Trail Tested 72Hr Insulin Cooler - Paul Reid

Outdoor activities during the summertime involve some creative ways and gadgets to keep our liquid insulins cool while away from a fridge.

In this trail-test, I take the 72 hour insulin cooler out on a number of expeditions to see where this product shines and where it doesn't.

 

This is the 72 Hour Insulin Cooler
by 4AllFamily
It’s made from 304 Stainless Steel
It’s dimensions are 8.3cm (3.3″) diameter and an internal volume of 900 ML (30 oz)
Its lightest weight (empty) is 387 g (13.5 oz)
Kind of like a vacuum thermos flask, with an additional USB powered lid that makes this into a small mini-fridge
for storing insulin at temperatures between 2º C – 26º C (36º F – 80º F). 
Check out the lab results at the bottom
Can be used as a “powered” cooler with the USB lid, or un-powered by using the cold pack Bio-Gel that you pre-freeze in the freezer.
All the parts the cooler comes with as shown on their Amazon store page.
For this review, I went on a number of expeditions and brought the 72hr insulin cooler into a variety of environments where the outside temperature and exposure would be an issue for heat sensitive medications like insulin.
For many outdoors activities, it works really well.
I have listed some activities below, testing the capabilities of the insulin cooler.
Here’s what I found:

Beach Day

Plenty of room for all the insulins
Here’s where the 72hr Insulin cooler really shines.
The beach is one place sure to get a lot of sun, so to protect your precious insulin from baking in the heat, under direct sunlight, it’s nice to have this temperature-controlled vessel to store the insulins in. 
Wether keeping just a vial and a syringe, or a collections of pens and needles, there’s even room for glucagon.
This is one cool place to store the medicines.

Using the freezer gel and the standard lid, there's room to keep things cool for a few hours at the beach.

Carries well in the tote with all the other beach supplies
Just a meter and test strips
A cool place to keep the pump when going out for a surf
To keep the low snacks from melting

With or without the freezer bio gel, the USB powered lid can create a portable mini fridge.

Powered by a small power bank (about 3 hours)
Powered by a small battery/solar charger

Long Road Trips

Another place this cooler works really well is on long road trips.
Depending on space and length of the USB cable, it can travel under the seat, in the back seat, in a cup holder or on the floor.

With USB power:

  • With the USB powered lid, there’s no need to bring the freezer bio gel.
  • There’s usually USB power available in most cars.

Without USB power:

  • If there’s no USB power, then the freezer bio gel will have to travel along.
  • Bio gel can keep the contents of the cooler cold for a couple days.
  • Refreeze the bio gel at the next motel, or the destination
Cool insulin for the destination
Some cup holders are big enough.
This one in a Prius barely fits.

At The Crag

Insulin staying protected and cool while climbing.

For a few of us outdoorsy diabetics, we really love to climb. Outdoor rock climbing areas are rugged, remote, and often exposed to the elements and unprotected from the sun.

The stainless steel case is durable enough to bounce around with my climbing gear in the backpack, although I did get the blue metallic finish a little scratched up while shooting on this climb day at my local crag.

Cool, fresh insulin when needed.

 

Desert Camping

Here's another place where this product really comes in handy.
Camping in the Mojave Desert

 

It can get really hot in the daytime here in the Mojave Desert, and knowing theres a safe place to keep my insulin cool and protected from the heat and the sun in harsh environments like these, I can relax and enjoy this magical landscape.

Keeping the insulin pens cool in the desert sun.

Connecting the USB lid to my GoalZero solar panel to chill down the bio gel before the sun sets.

Getting the fire started for dinner in the desert.

Desert Treks

Exploring the vast Mojave. 

Keeping the adventure going

Adventures in the desert!

To continue our desert adventure away from the campsite, we often venture out into the desert with off-road vehicles and spend the days exploring geological sites, scrambling around majestic rock formations, and discovering hidden desert oasis'.

Our desert day supplies need to come along for the ride, including any medications the explorers might need along the way.

If it's lunchtime, it's bolus time.
On some longer desert expeditions, the bio gel needs a little cool-down.

Here's where a solar charger is really handy.

Day Hikes

Here's where the 72hr insulin cooler takes a break from the outdoors activity, and makes better use of its capabilities back at base camp.

