Best Vape Tanks of 2023: Sub-Ohm & Rebuildable
Best Sub-Ohm & Rebuildable Tanks of 2023
- uWell Valyrian 3 Sub-Ohm Tank
- Geekvape Zeus Sub-Ohm Tank
- FreeMax GEMM Disposable Mesh Tank
- SMOK TFV18 Tank
- Hellvape Fat Rabbit RTA
- Horizon Falcon 2 Tank
- Vaporesso iTank Sub-Ohm Tank
- Vandy Vape Kylin M Pro RTA Tank
- FreeMax Fireluke Solo Tank
- OXVA Arbiter 2 RTA
What is a Vape Tank Used For?
Vape tanks are a versatile and potentially essential piece of kit for a lot of vapers out there. Ideal for on-the-go use or daily driving, vape tanks are the simplest and most straightforward way to start chucking massive plumes and chasing delicious flavor. Whether you like sub-ohm tanks with easily replaceable coils or rebuildable tank atomizers you can re-wick yourself, there is a vape tank suited just for you.
What’s a Sub-Ohm Tank?
The most common tank found out and about will likely be a sub-ohm tank. The type of coil and juice used within the tank classifies a tank as a sub-ohm tank. A sub-ohm tank is, well, sub-ohm, meaning the coil is below 1.0ohms. Plus, the juice used in a sub-ohm tank should be freebase juice with a 70/30 PG/VG ratio (or thereabouts) and lower nicotine levels. Sub-ohm tanks will also require more wattage to be pumped through the coils, and more times than not, sub-ohm tanks give a direct-to-lung experience.
Resistance is the most important aspect when discussing sub-ohm tanks. Most sub ohm tanks will have coils that range from 0.15ohms to 0.9ohms. And while there is no inherently better resistance, you will most likely have a preference as to what coil best suits you. A general rule of thumb is the lower the resistance, the warmer the vape will be, and the more airflow will travel the through the coil. For example, a 0.15ohm coil will be a warmer, more DTL vape than a 0.8ohm coil.
Juice is another essential aspect when discussing both sub-ohm tanks and RTAs. When using a tank, it's crucial to pay attention to 2 factors; Nicotine level & PG/VG ratio.
DO NOT use nicotine salts with ANYTHING sub-ohm...ONLY use freebase nicotine juice with nicotine levels of 0mg, 3mg, 6mg, 12mg, & 18mg. Nicotine salts usually come in nicotine levels of 20mg, 35mg, 40mg, & 50mg, and this is far too much nicotine to be used with such low resistance coils. Plus, nicotine salts absorb into your body more efficiently, rendering it dangerous to use at high wattage. ONLY use freebase juice inside a sub-ohm tank or RTA!
The PG/VG ratio is also crucial when selecting a juice for your setup. Sub-ohm tanks can be notoriously bad at wicking thick & viscous juice, so we recommend using vape juice that is 70/30. You should be able to use a 60/40 or 80/20, depending on the tank, but you will definitely have no issues with a 70/30. Vegetable Glycerin is much more viscous than Propylene Glycol, so the more VG you have in a juice, the thicker it will be. You also have to be careful of liquid that is too thin, which will result in leaking. If you try a 50/50 juice in a sub-ohm or RTA, the juice may flow through the cotton and out the sides leading to a messy setup.
Let us now discuss airflow, why its useful, and how it affects your vape experience. Airflow control should be a standard feature on every sub-ohm tank and RTA so these tips will apply to a myriad of atomizers. Airflow really boils down to personal preference, but there are some general rules of thumb you can follow.
The biggest hack to tank airflow is the lower the resistance your coil is the warmer your vape will be, and the more airflow you will need to compensate. For example, if your coil is 0.15ohm it will vape hotter than a 0.8ohm, and you may want to open your airflow wider for the 0.15ohm coil.
When it coms to airflow control, it really is personal preference as to how warm or cool you'd like your vape to be. If you like a warmer experience, then close your airflow down and vice-versa for a cooler vape.
