Friday, 16 January 2015

Review: Subtank by Kanger, a heavyweight champion

Sub-Ohm vaping, with coils measuring resistances below 1 Ohm was kind of a buzz-word last year. Still, this has been somewhat reserved for the more advanced vapers who builds their own coils chasing the biggest clouds possible. But late last year this changed. Aspire released their Atlantis tank, with atomizer heads measuring 0.5 Ohms. This meant we could now enjoy sub-ohm vaping without having to build our own coils, just replacing the atomizer head like in any other clearomizer. Not long after Aspire's release, Kanger released the tank I'm reviewing here, the Subtank. This has the option to choose between Kangers own pre-prebuilt atomizer heads and a rebuildable atomizer head, giving you the convenience of the pre-built heads but also the option of experimenting and building your own coils. This sounds like a tank that would appeal to a lot of people, including me. So is it as good as it sounds?

Some specs:
  • Coils: Kanger offers their newly designed pre-built "Bottom Plane Dual Coil (BPDC)" heads in 0.5 and 1.2 Ohm versions. They're also called Organic Cotton Coil or OCC heads. In addition the Sub-tank comes with an RBA meaning you could build your own coils with any resistance you wish.
  • Adjustable airflow: The ring at the bottom of the tank can be twisted around to open different air-holes around the base, giving you the option to adjust the airflow to your liking.
  • Connector: Standard 510, with a spring loaded center pin meaning it would fit almost any mod you can think of.
  • Size: A length of 55mm(without drip tip) and a diameter of 25mm makes this a pretty big tank, I think the biggest I've tried at least.
  • Juice capacity: With OCC head installed you'll be able to fit in 6 ml juice, with the RBA 4.2 ml. Huge capacity in other words.
In the package:

  • 1 x Organic Cotton Coil Head: 0.5 Sub Ohm / Range 15 - 30 W
  • 1 x Organic Cotton Coil Head: 1.2 Ohm / Range 12 - 25 W
  • 4 x RBA Coil 
  • 1 x RBA Tip Connector
  • 1 x RBA Base
  • 1 x Screw Driver
  • 2 X Screws
  • 1 x Manual
  • Some organic cotton made in Japan
  • 1 x Beauty Ring (From Φ25 to Φ22mm)
Design and looks:
This is indeed a big, and pretty heavy tank. It weighs in at 94g with the OCC head, probably around 100 with the RDA. With it's red o-rings it has a pretty distinctive look which I personally think is pretty nice. It can take other drip-tips as well, but I think it looks best with the rather bit driptip, with what looks like fins to get rid of some heat, matches the tank perfectly. Considering it's size I think it looks best on a pretty large tube-mod or a box mod, but I guess you're going to have to use that anyway as you want to run this on 25ish watts meaning you'll need some battery capacity.

Now Kanger has probably realized that the subtank might be a bit too large for some people. So they are releasing 2 new versions of it soon:
  • The Subtank Mini, which is just a smaller 22mm diameter version, that comes with all the same features, using the same heads and a smaller RBA.
  • The Subtank Nano, even smaller measuring 18.5mm in diameter, using the same pre-built heads, but no RDA on this version.
    Set-up:
    If you're using the pre-built coils setting up this device is really just screwing the parts together. Easy as hell, and very convenient if you're out and about or just in a hurry. Changing the head takes you less than a minute.

    Now if you're changing to the RBA (or back to pre-built) you need to change the top of the tank as well. The reason for this is that the RBA is kind of higher and you'll need a top with a shorter centre tube. There is a couple of screws at the top you need to unscrew to do this, but it's not a very complex operation and done in a couple of minutes. The screws are tiny so make sure you don't loose them on the floor, cause spotting them can prove to be an impossible task. You only get two extra screws (I have one left) in the package, so hopefully you'll only make this mistake once or twice.

