Ice baths have long been seen as an extreme method for the most dedicated athletes to get the most out of their training.
However, in recent years, as we have learned more about the science behind them, more and more people have been deciding to give them a go for themselves.
While there are a huge number of different ice baths on the market, which vary wildly on things like style and price, one option that has been making a real name for itself is the Ice Barrel. With a “cool” design and carefully thought out build, it claims to be one of the best options of its kind.
What kind of benefits can you really hope to achieve by using an ice bath though and does the Ice Barrel really help you to achieve them better than any other ice bath? Well, in our comprehensive Ice Barrel review, we aim to help you answer both of those questions.
So, if you are considering purchasing the Ice Barrel but need a little more information before taking the plunge, I highly recommend reading on.
What Is The Ice Barrel?
The Ice Barrel was designed as a cold therapy training tool that enables individuals to easily use ice baths as part of their daily routine.
The barrel boasts a simple to use design and features a structure that provides a good fit for most individuals, as well as a high level of thermal insulation.
Designer, founder, and CEO of the Ice Barrel, Wyatt Ewing was introduced to cold therapy by a member of the gym he attended and quickly became a fan of “The Iceman” Wim Hof. First testing the waters by taking cold showers, he quickly moved on to the traditional ice bath.
It was then that he noted the process of getting enough ice and putting it in a normal tub each time he wanted to take an ice bath was a lengthy, arduous task. He, therefore, decided to go about creating a product that made the experience much more convenient for both himself and others.
He decided that the product would need to be easy to fill and drain, should hold its temperature for a suitable length of time, must be safe to use for the majority of people, and have a uniquely stylish design. When he put all of this together, the Ice Barrel was born.
By filling the Ice Barrel with a combination of ice and water, it allows individuals to experience the recovery benefits that cold temperatures have been proven to offer the human body, as easily and conveniently as possible, in a strong, stylish item.
Ice Barrel Specifications
The Ice Barrel is available in a choice of either black or desert tan and is made from 100% recycled LLDPE (low linear density polyethylene) plastic. It features an easy-to-use drainage system, ensuring it can be quickly and easily emptied after use for both storage and transport.
The insulating material of the barrel and its thick lid allows it to hold temperature for roughly 3 days after adding ice during the summer, with customers reportedly needing to use an average of 75 pounds of ice to get the Ice Barrel to the correct temperature.
This will obviously vary dramatically based on the climate in which you are using your Ice Barrel.
The Ice Barrel also features a completely solid design. This is ideal for preventing leaks but is obviously less convenient for travel and storage.
A lifetime warranty covers the product for any failures that may occur in the course of natural usage. A replacement Ice Barrell will be provided if you are delivered a faulty or damaged item.
A 70% refund is also offered if you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of purchase, providing the product is still in a “like new” condition.
Ice Barrel Dimensions And Weight
The Ice Barrel is 42 inches (4 ft 4 inches) tall and 31 inches in diameter, with a top opening that has a width of 25 inches. It can hold 105 gallons of water, which should be more than sufficient for the vast majority of users to be able to comfortably submerge their entire body in the barrel.
Weighing just 55lbs, the Ice Barrel is also relatively lightweight, although its large size can still make it challenging to carry. It is also extremely important to remember that it is very heavy when full, weighing up to 930 pounds, so should always be emptied before you attempt to move it.
Pricing And Buying Options
The Ice Barrel is currently only available on its official website and cannot be purchased from either local outlets or other online retailers. It is in stock and is available for immediate purchase, with delivery expected within three to five business days from the date you place your order.
The Ice Barrel is priced at $1,199.97 and this includes the barrel, lid, and all the accessories. Shipping costs $95 in the contiguous United States or is free if you purchase the maintenance kit. Shipping rates and availability to other destinations varies based on location.
Shipping takes place within three to five business days after placing an order, although up to 10 business days should be allowed for it to be delivered.
What Is Included With The Ice Barrel?
In addition to the Ice Barrel itself, the standard package comes with a total of four additional items included as well.
There is a solid lid made from the same material as the Ice Barrel, which forms an airtight seal over the Ice Barrel’s opening. This allows you to cover the Ice Barrel when not in use, helping it to keep its temperature longer and preventing the water from getting contaminated.
There is also a stand that attaches to the base of the Ice Barrel. This adds more stability to the barrel and helps to prevent it from falling over, even when fully loaded or while climbing in and out of it.
In a similar vein, the included step stool makes it much easier to climb in and out of the barrel. This will not only make life easier but will also reduce the likelihood of you tipping the barrel over, falling, and hurting yourself, or a combination of the two.
