Looking to move up in the vaping world? It's time to start considering the best box mods. I've already rounded up a range of entry level, mass market e-cig devices, the best e-cig 'eGo' devices that people just starting out with vaping might pick up to test the waters. Now attentions are being turned to the ever growing market of box mod vaping kits, which represent a step up in vaping quality experience and customisation for the more serious user. If you're looking to upgrade to one of the best box mods, this should help you find the one for you.
The Best Box Mods: Testing Methodology
I spent at least a week using each of the following five box mod units, carrying them around with me and using them as would any regular vaper. To standardise the review I will be testing the box units in relation to how they perform with the Aspire Cleito sub-ohm tank. Across the board I found that the Cleito was a better performing tank than the ones supplied with Aspire, the Vapouriz and the Innokin kits; the other two, from Jac Vapour and KangerTech, were box-only kits.
Although we aren't all cloud-chasing bro-vapers, the vapour production of each box mod unit is taken well into consideration, seeing as one of the main advantages of box mods – especially sub-ohm ones – is how much more powerful at producing vapour they are over 'eGo'-style basic e-cigs. Alongside vapour production, design and functionality are also top of the list for the box-mods' positive points.
Aspire Cleito Sub-Ohm Tank
The Aspire Cleito tank sells itself on its large chimney and coil design, a combination which makes this sub-ohm tank a rightful beast for creating huge clouds of vapour. With the Cleito’s three large airflow valves at the bottom of the tank completely open, you can achieve some room-fogging hazes after just a few exhalations. With all that extra air gushing through the Cleito, you get great flavour brought out from e-liquids compared to other standard tanks featured in this round-up (on the topic of flavours, if you like cinnamon-y cake-y flavours then check out Bad Drip Labs’ Ugly Butter).
Refilling the Cleito is made really easy with the aid of a wide, 22-millimetre tank diameter top-fill system easily taking on juice into its 3.5ml capacity. After about ten minutes of letting the e-liquid settle into the wick, you can pretty easily see whether the cotton is saturated; the wide chimney diameter lets you see the juice glistening on the white material after sitting for a while, ready to be vaped without burning the coil.
The Cleito comes with two coil options. Personally I much preferred using the 0.4 ohm coil over the 0.2 ohm, with 0.4 being suited to wattages between 40 and 60. Changing the coil is pretty simple and secure. I did however have one mishap where I did not screw the coil tightly enough into the valve base and, when I later went to refill the tank, the coil detached along with the lid, and flooded a little juice into the bottom chamber. It was easily cleaned out, and taught me to really screw in the next coil.
Talking of caution, the Aspire Cleito comes with a few little rubber accessories to help mitigate other disasters. One is a small rubber band that goes around the pyrex barrel, which acts as a bumper should your vape tip over, hopefully stopping the tube from smashing. There are also a few different-coloured rubbery attachments that slip over the spout and onto the lid of the tank; they help provide grip when unscrewing the lid while also stopping any potential unscrewing mishaps in your pocket while toting your vape around.
First Place: Jac Vapour Series-B Tilt
The Jac Vapour Series-B Tilt quite literally stands out from the crowd. The slanting top to the box is quite a subtle feature, one that is predominantly designed to tilt the tank towards the user’s mouth for slightly easier access to sweet sweet vapour, but also just makes the whole thing look so good, and slightly more compact than its peers.
It’s certainly not the biggest box unit but it has a reassuring weightiness that makes it feel premium and the materials used are of a really high standard. The brushed metal battery cover, which neatly attaches to the unit by being magnetised, sits nice and flush to the rubberised plastic that forms most of the box’s design.
The screen is pretty small compared to the most others I have seen; glasses-wearers without their specs might have trouble seeing the smaller ohm, voltage and battery figures. Handily, you can switch the output reading to show either wattages or volts, with volts obviously being quicker to flick through with an X.X read-out (but less granular control over firepower) compared to the more customisable XX.X figuration of watts.
A potential downside is that the microUSB slot for charging is placed at on the base of the Series B Tilt, meaning you can’t charge the device while it’s standing up, instead having it lie down horizontally. To be fair though, I was using the Nitecore UM20 charger to rejuice the 18650 mod battery, thus avoiding the issue. Of course battery life varies with usage and voltage, but I easily got two days of usage out of the Tilt in between charges.
But on the matter of the all important vaping, the Series B Tilt produces a really consistent and enjoyable vapour through the Aspire Cleito tank. There’s no propriety Jac Vapour tank with which to compare the experience, but anyone looking to buy the Series-B Tilt could do much worse than pairing it with the Cleito; it’s an attractive, solid and effective combination of tank and box and deserves this top spot.
Second place: Aspire Quest Pegasus Mini
The Aspire Quest Pegasus Mini box unit from Aspire doesn’t lead the pack in high-end-feel stakes but it makes up for that in terms of great functionality and solid performance. It takes the same 16850 mod battery as the Jac Vapour and the KangerTech, meaning it has a longer life potential than fixed battery models – which is major plus.
As a neat feature, the Quest has an accelerometer built in so that the screen read-out flips over depending on which way it is being held. None of the other box mods had this feature; though with most the readout could be flipped with the click of a few buttons.
The Aspire Triton Mini tank that comes supplied with the Quest Mini Pegasus is one of the more awkwardly designed ones I have come across. The lid unscrews and you have to twist a dial on top to reveal small holes in which to (very carefully and slowly) drip in your juice. That dial is then reverted back to vaping position. Compared to the bigger and better Cleito tank, the standard Aspire tank feels fiddly; much better vapour production comes from the Cleito being attached.
