Vapefly Optima 80W 18650 Pod Mod Kit and RDTA
Supplied by Heaven Gifts for review purposes.
MSRP: GBP 27.38
If you’re anything like me then the Vapefly Optima doesn’t look too exciting on first looks, but as you delve deeper you can see that Vapefly have put a huge amount of work into this superb kit, and the DIY vertical mesh coil was the cherry on the icing.
Before I get stuck in, I’m classing this kit as an AIO (All In One) as I felt that the pod/mod label didn’t quite do it justice, perhaps I’m wrong but the lines between pod/AIO/pod-mod are well and truly blurred recently.
I’m aware this review could get pretty long with all the options so I will try and break up the monotony with a few random facts I found on the internet (so they must be true right?).
- Dimension: 22.4 x 30.7 x 115.0mm
- Input: Type-C 5V/2A
- Screen: 0.91inch
- Coil: 0.3ohm mesh coil(30-40W) & 0.6ohm mesh coil(20-28W)
- Pod capacity: 3.5ml, 2ml(TPD)
- Battery: external 18650
- Output wattage: 5-80W
The size is quite impressive for a single 18650 mod. Due to it being so skinny it does appear a little tall, but it feels superb in the hand and I think Vapefly have done a great job shaving off as much as they could in the overall shape, considering the height includes the pod which is mostly hidden then 115mm is a nice size.
29th May is officially “Put a Pillow on Your Fridge Day”.
The packaging is pretty basic but practical for shipping, Mr Postman can happily lob it around and it should survive the journey, though one thing I really appreciated was the little ribbon to help pull out the top layer. In a nutshell, I would say it is frustration free and a box you won’t mind binning.
- 1 x OPTIMA Mod
- 1 x Pod Cartridge(3.5ml)
- 1 x FreeCoreTM Mesh Coil(0.3ohm)
- 1 x FreeCoreTM Mesh Coil(0.6ohm)
- 1 x RMC Accessories Pack
- 1 x RMC Pod Cartridge(3.5ml)
- 1 x Type-C Cable
- 1 x User Manual
If you lift a kangaroo’s tail off the ground it can’t hop.
(I forgot to photograph the usb-C cable sorry)
The included goodies were the best part of unboxing, the mesh rebuildables especially, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into doing my first ever vertical mesh build!
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Obviously I needed to test and review the actual kit before building. The Optima feels a little heavy once you fit an 18650 battery, certainly not a shirt pocket friendly kit but light enough for trouser pockets (though I wouldn’t put it in my pants like Americans do!)
The chassis shape is fairly minimalistic but well sculpted to feel smooth and comfortable in your hand. The red version I got was spray painted so it won’t take kindly to being knocked or dropped. The side panels contrast it nicely (they have a peel off protective film). The screen looks quite old-school but very bright and clear.
Recycling one glass jar saves enough energy to watch television for three hours.
The battery door is held in place with two strong magnets and feels pretty secure, though there is a very slight wobble to it. There are two notches to get you fingernail under to flip the door off but I suspect this will be the first part where the finish could chip. The panel can flip either way up to suit your preferences/OCD.
In 2011, more than 1 in 3 divorce filings in the U.S. contained the word “Facebook.”
The buttons are plastic but high quality. They protrude ever so slightly but are still very tactile. This is a little feature that I appreciate as it makes accidental adjustments more difficult.
Then there’s the Podank….
I had been so pre-occupied with the mod that I hadn’t really appreciated the pod, I wasn’t expecting the level of detail that Vapefly had put into the pod design.
They provide two different pods; one for the stock coils and the other for the rebuildable vertical mesh coil, but both have the same great design:
- Top leak resistant airflow.
- Satin finish mouthpiece.
- Juice level window.
The juice level window is one of the best I have seen in a pod, not only is it clear but the visibility is just so good. It reminds me of a spirit level as you can see the level so fluidly, if your juice is below the window then you should think about refilling as the wicking ports start to become exposed.
