We Review the Frio Hold: Is It Just Another Cold Shoe or Something Different?

We Review the Frio Hold: Is It Just Another Cold Shoe or Something Different?

When you need to place a flashgun in an unusual spot, it might turn out to be difficult. A company called Frio offers a solution. Although it is not the only solution on the market, it is perhaps a great one. I tried the Frio Hold to find out.

They call it the only cold shoe you can trust. The Frio Hold is basically another cold shoe that allows you to use your flashgun at a location other than your camera's hot shoe. So why is it different from the other cold shoes available on the market?

The system that Frio offers is based on the Frio Hold, a small piece of molded polymer that can be mounted with a 1/4 inch or a 3/8 inch thread. It can be connected directly to a tripod, light stand, or video rig. Your flashgun or other device is held in place by a locking system; Simple and effective.

The Frio Hold from different angles

The Frio Hold is part of a modular system that offers a wide variety of accessories to place a flash or any other hot shoe gear at any location. The Frio Hold is just the cold shoe. You need to combine it with one of the other accessories from the Frio system to get the most out of it.

The Frio Hold, Frio Stand, and Frio Arch

The Frio Hold is a simple cold shoe and it works nicely. There is nothing more to it. Some flashes like the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT are designed to make the mount weather resistant. The rubber seal makes it a bit more difficult to attach and detach the flash onto the Frio Hold. The Profoto A1 flash without a rubber seal is easier to attach and detach.

It's easy to attach a device. You have to push the protrusion to slide it off again.

The flash is securely fixed but the Frio Hold offers not much flexibility in itself. You can attach it to a tripod or light stand, but that’s it. The Frio Stand is the Frio Hold fitted onto a small adapter with a 5/8 inch connection. Still, the Frio Stand has no way of pointing the flash in any way other than straight forward, besides the tilted flash head possibility itself. If you need more flexibility, you need the Frio Arch.

The Frio Hold or Frio Stand don't offer much flexibility You need at least the Frio Arch.

The Frio Arch is a cold shoe setup with a small ball head. It can be attached to a 1/4 inch mount and allows you to direct the flash in any direction. It’s basically a mini ball head with the Frio Stand connected to it. I think the Frio Arch is the minimum setup you need for any flexibility. 

The Frio Grasp Mini and Grasp Bigi

It becomes more interesting when the Frio Arch is combined with the Grasp Mini or Grasp Bigi. These clamps are low profile and allow you to attach your device to any round or flat surface. And it works great. The third contact point allows a secure mounting on anything round. Use a pole, railing, table edge, or whatever is available.

The Frio Grasp Bigi works well, even on small round pipes. It is fixed securely

The Frio Grasp Mini is a smaller version of the Bigi. 

The Grasp Bigi is the bigger version of the Grasp Mini. It also has a nice third contact point which is essential for stability. You should be able to use it as a mini tripod, but with a heavy flash I wouldn’t trust it that much.

There is one thing you need to be aware of. The connection between the Frio Arch and the Clamp itself can become loose when a flash is placed at a 90-degree angle. The weight of the flash is enough to unscrew the Frio Arch. If possible, rotate the clamp 180 degrees so the weight is with the screw thread. This way it will stay fixed.

Since it's all screwed together, the weight of a device may unscrew part of it.

The Frio Cling

If a flash needs to be placed near a mirror, window, or any other nonporous surface, the Frio Cling may come in handy. It’s a suction cup with a vacuum pump that secures the Frio Cling amazingly well. The pump has a visual indicator so you know it’s secured.

The Frio Cling allows you to fix the Frio Hold onto a nonporous surface. It's secured with a build in vacuum pump.

I used it on a few nonporous surfaces and it works great. It stayed secured for many hours, so it seems trustworthy. Again, the Frio Arch is attached to the Cling, and if the flash is at an angle, make sure the weight is with the screw thread.

Is the Frio Hold the Best Cold Shoe or Not?

There are many cold shoe solutions available. The Frio Hold is just another one and I think it is a simple but effective one. Frio states it’s the best cold shoe ever, though that may be difficult to prove. One thing's for sure, it holds your gear very well, but you need to use it in combination with one of the other Frio products for maximum flexibility. Although the Frio Hold may be the best cold shoe, if it’s not connected securely to the other products, it may still fail you.

