• July 10, 2020

High Gear

The Gear RTA may be the perfect rebuildable atomizer for vapers of all experience levels.

By Mike Huml

The freshman offering from OFRF—pronounced “off”—exemplifies quality in simplicity. The Gear RTA is a 24 mm single-coil tank that’s easy to set up and performs similarly to the best rebuildable atomizers (RDAs) available. With a fantastic size-to-capacity ratio and stellar flavor reproduction, the Gear RTA may be the perfect RDA for vapers of all experience levels.

The first thing one notices is the size. The Gear RTA is tiny, being the same size, if not shorter, than the average RDA. For those who prefer the aesthetics of an RDA in lieu of a tall tank, the Gear RTA is a perfect solution. Additionally, the capacity doesn’t suffer too much from the tank’s short stature.

The Gear RTA comes with two glass tank sections included: a straight glass tube for a 2 mL capacity and a bubble glass section for a 3.5 mL capacity. Early adopters of the Gear RTA complained that the bubble “glass” was, in fact, made of plastic. OFRF has taken this feedback into consideration, and the package now includes a proper glass section for both the 2 mL and 3.5 mL tank sections.

The angular shape of the base and top cap of the tank create the illusion of width in such a way that the bubble glass looks much more intentional than the bubble glass included with most other tanks. Bubble glass tends to look decidedly aftermarket on most tanks, but the Gear RTA accommodates the style very unobtrusively.

The package also includes two mouthpieces, both sized for a standard 510 with one featuring a slightly wider bore. The wide-bore drip tip is the preferred option here, as the narrower mouthpiece tends to encourage spitback and turbulent airflow due to condensation buildup.

Additionally, the shape of the mouthpiece is off-putting for some since it doesn’t angle down to sit flush against the cap as most other tips do. Instead, it follows the angular nature of the cap and base and tapers down to fit the 510-sized hole. It’s an aesthetic decision that actually works upon closer inspection but can look odd at first glance. It’s an acquired taste.

The Gear RTA also comes with a myriad of additional parts, including replacement and alternate color o-rings, extra screws, cotton, coils, a positive pin and a flathead screwdriver. Everything required for several weeks of vaping, excluding e-liquid, is included. The coils that OFRF provides are pre-made 3 mm nichrome fused Clapton coils, and they work well enough.

Three millimeters is the ideal coil size for the Gear RTA, allowing it to fit within the surprisingly spacious deck while also incorporating enough cotton to fill out the juice flow ports. The included shoelace-style cotton makes the initial build effortless.

The deck itself has four posts but is designed for single-coil builds. The design allows for easy coil installation with either clockwise or counterclockwise wraps. Each lead is secured with a flathead screw, and the wire is simply placed and secured underneath. There is no threading of post holes involved whatsoever. The cotton is simply threaded, cut to the width of the base then tucked into the juice flow holes.

Liquids of all viscosities appear to wick flawlessly if the correct amount of cotton is used. The included cotton takes the guesswork out of the first build, but subsequent builds may require some adaptation. Denser wicking is required for thinner liquid to reduce leaking, and looser wicking is ideal for thick liquid to avoid dry hits. All in all, the building process is as quick and easy as ever. Simply wrap, install, wick, juice up and assemble. While the build is incredibly easy, that shouldn’t reflect poorly upon the vape quality. In fact, the flavor and vapor production surpass that of most other tanks and even rival RDAs.

The great thing about a single-coil build is that it maximizes battery life and e-liquid efficiency. Generally, this is at the cost of flavor and vapor production, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Gear RTA. Due to the short size of the tank, the mouthpiece is very close to the coil, which means vapor has less time to cool before being inhaled, which in turn provides better flavor.

This also generally leads to massive spitback directly off the coil, but again OFRF seems to have avoided this problem completely as well. For no discernible reason, the Gear RTA causes no “fireworks” effect—that is, the juice doesn’t explode off the coil and send hot liquid onto the tongue of the user. Of course, this depends on the type of coil and method of wicking, but if one uses the included coil and amount of cotton provided as a guideline for future builds, this problem can be avoided entirely.

As far as airflow, the Gear RTA provides somewhat open restricted airflow at its maximum but can be adjusted down to preference. For those looking for mouth-to-lung (MTL) vaping, it is possible with the Gear RTA, and narrower 510 mouthpieces can be used for additional comfort. However, due to the relatively large airflow path, MTL drags may be a bit harsh.

With experimentation with different wire types, this can be somewhat mitigated, but the intended use is direct-lung vaping. When used as designed, direct-lung vaping is smooth, flavorful and voluminous. Flavor is bold and clean, and clouds are produced effortlessly, even at relatively low wattages. For heavy vapers, the tank may need to be refilled five or more times per day, but fortunately, filling the tank is fast and easy.

The top cap unscrews for filling and reveals two large kidney-shaped fill holes. This design lends itself to fast and clean filling with no pressure backup or leaking. The threading on the top cap is smooth and catches easily, for the most part. Cross threading is always a looming worry when it comes to any threading in vaping, but the quality of the machining on the Gear RTA is good enough to minimize this concern.

The Gear RTA has managed to do the impossible—or at least the improbable. By just being a well-made tank with a well-thought-out design, it has managed to counteract all the potential negative aspects of its design. Typically, 510 mouthpieces should have endless condensation buildup and spitback when lung-hitting, but this one doesn’t. The short path between the coil and the user’s mouth should create a volatile situation with explosive hot liquid, but not here.

A tank this small should have a small capacity, but 3.5 mL is still incredible for a tank the size of an RDA. The bubble glass that allows this capacity should be unsightly, but the design of the rest of the tank eliminates any ugliness. Single-coil tanks should produce less flavor and vapor, but both rival some of the best tanks and drippers on the market. A vape this good should be more complicated, but the Gear RTA is almost trivial in its operation and usage.

There may not be a better initial product from a new vapor manufacturer than the Gear RTA from OFRF. It may not look like much at first glance, but it really is an impressive piece of hardware. The Gear RTA does so much with so little that it’s amazing that nobody else has put all the pieces in place before now. The only downside to speak of is that it can be difficult to disassemble the tank for rebuilds, as one needs to hold the glass to ensure that the base unscrews. Aside from this minor complaint, the Gear RTA is a perfect RTA in the modern era of vaping.

More and more people are taking up vaping, and most of those people are hesitant to move on to more advanced setups. With sub-ohm tanks with pre-made coils also increasing in quality over time, it can be difficult to persuade vapers to take the extra step to learn how to rebuild. The Gear RTA should make this transition extremely easy. Of course, building the coils requires some practice and patience, but unlike many rebuildables of the past, the Gear RTA is very forgiving due to its simplicity. There’s very little that can go wrong.

Veteran rebuilders will also find value here, as the Gear RTA is perfect for RDA users. It retains the same profile on most mods compared to any 24 mm RDA and provides a quality of vape that will undoubtedly surprise. There will always be a niche market for obscenely large RTAs among enthusiast vapers, but for those willing to refill a bit more often to gain some convenience, the Gear RTA is perfect. Increased portability, prolonged battery life and increased e-liquid efficiency are sure to be a welcome relief for many vapers.

There really isn’t a better RTA for a store to carry. The Gear RTA has all the positives and almost no negatives. It’s easy enough for first-time builders and could be the breakthrough product that converts customers to rebuilding. It also provides a vape experience that will exceed the expectations of most any enthusiast. Lastly is the price—the Gear RTA retails for as low as $30. Large potential customer base, unique product and low cost; the Gear RTA is a winner in every sense, and OFRF is definitely a company to keep an eye on moving into the future.

Mike Huml

Mike Huml