2017 will forever be remembered in the vaping-verse as the year that introduced us to the squonk. Well, “introduced” may not be the correct word.
Bottom feeding, fully integrated atomizers in mechanical mods aka “squonks” date back to at least 2009. But squonks started becoming commercially viable only in the last few years.
And in this past year, we’ve seen an uptick in the popularity of squonking mods. So 2017 can be thought of as the year of the squonk.
I’m excited about this review since this will mark the first time I’ve reviewed a squonk mod. And my excitement only grew when I realized that this squonk comes to us from Geek Vapes, one of the more technically proficient (and Greek mythology obsessed) vape companies, whose Aegis box mod was well-reviewed by me for being a compact, powerful device.
The Athena RDA Squonk kit includes the rebuildable Athena atomizer and the Athena mechanical mod that is powered by a single 18650 battery. The Athena is an unregulated mod, so there’s no onboard chipset or any other adjustable feature like variable wattage or temperature control.
Here’s what you’ll find in your Athena RDA Squonk kit from Geek Vapes:
- One Athena mod
- One Athena RDA
- One Squonk bottle
- One 510 drip tip
- One 510 drip tip adapter
- One Allen key
- One instruction manual
- One bag of spare parts
The Look Over
The Athena, for all its godly pedigree, does not seem like much when all of its parts are taken out. But that is the appeal for mods like these – a lot of the parts are interchangeable and can be personalized to a certain degree.
The Athena mod has two removable side panels that allow easy access to the interior section of the device. One side panel features a small cut-out that lets you squeeze your squonk bottle, which is made from a super-soft, jelly-like silicone that is also quite durable.
The mod is built with a combination of aluminum and stainless steel and has some elegant, Greek mythology-inspired design accents around the 510 connector on the top of the device, and has very prominent “Athena” logo etched into the back of the device. The firing button on the side is quite significant and responds very well.
The Athena is a surprisingly compact device measuring in only at 24mm in height and has some great features that allow for easy portability as well like it’s simple-to-use button-locking feature and the unleakable e-juice reservoir inside the device.
The Athena RDA is also quite sleight and measures 7mm in height and fits well into the 510 connection on the top of the mod. The RDA features a postless deck, but that shouldn’t dissuade any amateur builders since the kit comes with a handy Allen key so you can easily screw in any coil build.
The RDA also gives you the option of two different drip tips, a standard 510 and a more out-of-the-ordinary 810, which I prefer more over the 510 (at least for this device). I preferred the 810 both for aesthetic reasons as well as because I like the wider bore of the 810 mouthpieces. Underneath the mouthpiece, is the two, top airflow vents that turn symmetrically.
Building on the Athena RDA Squonk Kit
Velocity decks are usually considered the most straightforward decks to build on with their two prominent posts. The deck on the Athena RDA is not a Velocity deck, so there is a slight learning curve to the Athena.
You also want to make sure the height of your coils doesn’t interfere or get in the way of any of the other parts of the atomizer like the airflow vents. But other than that, there isn’t much else to complicate your build.
I used a straightforward Clapton, stainless steel build with a resistance of 0.2ohms. There wasn’t any problem installing the coils since the flathead screws were very wide and did not present any issues coming loose.
Vaping on the Athena RDA Squonk Kit
You come to expect certain things when vaping on a mech mod like the Athena, and one of them is the production of long, thick, clouds. The e-juice bottle (which had problems of its own that’ll I get to later) can hold up to 6 ml of e-juice so you can be assured of a lengthy vaping session.
I juiced my cotton wicks before I closed up the atomizer. And one thing about the top cap is that it is press-fitted so there are no threads, but even still, the top cap fits nicely and stayed in place. The mod fired immediately with no delay whatsoever.
I left the airflow vents wide-open, and the draw was excellent, almost effortless. With a full tank inside, I vaped for at least a whole day, with moderate use.
How the Athena RDA Squonk Kit Stacks Up
I went straight for Vandy Vape’s Pulse BF squonk mod to make a comparison to the Athena RDA squonk mod. The two devices have removable doors, and both take single cells, although the Pulse has a major pro of being able to use 20700 batteries as well as 18650, and the Athena can only take a 18650 battery.
I also liked the e-juice bottle on the Pulse BF, which was much firmer but responsive than the almost gelatinous bottle structure on the Athena. The Pulse BF also has a natural locking switch similar to the one on the Athena.
The Pulse BF is made of cheaper material, although that does not detract from its build or construction. The nylon finish of the Pulse BF made it lightweight and great to take with you. The Pulse BF was also much easier on the wallet than the Athena’s $70 price tag, compared to the $40 you’ll plunk down for the Pulse BF.
However, the Athena RDA was a great accompaniment to the mod, and its vapor production was excellent. But still, I think the Pulse BF had many more pros and fewer cons than the Athena.
Things I Liked
The Athena is well-made and well-built. The layout was so intuitively simple that opening up the mod to explore its internals was like reading an instruction manual since everything about the inside was easily understandable.
The firing button was responsive and made great contact with the firing pin inside; the locking feature was also a welcome addition to the mod’s design.
The Athena RDA was a great-performing atomizer. The decks did not make for the most straightforward build in the world, but it was manageable after a few tries, and amateur builders should not have a problem finding their way around it.
With your build installed, your wicks pre-juiced, and the battery in place, the vapor production on the Athena was sure to be superior, and it was.
Things I Didn’t Like
A squonk bottle should both have a soft feel, and be easily malleable, but also firm enough to re-form easily. The two bottles (silicone and plastic) that came with the Athena were neither. The silicone bottle was too soft and was left deformed every time you pressed it, while the plastic option was at the other end, being too hard.
While the side doors of the Athena did not come off so easily, I wasn’t so convinced that they would hold in place during extended outdoor or portable use.
All in All
With my first review of a squonk mod coming to an end, I find myself a little underwhelmed. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but the bottom-feeding tank was more a novelty than an actual vaping innovation.
I would like to see an e-juice bottle wholly hidden within the device that has an external mechanism that you press to refill your juice well. I don’t like the exposed versions since they might be punctured or have something else happen to them.
The Athena, however, did perform rather well. The RDA was not as simple as you would think, but it was not so frustratingly hard to build on. And most important of all, the coming together of the coil build, the 6 ml e-juice container and the unregulated, single-cell mod made for some great vaping.
I give the Athena RDA Squonk Kit an 8/10.