The Frio system offers a good way of securing a flash or other device on many locations. It's low profile and doesn't require the need of a light stand.

The Frio Grasp can be used on flat surfaces also without any risks.

Up until now, I used a swivel cold shoe adapter that fixes my flash with a screw knob. That works perfectly, although you have to be careful not to tighten the screw too much. It’s a versatile system, that allows me to attach the swivel to a light stand, tripod, or a super clamp.

Although a swivel hot shoe adapter like this one works in many cases, the Frio system is more flexible and secure.

The Frio Hold is much easier and faster in use. You just have to slide the flash in, and it’s secure. But you’re not done with the Frio Hold alone. It only becomes a versatile system if you have the Frio Arch, Grasp Mini, or Grasp Bigi. That may prove a significant investment altogether. It’s something to be aware of. If you’re fine with the investment, the Frio system may be a great one to use.

What I Liked

  • Secure mount
  • Flexible system
  • Well-designed clamps
  • Low profile

What I Didn’t Like

  • Weight of flash can unscrew the Frio Arch
  • Third contact point makes attachment Grasp Bigi more difficult
  • Grasp Bigi is not stable enough for use as mini tripod
  • Expensive if you need the full flexibility of the Frio system

The Frio system offers a lot of flexibility, but if you dive into the system, it can be quite an investment.

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11 Comments
Carlos Teixeira's picture

You forgot to mention how every single one you buy will break and lounge your speedlight to the ground. Just sharing my experience, of course, yours might be different. And this seems like a brand endorsement more than a review, but ok.

Edit: To be fair Frio replaced my first two Frio Hold, then I just gave up on them.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Hi Carlos,
Did the Frio Hold break? I didn't have that experience myself, fortunately. Can you elaborate on your experience? I would love to hear all about it, and other readers perhaps also.

Carlos Teixeira's picture

Of course. They always broke in the same spot, the top tabs that hold the speedlight shoe broke away. First one was after tilting the flash and dropping it a bit too hard. Second and third, with use the tabs got looser, until one of the metal shoe sides broke away from one of the plastic tabs and I found the flash tilting to one side barely hanging. First was a lot more scary, both tabs broke at the same time and luckily I cought the speedlight. Others were a slow burn, up until one day the speedlight was all caddywhompus on me.
I liked them very much while they lasted, I think I still have one, somewhere. Then I just bought strobes and stopped using speedlights altogether.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Sounds as if the material is too brittle.Something to remind, if I'm going to use the one I have.
Thanks

Simon Pollock's picture

Hey Nando, thanks for the write up! There certainly were problems in the past, but with Frio changing hands etc, there have been material changes and we've not had any issues for some time. Any issues, please feel free to get in touch! Cheers - Simon @ Frio (and everywhere else haha)

Nando Harmsen's picture

Good to know. This means it's a better product now.

Simon Pollock's picture

Hey Carlos, was this a while ago (like a few years) or just recently? Cheers - Simon @ FrioPhoto

Carlos Teixeira's picture

By your response to Nando, I see there were changes to the material. It was a few years ago, yes. I was unaware that the brand changed hands, so hopefully people get to this point in the thread and not only read the first post. Anyway, would like to see some long term reviews, just get the ghosts from the past cleared away. Hey by the way, will you exchange my broken Frios with new versions? XD JK

Adam Palmer's picture

I like the godox brackets that grab the head of the flash. There is a lot force leveraged on that tiny little shoe. Also-- the bracket around the head kind of works like a bumper if anything falls.

Guy Daudelin's picture

I bought a couple of Frio cold shoes way back when they came out. They do the job fine, but didn't like the thing you mentionned with weather protected shoes.

I now use Really Right Stuff Arca compatible cold shoes. They don't seem to be making them anymore, but Kirk got pretty much the same thing and that makes the speedlites a lot more versatile : https://kirkphoto.com/kirk-cold-shoe-2169.html

Nando Harmsen's picture

I also have one from Really Right Stuff, but I rarely use it.