Best Ice Bath 2023

A white ice bath on a white platform in a garden.
Credit: Plunge

A white ice bath on a white platform in a garden.
Credit: Plunge

When it comes to athletic recovery, ice baths have emerged as an increasingly popular method for promoting faster rejuvenation. However, without the right tools for the job, performing a full-body cold water plunge is difficult. Fortunately, our list is here to help you add the best ice bath to your recovery setup, so you can completely submerge yourself in the freezing temperatures with ease.

Based on price, reviews, features, and performance, these ice baths may just take your post-workout recovery to the next level beyond what the likes of supplements, such as some of the best BCAA, EAAs, or even multivitamins around, can offer.

This is because there are several potential health benefits to cold water therapy, including reduced inflammation, muscular recovery, and improved performance on a regular basis. You may even experience some psychological benefits such as reduced stress from a cold water plunge. It is worth noting at this point though that more research is needed to prove these potential benefits, with several studies producing inconclusive evidence to support each claim.

However, there are also studies that support the use of ice baths. For example, research by Vaile et al. found cold water therapy to potentially be effective in reducing and improving the recovery of functional deficiencies from delayed onset muscle soreness. Therefore, this promotes the idea that a cold water plunge can be effective for recovery as an athlete.

So, taking all this into account, if you're willing to give the cold water a go, then our list of the best ice baths has you covered. From budget baths, like this Polar Recovery Tub, to more expensive kits, like the Plunge, where you can control the temperature at the touch of a button, our list is here to help you navigate through some of the top picks on the market. Let's get into it...

Best ice bath

  1. Plunge
  2. Polar Recovery Tub
  3. Tru Grit Inflatable Tub
  4. Ice Barrel
  5. Renu Therapy Cold Stoic 2.0
Plunge product image of a white bath with "Plunge" branding in blue at the bottom.
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Credit: Plunge

1. Plunge

Best overall ice bath

Size: 43" x 24" x 31.5" x 67"
Lowest Temp:

We're starting out with the Plunge, which we'd best describe as a mini swimming pool based on how it operates. It comes with a cooling, filtration, and sanitation system to deliver cold, clean water whenever you need it.

By filling it up, plugging it in, and setting the temperature, you can submerge your entire body in icy cold water as low as 39°F (3.9°C) in a matter of moments.

There's no plumbing required, and it comes with a 20-micron filter to keep dirt and debris out of the water for a cleaner, more relaxing cold water plunge. It even features ozone technology, an oxidizer that decomposes undesired contaminants to help preserve water quality.

If that wasn't enough, it can be used both indoors and outdoors and it features an underwater light to illuminate the pool at night. Ultimately, it's an incredibly well-rounded bit of kit that can help you perform cold water therapy on a more consistent basis.

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Polar Recovery Tub product image of a grey and white circular ice bath with a lid.
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Credit: Polar Recovery

2. Polar Recovery Tub

Best budget ice bath

Size: 80cm x 75cm
Lowest Temp:
Dependent on ice

While the Plunge is great, it is also rather expensive. By contrast, this Polar Recovery Tub is just a fraction of the price, yet it can still deliver an effective cold water plunge on a regular basis.

All you have to do is fill the bath with water and ice, then you can jump in and submerge yourself in freezing temperatures. Although there's an element of ease to selecting the temperature at the touch of a button, using the old-fashioned ice and water approach means you'll be able to hit some seriously low temperatures if you desire.

Measuring at a height of 75cm with a 270-litre capacity, you can completely submerge yourself as if you were in a hot tub. What's even better is that it weighs just 3kg when deflated, at which point it can be transported if needed.

So, while it may not come with all the bells and whistles of some of its more expensive competitors, its extremely low price tag is not to be looked past. Definitely well worth checking out if you're in need of an inexpensive ice bath.

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Tru Grit Inflatable Tub product image of a black ice bath featuring "Tru Grit" branding in white underlined in red at the bottom.
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Credit: Tru Grit

3. Tru Grit Inflatable Tub

Best portable ice bath

Size: 60" x 30" X 24"
Lowest Temp: Dependent on ice (can by Chiller)

Continuing with the theme of inflatable baths, this Tru Grit Tub is designed to be taken on the road to ensure you can get your cold water recovery session in from almost anywhere in the world.

