My Journey to the Vape Industry's Bleeding Edge

In recent years, vaping has come into its own as a hobbyist community, cigarette-quitting alternative and industry. There's a vape or vape product for just about every type of smoker or vaper. From people who want to recreate the tight draw and high nicotine content of a cigarette, to the famed cloud-chasers and "flavour nuts" chasing the wildest new tastebud craze.

I dropped in on VapEvent 2018, a mostly business-to-business trade show, to learn about the hottest new trends. And good news, there was A LOT happening.

The first thing to catch my eye was Enovap, which is billing itself as the world's first "smart vape". Plenty of vapes out there connect to your smartphone already, but the Enovap attempts to understand your vaping habits over time and track your consumption (puffs per day, average nicotine usage per day, and so on).

It has two chambers that you can fill with different liquids, so you can mix and match your flavours and nicotine content as you choose. If you tend to like a certain nicotine content at a certain time, the vape's software will learn your habits, and automatically adjust it for you. Enovap will be released later this year.

The SMOK X-Priv

Next we stopped at the SMOK booth, which easily had some of the flashiest vapes at the show. SMOK is one of the larger companies producing vapes, and I spotted many other exhibitors using SMOK vapes to show off their flavours.

The coolest thing on display was the X-Priv, which features a 2-inch OLED screen that displays everything one person might need to know about their vape (power, ohms, battery life). With up to 225 watts of power and .4-ohm coils standard, this vape is a beast.

Next we moved on to Aspire's E Hookah, which was astonishingly simple. Just pop the special e-head on the usual glass bottom of a hookah, and boom, you're done. It took like 30 seconds to set up, which is great considering how annoying it is to set up a real hookah with all the coals and shisha and tin foil.

And it honestly tasted really nice! One thing worth noting is that you'll have to constantly fill up the device with more juice, which seems as though it will definitely get annoying.

I would smoke an e hookah (again).

We also checked out Aspire's Revvo Tank, which features a flat coil. The majority of coils in vapes look more like springs, wound in a tight circle, but this one was, well, flat.

Supposedly, the Revvo's flat coil allows for a more even burn of juice, and less of a chance of liquid leaking out through the drip tip if you knock your vape over or something. The exhibitor who showed it to me held the thing upside and it wasn't spilling all over my pants, so that's a pretty good sign.

Finally, we took a look at some products from iVape IQ. These were all pod-based systems - both open (refillable), and closed (disposable). The iPod Shuffle-looking thing below was the company's IQ Mini (still in prototype), which isn't all that interesting except that it, well, looks like an iPod Shuffle.

If Apple made vapes.

We saw a ton more at VapEvent too - much more than we could fit into the video. Nearly every step of the vaping production line was there. You ever think about how they fill all those damn bottles with juice? Well Filamatic does! Ever think about who stocks each vape store with all the different stuff? Ultimate Product distributors does! There's an entire chain of service providers making sure everything runs smoothly.

I went in assuming I'd just see a lot of wild box mods with wacky flavours and people doing vape tricks, but the vape industry actually seems to be returning to refillable and disposable devices for a lot of users. Multiple people spoke to me about trying to convert cigarette-smokers to vapers through products that more similarly resembled cigarettes (and their simplicity) and products with higher nicotine content.

The large, complicated rigs with complex pieces and coil replacements that are typically associated with vaping won't do that, and while popular among enthusiasts, don't seem to be driving the industry forward as much as they once did.

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