Hardware Review: Kanger Subtank Mini

Specs

Material: 304 Stainless Steel, pyrex glass
Length: ~54mm
Diameter: 22mm
Capacity: 4.5ml
Battery Connection: fixed center pin 510 connection
MSRP:  $49.90
What’s in the box:

Kanger Subtank Mini Package Contents

  • (1) Kangertech Subtank Mini
  • (1) OCC: 0.5 Sub Ohm / Range 15 – 30 W
  • (1) OCC: 1.2 Ohm / Range 12 – 25 W
  • (1) Mini RBA Base (with preinstalled coil)
  • (1) Tool Kit (screwdriver,screws)
  • (1) Spare Glass Tube
  • (1) Organic Cotton Square (made in Japan)
  • (1) Spare RBA coil (Kanthal)
  • (2) Spare O-Ring
  • (1) Drip Tip
  • (1) Gift Box
  • (1) User Manual
  • (1) Genuine Product Verification Card

Pros

  • Organic cotton wick (!).
  • Capable of handling subohm vaping.
  • Widely available coils.
  • Available factory made Ni200 coil heads.
  • No leaking (so far).

Cons

  • Slightly higher cost than other similar tanks.
  • Not backwards compatible with previous Kanger coil heads.
  • Spotty availability of OCC coil heads.
  • Sparse availability of Ni200 coil heads.
  • Visible o-rings.
  • Theoretically possibly to vent a mod by using a Ni200 OCC head on a mech.

Errata

OCC heads

The biggest advance with the Subtank by far is the OCC heads. Coiled with “organic Japanese cotton” these are the heads I’ve wanted in a Kanger tank since the original ProTank was released. I started recoiling the original Protank heads so that I could use cotton wick, so it tickles me pink that Kanger is now mass producing cotton wicking coil heads.

First, these new OCC heads are rebuildable. It’s nothing like rebuilding an older Kanger atomizer, but it is doable. I’ll have a post covering rebuilding an OCC head in the near future. Street price is about $12 for a 5 pack, so they’re slightly more expensive than the older BCC heads, but I think the improved flavor and vapor production is worth it. Still I’d like to see the price come down (ideally to ~$1/ea).

One of the biggest challenges with using cotton for wicking is that cotton burns, and once it burns the wick must be replaced (unless you like vaping disgustingly burnt cotton). Kanger realizes this and has included a printed warning to prime your OCC heads before firing your device as the very first thing you see once you open the package.

Alternatively, you could use a device with temperature control with the Ni200 OCC heads that Kanger has released.

Enter the Ni200 OCC head:

Ni200 OCC heads

Expensive but worth it.

The second I saw these I was sold on the Subtank. The best deal I could find on the Ni200 OCCs is currently $3/ea. That’s not a deal breaker, but I’d like to see these available at about $1-$1.50 each. Speaking of available, you know that Kanger has a winner here because it’s not exactly easy to find these things in stock anywhere. The tank comes with two (of the Kanthal coiled ones), and if you can recoil them that makes it kind of a non issue (I’ve no idea how well they will hold up to recoiling, but from my initial examination it looks like they’re pretty sturdy). Then again, not everyone wants to build coils.

If you don’t have any experience with Ni200 wire there is a bit of potential for major problems here. Kanger offers the standard OCC heads in either 0.5ohm or 1.2ohm varieties at the time of this writing. Ni200 OCC heads on the other hand are 0.15ohm. Potentially someone could put one of the Ni200 heads on a device like a mech and vent a battery. If you have a Subtank, you’ve got to watch out for this. If your device has temp control then it’s kind of a non issue, but if you are running a mech, a mix up has the potential to be disastrous. Always verify that your OCC is the version you think it is.

I have a bad feeling that it is only a matter of time before someone isn’t paying attention and accidentally puts a Ni200 OCC head on a mech with an inadequate battery on it and has a really bad way. I could see this happening if you’ve got multiple devices and aren’t paying attention. Unfortunately there is no good answer for potential user error at this time.

The easy way to avoid this is to put the assembled tank on a resistance checker before firing it. Kanger was thinking about this when they released the redesigned OCC heads. The original OCC heads had a white insulator on the bottom of the unit. The new ones have either a red or blue insulator:

Different OCC heads are different colors

Attention to detail

You can see from the picture above that the OCC head with the blue insulator is a Ni200 coil with the resistance and recommended wattage laser etched on one side of the unit. Kanger has done the same with the red insulator heads (coiled with Kanthal).

I switched to a temp control device last October, and I can’t recommend it enough. The major benefit for me is that I haven’t had a dry hit since. The flip side of that is the added expense of Ni200 OCCs. I’ll pay it or rebuild. I seriously can’t say enough good things about having temp control on your device.

