What starter kits should you carry in your inventory?
By Mike Huml
As an owner of a vapor or e-cigarette business, keeping up to date with the latest products can seem like a full-time job in itself. The pace at which the industry changes is truly a phenomenon. Luckily, when it comes to starter kits, simplicity is key. This means the device doesn’t become obsolete quite as quickly as more advanced models. New technology eventually trickles down to the starter kit level, where all the bells and whistles are stripped away, leaving only the rawest form of technology that new users can understand and enjoy with minimal confusion. The current generation of starter kits builds upon the easy-to-use operation of previous starter kits, while tacking on new features such as temperature control and top-filling.
As the vapor industry grows and quality standards increase, one rarely needs to worry about a device arriving in a completely unusable state. Instead, smart business owners need only select the products that appeal to their particular market and reduce redundancy among their product lineup. This review will compare several current starter kits, giving you all the information necessary to make an informed decision on what product is best for you and your consumer, rather than make suggestions on what to carry as if each market and business were identical.
Joyetech eGo ONE VT
Joyetech deserves praise for not only being the first to bring temperature control functionality to a starter kit, but also for being a pioneer in the industry since the beginning. Joyetech literally invented the eGo battery, so it makes sense that they would be the front-runners when it comes to advancing eGo technology ever further.
It should be noted that this is only one version in Joyetech’s eGo ONE line of starter kits, but it is the most recent and most advanced. Previous versions came in multiple sizes and colors, which are still viable options for somebody in the market for starter kits. However, because of the striking similarity in form and function to other starter kits in this review, it would be wise to replace the older eGo ONE kits with the VT or CT in order to add variety. The CT version of this starter kit still has temperature control, but it cannot be adjusted, hence the initialisms “VT” and “CT,” representing “Variable Temperature” and “Constant Temperature,” respectively. What the CT lacks in functionality, it makes up for in ease of use. Carrying both allows customers to choose the kit that fits them the best, but a store owner runs the risk of one version vastly outselling the other, resulting in overstock.
Apart from temperature control functionality, the eGo ONE falls right in the middle of the pack in terms of just about everything else. It has decent battery life, a moderate resistance range and satisfactory build quality. The eGo ONE Mega tank that’s included is a bottom-fill, so while it is easy to fill, it’s not quite as easy as a top-fill tank. The 4-milliliter tank capacity won’t require constant refilling, and the adjustable airflow allows for relatively airy lung-hits, as well as tight mouth-to-lung drags. Other starter kits that try to utilize adjustable airflow to accommodate both types of draw end up producing a harsh throat-hit and reduced vapor production when mouth-to-lung hitting because the coils are designed for lung-hitting. The lack of airflow combined with increased heat doesn’t suit a mouth-to-lung style very well. The eGo ONE VT corrects this problem with temperature control. The coil can heat up quickly and maintain that temperature regardless of airflow, which allows the vapor to remain smooth while still producing the appropriate amount of vapor needed to satisfy a newcomer who is used to cigarettes.
The 22-millimeter diameter may seem a bit large, but the positives outweigh the negatives. First, it allows beginners to become accustomed to the 22-millimeter size standard, meaning they will be more comfortable with larger devices when it comes time to upgrade. Secondly, that upgrade doesn’t necessarily entail purchasing an entirely new setup; the eGo ONE VT battery can accommodate another 22-millimeter atomizer, or even a RBA (rebuildable atomizer), and still look great. Additionally, while the battery isn’t absolutely stellar, 2,300 milliamps per hour is a bit above average for a starter kit.
Overall, the Joyetech eGo ONE VT is a solid choice and offers the latest technology available in the industry. However, that also means an increase in price. The VT is nearly double the price of any other starter kit on this list, but it’s a price many are willing to pay once they understand the benefits of temperature control and decide they are willing to take a few extra minutes to learn how to operate the device. A Joyetech product is never a bad choice for anyone that prefers quality over frugality.
