Among mainstream smokers who have converted to vaping, it’s safe to say that the smallest vaping devices are always the ones that are most in demand. Although larger vape mods are certainly popular among a subset of the vaping community, many converts to vaping would rather use devices that are smaller and more pocketable. Cigarettes, after all, are extremely light and portable – and many of those who switch to vaping would like to have the same type of experience.
A vape pen is any vaping device with a long, cylindrical shape. Some vape pens are very small and look similar to tobacco cigarettes. Others look a bit more like ballpoint pens or markers, and the largest vape pens look similar to pocket flashlights. As you might imagine, a larger size for a vape pen usually indicates greater capabilities. Choosing the right vape pen, then, is a matter of finding the ideal balance of price, performance and portability for your needs.
This article will explain the different types of vape pens and describe how they compare to one another.
Cigalikes and Disposable Vape Pens
Cigalikes are the smallest vape pens on the market because they’re designed to resemble tobacco cigarettes as closely as possible. Because they’re so small, cigalikes are a bit lacking in the vapor production department. For that reason, it’s almost always best to choose the highest available nicotine strength if you buy a cigalike as your first device when switching to vaping.
While cigalikes may not have the greatest performance, they deliver an experience that feels remarkably similar to smoking in ways that no other type of vaping device can match. A cigalike is the only type of vaping device that you can hold comfortably with your lips or between two fingers. Many cigalikes have carrying cases that serve as portable battery chargers and feel remarkably like cigarette packs. You won’t have that kind of experience with any other type of vaping device.
Most cigalikes have rechargeable batteries and replaceable e-liquid cartridges. You’ll use a cartridge until the flavor fades, and when that happens, you’ll discard it and start using a new cartridge. However, some e-cigarettes are disposable. A disposable e-cigarette has a single-use battery and a single-use e-liquid cartridge. It’s ready to use as soon as you open the package, and when it loses its flavor or stops producing vapor, you’ll dispose of it. Disposable e-cigarettes are expensive products for everyday use, but they’re a good way to try vaping without investing in a full starter kit.
Pod-Based Vape Pens
Pod-based vape pens are slightly larger than cigalikes, and they use push-in plastic pods for e-liquid storage instead of the twist-on cartridges that cigalikes use. The slightly larger size gives a pod system sufficient room for a higher-capacity battery and a larger battery coil. Therefore, pod systems typically offer superior performance compared to cigalikes.
Pod systems are usually designed to take maximum advantage of nicotine salt e-liquid, which is a higher-nicotine form of vape juice capable of delivering nicotine to the body almost as efficiently as cigarette smoke. The fact that they’re designed for use with nicotine salt e-liquid makes pod systems great choices for new smokers-turned-vapers. The drawback of pod systems, however, is that they don’t give you the same cigarette-like feel in the hand that you get with a cigalike.
Pod systems are available with pre-filled pods or pods that you fill yourself with bottled e-liquid.
Tank-Based and All-in-One Vape Pens
Moving up the performance ladder, the next category of vape pens are those that feature refillable glass or plastic tanks. In this type of vape pen, the tank isn’t usually disposable. When you use a pod-based vaping device, you discard the pod when the flavor begins to change. With a tank, on the other hand, you replace the atomizer coil at the core of the tank and continue using the tank.
Some vape pens have tanks with threading at the bottom. If you have that type of vape pen, you can remove the tank and replace it with a different type of tank if you like. Other vape pens have “all-in-one” designs, and in that case, the tank is a permanent part of the vape pen. Although the tank is permanent, you can replace the tank’s atomizer coil when needed. While all-in-one vape pens don’t give you the ability to experiment with different tanks, their integrated design makes them extremely resistant to leaking.
Sub-Ohm Vape Pens
The largest vape pens – these are the ones that resemble pocket flashlights – are sub-ohm vape pens. These aren’t usually beginner-oriented devices; they’re larger and more powerful products for people who want better flavor and bigger vapor clouds but don’t want to carry devices that feel like bricks. A sub-ohm vape pen usually has just a single cylindrical battery cell and can be very small and light as a result. Some larger vape pens may also support removable batteries. In that case, you can charge one battery in a standalone charger while vaping with another battery.
You can identify a sub-ohm vape pen both from the size of the device itself and from the size of the included tank. A sub-ohm vape pen will usually include a large glass tank with a wide mouthpiece.
It’s important to consider the size of the tank’s mouthpiece before buying any vaping device because that’s how you’ll know the device’s intended inhaling style. If the mouthpiece of a vape tank is narrow, the tank is designed for a mouth-to-lung inhaling pattern – which is probably what you want if you’re a recent convert to vaping.
If a tank has a wide mouthpiece, on the other hand, it produces much larger vapor clouds and is designed for direct-to-lung inhaling. That probably isn’t the inhaling style you want if you’re new to vaping. Your preference may change, though, as you gain experience. Tanks designed for direct-to-lung inhaling produce very large vapor clouds, so they work best with lower-nicotine e-liquids. With that type of vaping setup, you’ll experience low throat hit and bold flavors.