If you've spent any time in the vaping community, you've likely come across the cloud chasers. The closest thing that vaping has to an extreme sport is cloud chasing. It is all about using advanced vape hardware and techniques to exhale immense, delicious, and dense clouds of vapour.
Once only accessible to the vapers with the most sophisticated equipment and the skill to modify their vapes, advances in vape technology have allowed cloud chasing to go more mainstream. Today, anyone can chase clouds to their heart's desire without breaking the bank or having to perfect their coil building skills.
So, how does cloud chasing work? How can I get started? And what equipment do I need for it?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about cloud chasing!
A quick history of cloud chasing
The exact origins of cloud chasing are unclear but we know that it first became popular on the West Coast of the USA, probably in around 2012. In these early days, e-cigarettes didn't tend to be commercially made for creating big vape clouds so vapers had to mod their own setups.
Today, the equipment for cloud chasing is far more accessible, with high powered vape mods and sub-ohm low-resistance coils being sold in online vape shops such as Vaping 101.
Cloud chasing competitions have spread around the world, with major ones including California's International Cloud Championships and other events in Canada, the UK, and the Czech Republic. Vapers compete to blow bigger clouds than each other and some also do vape tricks.
Some enthusiasts consider cloud chasing to be a sport and like entering competitions while others prefer cloud-chasing in the privacy of their own home: there's no one right way to cloud chase!
How does cloud chasing work?
Cloud chasing is a form of sub-ohm vaping - vaping using a device with coils of a resistance below one ohm. These very low resistance coils are able to heat up faster than regular coils, turning more e-liquid into dense, delicious vapour which vapers can inhale and then blow into massive clouds.
Although there is overlap between sub-ohm and cloud chasing vaping, the two are not necessarily the same. While sub-ohm vaping simply refers to the way you vape with a sub-ohm tank and coils, cloud chasing refers to vaping with the intention of creating the biggest vapour clouds.
A note on Direct-To-Lung Vaping vs Mouth-To-Lung Vaping
To understand cloud chasing, it's important to first understand the two main vaping styles: MTL and DTL.
MTL or Mouth-To-Lung vaping is a style of vaping that simulates the experience of smoking a cigarette. MTL vaping involves taking a short puff of vapour into the mouth before inhaling it into the lungs. This type of vaping is often used by new vapers who are trying to transition from smoking to vaping. MTL vaping can be achieved with both cig-a-likes and vape pens, and it typically requires the use of lower-powered mods. This style of vaping is not suitable for cloud chasing because it doesn't produce particularly large vape clouds.
DTL or Direct-To-Lung vaping is a style of vaping that involves taking a long, deep breath of vapour directly into the lungs, without holding it in the mouth first. This is sometimes referred to as shisha-style vaping because it mimics a shisha draw. Direct-To-Lung vaping is often used by experienced vapers who are looking for a more intense flavour and larger clouds of vapour. This means that it's the perfect vaping technique for cloud chasers.
While DTL and MTL vaping each have their own advantages, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Some vapers prefer the intense flavour and large clouds produced by DTL vaping, while others prefer the smoother hit and more discreet vapour production of MTL. Want to learn more about these different vape styles? Read our blog on MTL and DTL vaping here.
Is there a special technique for cloud chasing?
A rapid and forceful draw is a good way to increase the size of the clouds you exhale. Just make sure that you are drawing a lot of air into your lungs when you vape.
As many hardcore cloud chasers will tell you, other specific techniques can help you achieve even bigger clouds. For example, some vapers use a technique called Purging, which involves exhaling into the vape before inhaling, forcing air into the coils to create huge clouds. (Side note - it's important to ensure that the airflow holes aren't pointing at your face before doing this!) Another technique is called the Sensei Belt, which involves leaning over forward and then straightening up to open up the lungs and increase the amount of air inhaled.
To some extent, the size of your clouds depends on your lung capacity. This is impacted by genetics - some people are naturally blessed with a bigger lung capacity than others. Moreover, smoking can diminish your lung capacity - your lung capacity will improve by at least 10% just nine months after quitting smoking - so if you've recently quit it might take some time to get to your full lung capacity. Fortunately, exercising, improving your posture, and even singing can help you increase the capacity of your lungs for a better vaping experience.
What hardware do I need for cloud chasing?
The coils are one of the most important parts of the e-cigarette for cloud chasers. For sub-ohm vaping, you'll need coils with a resistance of less than one ohm - the lower the better. Although any coil with a resistance less than one ohm is technically considered 'sub ohm', the best sub-ohm vape coils are 0.5 ohm or below.
For sub-ohm vaping you'll need a sub-ohm tank with adjustable airflow. Cloud chasing relies on getting the right balance of airflow from the tank - you need a lot of airflow with a low resistance coil, but too much will make your vapour thin and it will disperse easily. It takes a little trial and error but you'll find the right balance eventually.
To provide a lot of power to the coils, a powerful battery is essential. You'll need a vape mod with a wattage of at least 40W, although higher is preferable. Some mods even go higher than 200W!
Vape mods include the vape's batteries as well as additional features such as a display screen, controls and modes, as well as safety protections like short-circuit protection.
Kits for sub-ohm vaping tend to have a wider drip tip (mouthpiece), allowing more air to pass through at once. Bigger drip tip = greater inhalation = bigger clouds.
RDAs and squonk mods (optional)
If you're really serious about getting those immense clouds, you might instead choose a Rebuildable Dripping Atomiser (RDA). These are often considered the pinnacle of cloud chasing vaping and for good reason - they produce some seriously huge clouds. An RDA is a type of atomiser that doesn't have a tank and instead requires you to drip e-liquid directly onto the coils through the extra-wide mouthpiece until the wick is fully saturated. This means that vapers will have to stop vaping and add more e-liquid after every few puffs. However, the benefit of using an RDA is the unparalleled flavour and vapour production.
To combat the inconvenience of having to drip more vape juice onto the coils, the squonk mod was born. Including space for a small bottle of e-juice below the build deck, squonk mods have a bottom feed pin that allows you to squeeze e-liquid directly onto the coils from below without the hassle of dripping.
Another optional piece of kit is a mechanical mod, also known as a mech mod or unregulated mod. Unlike the regular mods that you can buy from most vape stores, mech mods do not have any safety features and are therefore suitable only for the most advanced vapers who understand ohm's law and can ensure their own safety. This is because there is no circuitry in the mod between the battery and the coil - the power goes directly to the coil so there can't be any safety protections. Some cloud chasers prefer a mech mod because of their customisability and raw power that all goes to the coils instead of powering the displays or safety features that exist on regulated mods.
What if I like nicotine but want to try cloud chasing?
If you like to vape e-liquids with nicotine, we suggest keeping two vaping devices: one pod kit or vape kit for MTL vaping with your nicotine containing e-liquid, and one sub-ohm vape for the bigger clouds.
With new, innovative vaping technology and incredible vape juice flavours hitting the market every day, there's never been a better time to start your cloud chasing journey. There are cloud competitions taking place around the world and YouTube is full of videos of vape tricks that you can learn. In the past, cloud chasing was an exclusive hobby but that time is no more. It's now more accessible than ever.