The SMOK Stick One Kits, offered in two versions, Basic and Plus, are SMOK’s entry into the field of all-in-one starter kits, such as the Kanger SUBVOD and SUBVOD Mega TC Kits, the Joyetech eGo One CT Starter Kit, and the Eleaf iJust Start Plus Starter Kit.
For the past four years, many (if not most) new vapers started out using eGo kits, usually featuring a simple eGo battery or Twist/Spinner VV battery with 650-1300mAh, a USB/510 connector charging cable, and a CE4-type clearomizer or EVOD-style clearo with replaceable heads. This newer generation of all-in-one kits usually includes higher power and more sophisticated non-replaceable batteries — 1300-2600mAh, some of which even have temperature control — with built in micro-USB jacks for recharging, along with a micro-USB charging cord, and a micro or Nano tank with replaceable heads and 2–2.5ml capacity. The tanks are often sub-ohm and far superior to the previous-generation low-wattage clearos.
SMOK’s two kits include what they call an eGo Cloud 2200mAh battery in the Basic Kit or the more stout eGo Cloud Plus 2000mAh battery in the Plus Kit.
Both versions of SMOK’s Starter Kits come with SMOK’s own TFV4 Nano Tank and two micro-heads. The TFV4 is one of the very best sub-ohm tanks in the marketplace for superb performance. Imagine what a difference it makes for a smoker who wants to quit to start vaping with a Nano TFV4 tank outfitted with a dual Clapton-coil head! Compared with the hardware available to those of us who began vaping five or more years ago, these new starter kits offer first-time vapers dramatically improved chances of ending their addiction to tobacco. Brilliant!
As with all vaping gear, retail prices can vary dramatically, depending on the vendor. Brick-and-mortar vaping stores typically charge the highest prices, but they may give better service if repair or replacement are needed. Online vendors vary in price as well, with some Chinese sites offering the deepest discounts, while American and European sites tend to be in the mid-range. Coupon codes and sales can make a significant difference. SMOK’s two starter kits range in price from $28–50 (which is about half the price of an early eGo kit back in 2012).
I’m accustomed to high-power dual-18650 box mods with sub-ohm tanks, RTAs, and RDAs, so I had low expectations for the vape quality the SMOK Stick One setup would provide. With a few caveats (which I’ll discuss below), however, I was surprised by the Stick One’s performance. If I were to use a single word to describe the performance, I’d say “decent.”
Essentially, all eGo-type personal vaporizers are tubes with a li-ion or lipo battery inside, some sort of regulating chip (which may or may not actually regulate the output voltage), a single button and usually one LED to show whatever information the chip provides. Most eGo batts won’t fire with an atomizer coiled with resistance below 1 ohm. The SMOK Stick One battery uses an 18650 battery, and its chip is programmed to allow firing all the way down to 0.1 ohms.
What makes the setup work so well is the TFV4 Nano Tank, which is designed to produce huge clouds and great flavor at much lower wattages (30 watts) than the two larger TFV4 tanks — Original (full-size) and Mini — both of which require 60 watts and more.
That lower wattage is perfect for the Stick One battery, which provides about 30 watts under load using the 0.3 ohm dual clapton coil head.
I was also sent a pack of five 1.2 ohm single-coil Clapton micro-core heads for the TFV4. Those coils performed very nicely when I paired the TFV4 with an iStick 100W TC box mod, but they’re completely unsuited to the Stick One battery, since it can’t provide nearly enough voltage to power them adequately. Voltage under load for those 1.2 ohm coils on the Stick One battery was 3.5 volts max, which is a mere 10.2 watts. No wonder the vape quality was pitifully anemic. Those coils need at least 7 volts to make good flavor and vapor.
With either of the provided sub-ohm coils, however, the Stick One/TFV4 Nano performed well.
One major downside of this setup is that the TFV4 tank gets very hot, so much so that I questioned its safety. Chain-vaping is out of the question with this tank, which gets really hot even with a moderate vaping pace. That’s a flaw inherent to the tiny size of the TFV4 Nano Tank and would occur with any battery. I routinely chain-vape, so the Kit wouldn’t work at all for me as regular hardware. As an on-the-go setup for a social evening out, however, it might pass muster.
Another downside is that vapor production was better than flavor. Even on a box mod at 60 watts, the flavor produced by the TFV4 Nano Tank was not up to par in comparison with tanks like the Crown or FreeMax Starre — not even close. Vapor production was great. Flavor, not so much.
In the package I received was a SMOK Micro R2 RBA deck (in its own retail box). Normally, I don’t mess with RBA decks for sub-ohm clearo tanks. I prefer to rebuild the vertical-coiled factory heads, since the decks are often tiny. This one came pre-fitted with dual Clapton coils, however, so I wicked it with the included cotton, juiced up the wicks, and then discovered that the deck wouldn’t fit in the Nano base. Upon examination, I found that the circumference of the threading on the deck was larger than inside the base. Ah, no wonder it didn’t fit.
A little research with Google revealed that this Micro R2 RBA deck goes with the SMOK Micro TFV4 tank, which has a different shape and dimensions than the TFV4 Nano Tank. Hmmm.
Upon unpacking the SMOK Stick One Basic Kit after its arrival, I was dubious. An eGo battery with a sub-ohm tank? That struck me as a recipe for unsatisfactory vaping, if not outright disaster. When I assembled the setup and initially vaped it, however, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. As I vaped the Stick One system over the next hour, however, the inherent flaws in the setup became obvious, and I gradually returned to my original assessment. The fact that the RTA deck in the package was for the wrong tank didn’t help any.
Experienced vapers will have no interest in this kit, and new vapers can do better. The Stick One battery is fine for what it is, but pairing it with the TFV4 Nano Tank produces an Odd Couple that falls short of a great marriage.
Even with the inferior flavor, I might recommend this Kit for the stellar vapor production, but the fact that the TFV4 Nano tank gets too hot to touch with even moderate vaping is a deal-breaker for me. In good conscience, I can’t recommend the SMOK Stick One Basic Kit.