We all know that vaping has been an enjoyable approach to quitting smoking and that countless smokers have leaned on vaping to break the habit. However, many “could be” long-term quitters run into two basic hurdles that could inevitably lead them back to smoking: the inefficiency of cheap vape pens, and the ridiculous complexity that comes with your modern box mod.
Let’s face the facts: It’s quite the jump—going from using just a plain ol' lighter to get your fix, to now having to choose your e-liquids, clean the tank, change the coils, and choosing the right wattage for your tank. Cheap vape pens aren’t without their own problems, too. Unfortunately, many people try to transition from smoking with an affordable vape pen, not knowing that they’re sacrificing quality and longevity by holding onto just a few extra bucks.
The solution, of course, is to find the right middle ground. Unfortunately, this didn’t exist for the longest time. But thanks to ingenuity and necessity, POD systems have risen to save the day.
If you’ve tried both cigalikes and pen-styled vapes to no avail, or feel intimidated by all the extra nobs and buttons that come with a standard box mod—maybe it’s time to give one of these portable POD systems a shot.
What is a POD System?
POD or “ultra-portable systems” are essentially the middle-ground between your simple gas station vape pen and a $100+ box mod. The design is similar to that of a cartomizer, but with much more versatility in terms of liquid-capacity and power.
The fundamental difference between the traditional cartomizer and an ultra-portable POD system is that the POD systems are equipped with cartridges like JUUL Replacement Pods, that contain the coil, wick, and the e-juice–essentially everything you need.
These portable systems are also more powerful. While a vape pen or cigalike battery caps out at around 180mAh, ultra-portable devices can reach upwards of 300mAh.
Perhaps most impressively, POD systems are fairly cheap. For around thirty bucks, you can get scoop up what’s considered to be a high-end ultra-portable POD system, whereas lower-end models will cost as little as $15.
Pros and Cons
Like any vaping approach, each path comes with its own benefits and drawbacks. In every case, your choice should be determined by your very own specific preferences and nothing else. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of these ultra-portable vaporizers and see how they compare to the average device.
One thing that sets ultra-portable devices like Juul apart from your standard vape pen is that they’re incredibly easy to use. What’s more, POD systems are often pre-filled with higher quality e-liquids that appeal to the seasoned vape veterans.
Box mod users typically prefer e-liquids that have a higher VG ratio, since that’s what most sub-ohm tanks are built for. POD systems are equally capable of vaping those thicker e-liquids, thus giving vapers a broad range of unique vaping options with little—if any—sacrifice to the overall experience.
However, most new and beginning vapers will be attracted to the simplicity of the traditional vape pen that still dominates the market today—if only for the fact that they’ve made an impression on the public and the vape community for many years now.
The best news for all users is that, despite their smaller size, some ultra-portable cartridges are equipped with sub-ohm coils—a massive step up in technology that’s still totally inaccessible for your average everyday vape pen.
Stronger Nicotine Hit
A major advantage for newbies that’s offered by your everyday vape pen (at the expense of high-quality e-liquid) is their functionality with e-liquids that are mixed with ridiculously high nicotine levels. Since the average sub-ohm tank is suggested for use with liquids that offer nicotine between 3-6mg, beginning vapers most likely will not get enough nicotine from the standard box mod/sub-ohm tank setup. Despite this lack in flavor, there are still many vapers out there that prefer higher nicotine levels in their sub-ohm tanks. What works for them might not work for you, and vice-versa.
Ultra-portable devices can carry much more nicotine. This is due to their use with nicotine salts – an all-new delivery method that allows for higher concentrations of nicotine without sacrificing smoothness or flavor. In fact, a 24mg mixture of nicotine in a vape pen will almost surely provide an unpleasant vaping experience for the newbie. That same newbie could try a 50mg mixture of nicotine salts and not even bat an eye. Such is the joy of nicotine salts.
Ah yes, the dreaded leaky tank. This is a problem that plagues vapers from all walks of life. As if carrying the juice bottles around wasn’t already bothersome enough, there’s also the possibility that a cap loosens up or liquid seeps through the smallest of openings.
Well, not with ultra-portable POD systems. Since these bad boys are pre-built and use disposable cartridges, there’s literally zero chances of running into the same leaky nonsense that comes with your average tank when using a non-defective POD system.
While not all ultra-portable devices conform to this design, many POD systems are activated by your breath. Granted, a single button isn’t exactly rocket science, but to a smoker looking for an authentic experience, what could be more authentic than inhaling without any other effort?
Compare that to a box mod, where the firing button is the least of your worries. Sure, you’ll probably find some basic vape pens that work the same way, but without the quality or power of a POD device.
Limited Flavor Selection
One of the best things about vaping is the vast and nearly infinite marketplace of e-liquids to choose from. There are literally endless combinations of flavors at your fingertips, spanning across hundreds of different brands and they’re growing every day. It’s something that vapers from all walks of life can enjoy—except for POD users, that is.
The problem (currently) with ultra-portable devices is that their unique designs require specific cartridges. This means that we’re limited by the flavor selection that the manufacturers provide. So if you see a POD system that you’d love to try, but are unimpressed with its compatible flavor selection (or vice-versa), then you’re out of luck.
Of course, this could all be old news some day and manufacturers will give generic companies a shot, but it’s hard to know exactly how long and we don’t suggest holding your breath. However, with the seemingly exponential growth of the the vape industry since 2006, odds are that the smaller companies will get their chance sooner than later.
Smaller Liquid Capacity
Obviously, smaller vaporizers will carry less liquid. Try to imagine forcing a 4mL tank onto a vaporizer that’s just a little larger than a cigarette – not going to happen.
While the tiniest POD devices can contain less than 1mL (which still amounts to roughly one pack of cigarettes), some of the larger POD systems can hit the 2mL mark.
Lower Battery Life
Although the battery life of these ultra-portable POD systems is higher than its smaller cousins, it simply cannot hold a candle to the big leagues. Box mods will always win the day when it comes to longevity. A typical ultra-portable device will get you about two to three hours of mild use on a full charge.
This won’t be as big of a problem for a box mod user, who might just carry the POD for portability while out on the town. But if you’re exclusively using a POD device and nothing else, you may need to do so sparingly depending on where you’re at, so be sure to keep it charged.
Overall, ultra-portable POD systems do a great job of bridging the gap between beginners and veterans, while simultaneously appealing to both. Although there are some minor gripes to deal with, they’re fairly easy to overlook.
If you’ve been let down by vape pens or want something more low-key when out in public, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying out a POD.