It features an industrial-grade drop-stitched chassis complete with a PVC outer shell that means, once inflated, it requires no metal supports or beams to keep it in place. As a result, it's easy to transport as it weighs just 38 lbs and can be rolled up like a sleeping bag to fit in your backpack.

Tru Grit also boasts its tub can be filled with air in just two to five minutes with its double action pump, then deflated again in just two. That means you shouldn't have to wait long to dive right into some icy cold water.

That said, you do have to fill this one with water and ice yourself, although the tub is said to be compatible with the Tru Grit Chiller once it's released. Still, if you're looking for a truly portable ice bath, this inflatable tub is hard to ignore.

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Ice Barrel product image of a black barrel-shaped ice bath next to black steps and its lid.
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Credit: Ice Barrel

4. Ice Barrel

Best ice bath for small spaces

Size: 42” x 31” x 25”
Lowest Temp:
Dependent on ice

So far, we've covered some fairly large ice baths. However, this Ice Barrel is a compact bit of kit that we feel is ideal for small spaces.

At 42" high, holding 105 gallons of water, it's designed to fully submerge almost any individual while you sit comfortably and reap the potential health benefits of a cold water plunge.

It can be used and stored either indoors or outdoors as it comes with a protective cover, and its lid ensures you can fill it with water and ice and leave it to drop in temperature without having to worry about it warming up before you're even in it.

Ice Barrel also boasts its tub features an easy-to-drain system when you're done with your session, ensuring you can easily empty it if you need to move it and store it when not in use. A useful feature to have if you're limited to space.

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Renu Therapy Cold Stoic 2.0 product image of a black rectangular ice bath featuring wooden panelling on top.
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Credit: Renu Therapy

5. Renu Therapy Cold Stoic 2.0

Best premium ice bath

Size: 70” x 33” x 35"
Lowest Temp:

Our final featured product is the epitome of luxury and performance. The Renu Therapy Cold Stoic 2.0 represents the pinnacle of ice bath technology, offering an unparalleled cold water therapy experience.

It boasts a spacious tank, capable of fully immersing individuals of nearly any height, and it is equipped with an integrated chiller that can quickly lower the water temperature to as low as 36°F (approximately 2°C) at the simple push of a button.

What sets the Renu Therapy Cold Stoic 2.0 apart though is its two-stage filtration system. It includes a removable large grate for handling substantial debris and a replaceable 50-micron water filter element for capturing fine particles. Furthermore, it incorporates an ozone generator to ensure the water remains free from bacteria, viruses, and harmful metals.

In addition to its cutting-edge features, this product offers exceptional insulation, providing energy efficiency and maintaining a quiet operation, as attested by Renu Therapy. We also have to mention its superb design that can be customised to suit your indoor or outdoor space. While it comes with a premium price tag, few ice baths can rival the advanced capabilities and elegance of this offering.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Don't worry if you've got any questions so far. We've answered some of the most commonly asked queries below.

What is an ice bath?

An ice bath is what is typically used for the therapeutic technique involving immersing the body, usually the lower half or the entire body, in cold water or a mixture of cold water and ice for a specified period.

The water temperature is usually set between 50 to 59°F (10 to 15°C) or lower, with ice baths commonly used by athletes and individuals seeking muscle recovery, reduction of inflammation, and other potential benefits. Some believe the cold temperature of the water also helps to constrict blood vessels, reduces metabolic activity, and helps with muscle repair and recovery.

What are the potential benefits of taking ice baths?

As touched on above, there are several potential health benefits to using an ice bath, the first being they may help reduce inflammation by constricting blood vessels and decreasing blood flow to the affected areas. In turn, this should aid in muscle recovery and alleviate post-exercise soreness. A report on two athletes by Lateef suggests immersion may reduce soft tissue inflammation, thus supporting the idea.