Finally, there is even a protective cover that helps to shield the Ice Barrel against UV exposure. By putting this on when the barrel is not in use, you will stop the plastic from being weathered, helping it to maintain its strength, while also stopping it from fading and becoming visually unpleasing, particularly if it is being used outside.
How Does The Ice Barrel Work/How Do You Use It?
The Ice Barrel is simple and easy to operate and does not require any power connectors or pipes to be connected for you to use it. The first step to using the Ice Barrel is to choose a suitable spot to place the barrel. You then also need to attach the stand to the bottom of the Ice Barrel to keep it stable.
It is a good idea to have the barrel positioned as close to a faucet as possible. This will allow you to connect a hose to the faucet, making it easier to fill the barrel with water, without having to trail a hose too far. Once the Ice Barrel has been filled with water, you will then need to add the ice.
The amount of ice you add depends on the temperature you are trying to achieve and how much experience you have with cold therapy. The average user will need to add 50 to 100 pounds of ice to the barrel, to get it to the correct temperature.
That said, beginners should only use a small amount of ice at first until their body gets used to the extreme temperatures. You can then gradually start to add extra ice in 5 or 10 pound increments each time you top it up.
You then want to set up the step stool, which will help you to safely get in and out of the Ice Barrel. Once in, it is recommended you sit down, relax, and focus on breathing steadily. You should aim to spend around 10 mins in the barrel to a max of 15 mins, with beginners starting off with even less.
Are The Benefits Of The Ice Barrel & Cold Therapy Scientifically Proven?
Cold therapy has been studied and developed for thousands or years, with new mental and physical benefits having been consistently proven. Among the scientifically proven benefits users can expect to make the most of when using the Ice Barrel are:
- Better blood and lymphatic circulation and heart health
- Relief from inflammation and joint and muscle pain
- Enhanced metabolism and recovery
- Healthier hair, nails, and skin
- Boosted weight loss, energy levels, and durability
- Improved immune and respiratory systems
- Lower blood pressure
- Elevated mood and improved symptoms of depression and stress
- Enhanced mental clarity, discipline, and focus
- A better quality of sleep
Is The Ice Barrel Effective?
There are numerous testimonials that can be viewed directly on the product’s official page and many more available on social media. The majority of users do seem to enjoy the functionality that the Ice Barrel offers them and report a generally positive experience.
Reviews suggest that the product sufficiently offers all of the benefits possible with cold therapy, is easy to get in and out of, feels safe throughout their sessions, holds its temperature well, doesn’t take much effort to drain, and has a fun, uniquely styled, yet sturdy design.
While there are admittedly the occasional less favourable reviews, most of these were down to personal preferences. Negative reviews focused largely on the product being too large to store or taking a long time to fill, as well as the high price tag associated with the product.
Ice Barrel Pros & Cons
Are There Any Risks Or Side Effects Linked To The Ice Barrel?
While there are no specific risks or side effects to using the Ice Barrel, the same risks present whenever you use any form of cold therapy do still apply. Due to the design, it is also important to be careful as you get in and out of the Ice Barrel, so that you don’t trip, fall, and hurt yourself
The main risk is hyperthermia, which can occur when you are in extremely cold temperatures for too long. However, this can be avoided by following the guidelines, which state you should use the Ice Barrel for a max of 15 minutes at a time, at a temperature between 50°F and 59°F (10°C and 15°C).
People who exceed this limit are also at risk of frostbite as well, as the low temperatures can limit blood flow to the skin and limbs, which while beneficial can be dangerous if it goes on for too long.
Hyperventilating is the other main possible risk, as the cold water can be an extreme shock to the system at first. You should really focus on your breathing to try and avoid this as your body adapts.
It is also a good idea to have someone with you the first few times you use the Ice Barrel, as they will be able to assist you in the event that you faint or pass out.
Ice Barrel Alternatives
While the Ice Barrel is undoubtedly one of the best ice baths or cold plunges on the market, it isn’t going to be the perfect choice for everybody, for one reason or another.
With that in mind, we will now look at some of the best Ice Barrel alternatives currently available. That will hopefully ensure everyone is able to find an ice bath that perfectly meets all of their own personal wants and needs from such a product.
The Cold Plunge– Recommended alternative
The Cold Plunge is an alternative designed to look like a traditional white porcelain bath, making it a much better choice for those who would rather lay down while using cold therapy, as opposed to squatting.
Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, the Cold Plunge can be plugged in to make use of its thermostat system, which gets the water to the temperature you desire.
Not only does this remove the need for the constant adding of ice but it also allows you to heat the water, adding hot water therapy as an additional bonus.
