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Ice Barrel vs Cold Plunge

cold therapy: ice barrel review vs cold plunge review

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Cold Plunge vs Ice Barrel

Cold Water therapy and cold plunging has quite the buzz around it in the current fitness world. The benefits of cold water exposure are now touching mainstream consciousness and there are many companies looking to offer this to the masses, two of which we will be discussing in this article. The cold Plunge tub and the Ice barrel are two popular cold plunging devices that many use for their cold exposure practice. In this article, we will take a further look at both of these tubs.

If we had to choose which one to buy it would be the cold plunge. The high flow rate and sleek design mixed with the “plug and plunge” capability make it a no-brainer for us. We live in a hot climate so having a tub that can cool very quickly is very important. Also, we do not want to continue buying ice to keep our tub cool. If you are not willing to pay that steep of a price for a tub, here are some other alternatives.

If you are going to purchase a cold plunge device, it is important to compare what is out there on the market. Let’s look at the Cold Plunge Tub vs the Ice Barrel:

cold plunge logo
ice barrel logo

Pros (Cold Plunge)

  • Do not have to use ice to cool the water
  • Can go inside or outside
  • Can use this anytime because of the filtration system
  • Can get as cold as 39°
  • The gold standard of cold plunge tubs 
  • High flow rate 
  • Plenty of options to choose from

Cons (Cold Plunge)

  • Much larger than the Ice Barrel and takes up much more space
  • Expensive compared to the Ice Barrel. $5,000 vs $1,200

  • Uses electricity to heat and cool the water temperature

Pros (Ice Barrel)

  • Slender design and does not take up too much floor space

  • Durable

  • Comes with a lid, step stool, stand, and protective UV cover

  • Can go inside or outside

  • Does not require electricity

  • You plunge in the upright position which a bit more comfortable

Cons (Ice Barrel)

  • Still have to buy ice to use it

  • No electric cooling or heating mechanisms

  • Hrad to get into for shorter people

  • Heavy when filled

Specs (Cold Plunge)

  • Plunge XL: 73 inches long, 32.5 inches wide (47 inches with the cooling system by its side), 27 inches in depth
  • Plunge (Standard): 67 inches long, 31.5 inches wide (43 inches with the cooling system by its side), 24 inches in depth

Specs (Ice Barrel)

  • Holds 105 Gallons of water
  • 42″ High by 31″ Wide 25″ Opening

Table of Contents

ice baths

A little history behind Cold Water Immersion Therapy

Cold Therapy, or Cold Water Immersion, has been around and widely practiced for centuries. Initially, the practice was seen to help with sore and aching muscles with no real science behind the findings but recently, due to its popularity in pop culture, researchers have been able to take further looks into the practice and its health benefits.

Cryotherapy is an umbrella term often used to describe therapeutic processes involving cold temperatures. The principle purpose of cold therapy is to withdraw heat from the body by way of decreasing core temperatures and altering the blood flow throughout the body. Cold Therapy has been a common practice mainly in the arena of sports and general weight training.

Most are familiar with cold therapy’s earliest form, the ice bath. This is a process when large metal tubs would be filled with cool water and a large amount of ice. Players would submerge their bodies in hopes to recover faster from intense training sessions or long periods of exercise.


Ice Barrel and other cold plunging companies are very vocal about the benefits that cold water exposure can have on the bodies. On most of these companies websites you can find a list of benefits there but in case you wanted to pull your own research here a few studies we have found helpful in our research process:

cold plunge

Over time, the tubs’ style and shape have involved a more modern look and feel. Today there are many companies pushing the need forward on the movement of getting people to test the waters with cold water immersion.

Let’s take a further look into who is making it happen:

Ice Barrel Review: A Quick Look at the Ice Barrel

The Ice Barrel is what you expect it to be by the name of the product. It is a giant barrel that you keep in your backyard, fill up with water, and dump a bunch of ice into. Whether you are a long-distance runner, weight lift regularly, or train in some kind of martial art the Ice Barrel does what it was built to do, help you submerge your body in cold water to help you recover faster.

Here are some pros and cons of the Ice Barrel. Check these out before you make a purchase.

Pros of the Ice Barrel

Cons of the Ice Barrel

  • lighter than it looks (when empty)

  • no setup

  • you plunge basically standing up – most tubs have you laying down

  • step stool to get in and out

  • very simple to use

  • refresh water about once a month

  • easy to dunk entire body

  • not the cheapest item you’ll buy

  • Ice Barrel requires regular ice refilling (no cooling system like some of the other tubs)

  • can be difficult to get in and out if short or very tall (well over 6 feet)

  • you cannot control the temperature – in the summer months, it may be a pain to continue to have to refill with ice and cool water

The Ice Barrel
use code 'SIMPLY100' for $100 off your purchase
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Now that you know a brief overview of some of the pros and cons of the Ice Barrel, lets get a little more granular with what the product has to offer.

cold plunge at home
Ice Barrel


The fact that we would have to continue to buy ice to refill the Ice Barrel makes it hard to say it is completely worth it. It just adds friction to the process of getting into the habit of cold plunging in the first place.

Typically, a Cold Plunge is something you want to do right after an intense workout or first thing in the morning, at either of those points you do not want to have to run to the store to grab a couple of bags of ice to fill up the tub.

We have looked into estimates and somewhere between 40 – 100 lbs of ice needs to be refilled into the tub every two weeks. If this is not a huge deal to you, more power to you.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you do not really have the best control on the temperature of the water. The tub itself is insulted so it will keep cool but when you look at other tubs that will be mentioned later in the article they have a cooling system in place that allows for complete temperature control.


