Beginner Series - Chapter 1: Beginner Vapes
So you’re looking to get into vaping? Anyone with experience in the world of vaping knows that it can be an opaque and intimidating scene to break into, full of complicated terms, obscure acronyms, and words straight from an electrician’s handbook. Let’s start with some of the more beginner-friendly options out there so you can find the option which suits your needs.
One more disclaimer before we get started: some terms are used interchangeably and there is often disagreement regarding where one category ends, and another begins. While I’ve attempted to draw clear boundaries here, it’s important to understand that these terms aren’t necessarily universal.
Cig-a-Like devices are often the go-to starter option for people looking to get into vaping. Designed to mimic the shape, throat hit, and convenience of traditional cigarettes, these devices are usually the gentlest introduction into the world of vaping. On the plus side, cig-a-likes are usually super portable, lightweight, and discreet. Since they also provide a bit of a burn in the back of the throat (like cigarettes) they are an extremely attractive option for people looking to kick their smelly smoking habit. The primary downsides of these handy little guys are that they typically utilize cartomizers (as opposed to refillable pods), provide minimal battery life, and are often mass-produced without quality controls you might associate with more expensive vape set-ups.
The next step up from the entry-level cig-a-likes is the pod system. Also marketed as All-in-One (AIO) Kits, Ultra-Portable Systems, or Pod Cartridge Systems, these devices are the logical progression after outgrowing cig-a-likes. Pod systems are similar to their smaller, weaker cousins in that they utilize a simple design and are often created with portability in mind. The main difference, however, is that pod systems include a much larger group of devices, leaving you with the freedom to choose the ones which best suit you. Because pod systems are not married to the concept of perfectly emulating analog cigarettes, you’ll find yourself confronting with all kinds of options. Arguably the most important distinction among pod systems is the separation between open and closed pod systems.
Closed pod systems are some of the most well-known devices on the market, made famous by the ubiquitous and controversial Juul. The closed pods utilized by these systems are similar to the cartridges used with cig-a-likes, for better and for worse. That is, you aren’t able to fill them with your own juice flavors, but their disposable design also provides maximum convenience. Usually the pod system manufacturer sells their own line of cartridges which includes a handful of pre-filled flavors specifically designed for use with their system. These cartridges are disposable, so you can’t refill them, and buying new cartridges can get pricey.
Open pod systems are about a half-step up from closed pod systems in terms of complexity. Getting into open pods means a much larger variety and range of customization. Instead of pre-filled, disposable cartridges, these systems utilize refillable cartridges and/or replaceable coils. This means you can fill pods up with your favorite nicotine salt juices and experiment with new flavors. Obviously, this means greater freedom, but it also requires a bit more knowledge and effort. Instead of just tossing out the old pod and snapping in a new one, you have to open the pod and refill it yourself.
So there you have the entry-level vaping devices. Personally, I started my journey at the very bottom with disposable cig-a-likes, and worked my way up. Next thing I knew, I was meticulously disassembling closed pods in order to refill them myself before finally taking the logical next step to open pod systems. It’s been a long journey, but you can save yourself some of these confusing stumbling blocks by taking a moment and learning which style best suits you. Stay tuned for our next series where we cover more advanced devices like box mods and starter kits.