Pod systems are invading the vape scene like a swarm of locusts. They’re popular and inexpensive for the most part. I have received way too many to do a review for each and every one. Two of them were not sent for review, but I thought I would throw them in anyway and just make it a Pod orgy…..ugh.
I have never actually purchased a pod system and had no intention doing so, just not my style. I have friends who use them on occasion for getting a nic fix while being discreet…hmmm, that makes sense and I found myself using pods in the same manner. Prior to that I would just refrain from vaping instead of being the obnoxious guy in a crowd blowing fat clouds.
I have purchased some salt nic which in the right pod sure does give me that nic fix. They do have warnings that it is not for sub-ohm use and yeah, that would be a mistake as the ones I purchased are 25mg and 35mg nic, they would blow your head off in a sub-ohm setup.
Some are closed pod systems like the Komge K1, Vaptio C-Flat Executive kit and the Hangsen IQ. The closed systems come with flavor cartridge prefilled and once it is done you simply buy a new cartridge – or as is the case with the Komge K1, you throw away the pod as you can neither fill it or recharge it, estimated 200 puffs and your done. The rest you can charge and refill at your leisure, no need to use salt nic if you don’t want to, regular e-liquid can be used but is not ideal. Either way I used both salt nic juices and my normal everyday juices and will talk about the differences.
Disclaimer: None of these pods will give you the flavor you would get with a good sub-ohm tank, RDA or RTA. I will talk about the flavor in comparison to one another only.
The samples I received are pre-production and I have relayed the concerns I have to Komge directly. I was told they would send me the final production version once it is released. If there are significant changes I will update it.
The Cashew has a nice satin finish on all the colors; black, blue and orange. It is a very compact and easy to hold pod, it hides nicely in my hand for an inconspicuous vape. The draw is one of the tightest of the bunch, but that tightness led to it being one of my favorites for high mg salt nic. No buttons, just take a draw and you get vapor. 2ml juice capacity.
The pod is easy to refill but I did not like that the plug was not attached and no spares were included in the package, definite con there. The pod was a little too loose when attached as well, they need to make it more secure as it became dislodged a few times while in my pocket. It also did not include a spare pod in the package, only a USB cable and needle nose refill bottle pictured above.
Flavor with regular juice is pretty muted which is the case for most of these pods, with a couple of exceptions. Flavor with nic salts was a little better but not great for a pod system.
I have to mention that for the high mg salt nics I was using, the Cashew was in my top 3 – not for flavor but for my ability to take a good hit and not get a scratchy throat or cough. There are some pods that I have to sneak up on to take a salt nic hit or I will cough up a storm, not cool. That was not the case with the Cashew, never took a salt nic hit and coughed, and got my nic fix easily.
Now if Komge can improve the flavor but keep the same draw then this will make for a great stealth pod. They also need to have the plug attached, it is small which would make it easy to lose and there are no spares.
I like the shape, feel in the hand and draw on the Komge Cashew and I hope they address these issues. For salt nics it is one of my go to pods and will use it from time to time when I need that nic fix but need to keep it on the down low.
The K1 is a closed pod system, no re-charging, no refilling and it comes filled with US made Apollo e-liquid. The packaging I received had 3 pods in each and the flavors were King Pin (Creamy sweet, peanut butter with a hint of tobacco), Melon (blend of honeydew melon, cucumber, and mint) and Breeze (menthol and mint) and all are 5mg nic – no mention if it is salt nic. No button to press, just suck on it and get vape. 1.3ml juice prefilled.
Pretty small at 73.5mm x 19.5mm x 12mm and light as can be. Has a faux carbon fiber finish on it and comes with a plug attached to the mouthpiece which can be reused.
The K1 had me question the quality of the salt nics I had purchased as the flavor is much better. King Pin is my favorite, never been much of a tobacco fan, but it is in the background and mates well with the peanut butter. I normally stay away from menthol vapes, but breeze is pretty tasty and clears up my sinuses. Melon is the least flavorful of the bunch but still decent. King Pin has me a bit hooked though, it is the one I grab for and I may just buy a bottle to vape in my normal setups https://www.apolloecigs.com/boss-tobacco-king-pin
Draw is tight like the Cashew but still satisfying, the 5mg nic is a little on the light side compared to the Cashew loaded with 25mg salt nic. It still satisfies and maybe the lower nicotine helps the flavor come through more? Not sure, but it is by far one of the tastiest pods in this round-up.