Innokin Endura T22
The Innokin Endura is a bit of an oddball. The Endura line comes in two varieties: the T22 and the T18. Both are identical from a functional standpoint, but the T22 has a larger, box-style battery and a larger tank. The T18 looks very similar to the Smok eGo Cloud kit, boasting a more traditional eGo-style design with a smaller battery and reduced e-liquid capacity. What makes the Endura unique is the mentality behind the design. Innokin set out to make a kit that could replicate the feel of smoking as closely as possible and reduce the learning curve historically inherent to vaping.
Does Innokin succeed? Partially. Neither the battery nor the tank can be adjusted in terms of power or airflow, and the tank is top-fill, so it is very easy to use. However, it’s not any easier to use than something like the Kanger Subvod, or even Aspire’s most recent kit, and is only marginally easier to use than other kits with bottom-fill tanks. As stated above, starter kits are designed to be simple, so at a certain point, additional simplicity means sacrificing some other feature. In this case, Innokin sacrificed the ability to lung-hit. This is purely a mouth-to-lung starter kit, which may or may not affect an uninitiated new user. For many, however, mouth-to-lung drags just aren’t enough. Coming from smoking, new users must learn to take long, slow drags and only inhale partially if they want satisfying vapor on the exhale. The Endura does nothing to address this. Had Innokin created a starter kit that allowed for sharp, quick drags and full inhales that provided a good amount of heat and vapor production, then the Endura would be a home run. Instead, Innokin hits a squeaker between second base and shortstop for a double.
That’s not to say this is a poor choice for a starter kit. Build quality is top-notch, and it’s obvious that Innokin took time to think about every design decision. For example, the drip tip included with the kit is exactly the same diameter as a cigarette filter in an attempt to further replicate the feel of smoking. In addition, Innokin takes a page out of its own playbook and reverts to a top-coil replacement head (a reworked iClear 30S coil with organic cotton wick in lieu of silica) in an attempt to increase the heat of the vapor by positioning the heating element closer to the user’s mouth. Unfortunately, this brings back some of the problems that necessitated the development of bottom-coil tanks in the first place—namely, spitback. With the coil so close to the drip tip and user’s mouth, liquid jumps off the hot coil and tends to hit the tongue or build up in the drip tip. Because the drip tip is so narrow, surface tension causes the juice to pool in the path of the airflow, causing a bubble to burst into the user’s mouth. This unpleasant occurrence, which many vapers have experienced at some point, is what prompted a change in coil design over three years ago. However, not every vaper will experience this problem; only those who can’t find satisfaction with mouth-to-lung drags will ultimately end up hitting the device often enough for juice to pool up and spit back.
Innokin’s third questionable decision involves yet another throwback to their own product line: the original Cool Fire. Similar to the Cool Fire, the Endura has a fixed wattage instead of a fixed voltage. Innokin has determined that the perfect power output for this particular setup is 14 watts, and they may be correct. Yet again, in the pursuit of simplicity, Innokin has limited the options available for the Endura. First, there is no reason to carry coils of differing resistances. Whether the coil reads out to 1.2 ohms, 1.5 ohms, or 2.5 ohms, 14 watts is going to hit like 14 watts. The Endura user will never be able to achieve more or less heat no matter which replacement coil he or she purchases. Had Innokin fixed the voltage at 3.7 volts, the Endura would have retained all of its simplicity but would’ve been better able to cater to the needs of its users by offering them replacement coils of different resistances. Additionally, fixing the power output to 14 watts means that if the user is ready to upgrade, very few atomizers will work well on the Endura battery. Modern sub-ohm tanks all require at least 20 watts of power, not to mention the fact that very few offer replacement coils with a resistance of 1.2 ohms or higher. The purchase of an entirely new setup is virtually required in order to upgrade.
The Endura is simple and will surely appeal to anyone switching over from analogs and looking for something relatively cheap and simple while still being reliable; Innokin devices are undoubtedly some of the most reliable products on the market. The battery is an adequate 2200mAh, although other starter kits on this list meet or exceed that rating while still retaining a much smaller size as well as a form factor more likely to be appealing to smokers. However, that 2200mAh battery (and the 4.5-milliliter tank, for that matter) will outlast every other kit on this list because of the high resistance of the coil and the mouth-to-lung hit requirement. USB pass-through charging is still a feature here, and the top-fill tank does add convenience. Vapor production is satisfactory and should be adequate for most users once they adapt to the long-pull-short-inhale vape style. All in all, the Endura T22 is a good way to add something a little different to a store’s starter kit lineup, and although it’s just fine for what it is, it could have been a whole lot more. However, it’s still a reliable kit, and the price is competitive.
