The Johnson Creek Vea Review
I like ‘Fine Things’ and I always have. From my first Rolex (a relatively cheap stainless steel) to my collection of Mont Blanc fountain pens, right down to my Jura Impressa J9 Once Touch TFT coffee maker and every Apple product I’ve ever purchased, I’ve found that the finer things are always worth acquiring. They may cost more but they last forever. Of course, unless you’re rich these fine things are about the ‘only’ things you own. Which is fine by me. I live sparsely, but what I do have will be with me for decades.
With the finer things in life in mind, I purchased the new Johnson Creek Vea after seeing how magnificently it was constructed. With care and precision I’ve not seen in a vaping product to date, I was impressed beyond words. And when I saw the price tag I was even more impressed. At $59.99 (at johnsoncreeksmokejuice.com) the price is much lower than I expected.
But before I get into the proper review it might be worth providing a little background on my vaping experience. Everything is seen from a perspective, and to know my perspective is to better understand my review.
From Smoker to Vaper
When I decided that I could no longer believe my own lies about tobacco cigarettes, in that cigarettes kill but you must carry the cancer gene or the heart disease gene (neither of which my mother and father gene pool has had in many generations), I made the decision to use an eCigarette to wean myself off all types of smoking. Discovering that only 10% of all cancers are gene-related can scare the hell out of you, it certainly did me, so I stopped smoking tobacco products in order to gain better odds.
It’s been two years ago since I took up vaping and when I made another decision, that eCigarettes pose no real cancer or heart disease risks, I determined that it was something I wanted to continue doing. So I have.
Now, following in my past desires to only acquire the finer things in life I started off in vaping with American Blue Tip and then I moved on to Blu Cigs after Blu moved to the 2-piece eCig. I stuck with Blu Cigs right up until 2 weeks ago when the long-awaited Johnson Creek Vea finally began shipping. I loved using Blu Cigs products, and I still do, so while the Vea is my main vaping source today I maintain about 20% for using Blu Cigs. Blu Cigs uses specially blended Johnson Creek smoke juice so there is a certain synchronicity to the whole thing.
Vea – The Right Way
If you know any Latin you might know that Vea is Latin for “The Right Way”, (don’t believe me, check here: http://www.stars21.com/translator/latin_to_english.html), a term that certainly describes Johnson Creek’s first foray into the hardware side of the electronic cigarette market.
Engineered Like No Other
The first thing you notice about the Johnson Creek Vea is that it is a finely engineered device that was obviously designed by a team that understands and is passionate about vaping. Designed as a brand new device, a standalone product of such perfection you cannot help but feel that old American pride in a “job well done”.
The Vea is coated with a rubberized finish that feels great to the touch. Once you pick it up you know it isn’t going to slip off your hand, and yet it feels rich, delicate, but tough too. You’ll want to run your fingers along the length of the device in order to feel the luxurious of the finish. It instantly impresses.
The Johnson Creek logo, that of the majestic oak, is finely and ever-so-lightly imprinted onto the rubberized finish just as the logo for an expensive china is imprinted onto the back of the chinaware. Subtle, but it says so much about the mindset that went into it. This is a testament to the finer things in life and a testament to the dedication of the design team.
Every piece of this exquisite device has been thought out so precisely, that even the cone that covers the cartomizer was designed to maximize air flow, (which adds to the experience of vaping with the Vea,) and it slips over the end of the battery instead of being screwed onto the battery. It holds extremely well, and it adds to the overall feeling that this is both something new, and something refined.
The Roots of the Vea
I’ve had previous experiences with standard eCigs and devices generically called “ego” as well as most of their variants. The best of which is the Apollo TGo. To begin to understand the Johnson Creek Vea we need to start there, with the ‘ego’ concept.
These devices all began with a simple system that is comprised of a larger, more powerful battery than is used in the standard eCigarette battery, an atomizer and some kind of tank/cartridge to contain the smoke juice.
Depending on the tank/cartridge, as well as the power of the battery, the ego carries various letters next to the name that indicates which device it ultimately will wind up being. Sold at anywhere between $50-$90 dollars, these devices sell extremely well.
A friend of mine is an Apollo TGo loyalist and you never see him without it. I myself have used the TGo, as well as a few others, as I was looking for a device that would do right by the exquisite juices made by Johnson Creek. Ultimately, I tired of leaky cartridges and cleaning atomizers that became clogged because of those leaky cartridges, so it wasn’t long before I settled into a long, and still going, relationship with Blu Cigs.
The Johnson Creek Vea is a product that has the unique blend of the larger battery available to eGo/TGo users (only much more advanced), and the cartomizer concept available on modern eCigarettes like Blu Cigs; it is the best of both worlds, but a product of neither. It is revolutionary in its concept, not evolutionary. Johnson Creek may very well want to call it an eCigarette, but it to me, and many others, is more than that.
The Lowly Cartomizer
Like the eGo and TGo devices the early days of eCigarettes consisted of 3 pieces as well. Comprised of a small, cigarette-like battery instead of the larger eGo size battery, and a cartridge that contained a mesh material that was infused with smoke juice, and between the two sat an atomizer that turned the juice into the vapor we all inhale. It was like this for quite some time, and companies like American Blue Tip sold a lot of them. This was the world of eCigarettes before the next jump in technology.