But once you are Cleito'd up with the Pegasus it is a really good mod unit. The box unit itself feels really good in the hand with a smooth matt plastic finish, and is compact enough to slip in and out of a pocket without too much fuss. Without the battery, it does feel a little lightweight (and therefore arguably a bit cheap) but the performance and feature set make up for that. The microUSB charging port is on the front of the unit, which is a nice plus too.
Third Place: KangerTech Kbox Mini Platinum
KangerTech's Kbox Mini Platinum is without doubt a very good box mod with good functionality but it sits in the middle of the rankings for a couple of key reasons that I’ll get out of the way now. First and foremost I cannot abide the rattle that this box’s buttons make. The fire button and to a lesser extent the + and - buttons are set a little smaller than the holes in which they sit, causing a niggling tiktiktik. It’s more pronounced when a tank is not attached and was the first thing I noticed when I took it out of its display box. A minor annoyance, true, but one that could have perhaps been ironed out for what is a premium box mod.
Secondly, the silver ‘platinum’ finish and logo etching is really attractive, but this presents a personal downfall in that I was perpetually being ultra cautious not to damage its lovely sheen. Leaving this thing lying around without due attention will lead it to having a scuffed exterior pretty quickly. Of course over time that will be inevitable but that breaking-in period of initial dings and scratches would be a trial of agony for me.
If you sit it next to the Jac Vapour Series-B Tilt, with it’s premium rubber finish married to brushed steel, you can see that the Tilt will look better after prolonged use. How much this bothers you is personal preference, of course.
The Kbox Mini Platinum has a neatly engineered magnetic battery cover adding a touch of design class, much like the Tilt. It takes a standard 18650 battery and I was easily getting a couple of days’ worth of use before sticking the cells back into the Nitecore charger. Alternatively, the Micro USB slot is found next to the + and - buttons, which means you can charge it while it stands up, helping to protect that aforementioned lovely finish.
There are lots of good things going for the Kbox Mini Platinum though. For one, it is the only one of the five box mods seen here to have a temperature control. I didn’t find myself changing much between the 100C and 300C range but it does show how the KangerTech does have more intricate customisation options compared to its fellow vapes. That temperature control does come in handy in regard to the all-metal design of the Kbox twinned with the largely metal design of the Aspire Cleito, whereby sometimes the whole unit would become quite hot when vaping; it never got to a point of causing pain but certainly was a pronounced extra heat, and I tweaked things down a bit.
Wattage can go as low as a measly 7, with which you barely get any vapour whatsoever, up to a suitably powerful 60W. Consistent, huge clouds can be produced, even at relatively low wattages of around 20-30. It takes quite some time to flick through all the wattages (36 seconds from 7 to 60!) and you have to hold the button down throughout the process, whereas with the Tilt you can just do one longer click and let it scan through the digits.
Pressing all the Kbox's buttons at once locks in your wattage preference; clicking all three again unlocks it. Also, pressing the + and - buttons at once flips the orientation of the screen readout, to suit either left- or right-handers. Handy!
If you can put up with some design niggles and don’t mind watching the Kbox lose its shine over time (unless you keep it pouched up and protected) then the Kbox Mini Platinum comes recommended. It sits in the hand well and is a powerful vapour producer.
Fourth Place: Innokin Cool Fire IV Storm
Ah, the Storm Trooper. This black and white box kit is not bad but isn’t particularly endearing either. If anything it has the looks of something for teenage (18+ of course) users, with its chunky form factor and bold design. Compared to any of the other devices, Innokin's Cool Fire IV Storm sits the most uncomfortably in the hand with its bulkiness and weightiness.
The slightly excessive design makes it feel a bit cheap and it having a non-interchangeable battery raises concerns about how long this thing will last before conking out and requiring replacement.
The propriety iSub tank can hold quite a bit of juice but is a bottom-fill design, which I find far more fiddly than the Aspire Cleito. When unscrewing the base, it causes a metal-on-metal sliding sound that goes right through me, but to be fair I'm the sort of person who winces at the sound of scraping ice, so I might be alone in that; whatever the case, it's definitely worth modding out the tank.
It’s certainly a powerful vape though. It can be clocked up to 70 watts, which is a higher voltage than any of the other models in this round-up. That’s not to say I hit those heady wattage heights much beyond an exploratory puff; my preferred Aspire Cleito coil, as you may remember, is suited to wattages between 40W and 60W, so clocking it up beyond that resulted in a slightly burnt taste upon firing that I didn't wish to know more of.
Fifth place: Vapouriz One
None of the box mods that I tested are particularly bad; each of them represents a step up in functionality from anything in the lower end of the market. In comparison to the others in this round-up, though, the Vapouriz One sits at the bottom of the rankings.
It is a fixed-wattage model, with it firing a consistent 50 watts. This means the overall device is much more simplified, with a single button design not requiring the need of a screen to flick through customised power outputs. It’s built solidly and feels nice in the hand; it reminds me of a slightly enlarged Clipper lighter. A definite plus is how quickly it charges up via a micro USB connection (around half an hour), though naturally the fixed battery does give a potentially shorter lifespan for the user, not being able to take out the cell and replace it with a new one.
The Vapouriz One’s standard tank leaves a little to be desired functionality wise. The chimney only has a small diameter and the tank only holds two millilitres of juice at a time. The chimney attaches to the top of the tank with a simple plug attachment, which can be popped out easily, but this also means the spout jiggles slightly when attached; like the KangerTech's rattling buttons, this could perhaps be improved.
Of course these issues were forgotten once I attached the Aspire Cleito to the Vapouriz. The fixed wattage of 50 sits above the output I was tending to use with the other box mods, but interestingly despite the higher wattage the comparable vapour output was not much increased. That’s not to say you can’t produce some impressive clouds with the Vapouriz One, but the fixed wattage twinned with a slightly less-than-impressive vapour production lead it to the bottom of these rankings.