Smoktech eGo Cloud kit
The eGo Cloud kit from Smok is the “jack of all trades, master of none” starter kit of the bunch. It doesn’t do any single thing particularly well, and it doesn’t offer anything new or revolutionary, but it’s a smart choice for anyone looking for a versatile setup without breaking the bank.
The battery included with the kit is 2200mAh, yet it’s much smaller than the Endura battery while still retaining the traditional eGo cigar-like shape. There are no adjustments to be made on the battery, which outputs a consistent 3.7 volts and fires atomizers down to 0.5 ohms. The 19-millimeter diameter makes for a smaller profile, which is admittedly impressive given the size of other 2200mAh or larger batteries on this list.
The eGo Cloud Tank suffers a bit from the 19-millimeter diameter, able to contain only 2.5 milliliters of e-liquid. It incorporates adjustable airflow, which allows for both lung-hits and mouth-to-lung draws, albeit with a caveat. Wide-open airflow feels slightly restricted while closed-off airflow is a bit airy. Fortunately, Smok has made this tank compatible with all of its Micro Core replacement coils. The eGo Cloud kit includes the Micro Core OCC coils, a vertical coil head with organic cotton wicking, but the slightly older Micro Core and Micro Core Adjustable coils can be purchased separately and are much more conducive to mouth-to-lung drags.
The eGo Cloud kit is very much a smaller, cheaper version of the Joyetech eGo ONE, but performance-wise, it’s the same or better, aside from the lack of temperature control present on the VT and CT. The adjustable airflow range is on the smaller side, but changing to regular Micro Core coils will provide a much better mouth-to-lung experience, if desired. Build quality is lacking, but only slightly. The button feels a bit flimsy, the drip tip wobbles on the tank a little more than it should, and it’s not quite a seamless fit between the battery and the tank. All these are minor flaws that don’t detract much from the overall aesthetic, especially considering the price.
One final point to keep in mind: the eGo Cloud is 19-millimeter, meaning that an upgrade will most likely warrant an entirely new setup. While 22-millimeter tanks will perform well on the battery, they will look top-heavy. In addition, while a minimum resistance of 0.5 ohms isn’t bad by any means, chances are that a customer looking for an upgrade will want to fire down to 0.2 ohms or lower to keep up with modern tanks. Generally, this won’t be an issue due to the 19-millimeter diameter of the battery encouraging a full upgrade to a 22-millimeter device anyway.
All in all, the Smoktech eGo Cloud kit is excellent. While it doesn’t stand out in any particular way, there’s nothing wrong with playing it safe here. It’s smaller than most other kits while still retaining a 2200mAh battery capacity, and it performs well for a wide range of vaping styles. It also allows newcomers to experience both mouth-to-lung hits and lung-hits without necessarily having to change anything except the airflow adjustment dial. Variety and choice are important to new vapers because it allows them to discover what works best to suit their preferences, and the Smoktech eGo Cloud encourages trying out these options in a simple, easy-to-use way at an excellent price.
The Kanger Subvod kit pairs a fantastic tank with a mediocre battery. The tank included is Kanger’s new TopTank Nano, which essentially is a Subtank Nano that features top-filling. The Subtank line has been one of the most popular and successful series of sub-ohm tanks since its release. The TopTank has the best build quality of any tank on the list and has a great aqueous ceramic coating for a matte finish that won’t fade or chip. While the Subvod battery has this same finish and a great feel to it, its specifications just don’t compete with other, similar batteries.
Both the battery and the tank have 18.5-millimeter diameters, almost exactly the same size as the Smok eGo Cloud. However, while the tank holds more e-liquid, 3.2 milliliters, the battery has a measly 1300mAh capacity. Comparing that to the eGo Cloud’s 2200mAh battery, or the iJust 2’s 2600mAh capacity, one has to wonder why Kanger couldn’t have provided more battery life. That, however, is just about the only downside of this starter kit.