I think the coolest, and most unique, thing about the Ice Barrel if that you plunge in an upright position. Most other tubs have you laying down of your back which is not the most comfortable thing in the world, especially when you are just getting into ice baths or cold water therapy. Some people find the upright position to be less comfortable but it really is a preference thing.

The Ice Barrel is definitely the most convenient option of the tubs on the review that we are going to go over today. After digging around and looking at the competition there are some key distinctions we want to highlight.

ice barrel


Here are the specs for the Ice Barrel:

  • 42 inches high

  • 31 inches wide

  • 25-inch opening at the top

  • 55 lbs when empty

  • 750 lbs when holding 80 lbs of water


The draining system in place of the Ice Barrel does make it super easy to refill and change out the water within the tub. There is a nice little drain spout at the bottom of the barrel that makes it very easy to pour out the water that has been plunged in one too many times.

ice barrel


The Price of an Ice Barrel is $1,199.97 and you would probably expect close to another $100 in shipping for the large container.

Check out the Ice barrel website for their latest pricing.

Use the code ‘SIMPLY100’ to get $100 off for purchases over $1,000 or more.


From the looks of everything no, not really.

The Ice Barrel is a very simple setup. The device can really be placed anywhere in your backyard or indoor garage. It does come with a step stool to make getting in and out of the tub a bit easier.


When looking at the two popular options of cold plunge devices its easy to look at the darling child of cold plunge and say that the ice barrel is just an overpriced piece of plastic. We believe that to be far from the case.

The Ice Barrel is a great entry option for people that want to get into cold plunging but do not want to fork over the Cold Plunge ticket price. $1,200 is a bit more reasonable for someone more focused on price rather than the $5,000 you’ll end up spending with the plunge.


If you are set on getting a cold therapy training tool the Ice Barrel could be a good option to go with. When compared to the other options that we will cover in this article, we think that the Ice Barrel is the least appealing.

We do not really like the idea of having to fill the tub back up with ice ourselves every couple of weeks, it just seems like an added expense on top of something that really isn’t all too cheap to begin with.

One thing that we are totally convinced on is the benefits of cold water exposure on our body. We have been loving adding this to our routine to help with a number of things ranging from reducing muscle soreness, joint pain, or boosting our energy levels to start the day.



Cold Water therapy comes in very many shapes and sizes and the sexy redhead version of the cold plunging world would probably have to go to our friends at Cold Plunge. The tubs are designed really nicely in our opinion. It would be cool to see new colors added but that’s not really a big deal for a big purchase like this.

Our first experience trying out cold plunging was in one of these tubs so lets go over the details.


  • Plunge XL: 73 inches long, 32.5 inches wide (47 inches with the cooling system by its side), 27 inches in depth
  • Plunge (Standard): 67 inches long, 31.5 inches wide (43 inches with the cooling system by its side), 24 inches in depth

Cold Plunge Features

  • Cools down to 39°
  • Indoor or outdoor 
  • Circulation Filter
  • Underwater light
  • No Plumbing required
  • Plug and Plunge
  • Durable
  • Insulated

Tips for Plunging

  • The Cold Plunge is 5 times more expensive than the Ice Barrel but Cold Plunge does offer financing as an option through Klarna or Affirm. If you qualify, for 0% APR, it may be worth using.

  • The basic model of the cold plunge tub does not have a heating option. We have heard many points say that they wish they didn’t spend the money on the heating option because the original reason they bought the tub was for it to be used for cold water immersion, not hot tubbing.

  • Customers pay shipping returns. Ensure you have the space and time to use this product.


The Cold Plunge team has made keeping your tub crystal clear super easy. They offer a number of products to keep your tub in tip-top shape directly on their website.

Everything you need to know about maintenance, water filter replacements, to the drainage system, and how to deep clean your tub can be found on this page.

There are helpful videos walking you through the process step-by-step.

cold tub and ice barrel - buy cold plunge

Pros of The Cold Plunge

Cons of the Cold Plunge

  • No ice needed to purchase

  • After initial assembly, no cleanup needed

  • More control over temperature

  • Less time-consuming vs Ice Barrel or other forms of ice baths

  • Indoor and outdoor use

  • 0% APR financing option is available for qualified customers

  • looks nice

  • Not Cheap

  • Requires electricity

  • At the base model, no heating capabilities

  • Has an 8-week lead time

Cold Plunge
Take the plunge and discover the healing power of cold water immersion!
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Since the Barrel does not feature a chiller to control the temperature like the cold plunge, you will need to buy a lot of ice to create the freezing temperatures you’re looking for. This could be difficult in the summer months. Depending on the region you live in the ice barrel may only remain cold for no more than a day to few hours in the summer for those hot/desert environments. For the winter months, you will be able to enjoy the cold temperatures of the water for up to three days.


Since there is no temperature regulator in the Ice Barrel, you will not be able to get the water warm. However, you can make the water as cold as you’d like by tossing more ice into the tub.

What are the best cold plunge tubs?

Lucky for you have an entire post dedicated to breaking this down! Click here to find more information on the best cold plunge tub!


  • People who want to experience cold water immersion without spending over $2,000

  • People who like the compact design of the barrel

enjoy ice baths with the ice barrel


From anxiety to muscle recovery, we believe that anyone can benefit from adding a cold plunging routine to boost their overall health. Unless you are well over six feet, we think that you will be able to completely submerge yourself in the Ice Barrel.

The insulated build with the included uv cover and lid keeps your water cold for up to three days (depending on the temperature outside).

If the price point is not a huge factor for you and you want to go with a more luxurious build, we believe the Cold Plunge is the better option.

It is very hard to beat the look and build of this tub.

The Best Cold Plunge
Find the best cold plunges here

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