Atomizers vs Clearomizers vs Cartomizers
If we were having this conversation, say eight years ago, the atomizer, clearomizer, cartomizer debate would be more relevant. Nowadays, every topper on the market will either be an Atomizer and/or a Clearomizer. An atomizer refers to anything being used on top of a vape. A few examples would be a sub-ohm tank, MTL tank, RTA, RDA, RDTA, or anything that atomizes your liquid into a vape. Clearomizers, on the other hand, only refer to tanks. A clearomizer is an atomizer that holds liquid in a tank and feeds juice into a coil via wicks (most often cotton). A cartomizer is an atomizer in cartridge form; think The Blu or VUSE cig-a-like vapes.
So to recap, every topper is an atomizer, but not every atomizer is a clearomizer or cartomizer.
Now lets get into rebuildables and what sets them apart from your traditional sub-ohm vape tank. The most obvious distinction between the two is you build / provide your own coils with RTAs/RDTAs/RDAs and with sub-ohm tanks you use pre-built coils from the manufacturer.
Rebuildable Tank Atomizers or RTAs are the most similar to sub-ohm tanks when comparing atomizers. Both sub-ohm tanks and RTAs function the same; the juice is held in a glass container, and via capillary action, the liquid is pulled into the wicks, saturating them for you to vape. The only difference is how much control you want over your vape experience. With sub-ohm tanks, you are stuck to using ONLY the resistance & wire/wicking material provided by the manufacturer. Most will have a coil lineup that looks like 0.15ohm, 0.3ohm, 0.5ohm, and 0.8ohm, and you are stuck to exclusively using those options. With RTAs, you can build your own coils or buy pre-built coils with infinite resistance & material options. Want a 0.15ohm Ni80 Alien coil? Or how about a 0.5ohm Kanthal wrap - or maybe you want to change cotton for something more fluffy or matte? You are in the driver's seat with RTAs!
**Editors Note: The closest thing I can equate RTAs vs. Sub-Ohms to is photography. Sub-ohm tanks are like shooting in Auto; the settings are all chosen for you, and all you have to do is go. RTAs, on the other hand, are like shooting in Manual, and you have total control over every aspect of your experience.
Next is Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers. While this isn't a tank, we felt it necessary to include when discussing rebuildables. RDAs are essentially an RTA without the tank. You drip your juice directly onto the coils and bypass the need for a tank system altogether. RDAs are ideal for those flavor chasers because you are dripping directly onto the coil, and your juice is not sitting on top of the coil & in the wicks for extended periods; this makes the flavor top-tier. However, carrying around a bottle of juice wherever you go is rather tedious, so RDAs are not as common to see.
Imagine the love child between an RDA ad RTA and you get an RDTA! In short, an RDTA is an RDA with a tank on the BOTTOM. RDTAs differ from an RTA in that with a rebuildable tank atomizer, the coil is housed with the juice, and with an RDTA, the coils sit ABOVE the liquid. To use an RDTA, tilt your vape so the juice can touch the bottom of the wicks every so often to keep your coils saturated.
Pre-Built Vs Custom Coil Builds
To wrap up the rebuildable section, let us touch on their coils. You either have the option to build your own coils or buy pre-built custom coils online, on Instagram, or in specialty vape shops. If you choose to create your own coils you will need a myriad of tools ranging from the wire itself (most times Ni80, Kanthal, Stainless Steel, etc.), a coiling jig, clippers, scissors, drill, build stand, ohm reader...I could keep going; there are a lot of tools one can acquire to achieve the ultimate coil build. But we recommend buying a few different pre-built coils, such as Alien coils, Claptons, or Fused Claptons, and seeing which suits you best. This way, you can test out the world of rebuildables without going too far down the rabbit hole.
How Long Do Coils Last?
The lifespan of your coils depends on many factors ranging from the manufacturer, wattage used, juice, and many other variables. If you are using a sub-ohm tank and limited to the coils from the manufacturer, not all coils are created equal. It is important to note how long coils are typically lasting you because some coils are notorious for only lasting a couple of days rather than a week or two. The cynics would say that all the new tanks & coils have planned obsolesces built into them from vape companies trying to get you to buy more coils, but that's another topic.
