Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mission Impossible: The search for the perfect starter kit

Your mission, should you accept it, is to build the perfect starter kit for a non-vaper to stop smoking. The recipient of the kit is a woman in her late 60s. She has smoked Pall Mall non-filtered cigarettes for around 50 years. Nothing has helped her quit (although she is now down to a half a pack a day). She has a slight phobia of new tech - she has repeatedly refused a smartphone and sticks with her flip phone and fought tooth and nail to keep Windows 3.1 on her computer as long as possible.
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Is there such a thing as the PERFECT vape starter kit?


Well, it might... if my mother reads what I'm writing...

Seriously, though, is there such a thing as a perfect setup for a beginner? In scanning all of the different forums, I see people recommending everything from iStick 50 and Subtanks (yeah, and giving a kid a Kenworth as his first car is real smart) down to cigalikes like the Blu (uh-huh... to me that's kinda like giving the same kid a tricycle for the trip). Surely, there's something in the middle that will work.

What I found out in my (our, if I include my Stepdot and Stepson) journey from being a smoker to being a vaper is that having one battery and one tank is a huge mistake. There must be a spare available at all times. If the battery dies or the tank runs dry, the temptation to return to lighting up is just too strong in those first few days or weeks.

I also discovered that the old hand-mouth or park-in-mouth response is hard to avoid. Starting out, the vape should be smallish and familiar. In social situations, with other smokers, the same smallish device will allow a person to blend in and feel at ease. A box mod does not fit into this category. Hefting a better than half-pound device painted bright pink to your lips and creating a whistling noise is really going to make you the center of often unwanted attention.

And it has to be nearly foolproof. No way is a rank beginner going to want to sit down and coil and test and pulse and wick and drip before hefting a better than... yeah, you get the picture.

From what I've described, an over-the-counter, convenience store ego kit might be the ticket. It might be, but it's not. One of the reasons people cite for quitting smoking and taking up vaping is cost savings. When a smoker sees that the cheap, disposable clearos cost nearly as much as a pack or two of smokes and last just a bit longer, the urge to just buy one more pack of smokes is kinda hard to ignore. It doesn't help that the tanks and the smokes are on the same shelf behind the counter.

So, we need to add in replaceable coils.

The other issue with over-the-counter kits is the battery itself. 650 mAh? Really? The battery needs to last at least as long as the next battery takes to recharge. There were several times I paced around the house like a caged tiger moving from one charger to the next wondering which one would flash green and give me permission to vape again, and I had three setups. I think 1000 mAh is a little bit better. when I upgraded from the eGo kits I did so with the help of an original iStick from VapeNW.com. The 2200 mAh iStick would last me 24 hours using either an Anyvape Davide equipped with an Aspire Bottom Dual Coil head or a Kanger EVOD2 clearo with a Kanger Bottom Dual Coil head. With that in mind, at least two 1000 mAh batteries.

There are also times when it might not be feasible to get to a charger in time to swap out batteries. In this emergency, I think USB passthrough vaping is what is called for. Let's add that, too.

We also know that not everyone smokes quite the same way, so it would be silly to assume that they will all vape the same way. Perhaps we should also consider adjustable airflow and variable voltage.

This kit needs to be inexpensive (not cheap - that has a different meaning altogether). If the kit costs more than a carton of cigarettes, all bets are off. The call of the combustible will win.

Toting these things around can be an issue, too. Let's throw in a decent little zipper case.

It's no fun finding this perfect kit and dropping all that money on it only to discover that you have a paperweight. Let's face it, all your vape gear, no matter how impressive, is just a paperweight if it you don't have any juice. This kit MUST contain at least 10 ml of juice. It would be even better if it contained several flavors just in case the first one did not appeal. Perhaps, we could even include a guide, right up front, that might explain what kind of nicotine concentration you'll need as you transition from your very own vice.

A lot of people that I've spoken with or chatted with or emailed with have mentioned the words "upgradeable" or "future." I think we can do away with those terms. Once the smoker has quit and started to realize some of those savings other people talk about, then they can use those savings to buy the Aspire Nautilus kit,  iStick 50 and Melo, or K-Box and Kanger Subtank Plus. Or, maybe just another eGo...

In conclusion, then, what we need is a kit that contains at least two 1000 mAh variable voltage eGo batteries - one of which needs to offer passthrough vaping, at least 2 replaceable coil tanks, a packet of replacement coils, a USB charger, a case, at least 10 ml of juice, and some form of instruction and guidance for under $60.

I've spent the past two days poring over the internet looking for such a beast, and I can tell you with some certainty that it does not exist. Please, please, please feel free to tell me I'm wrong! Comment with a link to such a beast. Meanwhile, I've managed to cobble together such a kit and I am having it shipped to me from three different vendors at a cost of more than $100 - two cartons of cigarettes where I live. Once it arrives, I will write an illustrated tutorial that will cover all the basics before sending the assembled kit on to its new home.

The kit includes:

  • Three 1000 mAh EVOD variable voltage twist batteries (I included three because I could not find a reasonably priced variable voltage battery with passthrough vaping). These should run me around $20 each.
  • One medium eGo case. I can find this as low as $1.99, but opted to get one for $4.25 to save yet another shipping charge.
  • Two USB chargers (one to keep in the car and one to keep at home). One of these is a spare that I had laying around. The other one will cost me around $5.
  • Two Kanger T3D eGo clearomizers (I know... these don't have adjustable airflow... it's a chance I'll have to take otherwise the price jumps up even more). These are about $5 each.
  • Five 17 ml bottles of e-juice in 5 different flavors all at 15 mg nicotine. This is overkill, but I'm not nearby and cannot supply juice at a whim and I'm painfully aware of what convenience store juice tastes like and how much it costs. This will be $20.
  • Shipping from the three vendors is around $6 each, flat rate, and I'll tack on another $6 to get the kit shipped out after I assemble it.
  • The "Vaping for Dummies" book that I'll have to write is priceless, but very much worth it.
Total cost? About $120.

Tell me what you used to quit smoking and start vaping.

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