As you transition from beginner to an intermediate or advanced vaper, a lot of new and exciting hardware and accessories will be available to you. Items such as mechanical (or mech) mods, high wattage regulated vape mods, and rebuildable atomizers. Of course as with most hobbies, the deeper you dive into the rabbit hole, the more expensive some of these items can get. You may not know it, but some vapes can cost as much as $250 to $300! As well as some atomizers can costs well over $100 as well. Quite a leap from regular vape pen style vaporizers and tank based atomizers which averages at around $50 altogether. With these high prices and many vapers moving past the barrier from beginner to advanced, not everyone can afford to pay several hundred dollars for some of the advanced gear, especially since many vapers are ex-smokers that only spent $5 to $10 for a pack of cigarettes. With that said, this is where the clones come into play.
Manufactured mostly overseas in China, clones are exactly what they sound like; replicas of the real thing but for a whole lot less. I’m talking about almost 1/5th to 1/10th the cost of the actual item. Which is extremely appealing to many people, but ethically some people have issues with these replicated mods and atomizers. Designers and their machinists have spent countless hours designing mods and atomizers as well as a lot of their own money to create the authentic item. After the item starts selling and picking up momentum, Chinese companies copy the hardware and sell them as replicas of the real thing. Ethically speaking (and many vapers agree) this is doing a disservice to the hard work done by the original mods and atomizer designers. A lot of people argue that the price tag associated with the authentic item is insanely high especially when you consider at the end of the day it really is just a metal tube with a battery inside. Even so a lot of the leg work and advertising has been done by the original manufacturer and the “cloners” take advantage of this and create clones knowing they will sell because it is a popular item. This is my biggest (and only) issue with clones versus the authentic item.
Quality is another aspect to consider. Many (let’s call them fanboys or gals) argue that the authentic items are superior in quality and perform ten folds better than the real thing. From my experience, this is not always the case. Many of the clones are a one to one replica of the authentic item. The size, shape, feel, and performance are often times identical to the real thing all for much less than the original item and readily available as well. The quality of the craftsmanship could be better I agree. The edges are definitely rougher and the engravings are often not aligned. However, you must remember minute details such as these do not hinder the performance most of the time. In fact, there are some cases where the clones fixes the original manufacturers’ flaws and actually performs better than the real thing at a fraction of the cost! Definitely a bargain! On the flip side, some clones really are out to make a quick buck and the quality is obviously poorer in every aspect; almost to the point where it is dangerous to use. Remember most advanced vapes are often times running high wattages, having something of poor quality design can lead to disastrous consequences. Best thing to do is to read the reviews and testimonies of the people who have bought the item before and saw if it is indeed a high-quality clone or a poor quality clone.
In my personal opinion, clones are not necessary a bad thing. I’ve owned many clones as well as the authentic items. The clones allow me to test drive the mods and atomizers prior to purchasing the authentic as I just cannot convince myself to spend several hundred dollars for something I have never tried before. Sometimes your local vape shop may carry the item you are looking for, but 9/10 and especially in areas where vaping isn’t as popular, the only place to find what you are looking for is online where there might not be a return policy. I definitely want to support the manufacturers but with their high price tag, I often opt to buy clones instead. However, if I like the clone I usually end up buying the authentic item in the end. But this is just me as many vapers out there are content with clones and that is okay as well. My suggestion to anyone wanting to breach the barrier into advanced vaping is to settle on a clone as first as I do not want to see my fellow vapers drop such a high price for an initial investment. But be careful with the clone you purchase, read the reviews, and buy a clone from a respected and well know clone manufacturers such as Tobaco, HCigar, Infinite, or Acerig.