There are just about as many different types of e-cigarettes as there are types of people, which is why it can be so difficult to pick the right one. Each variation has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and sifting through the options can be overwhelming if you’re new to vaping.
Choosing your first vaporizer is a highly personal experience that depends on your individual preferences, goals, and lifestyle. The kind of e-cigarette that works best for someone else might be completely wrong for your tastes.
Getting the right type of e-cigarette could mean the difference between a pleasant experience or giving up early in frustration. Especially if you are a current or former smoker, choosing the right vape is vital if you want your switch to a smokeless alternative to be successful.
There are a variety of different things you should consider before getting your first (or second) vape:
Feel: It’s important to find an e-cigarette that you’re comfortable using and feels good in your hands. “Throat feel” is also important, especially to smokers who crave a feel that’s similar to the throat hit you get from smoking cigarettes.
Nicotine: Especially if you are a current or former smoker, it’s important to find a vape that can deliver the right amount of nicotine to satisfy your cravings. Many vapers start with high-nicotine e-liquids and gradually decrease the amount of nicotine they vape to zero over time.
Cost: E-cigarettes vary significantly in price depending on the type and the specific model that you buy. If you are willing to invest a good amount into your vape you will have different options than someone who is on a strict budget.
Taste: Finding a good flavor that you enjoy will make the transition easier. Many smokers find tobacco flavors easiest to start with, and later move on to other kinds of flavors.
Features: Some vapers just want the simplest, easiest-to-use e-cigarette that they can buy to grab and go. Other vapers prioritize flavor options, refillable devices, or want features like digital readouts and heat controls.
Cig-a-likes are a popular beginner-style e-cigarette because they are the simplest, cheapest, and easiest to use of all the different styles of vapes. Many, if not most, new vapers choose a cig-a-like for their very first e-cigarette purchase.
Cig-a-likes are perfect for those who don’t care about convenience more than features or flavor options. They are easy for just about anyone to pick up and use without any vaping experience at all.
The main thing that distinguishes cig-a-likes from other kinds of e-cigarettes is that they are very small, discrete, and non-refillable. Some are completely disposable, but most newer styles use disposable e-liquid cartridges that attach to a re-usable battery base.
Cig-a-likes tend to be pretty cheap to start out with, but they can get pricey if you go through cartridges quickly. Their main drawback is the small number of flavor choices that they limit you to because you are required to purchase pre-filled cartridges from the manufacturer of your particular cig-a-like model.
For the same reason, your choices for the amount of nicotine in the e-liquid cartridges are often severely limited as well. However, it’s a necessary price to pay for the simplicity and streamlined design of cig-a-like devices.
Here are some of the major pros and cons of using cig-a-like e-cigarettes:
Mimic the look and feel of a traditional cigarette
Inexpensive to start with
Easy to grab and go without hassle
Don’t usually require extra maintenance or cleaning
Only take a simple button press to use (some even turn on automatically when they sense you taking a puff)
Cartridges hold only a small amount of e-liquid and have to be replaced often
Not very durable and need to be replaced more often
Very short battery life
Cartridges only hold a small amount of e-liquid
Produce only a small amount of vapor
Not cost effective if you use too many cartridges
Most have only a few e-liquid flavor and nicotine concentration options to choose from
Examples of Cig-a-like Models:
Beginner Pen-Style E-cigarettes
Beginner pen-style vapes give you more e-liquid options, more vapor, and more battery life while still being relatively simple to use. Most vapers consider them a significant step up from cig-a-likes, and some even recommend them above cig-a-likes as the best option for beginners.
Unlike disposable e-cigarettes, most pen-style vapes have refillable tanks that you can fill with whatever type of e-liquid you like. That means you can choose from any of the thousands of e-liquid varieties on the market, opening up thousands of different flavors and giving you more freedom to choose the nicotine concentration and PG/VG ratio you prefer.
However, the drawback to having a refillable tank is that you have to empty, re-fill, and clean it yourself. You will also need to learn how to take care of the atomizer (the part of an e-cigarette that heats up the e-liquid and turns it into vapor), including how to install and prime the heating coils.
However, these basic maintenance tasks are easy to get the hang of if you watch an instructional video or have someone more experienced show you the ropes. You can even buy pre-built coils or replaceable coil heads for many brands that are simple enough for beginners to install.
Even though pen-style vapes are more difficult to use and maintain than dispoable cig-a-like devices, they give you a much better vaping experience than a cig-a-like. Vape pens create larger vapor clouds, tend to have a better taste, and don’t run out of e-liquid or battery power as quickly.
