What is cloud chasing and competitive vaping?
Apart from fewer health risks, there are a lot of other things that set vaping apart from tobacco cigarette smoking. One of the most obvious is the sheer size of the vapour clouds that some vaping devices can produce. Cloud chasing and competitive vaping are two of the terms used to describe vaping specifically for blowing super-sized clouds.
Over the last few years the number of cloud chasing competitions staged in the US, UK and other countries has steadily grown. As these organised events become more popular, the prizes on offer are rising in value. The total prize pool for the 2016 World Series of Cloud Chasing is estimated to top $100,000.
For a lot of competitors it’s not about the prize money! In the same way that motor racers fine-tune their engines, cloud chasers get a buzz by working out the ultimate coil build and airflow for their vaping atomizers.
Cloud chasing divides the vaping community
There are a lot of von-vapers who already regard vaping as antisocial and unpleasant. Many of these attitudes stem from ‘bad press’ and disinformation. Generally, cloud chasers who blow big clouds in public places are regarded by many as inconsiderate and even obnoxious. This view is shared by a fair number of regular vapers, who prefer to vape with more consideration.
Cloud chasers argue that attention grabbing mega-clouds can have a positive effect. They claim that cloud chasing in public can stimulate conversation and promote an interest in vaping as an alternative to smoking harmful tobacco.
The general consensus among most vapers is that cloud chasing should be reserved for vape shops, private spaces and competitions.
The rise of the RDA
Anyone who regularly browses online or high-street vape shops will have noticed the massive increase in the range of sub-Ohm tanks and Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers (RDA’s) currently on sale. It seems like the vaping industry has pulled out all the stops to cater for a new generation of cloud chasers.
Competitive vaping isn’t as easy as it looks. Apart from the knowledge and skill needed to build a cloud-busting RDA coil set up, there are also safety concerns and your physical lung capacity to consider. As always, YouTube is a great source of expert knowledge if you’re just starting out as a serious cloud chaser.
RiP Trippers has one of the most entertaining and informative vaping channels on YouTube. As well as inventing the ‘Flat Bastard’, and many other coil builds, in this much-watched Cloud Chasing 101 (link) vid RiP also established the 9 key factors involved in cloud chasing:
1) Battery safety – choose a safe, authentic battery like a Sony VTC4 or VTC5. 18650 batteries from Efest, Samsung, Panasonic and LG are also popular with cloud chasers.
2) Airflow – lower coil resistances demand more airflow. Too much airflow will reduce the density of your clouds.
3) E Juice – juices with a higher VG content will produce thicker vapour clouds.
4) Mod – unregulated mechanical mods are generally preferred by serious, competitive vapers. Mid to high wattage regulated mods are great for recreational cloud chasing.
5) Atomizer – Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers (RDA’s) are recommended by the experts.
6) Body posture, along with inhale and exhale techniques – the winning techniques need to be learned and practiced.
7) Coil wicking – organic cotton is still the preferred material for feeding e juice to the coils. The volume of cotton, its positioning and its effect on airflow are also important factors.
8) Coil build – wire used, the winding format, position, airflow etc. Most importantly, lower coil resistance = bigger clouds.
9) Genetics – just like any sport, your general build, weight, physical fitness and lung capacity will affect your competitive cloud chasing performance.
Sub-Ohm RDA builds for cloud chasing
We need to remind you just how dangerous self-building can be for cloud chasers. Sub-Ohm vaping will place a serious load on your batteries. In the worst cases an overload can lead to burns or even an exploding battery. Before you experiment with sub-Ohm RDA builds for cloud chasing make sure that you’ve read-up on Ohm’s Law and vaping battery safety.
Before you start coil building you’ll need to select a good RDA. While the general layout of most RDA decks is pretty similar, it’s often the airflow design that sets them apart. The Phenotype L RDA has adjustable, ‘competition level’ airflow.
Alternatively, you could go-for-gold with the Aeolus V2 Pro. This RDA is manufactured from highly conductive, naval grade brass. The electrical contacts are plated with 18ct gold for even better conductivity.
When it comes to coil wire and winding options it’s a whole new world of unlimited possibilities. Kanthal wire is still a popular choice, though more exotic coil wires have made an appearance in recent years.
As for winding cloud chasing coils, the only limit is your own imagination. A dual ‘Macro’ coil setup made with 24 gauge Kanthal wire is pretty easy for a newbie to master. Winding these low resistance coils on something like a 3mm diameter screwdriver creates a ‘macro’ coil. Micro, nano and super nano format coils are wound at smaller diameters.
YouTube has hundreds of self-build tutorials – take your pick and enjoy!
Recreational cloud chasing
If you’re not the competitive type, recreational cloud chasing with a regulated box mod is still a whole lot of fun. If you keep your coil-build resistance at 0.3 Ohms or higher you’ll avoid a lot of the risks that come with unregulated, extreme vaping. This is a great way to find out more about sub-Ohm vaping, and have a little cloud chasing fun along the way.
Here’s a short list of three inexpensive, ultra-safe box mods that are great for recreational cloud chasing. Each of these mods has both variable wattage (VW) and temperature control:
Eleaf iStick TC 40W – handles 0.15 to 3.5 Ohm coils in VW mode.
IPV D5 200W TC – for 0.15 to 3.0 Ohm coils in VW mode.
Kanger KBox 120W TC – powers coils from 0.1 Ohms upwards in VW mode.
Cloud chasing – the last word
Competitive cloud chasing is vaping at its most extreme. The guys who win competitions like the World Series don’t just roll-in from the streets to give it a try. Most of them have been working on their builds and techniques for years.
An unregulated mod firing an ultra-low resistance coil can place incredible stress on a battery. Make sure that you’re aware of the dangers before you thumb the fire button.
If Ohm’s law and electrical theory sounds like too much hassle, you can still chuck ectoplasmic clouds with any of the low-price, sub-Ohm starter kits that are currently on the market. There’s never been a better time to try out some recreational cloud chasing!