The satin finish on the mouthpiece was a double take for me, I thought it might have been separate as the finish was different to the glossy finish the rest of the pod had, it’s only then that I appreciated that someone at Vapefly had designed this little feature. It just feels right in your mouth, it’s hardly a game changer but it made me appreciate the effort that went into the design.
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But there’s one flaw that was immediately noticed, no adjustable airflow. It turned out that I didn’t miss it as I really enjoyed the airy DL vape it provided, but for those who like to refine their airflow then I expect this will be a disappointment. The optional RDTA does have adjustable airflow though, but more on that later.
MTL users won’t appreciate this kit at all, even with the AFC on the RDTA I found the mouthpiece too large a bore to be effective, but you can use your own 510 drip tip, something I might try later on. It would be good for Vapefly to release a dedicated MTL pod though, they did a little RDTA style one for the Jester which was awesome.
Heart attacks are more likely to happen on a Monday.
So it was time to get building! The kit comes with a little instruction pamphlet which was surprisingly detailed and easy to follow. I must admit I had taken a little look at an online build video while I was waiting for the Optima to arrive so I half knew what to expect.To put the procedure into words would be too much of a faff but trust me this thing is so damn easy. I would go as far as to say that it is easier than a normal RDA. Wicking was a dream and you should always get a consistent build every time. I think Vapefly nailed this little kit.
I cannot emphasise just how simple this was and the sense of satisfaction when you finish it. With the older horizontal Mesh RTA/RDAs getting a mesh build wrong can be traumatic as you get a dry hit from hell if you don’t wick it correctly, but I never felt nervous at any point with this method.
The only time you need to be cautious is making sure that you don’t kink the mesh when handling it.
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Being over cocky I did make a small mistake though, I removed the coil rod too early, the instructions show it in place right up to fitting the top cap, fortunately it didn’t affect my build but next time I will do it the proper way.
So why the heck should you bother?
With the same build principle of stock mesh coils, then you shouldn’t expect the vape to be all that different. Are you just doing a coil manufacturers assembly job for them?
Well for me, the satisfaction of building your own is so rewarding and you’re going to save at least 50% on coil costs. Obviously you can’t be as adventurous as you can with wire coils but I don’t think that is the point with this kit. I’ve been waiting for something like this ever since mesh coils came out, the future looks bright.
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Cotton wise, in theory you could use your own cotton sheets (Muji etc.) but inspecting the provided strips, I do think they are a better option. The main part in coil innovation over the past couple of years has been in the cotton carrying better flavour so I’m not going to skimp on this, Vapefly offer mesh and cotton bundles anyway.
The Optima’s controls are simple and the navigation is intuitive:
- 5 x Fire = Turns device On/Off.
- Press & Hold Up/Down = Locks adjustments.
- Press Fire & Up buttons = Flips screen 180 degrees.
- 3 x Fire = Enters 2 options:
- Preheat (Soft, Norm, Hard & User) or DIY if you wish to exceed the wattage limit.
- Puff = To reset your puff counter.
It’s nice to see preheats included, especially if you intend to use round wire in the RDTA but I found ‘Normal’ spot on and fires instantly.
Out of the two coils, they offer totally different vape experiences. I started off with the 0.6Ω which gave a surprisingly good vape at just 25 watts. Increasing it to 30 watts suited me nicely, the flavour and vapour production were well above average, the draw was borderline RDL and open enough for DL.
The 0.2Ω coil felt like a full on sub-ohm DL vape, a little cooler than I prefer at 50 watts but 55.5 (ODC-ness) was about right for me. I really wanted to go to my favourite 66.6 watts but that was a bit too high. This coil was really nice and set the benchmark for the much anticipated DIY coil.
