2014 was the year that vaping hit the big time.

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It was an exciting time to be a vaper. Some of the products released in 2014 were truly revolutionary and changed the way we’ve been vaping since.

It was also the year The Oxford Dictionary declared “vape” as word of the year.

In vaping terms, 2014 was a lifetime ago. Dozens of products are released every single month and hundreds of new devices have been developed over the last five years in a constant effort to improve the vaping experience. What was cutting edge back in 2014, seems almost primitive compared to what we use today.

So what was vaping like before 2014? For those starting out there were a number of simple pen-style devices. The big seller was Kanger’s EVOD. This used a single coil in a bottom filling tank. By today’s standards it didn’t have a lot of flavour and produced very little vapour, but it still helped many people give up cigarettes.

Kanger Evod Kit

If you wanted to take things up a notch and were looking for big clouds and lots of flavour, you would have used a mech mod. This is a metal tube that houses an 18650 battery on which you run an RDA (rebuildable dripping atomiser). There are no electronics in a mech mod.

You needed to build and wick your own coils onto which you “drip” your juice. It also requires that you have a firm understanding of battery safety and ohms law.

Mech mods are still quite popular, although fairly niche, with many people refusing to vape on anything else.

Mech Mod

So what changed in 2014?

It was the year in which a number of new devices came onto the market that gave vapers way more flavour and vapour, without the need for a high level of user skill.

Let’s take a look at a few of the vapes that were released that year.

Box mods take centre stage

While the first box mod was developed a year or two earlier, it was in 2014 that they became a serious thing. The box mod ditches the tube design, to allow the batteries to be housed in a box-shape device. That might not seem like a big deal but it led to a couple of major innovations;

  • Dual battery mods became possible. For a tube mod to have two batteries meant that the mod was awkwardly long. It just wasn’t practical.
  • A box allowed the manufacturers to include a larger chip to manage the wattage and safety. This could sit right next to the battery, so the mod didn’t need to be taller, just slightly wider.

Hana Modz v3 DNA30

The Hana Modz DNA30 was one of the first popular box mods. It could output up to a whopping 30 watts which for its time was a breakthrough.

It also sold for over $300, yet the high price didn’t deter customers. In fact, Hana Modz couldn’t keep up with demand and there was a waiting list of several months to get your hands on one.

In the vaping community, owning a Hana Modz DNA30 in early 2014 was the equivalent of owning a first generation iPhone back in 2007. You’d expect a lot of ooh’s and ahh’s if you walked into a vape meet with one of these in your hand.

Not long after its release, China started producing clone versions of the Hana Modz for less than $80. The build quality wasn’t quite as good as the original but it had the same basic functionality. Anyone who didn’t want to spend $300 or wait several months for the Hana Modz could now purchase a clone mod.

Sigelei 100W Box Mod

A few months after the release of the Hana mod, Siglelei released a dual battery mod with a maximum output of 100 watts. The Sigelei 100W wasn’t the first device to go higher than 30 watts but it was definitely the most popular. This was due to its solid build, reliability and Sigelei’s reputation in the market.

Providing 100 watts of power meant the box mod could now start to compete with the output of mech mods. Not only that, but thanks to the inclusion of regulated chips, box mods were safer to use and could provide a constant wattage output. If you’re familiar with mech mods, you know the wattage drops as the battery drains. That’s not an issue for regulated mods. They maintain steady wattage for the life of the battery.

Eleaf iStick 20W

There was one device released in 2014 which elevated box mods into the mainstream. It was the Eleaf iStick 20W.

Before the iStick, box mods looked clunky and tended to have an industrial style design. The iStick 20W, on the other hand, was small and curved. It was designed to fit nicely in the hand and looked a lot less intimidating for first-time users. It also had a built-in battery, making it as simple to charge as your mobile phone.

Although it couldn’t reach 100 watts, its maximum output of 20 watts was still respectable and was more than enough for the average vaper at the time. All of a sudden, people who would never buy a Sigelei 100W or a Hana Modz were using box mods to power their tanks.

The Sub-Ohm Tank

The next major shift in the world of vaping was the introduction of the sub-ohm tank. As mentioned before, up until this point you only had two options for your vape; low powered tanks designed to replicate the draw of a cigarette or you could use a rebuildable, which required a fair amount of knowledge and expertise to use correctly.

Sub ohm tanks are commonplace now, in fact, they’re so common that the sub-ohm name is rarely used anymore. They’re simply referred to as tanks. But until November 2014 they didn’t exist.

Aspire Atlantis Tank

Aspire was the first out of the gate with their Atlantis tank. It raised the bar to new heights with a promise of creating a similar vaping experience to rebuildable atomisers. It came with a 0.5ohm coil, which vaped well at between 20 and 30 watts. It also featured airflow control and had a decent 5ml liquid capacity.

With the Atlantis, you could blow huge clouds without needing to learn how to build a coil or use a mech mod. This was a huge breakthrough at the time and the vape community was buzzing about it.

Kanger Subtank

China moves quickly and it was only a month or so after the launch of the Atlantis that Kanger released their sub-ohm tank, called the Subtank. The Atlantis was a definite hit but many users were a little underwhelmed and felt the flavour was a bit muted.

Kanger’s new tank had arguably better flavour than the Atlantis and the Subtank quickly took over the sub-ohm tank market from Aspire.

With the evolution of regulated mods and sub-ohm tanks, a beginner could vape with high powered devices with simply knowing how to fill a tank and replace a coil.

Regular (non sub-ohm) Tanks

For those vapers who didn’t care about blowing huge clouds and just wanted a smaller tank to replace their smoking habit, 2014 delivered something special.

Aspire Nautilis Tank

Aspire released the full sized Nautilus at the beginning of the year and followed it up a few months later with the Nautilus Mini. To suggest these tanks sold pretty well would be an understatement. They had rave reviews and vapers fell in love with the Nautilus.

The flavour was much better than anything else available and it also had airflow control which allowed some slight variation over the way it vaped.

In the vaping industry, it’s not uncommon for a new device to hit the market and then be obsolete three months later. There are some exceptions to this and the Nautilus tank is definitely one of those, especially the Nautilus Mini which took over from its bigger brother.

The Mini was released around the middle of 2014 and Aspire must have got the style right because this tank was still popular and remained unchanged for a few years after its release. In fact, you can still pick one up today and it will still give you a great vape.

Where are we now?

As with any new technology, the earliest devices tend to require specialised knowledge to use and the performance of the device tends to vary according to the expertise of the user. For any technology to go mainstream, the responsibility shifts from the end user to the manufacturer… and vaping was no different.

Following the developments of 2014, manufacturers honed their ability to create products that vape well, without expecting the user to have specialised knowledge, or any knowledge at all.

While 2014 saw the beginning of a wave of high-powered devices and a huge array of tanks with coils that could handle the increasingly higher wattage output, there’s been a big move back to smaller devices that can still deliver on flavour.

There’s now a vape out there that suits anyone; from the enthusiast chasing the ultimate flavour and vapour production, to the first time user who simply wants help to stop smoking.  While you can still enjoy building the ultimate coil to run on your mech mod, vaping can now be as simple as opening the box, popping in a pod and taking a puff.

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