Because of this, ice baths can potentially promote muscle recovery by minimising muscle damage and reducing the accumulation of metabolic waste products, such as lactic acid, which can contribute to muscle soreness. There's also a theory that the warming effect after an ice bath can promote vasodilation, leading to increased blood circulation which, in turn, can aid the recovery process.

What's more, this combination of reduced inflammation and muscle recovery could even factor into improving your athletic performance. A study by Vaile et al. found that cold water immersion, as well as contrast water therapy, appeared to improve recovery from high-intensity cycling compared to hot water immersion and passive recovery groups. Athletes were also better able to maintain performance across a five-day period from this. As a result, using an ice bath after every training session may help you perform on a more regular basis.

That being said, there is a school of thought that this is all just psychological. There have been numerous studies that have found inconclusive evidence surrounding the aforementioned benefits. One study of note by Peake et al. concludes that cold water immersion is no more effective than active recovery for minimising inflammation in your muscles after resistance training. Brukner et al. found similar results where ice-water immersion used in their study was ineffectual in minimising delayed onset muscle soreness in untrained individuals.

However, while the research is inconclusive, that's not to say an ice bath cannot still be beneficial to you. Yes, it may turn out cold water therapy is more psychological than anything else, but if it's helping you to perform on a daily basis, giving you the sense that you're more recovered, and is helpful in ridding your mind of stress, then it's hard to argue against its benefits.

How often should you take ice baths?

When it comes to how often to use an ice bath, it's important to strike a balance between the potential benefits they offer and any possible risks involved. Generally speaking, we'd say using an ice bath on a moderate basis is fine, but multiple times a day, for instance, is probably too much.

One option is to aim for a regular schedule of taking ice baths after intense physical activities or workouts. For instance, if you engage in rigorous training sessions several times a week, you could consider taking an ice bath after each session to hopefully aid in your recovery.

However, it's crucial to listen to your body and not overdo it. Ice baths are intense and may not be ideal for your body if taken too frequently. This can potentially lead to adverse effects such as prolonged exposure to cold stress, which may hinder your recovery instead of enhancing it.

Instead of a fixed number of times per week, it might be more prudent to pay attention to how your body responds to ice baths. Monitor your recovery, assess any signs of excessive fatigue or discomfort, and adjust the frequency accordingly. Every individual is different, and what works for someone else may not necessarily be suitable for you.

How do you transition from an ice bath to a warm environment safely?

Transitioning from an ice bath to a warm environment safely is crucial to avoid experiencing any adverse effects. One of the key things to keep in mind is time management. The longer you spend in an ice bath, the more time it'll likely take for you to adjust to a warmer environment. Therefore, don't spend too long submerged, and make sure you listen to your body if you do start to become too cold.

When your planned time in the ice bath is up, don't rush to get out immediately. Instead, slowly and gradually begin the exit process. Make sure you have warm clothes or towels nearby as well to ensure you retain body heat as you exit.

Don't go straight into anything too warm start after an ice bath either. While a warm shower or bath is tempting, you'd be placing your body under two extreme conditions in close succession, which may lead to you passing out as a potential reaction.

Ultimately, pay close attention to how you feel during and after the transition. If you experience any concerning symptoms like extreme shivering, dizziness, or numbness, seek immediate medical attention.

How long should you stay in an ice bath?

The ideal duration for staying in an ice bath can vary depending on individual tolerance and the specific goals you want to achieve. However, one of the most commonly recommended time frames to stay in an ice bath is 10-15 minutes, with one study by Roberts et al. demonstrating that 10 minutes of cold water immersion allowed athletes to complete more work during subsequent training sessions.

There is more to it than that though, as published work by Fatimah Lateef indicates in its introduction that some athletes submerge for as low as five minutes, while others push up to 20. There are even some who alternate therapy between the ice bath plunge and tepid water immersion, each lasting between one to five minutes.

Remember that the main goal of an ice bath is to provide the desired potential benefits, such as reduced inflammation, improved recovery, and enhanced performance. Staying in the bath too long can lead to overexposure to cold, which might not be more effective and can increase the risk of cold-related injuries. So stay in as long as you feel comfortable, and don't overdo it when pushing to improve recovery.

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