While the cooler is just too big and heavy to carry along in small day packs, we will need to pair down to a smaller, lighter insulin carrying vessel.

Pairing down for fast and light travel.

Moving fast and light with smaller day packs.

 

Leaving Insulin at the Trailhead

Leaving my critical backup insulin in the car at the trailhead is a good safe practice, especially for hikes that are planned for only a few hours out, HOWEVER... there needs to be a way to protect the insulin from the heat.

The bio gel pack will keep backup insulin safe and cool inside the car for a couple days if the container remains closed tight and unopened, no matter how hot the car gets on the inside.

A safe backup to leave cold in the car at the trailhead.

Keeping the leave-behind backup supplies cool. 

It's a common practice for me to leave backup supplies at the car when I'm out on a day-long adventure in the mountains, and just as important is to make sure my supplies are temperature controlled.

I usually bring only fast acting along with me on a day hike. Insulins like Afrezza are perfect for day hikes because they don't need to be refrigerated.
When I was using a pump, my insulin would be traveling with me, but in case of a pump fail during the hike, I'd need a backup vial and syringe waiting for me at the trailhead for when I return.

Enjoy the day hike, knowing the backups are safe and cool at the trailhead.

Backup supplies temperature controlled.

 

Group Outings

With group expeditions there are often opportunities to share some of the load especially with communal items that everyone will be sharing.
In Type One Outdoors group outings, there may be a unique opportunity for one T1D hiker to carry all the insulin of all the other T1D's in the party, and keep it all cool and protected for the length of the outing.

Sharing the Weight
for a day hike.

As long as we know whose insulin is whose 

 

Backpacking

My 2-day pack for an overnight in the mountains

Here's where I need to make critical choices and compromises in regards to size and weight.

I normally carry 2 pens (and needles) in a cooling pouch which is: ~150 g (!5.25 oz)
and my quick acting Afrezza in a cooling wallet which is: ~280 g (~10 oz)

Jumping up to the larger metal insulin cooler puts my insulin weight to: ~820g (~1 lb 13oz)

An increase of ~670 g (~1.5 lbs)

Choosing the right size and weight to carry in the pack.

 

This weight / volume compromise is the factor that may (pardon the pun) "break the hikers back"
when deciding which insulin cooling method to carry along a backpacking expedition.
If it's a personal / solo expedition, I'll have to go with the lighter / Cooling Pouch option.

However, when backpacking with a group, there's always the opportunity to share the load .

Sharing the load
for an over-nighter

 

Notes

Pros

The functionality of the insulin cooler is what makes this work well in hot, environments.

  • Keeps insulin cool. (much colder than a pouch)

    (see lab temperature results below)

  • Durable in rough, outdoor places.

  • Can fit in most carry-along scenarios.

  • Protects medicine from light. 

  • Can hold a multitude of insulins including vials, pens, pumps, pills, glucagon, Afrezza, etc. along with other temperature-sensitive medications.

Cons

It really comes down to personal preferences here.

  • Weight

    Can become an issue when pairing down weight for carrying in a pack.
    Its lightest (empty) weight is 387g (13.5 oz)
    Its heaviest (full) weight is 950g (about 2lbs)

  • Size (volume)

    Can be an issue when space is very limited.
    Its outside volume is ~ 1,212 cm³ or 1.21 l.  (74 in³)

  • Tech

    The only tech part is the USB lid.
    It’s really a personal thing of mine, and I try to avoid bringing extra tech into the backcountry due to the risk of failure. But even if the USB lid fails, the contents will stay cool if the smaller metal lid is used with the freezer gel..

From their Lab Tests

Temperature Tests:

How many pens can it carry?

(these quantities are assuming pens only, no additional freezer gel pack)

In my own test, I managed to squeeze 6 pens:
(including the freezer gel pack)

3 Tresiba Pens
1 Lantus Pen
1 Humalog Pen
1 NovoRapid Pen
And still room for pen needles, a vial or two, and syringes.

Vials and Cartridges?

Vials and pen cartridges only (no pens) allowing room for the freezer gel pack.

(Experience and thoughts on general use from https://typeoneoutdoors.com/72hr-cooler/ 

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