In previous posts, we’ve looked at the best overall vape kits and best vape kits for new vapers. In this post we’ll be drilling down a bit further and looking at the best devices for a heavy smoker.
You’ll also find the factors you need to consider – based on both research and 12+ years of experience working with smokers who want to switch to vaping.
At a glance
Best vape pen for heavy smokers
Innokin Endura T18II: Easy, Slim, Long Battery Life
The Innokin Endura T18II is an easy-to-operate device that has proved its effectiveness with thousands of vapers – garnering an average of 5/5 stars from over 120 reviews.
This vape delivers the MTL vape that most heavy smokers need, while allowing you to easily adjust the airflow between restricted and airy.
Despite it’s slim, pocket-friendly design, it carries a 1300 mAh battery, which gives it a longer battery life suitable for the vaper on the move.
Best closed pod system for heavy smokers
Hexa V2: Experience close to smoking
The Hexa V2 is a closed pod device, which means that when a pod runs out, you simply switch over to a new one. That makes it suitable for people who are looking for a super-easy device that does not need refilling with e-liquid.
However, there’s more than to the Hexa. Due to the interplay between the technology and the type of e-liquid the Hexa uses, this device provides one of the closest experiences to smoking a cigarette we’ve seen from a closed pod system.
Best open pod systems for heavy smokers
Geekvape Weenax K1: Two ways to vape
The Geekvape Weenax C1 provides a tight, Mouth-to-Lung vape that replicates the experience of a cigarette. It also comes with two different ways to fire it up: auto-inhale or button press.
This is great for people who are new to vaping, as they can find out which one they prefer. The same goes for the coils. The 0.8Ω coil provides more throat hit while the 0.6 Ω provides more vapour, allowing you to experiment to see which you like best.
Smok Novo 4: Easy-to-use, leak-free technology, adjustable airflow
The original Smok Novo proved a popular option for vapers who wanted a simple-to-use device that just worked. The upcoming Novo 4 continues this ease-of-use but with the addition of new leak-free technology for mess-free vaping.
The Novo 4 also comes with an airflow wheel which allows you to choose between a tighter or airy vape. As we explain below, we find this particularly useful for heavy smokers who are switching from roll ups.
Smok IPX 80: Great aesthetics, switch between MTL and DL
Aesthetics is often not considered when switching from smoking to vaping, but that’s a mistake. If something feels great to hold and is great to look at, you’re more likely to use it than a device that looks like it’s been designed by a chemist.
For great aesthetics, the Smok IPX 80 is well worth considering. It looks great and is a pleasure to hold. But there’s more to this device than pure aesthetics.
The IPX 80 can be used with different resistance coils and has a wider power range than other devices here – 1- 80 watts. That means it’s great for vapers who want to experiment, and who want a device for the long term. You can start off with a tight, restricted vape which is more similar to a cigarette, but then progress to the looser, airier vape preferred by many long-term vapers.
Aspire PockeX: Best device for replicating throat hit
Sometimes I almost get tired of writing about the PockeX – it seems to have featured in almost every buying guide we’ve written over the last several years.
As you can imagine, there is a reason why it keeps making an appearance – and that’s the throat hit. Simply put, if you are looking for a strong throat hit to replace smoking, you can’t do better than PockeX. That’s probably why the device is still incredibly popular today, years after it first came out.
Best mod kits
Innokin Endura T22 Pro: Superb battery life, great for high nicotine e-liquids
The Innokin Endura series has been consistently popular with new vapers – it’s already the second of the series we have covered in this post – and we think the Endura T22 Pro will continue this success.
The device comes with high resistance mesh coils, meaning it’s great for use with the high nicotine e-liquids and nicotine salts we recommend for heavy smokers.What’s more, the 3000 mAh battery will provide a superb battery life for even heavy smokers, making it ideal for people who are on the move.
Drag X Plus: Long battery life, switch between MTL and DL
The Drag X Plus is another device with superb aesthetics, fusing leather and metal together for a device that is both a pleasure to look at and to hold. It’s also quite different from many of the other devices listed here.
The Drag X Plus is the most powerful of all the vape devices listed here, capable of outputting up to 100 watts. It’s also used with low resistance coils, which means it is best used with high VG e-liquids and for an airy vape. That means it is best for vapers who are confident they can handle a steeper learning curve than the other devices mentioned here, and who would prefer an airier vape to a tighter, more restricted vape.
The Drag X Plus is used with an external battery. This makes it a great choice for people who are on the move a lot, as when the battery runs out of power you can just pop another one in.
Factors to consider for heavy smokers
The biggest factor in switching to vaping is the amount of nicotine you get. That’s even more important for heavy smokers. At the time of writing, this is limited to 20mg (2%), although in practice this is usually capped at 18mg.
You might think that the more power in your device, the more nicotine you will get from your e-liquid. That’s not necessarily true.
Low-powered devices can be used with high nicotine e-liquids. However, high powered devices are used with lower nicotine e-liquids, as you get more nicotine with each puff. It all tends to balance out.