With a quick google search I see it listed for $25 for a 3 pack, which comes to a little more than $8 a pod. Not a bad price and I have been huffing on the King Pin pod for a while now and it is still going. I haven’t been counting my puffs, I am not that thorough or crazy, but it has been better than I expected.
The Komge K1 was a pleasant surprise and I find myself jonesing for the King Pin pod. I had to put a sticker on it though as there are no markings to tell you what flavor is in the pod, that is the only con I can think of.
Vaptio C-Flat Executive
One of the nicest looking pods in this round-up, shiny gold on one side and a green marble looking finish on the other with a green mouthpiece. A definite fingerprint magnet on the gold side, I was cleaning it a lot. Comes with a prefilled cartridge of menthol in 5mg nic and even though there is a plug it is stuck in there, I am pretty sure I could remove it but would probably break it in the process. Has a button you need to press to vape, con right there as most pods are draw and vape – and Vaptio has a pod that does just that. 5 clicks on/off and USB charging with pass-through. 1.5ml prefilled juice.
Comes in a variety of colors and each have different flavor; Strawberry, Apple, Mango, Coffee and the Menthol I received.
Has the option for either MTL or DL vaping depending on whether the button is facing you or away. I could maybe tell a little difference but in general it felt the same both ways.
The flavor is actually pretty good for a menthol and the 5mg nic really hits, I get a good nic buzz from it. This menthol flavor is not overpowering and overall I enjoy it.
I can confirm that the C-Flat refillable pods do work in it: https://vaptio.com/catalogue/c-flat-tank_718/ . Luckily I had an extra and loaded up with some of my high mg salt nics. The flavor was not great with my Lava Flow 35mg, but I was able to vape away without coughing up a lung. It is unfortunate they do not include an extra refillable pod in the kit considering how expensive it it. I am guessing you can buy prefilled cartridges for it as well, but looking through Vaptio’s website I was not able to locate them. Considering how flavorful the prefilled was compared to the refillable with Lava Flow, it looks to be more about the juice than the pod itself.
Doing a quick search on Google I found it for $40, pricey – especially considering it only comes with one prefilled cartridge. Looks really nice and the flavor really comes through with the prefilled, if you’re an executive then I guess you can afford it.
Not the flashiest of the bunch but comes with 2 refillable pods and no button, just draw and vape. USB charging with pass-through, and juice level windows on either side which are about impossible to tell your juice level with, these suckers are small. 1.5ml juice capacity.
Flavor is just so-so with the Solo-Flat with either salt nic or regular juices. I can vape it with salt nic though without any irritation or coughing. Vaptio has better offerings in pods, unfortunately the Solo-Flat is not one of them.
The tallest of all the pods but with an interesting spin….see what I did there. The pod itself actually spins around and locks into place, so you can then put it in your pocket or purse and keep debris from getting into the mouthpiece. Power button design, press to vape and 5 clicks on/off. USB charging with pass-through and a 650mAh battery, which is one of the biggest in the bunch so at least the size has a positive in that regard. Spinning the pod was easy and secure and the mod won’t fire when the mouthpiece is tucked away even if the power is on – I like the design. Refilling the pod is easy with a rubber plug that just twists out of the way but is still attached. 1.8ml juice capacity.
The red finish is really nice looking, has an anodized look to it. Comes with 2 refillable pods in the package so pro there.
The flavor with my normal juices was good – one of the better in the bunch, and salt nics were improved as well without any harshness or coughing. The draw is tight on this one, but I did not mind as it still produced a flavorful vape. That might have been why salt nics were more mellow as well.
Although not as stealthy as most of the pods in this round-up, the inclusion of the spin-it design and the bigger battery are good trade-offs for me. The flavor and performance I got with salt nics make this one of my favorites. If they ditched the power button for a draw and vape system I would like that better, but all in all Vaptio has a winner here.