    Setting up the RBA itself is something that requires a little training and a little patience. It's not any more difficult to set up than any other RBA, so for the experienced vaping geek this is no problem. The RBA also came with 2 of the 4 coils already mounted so if you don't have any experience you'll get to see what it should look like when you're done. Of course you can build this any way you want, single coil, dual coil etc. However I think you're going to have to spend quite some time experimenting if you're going to fit more than 2 coils in there cause you have limited room for that. The dual-coil setup it came with measured 0.4 Ohms. If you're going to use the setup they already put in there for you, make sure you check that the screws are tightened properly... mine were pretty loose so at first the Sigelei I used measured anything from 0.7 to 3 Ohms. Once I tightened the screws it showed .4 and stayed that way. When you've got the coils  in place, all you need to do is put in some cotton (or silica if you prefer). In the manual there are some images suggesting how much cotton you should use, and there is also some cotton in the box. If you follow the steps in the manual, you should be able to get going with the RBA setup in less than 10 minutes (probably 3 if you're experienced).

    In use:
    First of all... this tank produces a whole lot of thick, warm, delicious vapor. Changing heads and juices, as I mentioned above, is fast and easy. It has a spring-loaded 510 connector, meaning it will fit most devices no problem. On my Sigelei 100 W I did no adjustments, just screwed it on and stared vaping. So in other words... the Subtank works very well and is easy to use.

    With the 0.5 head and the RBA at 0.4 Ohm's I think that 25W is the sweet spot for this tank. This is also not far from what you'll get if you put it on a mech-mod. For the 1.2 Ohm head I turned it down to around 20W. Pretty similar vape to the others there as well and no wicking issues even at 25W on that coil. On a mech-mod you will of course get cooler and probably a bit less vapor from the 1.2, so this comes down to personal preference. One of each is included so you get to try them both if you want.

    I did encountered a couple of small issues though. First, I had a small leaking issue, with juice coming out of the air-control holes. I took the tank apart and when I put it back together I noticed that the glass tube was not cut perfectly straight at both ends. One end was better than the other, so I tried putting the tube back on the other way around. This fixed the leaking issue. I think the reason for this is that on top you have one (kind of weird, angled) o-ring where you can get away with the tube not being perfectly straight. On the bottom there are 2 separate o-rings and you need the tube to make contact with both of them to avoid leaking.

    I also have a small issue with the 510 connector, where the spring-loaded centerpin is stuck, so it's not really spring loaded any more. For me this is not a problem as the mod I'm using has an adjustable 501 connection as well. It is pretty easy to take the whole center of the 510 connection on the Subtank out, so it would be very easy to replace. Hopefully Kanger will supply spares soon. In fact they I think they should consider putting a spare in the box. I also see they now supply spare o-rings, which I also think they should consider including. Actually I don't know if they already do by now, as they we're not even available at all when I got the tank.

    Refilling the tank is done by unscrewing the whole base and just filling up to the top of the center tube. Quick and easy. Of course they could have made a filling hole on top, but personally I really don't see the need for one. I'd screw of the base anyway so I can fill directly from bigger bottles. Since the tank has a capacity of 6 or 4.2 ml it will last you more than a day anyway so you don't really need to fill on the go. That said, having the option to fill from the top would be something to consider for the next version, it could make it possible to squeeze even more juice in there.

    Conclusion:
    Despite a couple of minor issues that I mentioned above, this is easily one of the best tanks I've tried. Kind of a heavy weight champion. Once I fixed the leaking issue, there is no leaking at all from it, and it just works. Changing coils or heads, refilling and using it is easy as hell, and the vapor and flavor it produces is just awesome.

    Now I do suspect that I'd use this mostly with the 0.5 Ohm heads. I haven't had the time to experiment a lot with the RDA, but the 0.5 head and the RBA at 0.4 Ohms gives me pretty much the same vape. Now wicking issues at 25W on either. I hope I get to try out the Atlantis from Aspire as well to compare that one. I do think the RDA option gives the Subtank a slight advantage on paper over the Atlantis, but as I said, I haven't tried the Atlantis yet, so I can't really say for sure... yet. 

    Price-wise it's not bad either at £32.99. Replacement coils are £13.99 for a pack of 5. And if you decide to try this one out, using discount code vapingiraffe will knock 5% off at UKEcigStore. Thanks to UKEcigStore for sending me the Subtank for this review. 
     
    AspireAtlantis Subtank

    Disclosure:
    • All my reviews are my honest opinion even if I am affiliated with the company manufacturing or selling the product. 
    • The atomizer was sent to me free of charge for the purpose of this review.
    • This review contains affiliate links.

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