The TopTank is just as good as any other Subtank, providing a smooth draw, no spitback, copious clouds and great flavor. Coil replacement is very straightforward, and the user can choose among any of Kanger’s OCC or SSOCC coils. This allows for a variety of choices when it comes to heat, vapor production and draw stiffness. On top of that, overall operation of the device is identical to the Endura, which is to say that it’s extremely simple.
The TopTank’s airflow control range is exceptional. When wide open, the draw is airy and smooth, producing excellent vapor without sacrificing flavor. When closed, airflow is tight, reminiscent of full-flavor cigarettes. However, this also means that the Subvod produces the least amount of vapor when mouth-to-lung hitting. The good news is that the 1.5-ohm OCC, which is available separately from Kanger, features a vertical coil with a smaller internal diameter, much like a cartomizer, that will produce much more formidable clouds while drawing on the device like a cigarette. Conversely, when using the included SSOCC coil with the airflow closed, the Subvod’s throat-hit has a surprising punch, even when using low-nicotine e-liquid, and that’s something that many smokers crave when trying to find their first vapor device.
Like the eGo Cloud kit, the Subvod’s smaller diameter makes upgrading a little more difficult. However, Kanger has mitigated the learning curve substantially by already offering larger Subtanks and devices that will offer a similar experience to the Subvod. Options such as the Kbox with a Subtank Plus or the Subox Mini Kit are natural upgrades from the Subvod starter kit, which means that once a user decides that they are ready to upgrade, they can choose something that is immediately familiar in form, function and feel. All of Kanger’s Subtanks are compatible with OCC and SSOCC coils, with the difference lying in the size and capacity of the tanks, meaning that the vaping experience with a larger Subtank will be virtually identical to the TopTank Nano. While the Kbox and Kbox Mini do require a few minutes of instruction, both are very easy to use and provide features such as variable wattage that allow the customization that makes an upgrade worthwhile.
While the price of the Subvod kit is a bit steeper than some other kits, it doesn’t hurt the wallet as much as the eGo ONE VT. Although the battery capacity is a bit lacking, the top-notch TopTank, exceptional build quality and clear upgrade path throughout Kanger’s line of products more than justify the cost of entry.
Eleaf iJust 2
Right off the bat, be aware that this is a beginner cloud-chasing device. Eleaf is known for producing extremely affordable products without too much of a hit to build quality. The iJust 2 kit is no exception, coming in as the least expensive kit on the list. Although the machining of both the tank and the battery are a bit rough around the edges, the performance of this device rivals that of products that are double, or even triple, the price. However, mouth-to-lung hitting is virtually nonexistent, making this a poor choice for those looking to replicate the smoking experience.
The iJust 2 battery is a standard 22-millimeter, meaning there’s a bit of an adjustment period for new users, yet upgrading is more of a seamless transition. It has a capacity of 2600mAh, making this the longest-lasting battery on this list. However, it’s physically almost identical in size to the eGo ONE VT 2300mAh battery. Eleaf has definitely made the best use out of the space that they had to work with. It also fires atomizers with resistances down to 0.3 ohms, making this battery the lowest-firing compared to many others. There are no adjustments with this battery either, and it fires a consistent 3.7 volts. These specifications and features make upgrading easy, particularly if advancing into rebuildables. The 22-millimeter diameter ensures that the majority of atomizers will look appealing, and the 0.3-ohm minimum resistance accommodates most sub-ohm tanks on the market and is adequate for most rebuildables.
The iJust 2 tank is pretty incredible, and the best choice for those looking to jump straight into cloud chasing. Before going any further, it’s important to note that, by default, the airflow is not adjustable. However, the kit comes with a “vape band” of sorts, which is perforated with airflow holes. By positioning the vape band around the airflow intake on the tank, the user is able to adjust the airflow. Even so, mouth-to-lung hits are not comfortable, although possible, and the vape band gives the entire setup a distinctively obnoxious aesthetic. For all intents and purposes, consider the iJust 2 exclusively a cloud-chasing starter kit without adjustable airflow. Said airflow is substantial, reminiscent of other tanks such as the Triton, VCT Pro or Herakles. On top of that, it retains an impressive 5.5-milliliter e-liquid capacity without increasing the size to ridiculous proportions; it’s on par with many other sub-ohm tanks such as the Atlantis.