This one differs from most in that it uses a replaceable coil, the pod stays. Maybe not a true pod system per se, but in the same ballpark so that is why I am including it here. Comes with two 1.2 ohm coils and the maximum output wattage is 15 watts but is not adjustable, just press the fire button and vape, 5 clicks on/off. USB charging with pass-through. 2ml juice capacity.
Refilling it is odd, you unlock the pod with a small switch on the side and spin it around to find the fill holes, one on each side. There are no plugs, just shove your bottle into the hole and fill. Make sure you turn off the mod first, if you use the fill hole on the side with the power button and accidentally hit it with your bottle it will fire and toast your coil….hmmmm, I wonder how I know that.
Has a cap that will cover the mouthpiece when not in use and when in use the cap can be placed on the bottom. The cap stays on rather loose so it could be easy to lose, doesn’t snap into place.
The mouthpiece would come loose on me from time to time, that was rather annoying and I found myself working it back into place more than a few times. The mouthpiece also has a tool inside of it that you can use to unscrew the coil for replacement, nice touch as you would need a screwdriver to remove it.
Pretty nondescript looking, maybe it is just the grey I was sent but Plain Jane be thy name.
I have to admit I wasn’t expecting much from the iCard but loading it up with the same juice I use for all my tank reviews, the flavor surprised me. This is one of the most flavorful devices in the roundup by far. Eleaf in my experience has always made decent coils and this one is a great example of it. With salt nics it did well but the output could be a little harsh for me at times and if I wasn’t careful would make me cough if I took too deep of a draw.
Eleaf has been taking some strides lately, the Pico S is a great redesign and the upcoming Pico Squeeze 2 I received just yesterday has me very impressed thus far. I love the performance of the iCard but they need to go back to the drawing board on the looks, loose mouthpiece, wonky fill-up, make it a draw and vape design, ditch the power button. Do all that and keep the same flavor and they have a winner.
Saying all that I have seen the iCard on sale for $15, for that price it is an easy recommendation. The build quality is subpar but the two included coils should last you a while – not sure how it will hold up after that though.
Joyetech Exceed Edge
This is the second in the round-up to use a coil that is inserted into the pod head, just like the Eleaf iCard. It comes with two 1.2ohm coils, an extra o’ring and an extra fill plug. Power button design, press to vape, 5 clicks on/off. The power button is hidden in the design – the section that reads Exceed Edge is where you press towards the top to fire. Easy to refill, with a plug that stays attached so less of a chance of losing it. The overall build quality is solid, comfortable to hold and a great mouthpiece that is comfortable in either direction. Overall I was impressed with the looks and build quality. 2ml juice capacity.
I received the Exceed Edge on the same day as the iCard and just by looking at both I had high hopes the Exceed would win out. Build quality and looks, hands down goes the the Exceed, but performance…..ugh. I loaded the same juice into both and from the first draw the iCard won out, not even close. The flavor on the Exceed was just disappointing and I was bummed….dang, I so wanted the Exceed to win out but that was not the case. It is not terrible for a pod, probably middle of the road and salt nics are vapable for me without fear of coughing up a lung – in that respect is wins out over the iCard. Wasn’t really a fair fight though as the iCard was one of the best with normal juices – seems the Exceed just happened to arrive at the wrong time. I would also get occasional flooding of the coils after fill up, this gave me gurgling and occasional spit back of high mg nic, not a good thing and it took awhile to go away.
Now if Joyetech and Eleaf would team up, put the Eleaf coil into the Exceed and lose the fire button for a draw and vape design…..sign me up.
I believe this is Smoant’s first foray into the pod world and they did a nice job, zinc alloy body with a flawless piano finish. Comes in 5 colors, I received the black and red and they’re both classy looking. You get a USB cable and needle nose fill bottle but only 1 pod, an extra would have been better. No buttons, just draw and vape. USB pass-through charging. 2ml juice capacity.
The S8 is one of the most solid mods in this group and one of the best looking to boot. Fingerprint magnet for sure with the piano finish, but it cleans up quickly. Not the smallest but comfortable to hold. The pod is nicely secured with 2 magnets which make it easy to remove and put back, but does not come loose accidentally. Fill port plug is attached when filling so you won’t lose it. The shape is great aside from the top and bottom being the same…yes, I have picked it up and tried to vape from the bottom a few times, gave the S8 an inadvertent rim job….I am so ashamed.
