Recently, I won a Twitter contest for a free e-cigarette kit put on by the good folks at SmokeStik. My prize was one of their Premium Starter Kits. I’m sure they had no idea I was going to turn right around and post a review on SKVW, but that’s just how I roll.
What’s This Then?
SmokeStik is a brand I would consider firmly in the mass market segment of the e-cigarette business. Typically, companies in this part of the market focus on simple to use and attractive devices that are very close in size and shape to a traditional cigarette. SmokeStik even has the requisite celebrity connection, being the brand of e-cigarette Katherine Heigl infamously fired up on Letterman.
The Premium kit that I received can probably be more accurately described as SmokeSik’s basic starter kit. The batteries are white (with the little stripes to mimic cigarette paper) as is the cartomizer and the tip glows orange (not a big fan of red or orange lights). This is in contrast to some of the company’s other kits which come in fashion colors and some even have jewel tips that glow in other colors.
The kit comes in one of those nice thick cardboard presentation boxes with magnetic latches that I seem to be so fond of lately. Let’s take a look at what else comes in the fancy box with the Premium kit:
- 2 automatic batteries
- 3 assorted cartomizers
- 1 USB charger
- 1 car to USB adapter
- 1 AC to USB adapter
- 1 carry case
- printed instruction manual
The adapters and carry case are listed on the site as “special” items, so they may or may not be included if you order this kit. The kit I received did not include the carry case, but did include two of the company’s Smoke Screen cartomizer protectors. These are basically silicone covers that go over the cartomizer that can be used either as a sanitary cover if you want to let a stranger try out your e-cigarette, or you can use them to give a softer feel to the hard plastic cartomizer tip. I can’t find the screen on their site, and I managed to lose mine before I could take any pictures, but I believe they throw a couple in with your starter kit purchase.
The SmokeStik e-cigarettes use a two-piece cartomizer design. This design is often referred to as a cartomizer. The term simply means that the cartridge containing the flavored nicotine liquid and the atomizer are a single unit rather than two pieces. Check this article out
for more detail on the concept.
|One, two. Two pieces
In general, I prefer cartomizers for their ease of use. I especially prefer cartomizers in the small e-cigarettes because the other alternative for these types of kits are atomizer and cartridge systems. Cartridges tend to not hold a whole lot of e-liquid and add a level of complexity to the device. I think with this type of device, simplicity is key to a good experience.
Keeping with the simplicity theme, the batteries are of the automatic variety. This makes sense as it keeps things very cigarette-like. I still think the benefits of manual batteries are well worth the extra effort. Protip: to eek out better vapor on auto batteries, take a short quick puff to warm up the atomizer and then take your regular puff, this will produce better vapor than just puffing while it’s cold.
|Not available in rum and Coke flavor
While I’m kind of grousing about things, let’s talk about the cartomizers for a second. First, browsing the site, it appears that aside from different nicotine levels, replacement cartridges are only available in either regular tobacco or menthol. Many people like to delve into different flavors for their e-cigarettes, even if it’s different styles of tobacco.
One area where cartridges do beat cartomizers, especially with this type of kit is in the refilling department. Cartridges are super easy to refill with nicotine liquid
that can be purchased from a number of different places online and is available in literally hundreds of flavors. Many cartomizers can also be refilled in a similar matter, but unfortunately that is not the case with SmokStik.
|What’s inside the cartomizer
Normally, to refill a cartomizer, you can pull the end cap off of the side from which you inhale. This would expose an absorbant filler material that can then have liquid reapplied to it. The SmokeStik cartomizer’s end caps are sealed to the end of the cartomizer and cannot be easily removed. Completely disassembling the cartomizer, I found no reason why they couldn’t be refilled, save for the fact there’s no easy way to get refill liquid into the device.
Blank cartomizers are not an option on the company’s website, only the pre-filled variety which go for a handsome $20 per 5 pack. After market cartomizers may be possible, when I contacted the company, they informed me that their e-cigarettes use standard RN4081 threading. They also stated that the surface area of the battery may not match up with aftermarket cartomizers yielding less than optimal performance.
Other than being kind of locked in to the company’s own cartomizers, the SmokeStik isn’t a particularly bad example of this type of e-cigarette. While the flavor selection is limited, to only one, it’s not a terrible flavor, it’s kind of a nutty and slightly dry tobacco. The liquid boasts a fairly competent throat hit as well.
Vapor production should probably be measured a little bit differently than I am used to. For the most part, smaller e-cigarettes aren’t going to output the kind of vapor that a big battery mod running at high voltage might. These e-cigarettes try to strike a balance between small size and a realistic smoking experience.
To that end the SmokeStik does a pretty decent job of producing vapor. As I mentioned before, taking a primer puff or two followed by a 3-4 second drag produces a fairly respectable plume of vapor. Because of the coil’s placement in the middle of the cartomizer, the resulting vapor is fairly warm as well. It should be worthy of mention that the effort required to activate the battery was a pretty natural level, I didn’t feel like I was fighting the thing to try and get the battery to light up.
The cartomizers also seem to hold up fairly well. It’s always hard to gauge the equivalent in analog cigarettes because each person will vape slightly differently. If you made me guess, I’d say these cartomizers are probably somewhere in the 10-15 range which isn’t too shabby. many vendors say their cartridges are a whole pack of smokes, that’s almost never true.
Battery life also fares pretty well. I switched out between two different batteries and made it through about 5 hours of vaping. That on average gives you 2.5 hours each of moderate (yes, I slowed down a little today) usage. That’s on the high end for batteries this size, but not completely atypical. The Pitbull and Halligan kits have larger (longer) batteries and therefore will offer longer sessions between recharges.
Too Long; Didn’t Read
The SmokeStik is an example of e-cigarettes that fit into the more mainstream side of e-cigarettes. This is the type of kit many new users (and celebrities apparently) will dive into. Many users who carry around “mod” style devices also have a “mini” like this one stashed away in their gear somewhere. There’s just times where a cigarette style e-cigarette works well. The SmokeStik is a kit that works well and comes in some visually appealing designs, but the quasi-proprietary nature of their cartomizers and somewhat upmarket pricing may turn off some.
- Attractive design
- Smoke like a Hollywood star
- Good all around performance
- Smoke Screens are a neat little invention
- Limited flavor choice
- Non-refillable cartomizers
- Quasi-proprietary design limits aftermarket choices
- Expensive refills
- Starter is somewhat pricey and only includes 3 cartomizers
Product Name: Premium Starter Kit
Price: 89.95 – 99.95 depending on model. Refills $20/5 cartomizers
Threading: RN4081 (proprietary surface area design)
Disclosure: I received this at no cost from a contest. The kit was not given as a sample for review purposes.