Looking at the best e-cigarette brands today, you’re going to see a hodgepodge of products ranging from tiny disposable e-cigarettes to large, full-featured box mods.
The brand that you won’t see nearly as often as you once did, though, is JUUL.
That’s especially true in the United States, where the world’s best-known vaping brand has been at the center of a non-stop controversy over teen vaping that ultimately resulted in the U.S. federal government banning all pre-filled e-cigarette pod and cartridge flavors other than tobacco and menthol in early 2020.
JUUL has faced similar problems elsewhere in the world, with many nations giving the brand a lukewarm reception or removing it from the market entirely.
JUUL’s issues – ranging from a lack of flavors to a lack of availability – have left many people searching for the best JUUL alternative.
If you’re in the same boat, this article is here to help.
If you happen to live in a location where JUUL pods are easy to find and are readily available in the brand’s full range of flavors, then you’ll probably be quite happy if a JUUL ends up becoming your first e-cigarette. However, if you:
- Can’t buy JUUL where you live
- Can’t find JUUL pods consistently because your local vape shops are always sold out
- Can’t buy the full range of JUUL flavors due to local or federal regulations
- Already own a JUUL and are looking for a new device that provides a more full-featured vaping experience
Then this article is for you. Let’s help you find your next vape.
Disposable, Pre-Filled or Refillable?
All vaping devices fall into one of three different categories. There are disposable vapes, pre-filled vapes and refillable vapes. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each type.
A disposable e-cigarette comes out of the package charged, filled and ready for vaping. In the United States – which has banned most e-cigarette pod and cartridge flavors – disposable e-cigarettes are not included in the flavor ban and remain available in whatever flavor you like.
The flavor selection of disposable e-cigarettes is a major benefit, but a drawback is that disposable e-cigarettes aren’t cost effective for everyday vaping. If you need to buy a new one every day, you’ll pay more to vape than you would pay for tobacco cigarettes.
An e-cigarette that uses pre-filled pods is a rechargeable device, so you’ll keep the battery unit and replace your pods as you use them. Pods usually come in packs of 2-4, with individual pods costing around $4.00 each. Because of the brand’s popularity, JUUL is typically the most expensive of the pre-filled pod systems. Most pre-filled pod systems, however, cost only slightly less than tobacco cigarettes.
The benefit of using a vaping device with pre-filled pods is convenience. To use the device, all that you need to do is keep your battery charged and replace your pods when they’re empty. A pre-filled pod system, however, is still a fairly expensive vaping device to own due to the high cost of the pods.
A refillable e-cigarette has a pod or tank that you fill yourself. When you use a refillable vaping device, you’ll buy bottled e-liquid, which costs significantly less than pre-filled pods. You’ll also need to replace your device’s pod or atomizer coil periodically when the flavor quality begins to decline.
Using a refillable device is the most affordable way to vape. It also gives you the best possible variety. There are hundreds of different e-liquid flavors in the world today, and you can use any of them with a refillable vaping device. The only drawback of a refillable device is that it’s not quite as convenient as a device with pre-filled pods.
Tank-Based or Pod-Based System?
Refillable vaping devices come in two types. You can buy a device that uses a glass tank, or you can buy a device that uses a plastic pod. We’ll discuss the general characteristics of the two types of devices.
Tank-Based Vape Pen or Mod
A tank-based vaping device tends to be a bit larger than a pod-based device. While a pod system can potentially be as small as a USB thumb drive, even the smallest tank-based vape pens are usually as large as small cigars.
What tank-based vaping devices lack in portability, though, they make up for in the form of increased battery life and superior vapor production. Today’s best vape pens can generate impressive vapor clouds that fill rooms, and even a small vape pen typically has a battery capacity at least five times that of a device like the JUUL. Since a tank-based device also stores its e-liquid in glass rather than plastic, you may find that a vape pen or mod with a tank delivers a purer flavor than a pod system.
Pod-Based Vaping Device
Pod-based vaping devices are the smallest and most discreet e-cigarettes on the market. Pod systems fit in any pocket, and they’re ideal if you don’t want to call attention to yourself when vaping.
While a pod system may be small, you shouldn’t assume that the small size will mean that you can’t enjoy a fully satisfying vaping experience. Pod systems do produce smaller vapor clouds than vape pens and mods, but they’re designed to work best with high-strength nicotine salt e-liquids. With nicotine salt e-liquid, a pod system can deliver almost as much nicotine per puff as a conventional tobacco cigarette.
Should You Buy a Pod System With Replaceable Coils?
Until recently, one of the biggest drawbacks of refillable pod systems was that, if you used one, you’d need to buy an entirely new pod when the flavor quality of your current pod began to decline. That’s a bit wasteful and expensive, though, because the pod itself doesn’t cause the decline in flavor quality – it’s just the atomizer coil that requires replacement.
Today, some makers of pod systems are offering pod systems with replaceable atomizer coils. You should strongly consider a device with replaceable coils if you want to buy a refillable pod system. While having a replaceable coil does add some complexity to a pod system, it’ll pay great dividends in the form of significantly reduced long-term costs.
About the Author
Robert Conway is the founder and owner of The Vape Bar. Oklahoma City’s premier vape shop, The Vape Bar is veteran owned and operated and prides itself on maintaining one of the largest selections of e-liquid and vape gear in the OKC area. Follow The Vape Bar on Facebook.