Among the many aspects of the vaping lifestyle, one of the most exciting subcultures is the vaping competition scene.
Enthusiasts of all levels have been gathering in your local vape shop down the street to the biggest vape events on international stages for years to compete in events where they blow the biggest, longest, and coolest-looking clouds.
If you want to take the next step in cloud chasing and participate in vaping competitions, this guide will help you get started with info on how competitions generally work, what you can do to perform well as a beginner, and what major vape events you can attend to become familiar with vaping competitions.
But before we start diving into the details, there are things you should consider that come with the world of competitive cloud chasing.
Competitive Cloud Chasing Considerations
Vaping competitions demand a certain level of expertise. It goes without saying that if you want to compete against other vapers, you’re expected to have some experience with cloud chasing. This includes practical knowledge about builds and e-liquids suited for competition, as well as inhalation and exhalation techniques.
As a refresher, here are the fundamental factors to cloud chasing:
- Tanks — Maximising vapour production is critical to creating competition-worthy clouds. You’ll need either rebuildable drip atomizers (RDA) or sub ohm tanks to produce as much vapour as possible.
- Batteries — Mods used for vaping competitions require a heavy-duty power source. Although official contests typically provide batteries tested for competition, you should still keep safety in mind when practising at home and use batteries within recommended power levels.
- Airflow — Getting the right amount of air flowing into your mod is key to keeping vapour production consistent without thinning out the clouds.
- Coil Builds — The general rule to building coils for competitions is to make the resistance as low as possible. This results in thick clouds that can impress judges and audience members whether you’re doing vape tricks or just blowing the biggest vapours.
- Wicking — How air and vape juice flow through your device is dictated by how well you wick your coils. Because of how hot it gets producing big clouds, wicking is even more important in competitive cloud-chasing.
- E-liquids — While the PG and VG ratio for casual vaping tends to be more balanced, e-liquids need to be way more VG-concentrated to turn into voluminous clouds that win competitions.
- Inhalation/Exhalation — The usual method of inhaling vapour mouth-to-lung won’t cut it for competitive cloud chasing. To minimise vapour dissipation, you need to adapt the direct-to-lung inhalation technique. Proper posture and measured exhalation are also practised by the pros.
Much like entering any kind of competitive field, you will also need to get some practice in before you sign up for vaping contests. Follow basic vaping etiquette and don’t try to chase clouds out in public. There are already people who don’t appreciate the relatively tiny puffs of vapour and the aroma from casual vapers, imagine how they’d react to you blowing billowy cloud trails in their faces.
Practice in private in a room that doesn’t have too much air flow. It’s good to get a constant supply of air into your mod, but by the time you’ve exhaled the vapour, you don’t want it to dissipate quickly because of a rush of air in the room. It’ll also just be harder to control vapour when you’re doing tricks and air is blowing from outside.
Elements of Vaping Competitions
There are two types of vaping competitions: cloud competitions and vape trick competitions.
1. Cloud Competitions
Cloud competitions are basically contests to determine who can blow the biggest clouds. The clouds are generally judged by length, density, and cleanliness.
In a typical cloud competition, two competitors are stood back-to-back with a scale behind them so judges can easily compare the sizes of the two clouds blown. The competitors need to blow a cloud in a straight line with no excess vapour being exhaled to the side. The one who blows the bigger cloud moves on, while the other gets eliminated.
Because vapour production is mostly affected by the device build and the e-liquid used, contest organisers enforce restrictions on what contestants can use to ensure fairness. These vary from event to event, but you can expect limits on maximum wattage and minimum resistance. Every competitor uses the same e-liquid provided by the event runners to remove variables from that part of the competition.
One major equalizer in regulated cloud competitions is having contestants build their coils 10 to 20 minutes right before the competition starts while using the same set of limited parts. This way, nobody gets an advantage from having all the time to make a super-optimised build.
2. Vape Trick Competitions
In vape trick competitions, competitors are primarily judged for their creativity.
These events are more free-form in nature relative to cloud competitions, as there are no objective points to measure performance. Competitors are just given a set amount of time, which could be a minute or two, to perform as many vape tricks as possible. Showcasing a variety of cool tricks is preferred over doing only a handful numerous times even when done well. Of course, entrants are still expected to have technical proficiency in the form of cloud consistency and cleanliness.
Showmanship is central to vape trick competitions, as entertaining the judges makes a huge impact on a competitor’s score. Part of this is being able to chain multiple tricks together in a seamless, stylish way. Adding variety to vape trick combos also ensures a contestant stands out from the usual routine.
Because creativity is the most important criteria in judging vape trick competitions, competitors aren’t restricted in what kind of equipment they can use. As long as you can pull off shark bends and triple O’s skilfully and effortlessly, you’re free to use whatever tanks, juices, and mods.
Tips for Vaping Competitions
- Choose 0.3 ohm and below builds — This tip follows the principle of the lower the resistance, the better the cloud production. With builds of 0.3 ohms and below, you are in unregulated mech mod territory where coils have very low air resistance and plenty of surface area. Parallel coils are simple to build within the typical 10-minute time limit in competitions.
- Aim for the highest wattage — You want to be using as much power as you safely can to ensure the consistent production of big, thick clouds. With regulated competitions, you shouldn’t be afraid to get as close as possible to the maximum wattage with the device you’ve built to stay competitive.
- Make use of temperature control when possible — Mods with a temperature control feature are perfect for preventing overheating, especially when you’re using up a lot of power. When you keep your wick from drying up too fast, your clouds will maintain the consistency that’s crucial to scoring well.
- Pack quality wicking material tightly — Whether it’s Japanese organic cotton or cellucotton, make sure it’s pressing up on the insides of your coil when you insert it. Use a piece that’s a bit thicker than your coil and fluff it before inserting.
Vaping Events to Attend
- The Vaper Expo UK — As the biggest vaping event in Europe, the Vaper Expo UK draws the most enthusiasts across the continent to watch and participate in cloud and vape trick competitions. If competing at such a big event sounds daunting for you, there are demos and tutorials that you can join to learn more before you sign up for a competition.
- VapeJam UK — VapeJam UK is another established vaping event that holds competitions for cloud chasers and vape tricksters. In fact, it was the first trade show in the UK for the vaping industry back in 2014.
- The World Series of Vaping — Arguably the most prestigious international cloud chasing competition, TWSOV is sponsored by major industry players with huge prizes. 2019’s event will be held in VAPEXPO Moscow 2019 in Moscow, Russia.
While these are the major destinations for competitive vaping glory, there’s no shame in starting local when you’re just a beginner. Contact your neighbourhood vape shop and ask about vape meets that run competitions. Don’t be shy about joining a community that is as enthusiastic as you are about the intense world of vaping competitions.