Guest post by Friske Drag.
Editor’s note: Since I’ve been around for what feels like forever, I’ve reviewed most of these items and have included a link to the original reviews.
Things progress quickly in any new tech field, and nowhere is that statement truer than in the vaping industry. In this industry, several hardware generations pass each year – and improvements to vaping hardware appear to show no signs of slowing down. How far have we come over the first 10 years of the vaping industry? There is perhaps no better way to appreciate the history of the e-cigarette industry than through an examination of its most important products.
These are the most iconic e-cigarettes of all time.
Blu Cigs L88b
The original Blu Cigs e-cigarette wasn’t the first e-cigarette on the market – it wasn’t even the first L88b e-cigarette – but it benefitted from some major marketing muscle that allowed it to gain widespread worldwide recognition. During a time in which most e-cigarette brands looked as much like tobacco cigarettes as possible, Blu Cigs stuck out with its black battery and blue LED. After the better part of a decade – and two changes of ownership – the standard Blu Cigs e-cigarette looks much the same today as it always has.
V2 Cigs KR-808
The KR-808 e-cigarette is one of the last major developments in the cigalike category, and no company has ever rocked the KR-808 like V2 Cigs. With batteries of all sizes and colors, a wide array of flavors, top-notch packaging and a tireless influencer outreach program, the V2 Cigs net extended so wide for a while that no other vaping website came close to matching the V2 site in terms of web traffic. The V2 Cigs brand still exists and continues to attract new vapers today.
When it first hit the shelves in 2009, it was obvious – both to vapers and to the owners of e-cigarette cloning factories across Shenzhen – that the eGo e-cigarette was a winner. Originally designed by Joyetech – or Janty, depending on whose story you believe – the eGo e-cigarette was so shamelessly cloned by so many factories that it quickly became almost impossible to tell whether a given device was an original or a copy. The cloning only served to increase the eGo e-cigarette’s worldwide penetration. The eGo e-cigarette sported great battery life along with a convenient small form factor, and its infinite adaptability allowed it to work with an endless variety of vaping styles. The eGo e-cigarette and its many derivative products continue to be massively popular today.
Originally released in 2010, the ProVape ProVari is a device that never fails to elicit wistful sighs from experienced vapers who were there when the ProVari was king. Built entirely in the United States and costing well over $100, the ProVari was a device that actually felt like a piece of premium consumer hardware. Smooth-turning threads, top-notch safety standards and flawless fit and finish – everyone who owned a ProVari loved it. The ProVari also happened to be the first mass-market variable-voltage e-cigarette with a power output of up to six volts. Sadly, ProVape shuttered its doors for good in 2017, defeated by Chinese vaping devices that had become more advanced while costing far less than the ProVari series.
As soon as higher-voltage vaping became a thing, everyone wanted to get in on it – but not everyone could afford a ProVari. There were some e-cigarettes competing with the ProVari, but they cost only slightly less – and none of them really felt like complete consumer devices in the way that the ProVari did. Hawaiian e-cigarette company Volcano got the bright idea of competing with the ProVari by hiring a Chinese factory to produce a device with similar features and a much lower price. The Lavatube wasn’t as pretty or impeccably machined as the ProVari, but it cost under $100 – and people ate it up. Like so many other popular vaping devices, the Lavatube lost some of its sales to rampant cloning – but not before making Volcano a bundle of money. Ultimately, though, most major Chinese vaping product manufacturers eventually began producing devices exclusively under their own brand names rather than working as subcontractors for companies like Volcano. As of 2018, Volcano has largely retreated from the national stage and now does most of its business through a large network of vape shops in Hawaii.
Innokin iTaste MVP
Released in 2012, the Innokin iTaste MVP is a device that many people remember fondly as their first box mod. Although it was less capable than some competing devices such as the ProVari and the Lavatube – it only reached a maximum power of five volts – it had a stylish design and boasted excellent battery life at 2,600 mAh. The iTaste MVP was also unique in its ability to charge external devices via a USB port. Innokin has refined the iTaste MVP over the years and still makes devices bearing the name today.
ELeaf iStick 50
A low price, an appealingly curvy design, a massive 4,400 mAh of battery life and a 50-watt power range helped to make 2015 the year of the ELeaf iStick 50. The seemingly ubiquitous device consistently edged out the competition that year by always being just a little cheaper and a little more stylish than anything else with similar capabilities. If you bought your first box mod in 2015, there’s a good chance that it was an iStick 50 or one of its smaller cousins.
Wismec Reuleaux RX200
Amazingly I never reviewed this one
If you bought your first box mod in 2015, it was probably an iStick 50. If you bought your third or fourth, though, we bet that it was a Wismec Reuleaux RX200. Holding three 18650 batteries and boasting around 7,500 mAh of battery life – not to mention an eyebrow-raising 200 watts of power – the Reuleaux RX200 quickly became the darling of YouTube video makers around the world. For a while, you seemingly couldn’t watch a coil building tutorial without seeing the Reuleaux RX200 in action. Naturally, many YouTube viewers simply had to have it. The descendant of the Wismec Reuleaux RX200 is still going strong today and remains probably the most popular three-battery mod on the market.
Aside from perhaps the eGo e-cigarette, the JUUL e-cigarette might be the best-known and best-selling vaping product ever made. It’s known throughout America – and much of the rest of the world, where it has inspired an army of clones because it isn’t actually available to buy overseas yet – for its appealing small form factor that helped to usher in the pod vaping trend. The JUUL also helped to make nicotine salts famous, while simultaneously gaining some infamy due to the extremely high nicotine strength of its e-liquid. The same high nicotine strength that has helped the JUUL work as a useful device for heavier smokers who want to switch to vaping has also made the device a target for underage vapers looking for a stealthy nicotine rush. After underage JUULing – yes, the term “JUUL” is famous enough to have become a verb in some circles – made national headlines, JUUL Vapor pledged millions of dollars to help combat underage vaping.