However, you should be careful when choosing your model, as some pen-style vapes take significantly more skill than others to maintain. As a general rule of thumb, absolute beginners should look for versions with fewer pieces, pre-built coils, and consult with someone more experienced before making a purchase.
Here are some of the major pros and cons of using pen-style e-cigarettes:
Pen-Style Vape Pros:
Relatively simple to use
Longer battery life
E-liquid lasts longer per fill
Produces larger vapor clouds
Can be used with thousands of different e-liquid flavors (and e-liquids with any nicotine concentration)
Cost effective in the long run, especially if you use up e-liquid quickly
Pen-Style Vape Cons:
Requires more maintenance and cleaning
Bulkier and less discrete
Slightly higher start-up cost than cig-a-like devices
Can be a hassle to fill up when the tank gets empty
Atomizer requires regular maintenance, including replacing and priming the coils
Some models are more complex, requiring you to wrap your own coils and wicks
Examples of Beginner Pen-Style E-cigarettes:
The Basic Box Mod
While many box mods are simple enough for a beginner to use, you might need some help picking up this style of e-cigarette if you don’t have any prior experience with vaping. A step above pen-style vapes in almost every way, box mods are generally both more powerful and more feature-heavy that the previous two styles we’ve discussed.
Many box mods have digital displays and buttons that allow you to adjust things like it’s temperature and voltage. As a beginner, it’s important to look for a regulated box mod, which has more controls and safety features in place to prevent you from setting it to a dangerous configuration.
Some of the best features of box mods are their larger tanks, larger batteries, and expanded customization options. Many allow you to switch out parts like the tank and atomizer so you can quickly switch flavors or personalize your e-cigarette’s build.
Of course, all of these extra options and features come with the drawback of making this style of e-cigarette more complicated to use and maintain. Like pen-style vapes, box mods require you to give both its tank and atomizer regular maintenance, and any added controls require extra knowledge to understand and use safely.
Getting a box mod may be a viable option for tech-savvy new vapers or those who have a knowledgeable vaper friend they can use as a resource when they inevitably need some help. However, if you aren’t confident in your ability to learn the technology, then you should probably stick with a simpler device like a cig-a-like or pen-style vape.
Here are some of the major pros and cons of using box mods:
Box Mod Pros:
Longer battery life
Digital screen readout
Can often be customized
Many use removeable batteries (meaning you can charge the batteries outside of the e-cigarette and switch them out as needed)
Produce larger vapor clouds
Box Mod Cons:
Can be pricey
Can be bulky
Different options and features can be difficult for beginners to understand
Many require you to change your own coils and/or wicks
Adjusting heat, voltage, and wattage settings can be dangerous if you don’t understand proper safety
Examples of Box Mod E-cigarettes:
Eleaf iStick or iPower
E-cigarettes to Avoid for Your First Time
Some varieties of e-cigarettes just have too much of a learning curve to be a good beginner e-cigarette. Others are simply too complicated or require too much technical knowledge for a novice who has little or no experience vaping.
Because of this, you should generally stay away from the more advanced, flashy, and feature-heavy e-cigarettes like drippers, sub-ohm devices, and advanced personal vaporizers. Instead, go for simpler varieties that are easier to use and take care of.
It’s important to find an e-cigarette that not only fits your needs, but is simple and convenient enough that you will actually be able to use it long-term. Otherwise, you might find yourself giving up in frustration before you’ve had a chance to really even give vaping a try.
The following styles of e-cigarettes are generally not good picks for beginner vapers:
Drippers (aka drip mods)
Advanced personal vaporizers
Mechanical mods (a more advanced version of the typical regulated mod)
Mods designed for sub-ohm vaping
Any e-cigarette that requires you to wrap your own coils
Choosing your first or second vape can be a daunting experience, especially if you aren’t familiar with e-cigarette technology. Even after reviewing this list and figuring out your preferences, you may still need help or have questions.
Luckily, there are many ways to get advice on what kind of e-cigarette to purchase and how to care for it once you’ve bought it. For instance, you can almost always get good advice from vape shop employees, including our team here at Aspen Valley Vapes.
You can ask a question via our online store’s help chat window or you can visit our YouTube channel for reviews on all of the best e-cigarette models and demonstrations of what they look like in action. You can also get great tips from experienced vapers in other online vaping communities, including the Vaping 101 forum on Reddit, which is full of great advice for choosing and caring for your first e-cigarette.
You can also ask a friend or family member who vapes for suggestions and help shopping for your first vape. If you ask, they might even have an old e-cigarette you can try or borrow to help you make your decision.