The coils are available in 0.3 ohms and 0.5 ohms, and both utilize two parallel wires in a vertical coil design. This increases the surface area for improved flavor and provides a fast ramp-up time. Even those craving a hot vape will be satisfied with the 0.3-ohm coil, and it is downright hot. Hard and fast pulls are necessary with this coil, as anything longer than a 5-second drag may actually cause some burning, especially with older coils that have started to accumulate buildup. For those looking for something a little more mellow, the 0.5-ohm does the job well. These can be dragged until the battery hits its safety cutoff without issue and still produce formidable clouds and excellent flavor. It’s a simple bottom-fill tank with a relatively huge capacity and superb performance.
Overall, the iJust 2 kit is the best kit in its price range for what it is. This is a kit suitable for two types of customers: the newcomers who already know that mouth-to-lung drags aren’t satisfying for them and more advanced vapers who want a cheap, solid backup device. Either way, any shop would do well to carry this kit, even for the sake of price alone. It’s a valuable addition to any product lineup.
Each one of these starter kits has a potential buyer. The only question is which kit is worth buying for a particular market.
The Joyetech eGo ONE VT kit is the top-of-the-line kit, featuring the latest technology in the vapor industry. The additional temperature control and variable wattage settings are better suited to the technically adept or those willing to spend some time learning. The appeal of eliminating dry hits is tempting, but the price may scare some customers away.
Luckily, the Smoktech eGo Cloud kit offers a staggeringly similar experience in a smaller package at a lower price. When used correctly, dry hits shouldn’t occur with any kit in the first place, and if that extra safety net that is temperature control isn’t absolutely necessary, then the eGo Cloud is a better option. Simplicity can be a welcome reprieve for the beginner who’s just been inundated with temperature-control, variable-wattage, low-resistance vaping jargon that has little meaning to them. The eGo Cloud allows the user to try different vaping styles at their own pace with minimal additional investment.
The Innokin Endura T22 can also appeal to the new vaper, particularly those making an upgrade from a disposable or cigalike. Although other kits can do everything the Endura can, and do it better and with more options, its bold aesthetic, simplicity and rugged reliability are difficult to deny. Customers who aren’t interested in upgrading and are looking to quit smoking, quit vaping, then lay down the mod for good afterward may find the Innokin Endura the ideal solution.
The Kanger Subvod is a great alternative as a device comparable in quality and reputation to Joyetech’s kit, with a cheaper cost of entry and a clearer upgrade path. Those gravitating toward the Subvod will likely be eyeing their first upgrade before walking out the door, already salivating over the bigger and badder version of what they’ve just purchased; they’ll surely be back on payday. While the Subvod’s battery life is lacking, the juxtaposition with the stellar TopTank may actually prompt an upgrade sooner rather than later.
Not to be underestimated, the iJust 2 from Eleaf performs much more admirably than it rightfully should for the price. Every store will undoubtedly receive a patron who wants to blow clouds like their buddies, and this is the solution for them. Upgrading from this kit is simple, and possibly preferable to pushing a mechanical or high-power regulated device onto the undereducated vaper. Don’t forget that cloud chasing isn’t just for enthusiasts. Particularly for those who are full-flavor or filterless smokers, hot billowing clouds may simply be what is required to kick the stinkies for good.
No single kit is perfect for every person looking to take up vaping. Listening to customers’ preferences and concerns regarding what they want is the smart way to direct them to their perfect starter kits. Making the big sale won’t pay off if the experience doesn’t create a regular customer. Genuinely listening to customers and helping them get what they’re looking for out of vaping on the first try is money in the bank. Hopefully, this comparison of starter kits will provide the knowledge needed to build a good foundation of regular—and happy—customers!