JUUL is said to be the “greatest vape” ever created – if you trust Wired. Never one to take claims lightly, I decided to drop my mods and use JUUL exclusively for an entire week. This is what happened…
The first thing you need to know is this: I don’t really like closed pod mods. The juice always tastes weird, too synthetic. Second, I like mods and rebuildable tanks; they perform the best, taste the best, and deliver the best battery life.
I’ve vaped for about 8 years, give or take, and own A LOT of mods and tanks. Hundreds.
The JUUL, to me, does not feel like an innovative product, nor do I think it warrants all the hype and press it gets. I’ve had one for over a year now, but I’ve never used it exclusively. I didn’t know what that was like, so, in the spirit of consumer journalism, I decided to give it a whirl.
Before I even decided to undertake this task, I knew a couple of things:
- It was going to cost me a fortune (JUUL pods aren’t exactly cheap)
- I would definitely need to get myself a spare JUUL battery – again, another expense.
You’re probably wondering why I decided to to do this in the first place?
The answer to that is simple: I wanted to document and show that, contrary to popular opinion, JUUL isn’t actually very good. That there are better, less well known and hyped options out there, which are cheaper and better – both in the short and long run.
This was my hypothesis going into this little experiment; would it be the case at the end? Or would I too fall victim to JUUL’s esoteric charms?
Read on to find out…
JUUL Long Term Review – My One Week Test
Day 1 – Prepare The Ground (Planning To Succeed)
Before I set out on my little adventure, I knew I’d need a couple of things in order to get myself through the first day.
The first was a freshly charged battery, so, the night before, I made sure I had two fully charged JUUL batteries ready and raring to go the next day.
Second, I made sure I had some nice JUUL pod flavors. Selection is still really limited, so I got myself some Creme Brûlée and Mango (two packs of each). These are my favorite JUUL pod flavors.
I normally get up around 6 am, get some coffee in me, respond to some emails, and then head to the gym. This normally takes me to around 10 am, when I’m freshly showered and ready to get cracking with my day.
I vaped the JUUL with my coffee, and while driving to the gym. And something weird happened, something in my stomach. And it wasn’t pleasant. Not when you’re driving still half asleep.
It made me feel sick, like a proper sea sick-style kind of nausea.
The reason? I don’t eat until mid-day and train fasted, and JUUL’s Nic salts are, well… pretty brutal on an empty stomach.
For this reason, I took less draws on it than I would a normal vape setup.
Please note: this DOES NOT happen with my usual 3MG E Juice in an RDA/Sub Ohm tank.
Fast-forward a few hours and I’m at my desk working, writing posts and responding to emails. I work at home and vape quite a lot, so between 10 am and 2 pm, it’s pretty full on as I’m in “work mode”.
The first battery died at 1:30 pm, meaning it managed a total of six and half hours. By my calculations, the second cell would last until around 6:30 pm.
This was no good, so I put the dead cell on to charge in order to have that ready when the second one crapped out.
Turns out I overestimated the second battery’s capabilities or my own lust for nicotine. Either way, by 4:45 pm, the second JUUL battery was dead and the initial, now-recharged cell was back on active duty.
This battery lasted until 9 pm, and then I had to put the other, recharged cell back in (and the dead on charge).
End of Play Summary: The JUUL Pods made me nauseous in the morning without any food in my system, and I had to change the battery FOUR times in a single day.
Day 2 – We’re Gonna Need More JUULpods
My weekly routine is pretty solid, I do the same thing in the same order most working days, so I won’t bore you with all those details again.
JUUL says that each pod is about the equivalent of a 20 pack of smokes.
I just took this as gospel, but as I neared the mid-way point of my second day, things took a turn for the worse.
By this point, I had almost blitzed an entire pack of JUUL pods, and keep in mind these aren’t cheap ($15.99 for a pack). I only had three more packs to last me the week, and I knew at my current rate I’d be out by Wednesday evening at the very latest.
I had two options:
- Pick up some more pods
- Or, vape less.
End of Play Summary: JUUL pods run out VERY quickly.
Day 3 – ZIIP Pods + Nicotine Guts & Anxiety Over Battery Life
I went with option number one, obviously. But I didn’t get JUUL pods. Nope, I went with something cheaper that also has more vape juice inside it – they were called ZIIP Pods.
ZIIP Pods are $9.99 a pack, I grabbed some from a local vape shop, and they do way more flavors than JUUL.
They’re still Nic salts, so you still get that tummy-feeling when you vape them on an empty stomach but I had saved myself at least $15 in the process and that was a small, but satisfying victory.
At every point during the first three days, I was constantly thinking about/worrying about the JUUL’s battery life. When would crap out? How many draws does it have left? Can I make it through a full day out on a single charge?
You can get portable JUUL battery chargers, but I didn’t have one, so in order to go a full day out I had to take two fully charged JUUL batteries with me and face the dark inevitability of returning home later in the day with two DEAD battery cells.
Had my last vape at 7 pm, following the death of both battery units. I didn’t have any more until the following day.