Filtration and sanitation systems keep the water clean and fresh at all times, while the insulated spa cover helps to prevent contamination and maintain the water temperature while the product is not in use.
Additional extras like a cell phone holder help to make the Cold Plunge the most convenient and enjoyable cold therapy experience possible. It is also a much easier product to obtain for international customers.
The main drawbacks to the Cold Plunge are that the $4,990 price tag makes it considerably more expensive than the Ice Barrel, while the 1 year manufacturer’s warranty is notably shorter.
The Happy Life Folding Bathtub is an inflatable option that, at just $60, is a fraction of the price of most ice baths, making it a good choice for those who haven’t completely committed to using ice baths in the long run but want to give them a try.
Made from lightweight plastic and easily deflate-able, it is ideal for those worried about storage or taking it with them on the go. The easy to wipe down plastic structure also makes it extremely straightforward and convenient to clean, while the upright stands make sure it is safe to use.
Considerably smaller than many other options, it isn’t the premier choice for comfort, and no real insulation means it has to be filled after each use, which isn’t very convenient. The lack of any real warranty beyond your statutory rights may also put some off, even with its incredibly low price tag.
Only available in light blue, it isn’t the most aesthetic option either. However, given its foldable, storable nature, this shouldn’t be an issue. This is best described as a low risk option that is a great starter for people just getting going with ice baths.
The Muro Portable Bathtub is a collapsible bathtub that, at just 4 pounds, is ideal for those with no space or who want to take their ice bath with them on the go. Its chic black and white design help it to fit in with any décor scheme, while triple layered insulation ensures it maintains its temperature.
Six supporting rods help to make sure it remains upright at all times, providing a safe, stable bathing experience. The air pump makes the Muro Portable Bathtub easy to put up and take down, while the one metre extendable hose outlet also makes the tub incredibly easy to drain.
Built in seat cushions ensure you will have a comfy, relaxing experience. That said, its small size means some users may find it a little cramped. The inflatable nature also means heavier users may still find it a little unstable when they lean back on the sides, even with all of the safety measures in place.
With a recommended retail price of $79.99 the Muro Portable Bathtub is a little more expensive than some of the other inflatable bathtubs on the market. However, this can largely be attributed to some of the additional components and functionality that it offers.
The PEAKn Ice Bath is another inflatable ice bath, this time retailing for $64.
Ergonomically designed for maximum comfort, it provides a relaxing, enjoyable ice bath experience, in an easy to pack away for storage or transport package.
The sturdy PVC used makes it a stronger product than most inflatable ice baths, while the easy to inflate design and included pump means you can put it up or down in minutes. Its robust base also means it can be placed on almost any surface, both indoors and outdoors.
Included videos detail how to assemble and take down the ice bath, while there are plenty of videos attached showing how to use ice baths safely and detailing the benefits they offer as well. This makes it perfect for novices who have no idea what they are doing and are using an ice bath for the first time.
The blue design and reports that the bath begins to deflate after 24 hours will put some people off. However, with the price tag and a pump allowing you to re-inflate the tub while it is still full, it is a great choice for anyone looking to buy an ice bath who doesn’t want to spend a fortune.
The Cold Stoic
The Cold Stoic is a premium ice bath that is complete with its own internal thermostat, to let you constantly control the temperature and avoid having to refill it every couple of uses. The closable lid also lets you shut yourself in darkness, for complete immersion during your cold therapy sessions.
Suitable for use both indoors and outdoors, it comes in 5 different colour choices, each with 5 different natural wood design finishes. This incredible range of combinations will make it a beautiful compliment to any of the décor in your home or garden.
The perfectly matching step stool also makes it easy and safe to get in and out of the ice bath on each and every use. Meanwhile, the 5 year warranty gives buyers complete confidence and peace of mind in their purchase.
However, while it is a great product, with a $9,699.99 price tag and a 375 pound weight, there are certainly some factors that may put a number buyers off and it is only an option for those truly committed to using ice baths in the long term.
The Ice Barrel is a great ice bath that is a perfect choice for many people searching for this type of product.
It holds temperature and water well, has a cool, quirky design, and has features perfectly designed to prevent it falling over and enabling you to safely and easily get in and out.
While the size and inability to take it apart don’t make it ideal for travel, that is true for many ice baths at the top end of the market. The price and returns policy of the Ice Barrel do both make it a somewhat risky purchase for buyers who aren’t completely sure about their purchase though.
However, for those who are certain they are going to be pushing ahead with ice baths for the foreseeable future, the Ice Barrel more than holds its own against almost anything else on offer. This makes it a great choice for anyone seeking to start making the most of cold therapy for themselves.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost