FDA Juul Ban in 2019?
Juul and their partner Altria, maker of Marlboro cigarettes, are in favor of a flavor ban. Is this because this would eliminate their competition? The biggest threat to Juul’s market share is an FDA ban on prefilled nic salt pod systems. Also known as closed pod systems, an FDA ban on prefilled pods may become a reality if the teen vaping epidemic has not abated by this spring.
The second biggest threat to Juul is the emergence of refillable, or open, pod systems.
Open Pod Systems Offer Flexibility and Flavor Options
Many refillable pod systems cost the same or even less than a Juul. By design, they all offer offer infinitely more flexibility. The limited selection of prefilled pod flavors manufactured by Juul is dwarfed by the thousands of nic salt ejuices on the market.
Refillable pods provide the same level of convenience, a longer battery life and some have changeable coils. This gives the user the flexibility to enjoy both direct to lung and mouth to lung vaping with a full range of classic freebase and potent nic salt ejuices.
We have reviewed ten of the best open pod systems available. There is a wide variety available, and one of the devices we list below is probably perfect for you.
Save Big with a Refillable Vape Pod
A Juul pod only holds 0.7ml of nic salt ejuice. For refillable pods, nic salt is usually sold in 30ml bottles. Because you are literally buying 42 times more ejuice at a similar price point, the potential for savings is outrageous. If you were so inclined, you could throw away your refillable pod system after each 30ml bottle consumed and still end up ahead.
Here is a breakdown of the savings per 30ml of nic salt ejuice consumed. For more information on nicotine salt ejuice, check out our feature "What is Salt Nic?"
The table above includes the Vuse Alto. Like the Juul, it is a closed/prefilled pod. We compared the two systems head-to-head in our Juul vs. Alto comparison.
Juul Pod System
Juul’s size is a major selling point and we have included the dimensions of all of the refillable vape pod systems below. For point of reference, the Juul device is 95 x 17 x 14mm, and has a 200mAh battery. A Juul pod has a capacity of 0.7ml.
If you vape, you owe to yourself to have a solid understanding of Juul’s refillable pod system and nic salts. They will be in the news in 2019 and have changed the industry forever. Make sure you check out our feature “The Truth and Technology Behind Juul and Nic Salts.”
Top 10 Refillable Pod Systems
Note: This list is based on customer ratings, expert reviews and head to head comparisons. It would take an article ten times this length to cover every worthy refillable vape pod system. If your favorite device was left off, let us know and we would love to see how it stacks up to our Top 10.
The Suorin Air is an extremely popular ultra-portable pod system. An elegant design, the Air is not much larger than a credit card. Packed into this convenient package is a 400mAh battery that charges in just 30 minutes. It uses autodraw technology. Interestingly, it also has an “on-off” switch. The battery life indicator is located near the base of the device.
The pods have a 2ml juice capacity and use 1.2Ω (ohm) coils. The Air works best with 70 percent vegetable glycerin ejuices, but can handle 60/40 vg/pg juices as well. Suorin recommends using each pod only 5 times. This isn’t bad for an ultra-portable pod, and with proper handling you can generally get more life out of it.
Extremely durable, the Suorin Air is a daily driver that you can take anywhere. It is great for beginners and fans of mouth to lung vaping. The Suorin Air is affordable, compact, and easy to use.
Another innovative Suorin design, you can easily change the 230mAh battery on your Edge. Combined with a 1.4Ω resistance pod, it is easy to vape all day with this fine open pod system. The Suorin Edge includes an extra battery. Charging and swapping are both a breeze. The rest of the design is pretty slick as well.
The replacement pods are fairly affordable for the Edge and snap into place firmly due to excellent build quality. The tank has a capacity of 1.5ml and the air inlets pods are placed perfectly for such a small device.
The Edge excels at providing a restrictive mouth to lung vaping experience. This small, all-in-one design is a great option if you are looking for a portable and refillable pod device. Like most of the devices on the list, it is great for someone who is new to the world of vaping.
If you are looking for a bit more versatility in your pod system, the Smok Nord may be perfect for you. Unlike many of its rivals, the Nord has some excellent subohm coil options available. This makes it capable of direct to lung and mouth to lung vaping. The wide mouthpiece has been configured to excel at both.
The Nord is small and ergonomically designed for easy handling. It relies on a fire button rather than autodraw activation. The fire button also includes the battery life indicator and enhances the Nords clean, attractive appearance.
Subohm vaping requires more battery life and juice capacity. The Nord has both. Smok has packed a 1100mAh battery into its diminutive frame. The pods are not particularly pricey, but you can also swap the coils out to save even more money. The kit includes a 1.4Ω coil which is ideal for nic salts and 0.6Ω mesh coil that packs an impressive vapor punch.
