Meet the Frio!! This was my most recent solution to dealing with the ever-expanding collection of finicky medications. This case works on the simple principle of evaporation. An inner liner (pictured below) is soaked in water. The gel beads inside the liner expand, creating a surprisingly thick and weighty little sack. Simply dry off the excess water from the pouch, insert whatever needs to be kept cool into it, and slide the whole bundle into the outer carrying case (pictured above). Water evaporation keeps it cool for the next two days, give or take.
If it sounds a bit like an ad for the company, that’s because I was honestly thrilled with how well this worked on my trips. I have yet to do the ultimate test — a summer day at a theme park or a zoo! — but sometime in the future I hope to be able to do that. Meanwhile, the Frio has kept things cool, was never so damp that it ruined any of the other things in my luggage, and was very easy to activate. The large size (pictured) holds two epi-pens, or it has more than enough room for a few ampules of cromolyn sodium (pictured for sizing below), vials, and/or a bottle of refrigerated pills. If you have to carry much more than the epi and one or two pills, I’d suggest going up a size or buying multiple Frios.
That’s not to say there weren’t some downsides…. First, the Frio only keeps things moderately cool. As in 75-80 degrees or so. This is fine for some medications, like epi-pens. It’s a little bit less ideal for medications that are normally refrigerated, and a definite “no” for anything that should be kept frozen. It’s a little bit bulkier than a Spi-belt. Worse, there are no handy loops or snaps to tether it to either yourself or to a hiking backpack (so you’re not digging for your epi-pens after being stung by a bee, what a thought). Mine already had a loose thread or two after a handful of uses, and I don’t think the Velcro closure is going to hold up as well as I’d like. It also functions by evaporation. While this is nifty, it means putting a Frio inside something without air movement, like a Spi-belt, will decrease its effectiveness. Other users have reported problems with the outer pouch getting moldy after being thrown into containers without air circulation, and the outer covers are not sold separately.
However, it did work well for what I needed it to do: it went through TSA without any trouble, it kept my medications and epi-pens cool on a couple of quick trips, and it was easy to use. As a bonus, it also comes in a few different basic colors. As is par for the color coordination course, the cheaper of the two purple colors did not match the cheap purple insulin case I already had. On the plus side, if I spill some merlot, no one is going to be able tell.