Flavor with regular juice is good for a pod, not as good as some others here, but I would have it in my top 5 in this round-up. Better results flavor wise with salt nics but it can irritate or make me cough if I am not careful with the 35mg, 25mg was much better.
A good overall pod system with great build quality. Not the best performer in the group but something I would recommend as it does a lot of things right.
This has to be one of the most popular pods on the market and for good reason, it is a sexy little bastard. Comes with a USB cable, lanyard to attach it to a chain and two refillable pods. Comes with a power button but that is only to turn on/off with 5 clicks. You can also hold it down for 5 seconds to put it into stealth mode so the LED turns off. Once on, just draw and vape. 950mah battery, one of the biggest in the round-up with USB pass-through charging. Comes in too many styles and colors to name, click on the link above to see all the different options. 2ml juice capacity.
One of the smallest and lightest in the roundup but don’t mistake that for it being cheap. While not as solid as some, it has held up really well in the 3 months I have had it. Does feel and sound a little hollow if you tap on it, but it looks like they went for lightweight instead of solid and the trade off is fine by me. The pod snaps in and out easily but is solidly in place, it is going nowhere by accident. The fill post plug stays attached when refilling and can easily be moved to the side and out of the way.
Flavor with my normal juices is great and it has just about the most airflow in the round-up. I would say flavor wise with normal juice it is tied for first place. Salt nic flavors are good as well, but for me I gotta sneak up on it and make a truce before taking a draw. The increased airflow is great until I forget and take a big draw, the throat hit is just too much for me. Even when I am careful, it is not enjoyable with high mg salt nic, my throat just can’t take it. I have resigned myself to just vaping normal juices in it but have ordered some salt nic to DIY my own as nearly all of them are 25mg or higher.
The Mi-Pod is one of the more pricey ones here but it does deliver, just a little more than it should for me with salt nics. That is just my experience though and I know others that don’t have the same problem. Definitely an easy recommendation but if your sensitive to throat hit then try one first with salt nic before making the purchase.
Wait, there are 10 pods in the first picture….whaa happeeeeen
I took that picture the other day and while going through to take the separate shots decided to leave the Hangsen IQ out of the review. I got it from a friend, but only got a tobacco and menthol prefilled cartridge and lost the menthol. It is not refillable and I hate just straight tobacco so didn’t seem fair to include it….that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Flavor with normal 75VG 3mg normal nic (prefilled pods not included)
- A: Eleaf iCard 1. B: SV Mi-pod. Hard to choose between these 2 so there both 1’s
- Vaptio Spin-it
- Smoant S8
- Wow did I get stuck on this one, the rest of the refillable pod systems don’t seem suited to regular juice, there all on the meh side so too close to call.
Pre Filled pods:
- Komge K1 with King Pin. I am a little addicted to this one, love the flavor and good nic hit
- Vaptio C-Flat Executive. The best menthol and a nice nic hit
- Komge K1 with Breeze. Second best menthol and a nice overall vape
- Komge K1 with Melon. Last on the list doesn’t necessarily mean last place, still a tasty little vape
I am going to skip the flavor with salt nics ranking, the best flavor with normal juices is generally going to win out regardless. I am just going to list the pods that worked best for me with 25 and 35mg salt nics with the least amount of throat hit being the best. If you like throat hit then the lower on the list the better. Prefilled pods are left out as they are only 5mg and were not irritating.
- Komge Cashew. I could vape to my hearts content 35mg salt nic with no problems and the nic buzz kept me satisfied. You do sacrifice some flavor for a smoother vape but coughing is not my idea of fun. I just found that when I need the quickest nic hit in the fewest draws the Cashew worked the best.
- Vaptio Spin-it. Probably the best flavor with little throat hit but can creep up into harshness with 35mg, 25mg was no problem.
- Smoant S8. Much better with 25mg than 35mg which would get harsh for me. Flavor is on par with the Spin-it, this might be a 2A situation tied with the Spin-it.