In order to accommodate the added juice consumption of the subohm coil, the Nord has an impressive 3ml juice capacity. The juice port can handle chubby gorilla bottles.
For an inexpensive device, the Nord screams quality. The materials are high quality and the tolerances are tight. It has the versatility to serve as a primary vaping device, but is portable enough to carry in everywhere. Smok offers a number of attractive and tasteful color designs. If you think this device sounds right for you, make sure you check out our detailed Smok Nord review.
The appearance of the Smok Nord was heavily influenced by its predecessor, the Smok Novo. For the full story, check out our Smok Nord vs Smok Novo comparison. We closely examined the many differences between these close relatives, and there was a clear winner.
Unlike the Nord, the Novo is optimized for mouth to lung vaping and does not have the subohm range of its newer stablemate. That said, it has an outstanding and tight draw that is perfect for nic salts.
The Novo's 450mAh battery and 2ml juice capacity are perfectly suitable for the 1.2 and 1.5 coils that it was designed to work with. Although not as flexible as the Nord, this workhorse remains popular because of its reliability, convenient size and build quality.
Aspire Nautilus AIO
Practicality is the name of the game with the Aspire Nautilus AIO. With a massive 4.5ml juice capacity and 1000mAh battery, a typical nic salt user can easily get through the day with one fill and one charge. This thing is akin to a Honda Civic or Toyota Prius with a 50 gallon gas tank. It can go an improbably long distance between fill-ups.
Everything you could ever want to know about this device was covered in our Aspire Nautilus AIO review earlier this year.
Much like the Smok Nord and Novo clearly share DNA, the Aspire Nautilus AIO bears more than a passing resemblance to the Aspire Breeze 2. The big difference is that the Nautilus AIO uses the time tested and versatile Nautilus BVC coils. A special nic salt coil with larger wicking ports comes with the device.
This thing is a warhorse. A utility player and a grinder, it may lack the flash of its rivals but it is nearly ideal if you are in a situation where recharging and refilling your device is an issue. Airflow is controlled with a cap that fits over the coils, and there are multiple coil options available. Customizability did not come at the expense of convenience with the practical Aspire Nautilus AIO.
Like the Aspire Nautilus AIO, the Aspire Spryte uses a BVC coil design. The Spryte coil is very similar in performance to the Nautilus coils in the AIO. But Nautilus coils are more widely available. Both designs allow you to control the airflow at the base of the coil, but the Spryte packs a bit less battery life than the AIO at 650mAh.
I have tested and have extensively used both devices, and have found that the battery life difference is not as great as it would appear on paper. When equipped with the 1.8Ω resistance coil, the battery life of the Spryte is excellent and not far apace of the Nautilus AIO. Like the Nautilus AIO, the Spryte comes with a nic salt coil which features larger wicking ports.
The Spryte has a 3.5ml juice capacity. This is a bit less the the 4ml pod on the AIO. On the basis of these stats, these are similar devices and the AIO wins by a hair. But there is more a refillable pod than raw numbers.
The Spryte has a narrower mouthpiece, and the slender design fits perfectly in your hand. If you prefer a pen shaped design, the Spryte is about the size of a lip stick, the marginal difference in battery and capacity will be offset by the practicality of the shape.
The Spryte’s draw is slightly tighter because of the narrow mouthpiece design, but it is surprisingly airy if you open up the vent at the bottom of the coil. All of the Aspire products reviewed, including the AIO and Spryte, use a fire button, and although it is not a technical term, the Spryte’s button has a superior, clickier feel.
Lost Vape Orion DNA Go
First off, the Lost Vape Orion DNA Go is a great design. Expect other companies to copy its latch system and pod shape. But the key to the device is the DNA Go chip. It uses the eScribe software suite, so you can extensively modify the performance of this device on your computer.
There isn’t much need for tinkering. There are 3 preset power levels and an innovative replay system. Simply hold down the button after a perfect hit and the Orion will remember the parameters that made this hit so tasty.
There are two pod choices. Both have an exceptional lifespan and pack a massive flavor punch. The 0.5Ω pod is meant for nic salts. This is much lower than your typical nic salt pod, but the subohm performance does not detract from the nic salt experience. You can control airflow on the pod itself, and really ratchet down the airflow for the satisfying, restrictive draw you demand.
There is also a 0.25Ω pod for standard freebase ejuices. The flavor provided by both pods is phenomenal. Orion pods have a 2.5ml juice capacity and are stuffed with high quality cotton. This really helps flavor and longevity. The battery is 950mAh. This may seem to be a limitation when running the low resistance pod, but the DNA Go chip and preset power levels are optimized for prolonging battery life.