If you use a rebuildable, coils could last MONTHS without needing to replace them. You will need to re-wick the cotton at least once a week to maintain it, but it is easy to clean the coils and keep them running for much longer than sub-ohm coils. A quick crash course on cleaning rebuildable coils: First, remove all your cotton from the coil & build deck. Next, run the faucet with COLD water. Now lower your wattage to anywhere between 20W - 50W—dry fire your coils by PULSING the button until they glow red. Now STOP firing & carefully place the glowing coils under the cold faucet. Repeat this until all the black gunk is removed from the coil & your setup is sparkly clean again.
The type of juice, nicotine level, & wattage used can also affect how long your coils last. The general rule of thumb is the clearer the juice is, the nicer it will be on your coils. The term most people use is "Coil Killer," which refers to a juice known to shorten the lifespan of coils. Dessert blends, high nicotine juices, and high VG juices are generally the Coil Killers you must worry about. For example, a 12mg, 80/20 dark dessert juice vaping at 150W will most likely cause your coil to give out FASTER than a 3mg, 70/30 clear fruit juice vaping at 100W.
How Do I Know if My Coil is Burnt?
Oh, you'll know.
Unfortunately, burning your coil is pretty easy to do. Whether you forgot to refill and dry-fired or didn't prime your coil correctly, burnt coils are the worst. You will taste a gross charred-ness that will drown out any juice you have, and there is nothing to be done to save a toasted coil.
The most likely scenario is the improper prime, so let us discuss how to prime a brand-new coil for the first time. First, open up a new coil and look to see the cotton "windows." Take your juice bottle and lightly place some liquid inside the cotton windows. Now take your juice and put a small amount down the top of the coil, making sure not to overdo it. All the while rolling the coil around to ensure the juice is distributed evenly. Now, wait a minute to make sure all the fluid saturates the coil before placing it into the tank.
The next step is wattage ramp-up. Let's say your coil is rated for 85W; it's essential to start your new coil at ≈20W and take a few puffs there. After a minute or two, ramp up to 30W, after another minute 45W, another minute 65W, and so on. This will ensure your coil isn't blasted with too much wattage at first, and your coil has the chance to break in naturally without expanding or contracting too fast. This will also help wicking as the juice will start to heat up & thin out, which will saturate the wicks more.
Mouth to Lung (MTL) vs Direct to Lung (DTL) vs Restricted Direct Lung (RTL/RDTL)
Finally, an easy question! MTL, DTL, & RDTL are all acronyms to describe the type of draw you can expect from a tank or pod. This is all entirely personal preference, but it's essential to understand how each different draw will affect your vape.
Mouth to Lung describes the action one does while smoking a restricted draw. MTL often defines a cigarette draw as many smokers will pull the smoke into their mouths and then into their lungs, hence mouth to lung. Many pod devices will have an MTL draw to mimic that cigarette feel.
Direct to Lung is a draw that is most open and requires a pull that goes directly into your lungs. DTL can be found in many atomizers, but most sub-ohm tanks and rebuildables will be classified as DTL.
Restricted Direct to Lung falls somewhere in between DTL & MTL. Many pod devices will be classified as MTL / RDTL, meaning you can adjust the airflow from closed down (MTL) to more open (RDTL) but not quite DTL.
510 Threading vs Proprietary Pod Cartridges?
This is a great point to bring up that isn't very clear if you are new to the scene, 510 threading vs. proprietary connections. Half the devices you encounter will have an industry-standard 510 thread; these mods can work with a plethora of different 510-threaded atomizers. The other half will be a proprietary connection, meaning you can ONLY use that specific pod with that particular mod. Some manufacturers will have backward compatibility between their mods and pods, but you won't be able to use Brand A's pods with Brand B's mods.
Best Types of Vape Juices to Use in Your Sub-Ohm Tank
We touched on this earlier, but it is SO important we have to bring it up again. ONLY use freebase juice with sub-ohm tanks and rebuildables & ONLY use salt nic juice for pod devices!