As a previous smoker, one piece of smoking paraphernalia always stood out to me as that little bit more “refined”, “gentlemanly”, and in the case of Gandalf, “wizardly”. And that is the pipe. Now of course with my love of kit, I tried various pipes when I was a smoker, I was always partial to the church warden types, the ones with a really long stem that always put into mind images of middle earth. But for some reason, it seems like there isn’t much appetite (or supply?) for people that want to cup a nicely turned briar bowl in their hand, and vape.
Now don’t get me wrong, their are definitely vaping pipes out there, however they fall into two quite distinct categories. Firstly, you have things like the Zen Pipe from VapeOnly, these things are typically sold as kits, in a lot of cases now they may have a build in battery, are limited to only accepting their own atomisers, and have little or no control. With the Zen pipe it wins points for having a removable 18650, but that’s where the plaudits end. These types of pipes are mass produced, and frankly a bit tat. They’re the gimmick that someone picks up because they want to play at Sherlock Holmes for a weekend, and they have more in common with a really simple starter kit, like the PockeX, than anything else.
On the other end of the scale, you have the small quantity of handmade, expensive mods. Things like the stuff from ePipes Mods. There are a few other manufacturers of this type, but not many. What these all have in common is that they are made from real wood typically (always a plus!), are beautifully finished, have replaceable batteries and allow you to use your own tanks. However, and it’s a big however, they are all mechanical mods. Now I’m not against mechanical mods, they have their place the same as any piece of vaping gear. But it’s fair to say that their usage is a lot more restricted for a number of reasons, notably the fact that as the complexity of the mod itself goes down, the level of knowledge and care required by those that want to use them goes up.
In this day and age, where you can get a replaceable battery, regulated, mod that does TC, VW, and has all the modern sensibilities and protections for less than the price of a few packs of cigarettes. Where are the pipe mods with these features? Not the bargain basement starter kits, and not the one-of-a-kind artisan crafted mechs?
Now there have been a couple of companies that have tried this, there was Joyetech with it’s Elitar and Smok with it’s Guardian series, culminating in the Guardian III. These were admittedly fairly ugly (especially the Elitar) single 18650 mods, with TC, VW, a screen, that allowed you to use your own tanks. So what happened to them? I can only assume that they gained so little traction that neither company (or anyone else for that matter) felt it was worth the time and money to repackage one of their mods into a pipe style device. And I think that’s a real shame, I’m not saying that the market would be huge, but with SO many different box mods out there, surely there’s a segment of people who would love to have a nice looking pipe mod?
Now I have owned the Elitar, and promptly took it to pieces because not only did it look ugly, it was also profoundly uncomfortable to hold. The fire button was placed in such a way that just didn’t make sense on a small pipe with a small “bowl”. My long term goal is to take the bits I have broken the Elitar down into to, find a decently sized old briar pipe, and somehow mush the two together (probably with a lot of help from my dremmel and superglue). In the meantime I have managed to acquire a old Smok Guardian II, it’s not perfect (nothing is) but it certainly has the right look and feel and it almost makes it. I would love to see a modern version. It’s made of real wood and steel with a reassuring heft to it. It’s VW, but only 7-15W. It has a replaceable battery, but only a tiny 18350. It has no screen or other means of checking battery life. But it does feel pretty awesome. In this photo you can see it currently with the Augvape Merlin MTL RTA, and a drip tip acquired from Mods & Topper in Hertfordshire. Although I think I’m going to replace the Merlin with something else in the future.
So until some of the mod makers out there decide they’ll have another bash at this whole pipe thing… I guess this is me! Please let me know your thoughts on pipes down in the comments, genuinely curious to see if this is just me that longs for something like this.