- Vaptio Solo Flat. Low output so high mg is not a problem but flavor lacks and the low output also means a lot more hits to get that nic rush.
- Joyetech Exceed Edge. Smooth hit but the gurgling after fill up was annoying, I don’t want to drink high mg nic.
- Eleaf iCard. One of the best of the bunch for flavor but with that comes a higher throat hit.
- SV Mi-pod. Great flavor but I can’t handle high mg salt nics with this one, it kills my throat.
What I have been reaching for the most, all included
- Komge K1 with King Pin. Yes it has all to do with the flavor but I find myself always reaching for it over others. The other flavors are good as well but I reached for them a lot less, KP is tops.
- SV Mi-pod. With regular juice it is fantastic, if I need salt nics it is the last one I reach for but your results may be different. I love the design and build quality and the pods last a good while.
- Vaptio Spin-it. Good flavor and versatile enough to use either regular juice or salt nics. I really do like the Spin-it design, makes sense and works well. Looks good too. Tight on the draw but still nice.
- Smoant S8. Love the form factor and how solid it feels. Flavor is good, better with salt nics and as long as I keep it at 25mg – no problem, 35mg creeps into the cough zone. I do really like the S8 and will keep on using it, I would say 3A in a tie with the Vaptio Spin-it is fair. The S8 does have a looser draw than the tighter Spin-it.
- Vaptio C-Flat Executive. First menthol vape I look to grab and gives a nice nic hit with little to no harshness. A little pricey IMO but it sure does look nice.
- Komge Cashew. This is my go to for 35mg, I can take puff after puff with no throat hit and get that satisfying nic buzz rather quickly. Flavor is a bit lacking and the problems I mentioned, which I hope get remedied prior to final production, keep it from moving up a spot or two. If I do get a final production version I will update this review if there is improvement.
- Eleaf iCard. Yeah I know, why so low if it has great flavor? The loose mouthpiece, wonky fill ports and overall build quality. That said, it can be had for cheap but I would not invest in extra coils, just buy a new one when the 2 included coils give up the ghost. Eleaf has been doing some great work lately though, so I hope they go back and redesign it with the same coils, that would be great.
- Vaptio Solo-Flat. I am pretty sure this is one of their first pods and it is okay but not great. They sure have made strides in the right direction with the other 2 on the list. I do respect Vaptio as a company since they go back and fix problems. The Frogman is a good example, the first not so good, the second XL version they fixed the coils and made it a lot better. It is not horrible by any means but I hardly reached for it.
- Joyetech Exceed Edge. Really wanted to like this as it has great build quality but the performance was a disappointment. The occasional flooding after fill up was a drag, really what made me drop it all the way down the list.
Now keep in mind these are just my preferences and I detest throat hit. We all have our own preferences and I am just relaying my experience.
Of the three salt nics I used, Salt Bae Green Apple was my favorite followed by their Red Mango and the worst was Naked 100 salt nic Lava Flow which was disappointing as I love the regular Lava Flow.
Wow, what an adventure and one I do not plan on doing again. While I have found pods to be very convenient for on the go stealth vaping, I am not planning on reviewing anymore pods as they are released at an alarming rate. Pods are improving all the time though so maybe in the future I may revisit a pod review…but right now I need a break.
The standouts for me were the Mi-pod, Smoant S8, Komge K1 with King Pin (still digging that flavor) Vaptio Spin-it and the Komge Cashew as I get the quickest nic hit with 35mg, while not worrying about coughing up a lung. I am hoping Komge addresses the issues with the Cashew, I will follow up if that is indeed the case.
Even the disappointing ones aren’t bad, the Eleaf being the biggest as it started off strong and faded the fastest. My sample is ready to be thrown away as it now developed a leak. I hope Eleaf does a complete redesign while using the same coils.
I am sure I have missed stuff, easy to do in a review this big. Please ask any questions you might have as I will be keeping these around for a while for just that.
Check out how this stacks up to other tasty gear and meet the Steampugs team of reviewers. You’re bound to have a good time and read up on some great products, some not so great ones too https://www.steampugs.co.uk/