I wasn’t happy.
End of Play Summary: The JUUL battery life is terrible, even when you have a spare. ZIIP Pods are cheaper, have more flavors and last longer
Day 4 – I Bought A Pack of Cigarettes
Another day out, this time to IKEA and then for lunch with friends – meaning lots of food and lots of booze.
Things extended into the evening, and after my second and last JUUL battery crapped out around 6 PM (guess I’d been vaping more than day three), I was left with nothing to use. And I was several drinks deep into an evening that I knew would turn into a session.
At 8 pm, I broke and went and brought some cigarettes. I haven’t done this in years – and I felt pangs of guilt, anger, and self-loathing, as I ordered a 20 pack of Camels.
Normally, I have a vape mod and a tank and that will last me all day and night. I don’t even think about cigarettes because I always have my vape – and it doesn’t matter how drunk I get. Cigarettes are ALWAYS off the menu.
My go-to for big days out or nights on the town is a dual-cell mod and a Kayfun tank. This will give you a battery life that spans a few days. God, I missed my Kayfun that night.
End of Play Summary: For the first time in five years, I ended up buying a packet of smokes.
Day 5 – You Need HOW Many Batteries To Get Through A Day!?
OK, now I’m pissed. I’ve smoked, felt sick, and generally spent my entire day planning how to operate around the JUUL’s wonky battery life.
I don’t understand how anyone can use this device full time? You’re constantly running out of battery. And it ALWAYS happens when you least want it to – nights out, parties, product launches, events.
And, remember: I had TWO JUUL batteries in rotation.
How many do you need to not have to worry about battery life?
I’d say three, and you’ll want a portable JUUL battery charger as well, that way you won’t have to go to bed in the throes of nicotine withdrawal as I did most nights this week.
End of Play Summary: Went to bed seriously unhappy, rueing the day I decided to do this feature.
Day 6 – Accepting Defeat
The JUUL is not for me. After six days, and around $80 spent on pods, I kind of hate this vape device.
It costs too much to run and it constantly runs out of power the moment you really need it.
It reminds me of an old sports car; nice to look at, easy to use, but a monumental pain in the ass to run as a daily driver.
For every positive, there are multiple, jarring cons which, when combined, create a near-constant stream of issues.
End of Play Summary: I ended up having dreams about using my squonk mod
Day 7 – Reflections & Final Thoughts (AKA: Mistakes and Regrets)
Bottomline: the JUUL is not the “first great ecig” as many, many mainstream titles (WIRED) are reporting.
In fact, it’s not even average compared to some of the vape pens I have tested.
The VLADDIN is far better, for instance, and the new version allows for the pods to be refilled which, again, is another massive USP over the JUUL.
The flavor is OK, but I do find it rather synthetic (this is something all closed pod system vapes suffer from though).
The JUUL pods, at $15.99 a pack, are far too expensive – they make smoking look cheap!
Even more so when you consider ZIIP pods, which offer more E Juice and retail for $5.99 less.
After six days of solid use, I am really struggling to see what JUUL’s USP actually is!?
For me, though, the absolute worst thing about the JUUL, despite how much it costs to run, is the battery life. It is woefully bad. Think smartphone-bad about 10 years ago and then times it by 10, and you’re about halfway there.
For someone like me, who vapes quite a bit, the JUUL is essentially unusable over a long period of time. It runs out of battery too quickly and you can vape through a JUUL pod in hours.
How is this good? Why are people saying this is the best vape around when it quite clearly is NOT even remotely close to being half-way decent?
Also: I Don’t Hate ALL Pod Mods
Far from it! In fact, I own a bunch of pod mods and I tend to use them A LOT – sometimes more than my RDAs and box mods. Right now, my current #1 picks for pod mods (the ones that I love and use) are detailed in the table below:
All of the pods listed in this table rock refillable pods and these pods last a good long while too. The flavor is great on all of them and they’re all cheaper than JUUL, with the exception of the Lost Vape Orion.
Bottomline: If you’re serious about vaping longterm, and want to stay off the smokes, I DO NOT recommend the JUUL. It’s just way too high maintenance – you’ll get sick and tired of it after a week or two.
Do You EVEN Need A Pod Mod?
If you don’t want to stress about battery life, and you want an actual tank, then perhaps a vape tank and box mod combo is the way to go. With this style of vape, you get all-day battery life and plenty of flavor and performance.
My advice, as always, is get yourself an MTL vape tank (they closely resemble how a cigarette draws) and a decent vape mod – something like Innokin KROMA-A ($44.99) is perfect for new vapers.
The Innokin KROMA-A ZENITH tank draws just like a cigarette, but you have more control over the device’s settings, what juice you run, and, most importantly, it will last for a good day and a half on a single charge.
This will ensure you’re always good to go, get a similar experience to smoking (it’s an MTL tank), and can pick and try new E Juices whenever you want.
For my money, this is exactly what new vapers need.
Vaping is the future. But JUUL’s role in it has been grossly overstated.