour then consider the fatter Series 7 but bear in mind the larger mouthpiece and much lower draw resistance (which some users prefer). The Series 3’s battery and e-liquid won’t last as long but it’s much smaller in the hand, its mouthpiece is a perfect size and its higher draw resistance is much more like that of a bogstandard snout. In these respects, the Series 3 would be a better choice for the majority of users. It’s half the price too.
This fist-sized dry herb vaporiser looks like a miniature nuclear reactor so you can be sure it’ll attract a lot of attention; indeed perhaps a little too much attention should you fill it with wacky baccy. The Crafty is comprised of a palm-sized Lithium Ion battery compartment, a large herb chamber and a swivel mouthpiece. Turn it on and it heats dry leaves up to the default temperature of 356°F (180°C). When ready, the device vibrates and the indicator lamp changes from red to green. Don’t expect anything like the same amount of vapour you get from e-liquid. In fact, without a decent sequence of puffs you might not see much vapour at all. But you will feel the effect – especially if you’ve taken the illegal road. Many vaporisers offer the wherewithal to change the heat temperature using a sequence of confusing button presses but this one makes it much easier by dint of an iOS/Andoid app that allows the user to change the temperature, check the battery charge status, turn the vibration function on and off and activate an alarm and vibration function for your smartphone. The Crafty is a clever piece of kit but it’s not for everyone. If you’re intent on smoking herbal-based products then the V2 Pro Series 7 does much the same job for a lot less wonga.