Use your skills (or lack thereof)
You can blame this review on my lack of Russian skills. I was writing a piece about vaping Youtubers, when Zophie vapes pointed out that I’d missed Alex from VapersMD (and a couple others besides). I went to Alex’s youtube channel and see the subscriber count – 236 k at present – and almost 800 videos, all of them in Russian. How do you describe a channel when you don’t understand its content?
So I got Alex and his business partner on a Skype call and they told me all about the channel and Alex’s plans.
“Do you guys have any other projects in the pipeline?” I asked them.
And that’s when they told me about the Skill RDA.
“Would you like one to try out?” they ask.
And the rest is history.
The Skill RDA is designed by VapersMD, engineered by Twisted Messes, and made in China. It’s a 24 mm dripper, and the first thing that sets it apart from a lot of RDAs on the market are those huge screw post slots – 3 mm wide. Whatever kind of coil builds you’re working with, there will be room for them on this RDA. The juice well is 4.5 mm deep, and is 24K gold-plated stainless steel. The aluminum top cap comes in a matte black anodized finish, and to top it off, the Goon-style chuff cap is made of ULTEM, a heat-resistant plastic similar to Delrin. The whole package is finished off with a squonk pin adapter, PEEK insulation, classy engraved logo and unique serial number.
Unfortunately, the Skill RDA isn’t available for sale in the US due to FDA regulations but it can be ordered online from the UK or elsewhere. It sells online for around $70. The Skill RDA is being touted as a great cloud and flavor atty, but does its performance warrant the high price tag?
Let’s take a peek under the hood and see how the Skill RDA performs.
Disclaimer: We received the Skill RDA from VapersMD for the purpose of this review. The earlier version came without squonking pin and 2-part detachable chuff cap.
Skill RDA Gallery
Skill RDA Specs and Features
- Skill RDA
- Spare o-rings
- 6 x 24K post screws (2 x slot / 2 x cross / 2 x hex) for different coil builds
- Bottom feed / squonk pin
- Hex key
- Size: 24 mm x 34 mm inc. top cap
- Black anodized aluminum top cap
- 24K gold-plated 304 stainless steel deck
- ULTEM composite chuff tip
- Dual post design with 3 mm wide vertical slots
- Single and dual coil airflow control
- 4.5 mm deep juice well
- 24K gold-plated brass 510 pin
- PEEK insulators
I open the box and neatly packed inside is the dripper and goodie bag set into satiny black foam. The RDA is pretty chunky and features a Goon-style chuff cap with an outer diameter of 19 mm, and inner diameter of 10 mm. The Skill logo is engraved into the top cap – minimalistic and classy. You might miss it, but “NO SKILL NEEDED” has been written on the ULTEM chuff cap. The overall impression is one of quiet, understated sophistication.
The spare parts bag comes with extra o-rings, hex key, squonking pin, and three pairs of gold-plated post screws with cross, slit and hex heads. Whatever sort of coil build you want to put in the Skill, the screws have you covered. The heads on the cross and slit screws are some of the largest I’ve seen – 6 mm across.
Taking a look at the base, we see the gold-plated 510 pin. The pin is insulated, adjustable, and protrudes from its housing. The Skill can be safely used with a hybrid mechanical mod, or just attach to your favorite regulated one. The 510 pin can be removed and replaced with the squonk pin adapter. Next to the 510 connection we see the screw holding the negative pin in place, Twisted Messes and VapersMD logos, and the serial number.
The deck is an exercise in simplicity. The Skill uses a dual-post design with 3 mm slots for the build. It’s an invitation to build large, and bring in the fused Claptons and other exotics – they’ll fit. The 24 mm deck is 4.5 mm deep, which makes for a substantial juice reservoir. Compared with velocity-style decks I’ve built on before, I’m impressed by the build quality, and sheer amount of room on offer on this deck.
The AFC ring slides with just the right amount of smoothness inside the top cap, and offers single or dual-coil airflow control. The airflow openings are not exactly circular, rather rectangles with the corners on two sides rounded off. In dual-coil, two sets of three openings on either side can be progressively closed off by sliding the AFC ring. In single-coil you have two openings to work with.
Even straight out of the box, I notice extremely good tolerances between all the parts, and especially the o-rings. My only concern is that chuff cap. Protruding 8 mm from the cap, it’s a very low profile for a dripper that could get hot with low-resistance builds.
How it performs
I’m vaping Dinner Lady’s Rice Pudding with Jam at zero nic on the Skill. The Clapton build comes out at 0.17 ohm and I’m running between 100 – 120 watts through a Reuleaux RX200. Wicking material is Cotton Bacon organic Japanese cotton.
Many others have mentioned this already, including Vaping Biker and Mikes Vapes, but let me repeat – this is one cloudy dripper. At 110 watts vaping on the Skill is very smooth indeed. Flavor is top notch (I’m finally tasting those jam notes on the Rice Pudding), spitback and popping are minimal, and the vape is only moderately warm. Upping the wattage to 150 watts and higher, both vapor production and temperature increases. Around 160 watts I start to get dry hits, but keep everything juiced up and you should be fine.
At higher wattages, the Skill is a thirsty tank. That’s why my personal sweet spot was around 110 W. It was the best combination of flavor and temperature I could get without having to re-drip too often. It’s a bit of a balancing act to find the sweet spot between dripping enough e-liquid to vape over 150 W, and leaking through the AFC and top cap. It’s a minor complaint though, since the 4.5 mm deep juice well holds a good amount.
Another issue is the height of the ULTEM chuff cap. It’s low! One side effect of that is increased heat. The aluminum top cap and AFC do get hot easily, and as such this is not really an RDA for chain vaping. If you want to add height, Goon and Kennedy style drip tips will fit but there’s no 510 drip tip adapter, a negative for some people. Personally I’d stay with the ULTEM chuff cap just because it looks so good on the top cap and adds to the whole Skill aesthetic.
- Roomy deck
- Generous post slots for most coil builds
- Excellent build quality
- Good tolerances on all parts and o-rings
- Flavor and vapor for days
- Different screw types for maximum flexibility
- Compatible with Goon and Kennedy-style drip tips
- Squonk pin adapter
- Low profile chuff cap does get hot
- Not an RDA for chain vaping
- No 510 drip tip adapter
- Over 150 W it’s a thirsty dripper
I’ve been using the Skill RDA for about 3 weeks now and I’m very happy with it. Tolerances between all the parts are great. The o-rings show no sign of wear or tension, and the overall build quality is the best I’ve so far seen on a dripper. I’ve had a few dry hits but this is an RDA I feel very comfortable using. It’s smooth, flavor is great, and its generous deck is easy to build on.
The question is, is it worth the price? At $70 plus shipping, there are cheaper alternatives out there. There are Skill RDA clones, and the Skywalker RDA by Youde certainly looks like they borrowed a few ideas from the Skill. These are sold at a fraction of the cost, but obviously the build quality also suffers.
Until I find something which does it better, the Skill is my go-to dripper. It’s a well-made RDA which manages to look simple but offers a lot of flexibility. It’s versatile too. I’m very happy using it as a flavor chasing dripper, but chuck some big coils in there and it’s a cloudy beast too.
VapersMD and Twisted Messes have obviously combined their experience here and made an RDA that feels like it was made by vapers, for vapers. Recommended, with or without skills.