Q:

Every time I travel, I light up. Any tips on how to ditch the cancer sticks for good?

Are e-cigarettes a good alternative? If so, what's the best one for the adventure traveler?

vaping;e-cigs;ecigs;e-cigarette

The $1.5 billion U.S. vaping industry tripled sales in 2013, while cigarette sales in the U.S. have been falling for decades.     Photo: Kyle Green / AP

A:To the clean living, outdoor fitness saint: We understand if this question irks you. But as much we humans strive for perfection, reality forces most of us into daily negotiations with ourselves, tug-of-wars between habits good and bad. For some in the carabiner keychain club, this means bringing nicotine along for the ride, shred, bushwhack, paddle, etc.  

Enter e-cigarettes, an increasingly popular alternative to the cancer sticks of yore. These battery-powered pipes convert nicotine-infused liquid into vapor that mimics the look and feel of tobacco smoke—and the resulting buzz. Proponents argue that e-cigs offer all the pleasures of old-school grits minus pesky inconveniences like heart disease and death. Naysaying health-care pros, on the other hand, point to a lack of FDA regulation and research regarding the affects of long-term e-cig use.

But this is not a health column, we are not your doctor, and the question at hand requires an answer. For that, we turn to Oliver Kershaw, founder and director of e-cigarette-forum.com, a website dedicated to the young, lawless, wild world of “vaping.”

“Your vaping traveler is going to need something seriously robust,” says Kershaw, who founded the site in 2007, a few years after Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik developed the first e-cig prototype. “Something that can take a beating but can also be repaired if it gets damp.”

Kershaw recommends a “mechanical mod” with a rebuildable atomizer—a type of e-cig that’s built to last (unlike the disposable version endorsed by celebs such as Jenny McCarthy). He likes Metal Madness’ Poldiac model, made from stainless steel and compatible with an 18650 battery, which lasts anywhere from 24 hours to a few days depending on frequency of use (to avoid packing a charger, bring multiple fully charged 18650s).

As for e-liquid, Kershaw notes that some have trouble tolerating propylene glycol, the vaporizable chemical added to liquid nicotine. He suggests they switch to vegetable glycerin-based juice.

When asked which flavors he’d pack for a multi-day journey, Kershaw gets delightfully specific: “I’d take a lightly mentholated e-liquid with me if I were going on a strenuous mission and possibly something fruity for relaxing with at the end of a day’s adventure.”

Happy (vapor) trails.

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