The Ferrari performance is matched by a very attractive appearance. It may look like a police radio in pictures, but in person it is more along the lines of a Zippo lighter. It is smaller than it appears in images.
It is impossible to miss the fact that the Lost Vape Orion DNA Go was carefully engineered and manufactured. It is crafted from high quality materials, and exudes quality. It is compact enough to tote anywhere, and built to last.
Aspire Breeze 2
We reviewed the Aspire Breeze 2 when it was released about a year ago. Despite a number of fresh faces on the scene, the Aspire Breeze 2 remains competitive with its newer competition. It has a 1000mAh battery and a wide coil selection ranging from 0.6 to 1.2Ω. Unlike the similar looking Nautilus AIO, these are not Nautilus BVC coils but a special class of Breeze coils. This makes them a bit harder to find than the ubiquitous Nautilus coils that nearly every vaper has encountered.
The Breeze 2 may be an older design than the AIO, but it is not inferior to the AIO in build quality. If anything, the materials seem more upscale and the tolerances just as sharp.
The Smok SLM is small. Really small. On paper, it appears to be little more than a refillable Juul with a superior battery life. Juul has plenty of fans, so this is actually an endorsement.
But Smok SLM earns plenty of praise based on its own merits. It was loved throughout the office when we were putting it through the paces and field testing it in preparation for the Smok SLM review earlier this year.
The size of a pen and narrower than a Juul, it’s outstanding feature is a tremendously satisfying tight draw. All of the open pod systems reviewed above are compact and easily toted, but the SLM takes portable to another level.
The slender dimensions of the SLM are a huge plus, and Smok has managed to pack a decent amount of battery life and capacity into it. Unlike some of the devices we’ve reviewed, this is probably not a dual use device that is comfortable guzzling high vg juices as it is sipping nic salts. The Smok SLM is optimized for nic salts.
With that in mind, the SLM’s 250 mAh battery is more than satisfactory for a device of this size. With a resistance of 1.8Ω, the SLM stretches quite a few puffs from its 0.8ml capacity. Filling it can take a bit of getting used to if you are used to topping off larger tanks, or even larger pod systems.
If you are looking to vape covertly, the battery life indicator is very easily covered while in the act of vaping. Naturally, a device this small is air draw activated. No reason to waste space on a button. For pure mouth to lung vaping performance the Smok SLM delivers big time. And the price point is competitive with closed pod systems.
The Starss Icon brings a lot to the table at an excellent price point. One huge plus is that it includes 2 pods with the kit. This is ideal for beginners who are more prone to burning cotton or veterans who switch between flavors and nic strengths throughout the day.
As we all know, replacement pods ain’t free and this is a nice perk that is greatly appreciated. The pods should last between 8 and 10 fills, but this is contingent on the juice you use and how you vape. There is quite a bit of high quality cotton in there, so the break-in period is probably longer than the 5 minutes recommended by the manufacturer. Give it 10 and you will probably get more life on the back end.
The Starss Icon also has top notch build quality. The puck shaped device has excellent heft and outstanding build quality. It is made out of zinc alloy, and has proven to be a durable device.
The flat circular shape adds to the longevity. You don’t need to worry about knocking the Icon over. It lays flat. Another feature of the Icon, a feature that simply cannot be missed by any observer, are the logos. The forward facing side has a classic carbon fiber pattern, but the bottom of the pod has unique graphic artwork.
With five colors and graphics to choose from, you can really make a statement with the Icon. Or you can flip up the basic carbon fiber side and go about your day, without drawing attention to the device.
All of the pieces are in place to make the Starss Icon an excellent daily use, open pod system. The Starss Icon is powered by a stout 380mAh battery. The pods are easily filled through larger ports and have a capacity of 2ml. The coil has a resistance of 1.7Ω. This should be enough to get a situational vaper through the day. The indicator light will warn you when the battery is low and the Icon charges in about 1 hour.
The draw on the Icon is fairly open and airy. It generates great flavor and decent vapor for a device of this size. Overall, this is an innovative design and noticeably smaller than the lozenge shaped Aspire Cobble. If you are looking at refillable vape pods in general, and round devices in particular, this Starss Icon should be at the top of your list.
The Future of Pod Systems
From a business stand point, having the FDA eliminate nic salt e-juice manufacturers would decimate the refillable pod system market and assist Juul. Of course, such strict e-cig laws would harm marginalized groups and the majority of adults who prefer sweet flavors.
This will remain a threat as long as politicians remain fixated on flavors and retro e-juice packaging that targets adults. The SAFE Kids Act is the most recent example of this bizarre and counterfactual obsession, overlooking the fact Juul Mint is the most popular flavor with minors.