The biggest leap to come to eCig industry was a combination of an atomizer and a cartridge; it is called the “cartomizer”. This invention is responsible for a huge increase in eCig users because it made vaping easy and relatable, more closely simulating tobacco cigarette smoking.
The cartomizer functions as the “filter” on a regular cigarette, with a mesh of material that is infused with smoke juice like the abovementioned cartridge, and a tiny strand of fine wire running through it (the atomizer), which creates the heat that vaporizes the juice. Each time you screw on a new cartomizer you are screwing on a new atomizer as well. No more cleaning expensive atomizers, just use and toss. No more 3-piece hassles. It was truly a Godsend.
The cartomizer did more for the eCig business than anything else at that point. Including the marvelous ability to mellow out some rather cheap and awful juices you wouldn’t dare use in an eGo/TGo device. There is something about the cartomizer that gives it the ability to deliver a better tasting, thicker vapor experience over the use of an atomizer and cartridge combination. At least to me.
The Vea Cartomizer – The Right Way To Make A Cartomizer
While the cartomizer turned the eCig industry on its head and helped millions of people make the switch from tobacco to eCigs, they can be a pain in a butt at times. It is hard to remove the end cap to fill it with juice, they can and do leak, and they are good for roughly 3 refills of juice. Where the cartomizer truly shined was in the prefilled arena, where eCig companies sprung up on the Internet offering eCigs with their special blends of smoke juice already infused into their cartomizers.
Johnson Creek has designed a near perfect cartomizer to work with the Vea, (although you can use these cartomizers with other batteries) while at the same time setting a new standard that will ultimately make its way to most eCig brands. Johnson Creek did not invent a brand new product, but rather it improved an existing product immensely.
The Johnson Creek cartomizer was, like the Vea, designed from the ground up, and designed in such a way as to maximize the flavor and vapor that can be produced by the Vea battery and the line of Johnson Creek smoke juice. It’s like a winning a trifecta with its powerful and advanced lithium-ion battery, a near perfect cartomizer and smoke juice, each maximizing the other to create a vaping experience that was unheard of until now.
The Vea cartomizer holds a bit more than 1ML of smoke juice, enough to last most of us more than a day of vaping. Adding the smoke juice is very easy; the black rubber cap comes off easily enough with a tug by your finger or fingernail. Johnson Creek added a thin lip design that allows easy removal. No more struggling with removing cartomizer caps.
When filling a Vea Cartomizer you remove the cap and fill it up to the top of the mesh material, making sure not to get juice into the hole in the middle (if you do, simply blow it out before using). Make sure the material has been saturated with juice and let it sit a few minutes. Some may disagree, but to me allowing the juice to rest in the mesh, even overnight, gives the user a richer taste while still maintaining a nice throat hit. Using any cartomizer seconds after filling gives ME a burning sensation at the back of the throat. I find it akin to drinking Gin from a still. (And yes, being from Atlanta I’ve had the pleasure of drinking booze from a still in my neighbor’s backyard, an investment banker working in Peachtree Plaza with a penchant for making booze. Go figure.)
Johnson Creek says that tests show their cartomizer lasts 3 times longer than other cartomizers, so extrapolating that most cartomizers can easily be refilled 3 times (more like 4 or 5 most of the time), the JC cartomizer should work fine with at least 12 refills, making them very economical.
You would expect that these large, finely crafted cartomizers would cost more than other cartomizers of lesser quality, but you’d be wrong. At the cost of $11.99 for 5 blank cartomizers, and $15.99 for 5 prefilled cartomizers they sit right in the middle of the pricing range. That alone certainly explains why Johnson Creek has been out of stock on blank cartomizers since less than a week after launch. More should be available in mid-June, and I suspect the next shipment won’t last very long either. From what I understand Johnson Creek is so backordered on blank cartomizers that as of today you can’t even place an order for them.
I don’t suspect that we will see ample supply, readily available to ship, for a few months. If you decide to buy a Vea I recommend you order as many blank or prefilled cartomizers that your budget allows when they are available to order, just in case they are out of stock the next time you need them. (Interestingly, prefilled cartomizers are available now.)
The Vea Battery
The battery is a 650-mAh lithium-ion rechargeable. It will last a long time, a few days at least, before it needs to be recharged, and the Vea comes with two batteries so there is no way you’re going to run out of power no matter how much you vape. In addition, the lithium-ion can be recharged a few hundred times, you can expect a few years of use before needing to purchase another. The Vea uses a 3-click off/on system. Click 3 times to turn the battery on or off.
Johnson Creek has added several safety measures into the battery design as well. There are vent holes at the bottom of the battery near the end cap, and vent holes at the top. These holes serve to allow something called “outgassing” to prevent a very unlikely overcharge or short circuit or some other far-fetched idea. Like everything else, Johnson Creek designed in safety measures far beyond the norm.
Even the end cap of the battery is thoughtfully designed; its thin and light weight, screws securely into place, and has a nice V cutout that allows the light in the battery to shine through. Yes, it’s a marketing thing, but I like it. If you don’t you can buy a plain end cap without the V cutout.
Pass Through Technology
Charging the battery is a pretty straightforward approach. Unscrew the end cap at the bottom of the battery, attach the mini-USB cable to it, and plug the other end into a computer USB port or use the wall adapter and plug into an outlet. When plugged in a red light indicates that it is charging, when done the light shuts off. When plugged into a computer USB port you can use the Vea as a pass-through device and vape while it charges.