If you’re starting out, though, we recommend using a low powered device with a high nicotine e-liquid, as this ties in with other recommendations here (ease-of-use and vape style).
Throat hit for heavy smokers
Many heavy smokers miss the throat hit smoking gives them when they switch to vaping. So it’s important to choose a device that can give you a good throat hit.
To get a good throat hit, you usually need to use a higher resistance coil. These typically have a resistance of 1Ω or higher, although some modern devices may go a bit lower.
You don’t need a high wattage range when you are using high resistance coils. Kits with a range of 10-25 watts are perfect.
It’s important to use the right VG:PG ratio. Halo Vapour Co. has a VG:PG ratio of 50:50, which gives the perfect throat hit for most users. Menthol Blast has a particularly good throat hit which is ideal for switching to vaping. If you need something even stronger, try Vapemate, which has a VG:PG ratio of 30:70 for a super strong throat hit.
If you find the throat hit too harsh, it’s probably worth trying nicotine salts. These allow you to combine high nicotine content with a smooth sensation on the back of the throat.
Alternatively, you might want to use a combination of regular (freebase) e-liquid and nicotine salts. These hybrid e-liquids have a great balance between the smoothness of a nicotine salt and the harsher throat hit of a regular e-liquid. Nicotine salts are provided by the Hexa Vape 2 mentioned above, as well as in the Riot Squad S:ALTS range.
Some vape devices come with adjustable airflow, which allows you to choose between a loose, airy vape or a tighter or more restricted vape. We’ve found that this is especially valued by new vapers who used to use roll their own cigarettes and like being able to mimic the effect of a tightly/loosely rolled cigarette.
Some starter pod systems have a pod that can be removed and rotated 180 degrees to switch between a tight or loose vape. Other methods, such as a wheel, allow more precise control. The main takeaway is that if you like to vary the airiness of your cigarette/vape, make sure your device has adjustable airflow.
Vape style (Mouth-to-Lung or Direct-Lung)
You inhale vapour differently to how you smoke. Instead of a short, sharp inhale, you inhale slowly and steadily. (It’s important not to inhale air at the same time).
That’s further divided into two main vape styles. Mouth-to-Lung (MTL) is when you inhale into your mouth, hold it there for a second or so, and then inhale it into your lungs. Direct-Lung (DL) is when you inhale in a steady stream directly into your lungs.
Most heavy smokers prefer MTL when they first start vaping, as it’s closer to smoking. However, if you want to experiment, it’s worth getting a device which can deliver both MTL or DL.
Best vape juice flavours for switching to vaping
Several studies have shown that people who switch to vaping with non-tobacco flavours are more likely to succeed in switching. So our number one tip here is to use a non-tobacco flavour if you can. That said, it’s important to adjust what you use for your needs. If you’re desperate for a tobacco taste, consider trying something like Classic Virginia.
Alternatively, you might want to try a vape juice which is a crossover between tobacco and another flavour. This can help you to gently make the switch from tobacco to non-tobacco flavours.
Ease of use
While vape devices have been getting easier to use over the years, there is still a range of complexity with the devices. If you’re making the switch from a 20 a day habit to vaping, the last thing you want to do is fiddle with advanced settings while your body craves a cigarette.
Cigalikes and pod systems are some of the easiest devices to use, but most of the devices we’ve selected here have a relatively gentle learning curve. The exception is the Drag X Plus – the higher wattage ranges here mean there is a slightly steeper learning curve,. If you’re starting with a device like this, it’s important both to master priming coils and to use the correct power output.
If you’re using a device at home or in the office, you don’t need to worry about battery life too much. Indeed, many devices can be used while you charge them. (This is usually called ‘pass through’ vaping.)
If, however, you are out and about a lot, battery life is important. That’s especially the case if you are a heavy smoker, as you are likely to use the device more than a light smoker would.
Battery capacity is measured in mAh. The higher the mAh, the more capacity it can hold. But there’s also a playoff in terms of the wattage you use it at. If you’re using a high resistance coil at lower wattages, you won’t use as much battery capacity. But if you’re using a low resistance coil at high wattages, you’ll use more battery capacity.
Because of that, vapers who like big clouds of vapour often use 18650 batteries, which have a capacity of around 3000 mAh. (Sometimes these are doubled up to provide around 6000 mAh). But for lower-powered devices such as starter kits and basic pod systems, you don’t need anything like this. In fact, a 1000 mAh battery will often last even a heavy smoker a day or more.
Remember, everyone is different
I’ve known people who switched from smoking to vaping after one vape. I’ve even known people who accidentally switched to vaping.
I’ve also known people who took months or even years to fully make the switch.
If it takes time, don’t be hard on yourself. There’s research that shows that even if you partially replace cigarettes with vaping, you’re still reducing the harm from smoking. The main point is not to give up trying to make the switch. If you are struggling, do check out these ten tips to help make the switch.