DIY Vertical Mesh coil
Ohming out slightly lower than the stock coil; 0.17Ω but still at 50 watts, I found this to be slightly warmer, the flavour was spot on and, as expected, it was pretty close to the stock 0.2Ω coil. But since I had built this coil myself, I preferred it straight away. It wicked quickly and I could happily chain vape. There was none of the nervousness I got from other mesh RTA/RDAs, it’s not that I get the builds wrong in other attys, but since the early days of mesh I had an RDA that suffered cotton sag and the excruciating pain you get as you inhale pure flame is something you never forget.
As suspected this review is becoming epic, sorry, there’s just so much to go through and I haven’t even got to the optional RDTA yet!
Here’s a couple of my hobby photos to break up the monotony……
And we’re back in the room, onto the RDTA now.
I was already more than happy with the Vapefly Optima so was the RDTA overkill? I have to admit that the build experience wasn’t as much fun as the vertical mesh but it was certainly interesting.
Anyone familiar with a Profile deck will notice how similar it is, but it is a fair bit smaller and also has wire rope wicking. I was pretty confident building this down to scale but it didn’t prove as easy, the supplied rod was too small in diameter so it rolled it too small to slip into the clamps so you had to gently pry it open to fit. This in turn slightly deformed the mesh strip which is something you really don’t want, the main thing was to ensure there were no creases which fortunately mine didn’t so I proceeded to wick it.
The main issue I had was the length of the wire ropes sticking up into the wicking ports. Normally you tuck in the legs loosely into the ports but the wire rope got into the way meaning I had to thin the legs and try my best to get it even, too tight and it won’t saturate fast enough.
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I finished wicking it and saturated the cotton fully and filled the tank. Fortunately it all worked out, but I was still a little nervous with it and kept removing the top cap to check the wick saturation. After a while I started to trust it and gave it a full test including chain vaping, it performed pretty well and certainly packed a punch at 55 watts, a proper little dripper type vape and the adjustable airflow was superb.
By its nature, the RDTA offered an entirely different vape to the vertical coils, essentially a bottom fed dripper which usually gives a more saturated and intense vape, since it was smaller than any other mesh rebuildable I had tried, I was pleased that it still packed that much desired punch.
The RDTA obviously added to the overall height of the Optima, an RDTA is basically an RDA with a tank underneath so they are always taller. The pod design means it looks like a RDA mounted on top which looks great to me, I love how Vapefly have dared to be different and are pushing the boundaries of pods even further.
Overall the RDTA gets a thumbs up from me, but I don’t think it is as beginner friendly as the vertical coil DIY option.
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Simply put, the Optima is a lot of fun if you enjoy DIY, there were so many options and hopefully even more to come with different mesh options. As a stand-alone pod kit, it isn’t too shabby either and Vapefly R&D have paid plenty of attention to detail with the overall design.
I think the main selling point of the Optima will be the DIY options and rightly so, as much as I enjoyed the stock coils ,I simply loved the satisfaction you get from building your own. This should also appeal to novice builders too as Vapefly have made the process really simple and generally fool-proof, more so than horizontal mesh as wicking is so much easier on the vertical coil.
RDTA wise, as much as I like vaping on it, I wouldn’t recommend it for novices but it's optional anyway and you should enjoy the vertical coil DIY which is included.
- Build your own vertical mesh coils!
- An 18650 pod kit on a diet
- Smart and refined pod design
- 2 x pods to suit each option
- A juice window that is actually viewable!
- Suits experienced and novice users
- Bright and clear screen
- Fixed airflow
I’m not going to include the RDTA in the ratings as it is an optional extra, it’s not perfect but I’m certainly glad I have it and will use it a lot, I would give the RDTA a 7/10.
When it came to the pros and cons, I realised that there was nearly nothing to complain about. I did consider adding the potentially chippable paint finish but only time will tell on that and I could be wrong (for all I know it could be powder coated?).
The Optima is a cracking DL pod/mod AIO for stock coils but even better for DIY mesh building, the most fun I’ve had with a rebuildable pod system.
Vapefly deliver yet again.
2021 is off to a good start, here’s the Optima next to a PX80 for scale.