The title of this article is a “gotcha” reference to the social and consumer dysfunction currently exploited by some reality television shows, which tend to focus on extreme cases of people whose homes are filled to the brim with junk they acquired but who cannot throw away anything.
That’s not the focus of this article, however catchy the title. This article is about the irresistible temptation for many vapers to buy more vape gear than we need. It’s not typically a disorder, although we may sometimes wonder if we’re OK.
Some people who adopt vaping to quit smoking are content with frugality. Happy to save money they’d otherwise blow on cigarettes, they own one or maybe two personal vaporizers, perhaps just a couple of eGo Twists, along with some CE4 clearomizers and four or five bottles of eliquid. That’s all they need to get off the cancer sticks. Besides new vapers, certain more experienced vapers retain this minimalist approach. Even after a year or two, they may own little more than a couple of VW or TC box mods — one they use daily, the other kept as a back-up — each topped with a Kanger Subtank Mini, with a box of extra coil heads in reserve.
I don’t know what percentage of vapers occupies these “less is more” categories, but I’m certain that many of us do not.
Instead, we become hobbyist vapers, or, more accurately, “vaping enthusiasts.” We read and post on numerous online vaping forums, check the deals sites daily, and buy more vaping stuff than we need, or will ever need. We may or may not go to vaping conventions, but we comprise the backbone and beating heart of the vaping community.
A term I first encountered in the musical marketplace of guitars is “GAS.” That’s an acronym for “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” and refers to the marked tendency among guitar players and collectors (even some who don’t play guitar) to perpetually lust after the next guitar they want to own. Some musicians buy and sell guitars, so that they always have a relatively small number of instruments at any given time, but many keep all their guitars in an ever-increasing collection. Although I don’t play much anymore and no longer buy guitars, I still own eleven of them.
Gear Acquisition Syndrome applies equally (and perhaps even more) to vaping. Many of us are on a virtual quest to ferret out and purchase that next piece of vaping hardware — the latest and greatest mod, tank, RDA, eliquid, or even flavoring.
We end up with cabinets filled with vaping gear of every kind — personal vaporizer tube and box mods in various sizes and ranges of power; atomizers and tanks galore; enough spare coil heads to open a brick and mortar vaping store; plus all the associated accoutrement — spools of coil wire (Kanthal, NiChrome, Titanium, and Stainless Steel in numerous gauges), boxes of organic Japanese cotton, cutters and pliers and tweezers, ohm meters, drip tips, liters of juices, and rechargeable batteries up the wazoo (I have about 50 high-drain 20A 18650s), along with the requisite accompanying four-bay battery chargers (I own six of those).
The photo below shows the 22 vaporizers I currently keep on my work desk, all outfitted with sub-ohm tanks filled with different juices, ready to vape at a moment’s whim. I have another 20 PVs upstairs in my bedroom on the nightstand next to my bed.
Is my zeal to own vape gear excessive? You bet. Is it great fun? Absolutely.
I dare not reveal how much I’ve spent on vaping gear over more than five years. The figure is downright embarrassing. On the other hand, I’m not an addict. I had sufficient money to fund my “hobby,” and I didn’t have to break into my child’s piggy bank to afford all the stuff I’ve bought. Heck, I don’t even have a kid, which is another reason my profligate spending on vaping gear is affordable. Supporting a family tends to consume one’s disposable income.
One downside to collecting vaping gear (or vape hoarding) is planned obsolescence. At one point about three years ago, I had 25 eGos, Twists, or Spinners, with atomizers and tanks of that generation to go with them. Now all that hardware is ancient history, stored in a box, never to be used again. I have entire cabinets of outmoded vaping stuff. Remember syringe tanks? Blue foam? Old-school 510 atomizers? Vaping gear evolves at a tumultuous pace. Keeping up is not for the faint-hearted.
Another downside is falling prices. The first Temp Control boxes were horrifically expensive. If you got carried away and bought four of them, you blew a significant wad of cash. Just by waiting, you could have bought 15 of the current generation TC boxes, which are not only much cheaper, but higher power and altogether spiffier in performance. A good rule of thumb in buying vaping gear is: Buy one of something, and then wait to see where the price goes over four months. If it turns out that you like it, you can buy another later at half the price.
One aspect of vape hoarding that’s relevant even for vapers who don’t collect gear is the looming issue of government regulation. Whether in the U.S. and Canada, or the UK and Europe, the possibility of stringent and sometimes severe regulatory control is closing in. However wrong-headed vapers feel these restrictions to be, they are nonetheless a reality with which we will all have to deal.
Since eliquid and liquid nicotine are prime targets of such regulations, with the possibility or even likelihood of dramatically limited access in the marketplace, many vapers have already begun stockpiling both juices and liquid nic, just in case. Prices for liquid nicotine have come down significantly over the past couple years, so anyone who wants a stash for the freezer should obtain it now. Like squirrels storing nuts for a long winter, this strategy seems entirely reasonable.
The upside to collecting vape gear is simple: it’s so much FUN! I mean, we’re not collecting BMWs or purchasing multiple vacation homes here. Buying, owning, and using a glut of vape gear doesn’t exactly qualify as “conspicuous consumption.” Living in a consumer culture may be looney tunes, but I have to admit, shopping is fun. It’s the modern equivalent of hunting for game.
Another benefit is that, for those of us who read the online forums, having lots of vape gear changes the experience. Reading a thread about a SnowWolf 200W, or a Uwell Rafale tank, or a hot new RDA using quad Clapton coils is a mere abstraction if you’ve not vaped any of that gear. If you own the mod or the tank or the RDA, however, and vape them every day, reading the thread is an entirely different experience. Then you’re part of the action, a bonafide member in good standing of the vaping community. You’re up to speed. The sense of belonging that comes with first-hand knowledge can be priceless.
Here is a awesome picture of Pipertron Matthew Howell’s massive vape hoard that he sent by. Thanks!
I’m not suggesting that any reader should rush out to a brick-and-mortar vape store or go online and buy all sorts of vaping hardware and supplies. I’m simply saying that it’s OK should we choose to do so. If vaping is an important part of your life, as it is for me, then buying lots of gear is one way to more fully participate in this social revolution.
Native Americans used tobacco with restraint, as a sacrament, but the modern world is simply addicted to tobacco in ways that often cause profound and deadly harm. In whatever small fashion, vaping is rescuing ourselves from our own worst impulses, as well as course-correcting civilization toward saner societies. That is a very good thing, especially since vaping is so much more enjoyable than smoking ever was.
Here is an awesome picture of VapnFagan’s massive vape hoard that he sent us. Thanks for the pictures Mark!
“Most of the gear are items that I loved and just couldn’t get rid of. Other items I like to keep around so that when a version 2-3-4 comes out I can compare them together in my reviews. So even though I may not use some devices, I have learned it’s good to hold onto them for future reference. ” – Mark (VapnFagan)
How much vape gear have you collected over the years?! Share your collections in the comments section below.