Nostalgia Vaping, Looking Back At The Aspire Nautilus Tank
Hello, and welcome to a new experiment we're going to play with a bit on the Breazy blogs – a look back at what's old. As vaping continues to expand and attract new converts, we've come to realize that many recent adopters of vape technology may not be aware of how far we've come in the art, and how quickly. If for nothing more than entertainment's sake, look for an occasional piece taking a glance back at the world that was.
Today, let's talk bottom-coil clearomizers (BCCs). What most vapers think of today as "tanks" are actually what an old-school vaper would call a clearomizer. This is because the earliest atomizers were generally made from solid metal, whether they had just a wicking element (a cartomizer) or a tank (typically a submerged cartomizer with holes punched in it to let juice flow). A clearo, on the other hand, had sides made of polycarbonate plastic or, in later cases, glass. What seems like common sense today was at the time a huge breakthrough that allowed the user to monitor their e-liquid level without risking running the wicks dry.
The first clearos used a top-coil system – the heating coil would be placed right up against the mouthpiece - with the low power old devices were generating, this was the best way to get a warm, cigarette-like mouth feel. Long wicks dangled down into the tank, but being made of thin silica rope they were quick to gunk up and the tiny 30-or-32-gague wires coils were made from weren't conducive to re-wicking, so when a wick got dirty the coil, or often the whole tank, became garbage.
Kangertech was one of the first to popularize the bottom-coil system – with these, a small disposable coil could be screwed into the base of the tank and changed whenever the old one became fouled. If you think $3-4 for a throwaway coil in some of today's monster tanks seems expensive, imagine how happy vapers were to not throw away a (admittedly cheap given today's prices) $10-12 tank every week or so.
The first clearo to gain major traction was Kanger's Evod – the style is still found on some low-end gas station starter kits available today. The design included a metal base with a rubber-coated plastic tank and integrated plastic drip tip, with a window along the side to see your liquid as it was being consumed.
Wildly popular, the Evod suffered a major flaw – many flavors, particularly ones with cinnamon or citrus, would react negatively with the plastic and cause the tanks to crack – if you've ever heard passing reference to a "tank cracker" flavor, it indicates one that couldn't be used with a plastic tank. Kanger's answer was the Protank, which swapped the plastic tank for clear glass with an integrated metal mouthpiece. Though comparatively primitive by today's standards, the Protank quickly became the benchmark tank…for a while.
As even the relatively new vaper knows, technology in this industry doesn't sit still. Aspire, at the time Kanger's main competition, soon answered with the Nautilus. Taking many of its design cues from the Protank, the original Nautilus was one of the first mass-produced tanks to feature an interchangeable drip tip, allowing users to customize their vape with the 510-style tip of their choosing. The glass tank threaded onto the steel upper instead of using glue like the Protank, which many users feared for its toxicity and some reported was still prone to damage from the tank crackers. While even the widest draw was miniscule by today's standards, the Nautilus also featured a breakthrough in its offering of adjustable airflow.
The coil design was also much beefier than other offerings of the day, most of which featured a tiny chimney pressed into a wider base surrounding the coil and wick – most modern disposable coils could be said to have evolved from the Nautilus in a way.
The tank was so popular that it continues to be favored by many mouth-to-lung vapers today, more than three years after its initial debut. While another product, the Nautilus X, shared the name, it never lived up to the popularity of the original.
Last week, however, Aspire announced that they'd be returning to their roots and offering an update on their original breakthrough, the Nautilus 2. This device will use the same 1.8 ohm coils as the original (generally used at 12 watts or less), though they'll also be offering a 0.7 ohm coil that should allow for a little more power. While airflow will be a bit improved there's no doubt that this is still a mouth-to-lung tank, handy for out-and-about vaping when one doesn't want to use a ton of liquid or battery power, or for those whom the MTL style is a matter of preference.
Nods to the current state of the art include top-fill capability and a sleek aluminum shell available in a handful of anodized colors. We're excited to get our hands on one to put it through the paces, but we'll always have a place in our hearts for the original king of the BCCs.