For those of us who don’t mind coil building, the inclusion of the mini RBA base is totally awesome. It’s a small deck, but it’s basically like building on a tiny kayfun, except it’s a bit easier because the RDA screws have little ears to catch the wires under the screws (which you can kind of see in the picture of the Mini RBA base in the Maintenance section below).

Airflow control

There are apparently more than one version of the Subtank Mini airflow control out there, the primary difference being the options for airflow control. The version I have has a slot cut on either side of the airflow control ring with three options for airflow: a ~1mm airhole on either side, a ~2mm hole on either side, and wide open which is a large air slot on either side. In this image you can see slightly different options.

Subtank Mini airflow control options

Subtank Mini airflow control

There was a previous version that had an additional fully closed selection, but I assume that Kanger changed that based on customer feedback. I dunno, Since I just got mine, I would assume that it is the newest version available.

Colors

Kanger is also shipping a white and a black coated version of the Subtank Mini (I’ve no idea what they are coated with), but as far as I know those are only available with the Subox kit at this time.

Colors, take two

In my Cons section I noted visible o-rings. For me that is mostly because Kanger chose red o-rings. I’m not a fan of red, but apparently there was a method to their madness as Kanger has put out the “Colourful Silicon Seal Ring Set”:

Is that purple or pink?

Is that purple or pink?

Purple I think

Purple I think

I’ll admit I ordered one, that bluish set will look good with the blue Shark Skin on my rDNA40. I’d still prefer that they not be visible, but that’s just my personal preference.

One final thing to note that isn’t really a con, it’s just kind of silly. Kanger has decided to use a “wide bore” drip tip on this tank. Like all 510 drip tips, it still necks down where it connects to the top of the tank (and it’s not a dripper, so you’re not really going to be dripping into it), so I’m not sure why they felt the need for this. Because of the proximity of the center air channel to the coil in the Mini RBA base, it is possible that occasionally the drip tip will get… warm. Luckily for us this can be corrected by simply easing up on the subohm vaping or even switching out the drip tip for something non conductive for heat like delrin or pyrex.

I also love that they include a spare glass tank section. Thank you Kanger for paying attention. Accidents happen and nothing sucks worse than breaking your only tank when you are about to head out of the house. It’s nice that they’re giving us a mulligan.

Maintenance

The Subtank Mini is really not very different than any other Kanger tank in it’s design, but it is clear that Kanger has learned some lessons about glass tanks over the last couple of years. The basic assembly is the same as other Kanger glass tanks.

Standards disassembly

Standard disassembly

Things to be aware of:

  • When the base is removed, the glass tank is only held in place by the friction of the silicon seals.
  • Filling is just like the previous Kanger BCC tanks, don’t get the liquid in the center air channel.
  • You must prime the OCC heads with a couple drops of eLiquid before firing them or you risk burning the cotton.

 

The Mini RBA base is a bit small, though compared to rebuilding one of the OCC heads it is positively spacious. You can see in this picture that the RBA base disassembles into three pieces, and is very similar to a kayfun, in fact the easiest way to build with it is to follow the same process: coil, wick, pull the excess cotton up while screwing the chimney on, trim it to the top of the chimney, and then stuff the cotton down into the juice channels.

Mini RBA Base disassembled

Mini RBA Base disassembled

There are two things to be aware of when using the RBA base:

  1. The coil sits relatively close to where the center air channel enters the chimney. I have wrapped a 4mm diameter coil in there, but it was uncomfortably close for my tastes. I would recommend building at 3mm diameter or less.
  2. The bottom “pin” of the RBA base actually holds the insulated post to the deck. You need to make sure this pin is screwed in all the way any time you disassemble the tank. I had mine come loose a couple of times. This results in the insulated post lifting, and tilting your coil. This can lead to inconsistent connections, and potentially to a hard short if the coil were to contact the top of the chimney.

Conclusion

While writing this post I fell in love with Kanger all over again. Their attention to detail continues to show, and improve. The original ProTank was the first tank system that I really liked, and the Subtank Mini is a truly worthy successor. Most of the stuff in my list of cons is really superficial, and probably wouldn’t be considered a con by most.

I would really like to see Kanger bring down the cost of these units, and in the past they have reduced the prices on all of their tanks after release so I expect to see some reduction on these in the not too distant future. I paid $29.99 for mine on sale, so the potential is definitely there. Street price is about $35 from many online vendors, I’d expect to pay MSRP from a B&M. The inclusion of the mini RBA base makes it worth it to me, but maybe eventually we’ll see a lower cost version without it.

This is now my go to recommendation for tanks for new or inexperienced vapers. It’s easy to use, and the included mini RBA base offers an easy path for learning to build for those that are interested.