Ice Barrel Recovery Tub: Worth It for Post-Workout Recovery?

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Review Summary:

Although I was skeptical at first, the Ice Barrel won me over as a phenomenal post-workout recovery tool that packs a lot of feel-good endorphins in a surprisingly light and comfortable form factor. While I still think it’s a bit pricey for a LLDPE synthetic product, there’s a lot of value in the Ice Barrel 300 and 400 models. With a limited lifetime warranty, you can plunge with confidence knowing that your product is backed by America’s premier ice bath company.

  • PROS:
  • Lightweight design that can be carried or moved by a single person
  • Excellent “Made in USA” durability
  • Limited lifetime warranty covering all defects and cracks
  • Guaranteed reinvigoration with every plunge!
  • CONS:
  • Steep 4-figure price tag
  • Achieving your desired temperature takes a lot of trial and error
  • Refilling water every 3 to 4 weeks can get tedious
  • Colors in LLDPE plastics can fade in direct sunlight

Quick Facts:

Founded: 2017
Price: $1199.99
Beginner Friendly: Yes

Risk of Injury: Low
Founded by: Wyatt Ewing
Target Audience: Athletes and fitness enthusiasts

Benefits Expected?: Workout recovery, reduced inflammation, improved mental health, and weight loss assistance.


Hey there, Gymless Heroes! Today, we’re diving into the chilly world of cold water therapy with a product that’s been making waves: the Ice Barrel.

Now, I’ll admit, when I first heard about this, my skeptic alarm went off. Another cold therapy product in a market saturated with ice packs, cryo-chambers, and cold showers? But in the spirit of always trying something once, I decided to give it a whirl.

While I still have my reservations about this product—mostly given its 4-figure sticker price—I’ve got to say that I think it would make a terrific addition to anyone’s fitness regimen. That is, as long as they have the budget for it. 

First Impressions

The Ice Barrel is, well, exactly what it sounds like—a barrel filled with ice-cold water. It’s designed to be roomy enough for most people to sit in comfortably. 

The build is sturdy, and it’s clearly made with durability in mind. It’s clear from the moment you set it up that it is not a cheap product. In fact, it’s composed almost entirely of LLDPE (low linear density polyethylene), which is a lightweight and highly durable non-toxic plastic. 

The Ice Barrel claims to offer all the benefits of cold water immersion, from reduced inflammation to improved circulation and faster muscle recovery

Below, I’ve listed some of the top positive and negative aspects of the Ice Barrell to keep in mind when shopping for this product. 

Positives:

  • Compact Design: Unlike inflatable cold plunge pools or ice baths that require a bathtub, the Ice Barrel doesn’t take up a lot of space.
  • Durability: The product is made in the USA and feels like it’s built to last, made primarily of durable LLDPE materials.
  • Experience: If you’re into the shock and thrill of cold immersion, the Ice Barrel delivers. I felt invigorated after each session, even after several weeks of regular usage.

Negatives:

  • Pricing: Last I checked, the Ice Barrel doesn’t come cheap. With a price tag in the four-digit range, it might not fit everyone’s budget.
  • Setup: Prepping it can be a bit of a process, especially if you’re trying to achieve that optimal cold temperature and are changing the water every few weeks.
  • Refill Time: Every few days, you need to go through the tedious process of refilling the tub with up to 100 pounds of ice.

Ice Barrel 300 vs. 400

There are two Ice Barrel products currently on the market, the Ice Barrel 300 and the Ice Barrel 400. As the name suggests, the 300 version is a smaller version of the Ice Barrel 400 and is therefore suitable for shorter and smaller users. 

According to the Ice Barrel website, the 300 model is designed to accommodate individuals up to 6’2” and 250 pounds. As someone who stands 5’11” and weighs 198 pounds, I found that I had plenty of room in the Ice Barrel 300 in both squatting and sitting positions. 

Both models are made from the same material and carry the same $1199.99 price tag. However, one notable difference is that the Ice Barrel 400 ships far quicker than the 300 model. Per the Ice Barrel company website, the 300 model ships after approximately 5 to 6 weeks and is currently only available for pre-order as of Q1 2024. The Ice Barrel 400, on the other hand, ships in 7 to 10 days. 

The most noticeable distinction between these two models is that the 400-series features an upright form factor. Whereas the Ice Barrel 300 is designed for seated users, the 400 version is 42 inches tall and includes a step stool for entering the unit. Once inside, the user stands upright and can enjoy an immersive, full-body subversive experience. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
Feature/SpecificationIce Barrel 300Ice Barrel 400
Price$1199.99$1199.99
Shipping Time5-6 weeks7-10 days
Suitable For (Height)Up to 6’2″Up to 6’6″
Suitable For (Weight)Up to 250 lbsUp to 300 lbs
Special Features                 – Extra thick insulation for warm climates
                – Easy to step in and out of
                – Compact and lightweight             
                – Made of ultra-durable materials
                – Full-body upright immersion
                – Includes stepstool for easy access
                – Ideal for bigger and taller individuals             
Dimensions (H x W)30.5″ x 35.5″42″ x 31″

Ice Barrel Product Specifications

Below are the exact product specifications for the Ice Barrel 400 model

  • Weight: 55 lbs. when empty, 750 lbs. when filled with 300 litres
  • Dimensions: 42” height x 31” width at widest point; 25” wide at the opening
  • Capacity: 400 liters of water (105 gallons)
  • Material: Medical grade LLDPE
  • Color(s): Black, Desert Tan
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime 
An image of a "Desert Tan" version of the Ice Barrel 400 model.
The Ice Barrel 400 Desert Tan version.

Ice Barrel Warranty

The official Ice Barrel warranty can be read here. In short, Ice Barrel will replace any product that experiences cracks or material defects as long as it has been subjected to reasonable maintenance and care and used for its intended purpose.

If you have a discontinued model, they will replace it with one of equal or greater value. 

Unfortunately, natural color fading (as LLDPE materials tend to do when left in direct sunlight) is not covered by Ice Barrel’s limited lifetime warranty. Similarly, damage caused by improper installation, accidents, or misuse are also not covered by their warranty. 

Ice Barrel 400 Black version with start-up kit.

Benefits of Cold Water Immersion

The Ice Barrel company lists a number of benefits on its website that it claims are associated with using its product, including:

  • Improving mood and mental health
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Better recovery and performance
  • Increasing metabolism by +350%

While there is no doubt that you certainly feel great after doing a cold water immersion session, I was skeptical about Ice Barrel’s claims regarding its medical and therapeutic benefits. 

To my surprise, I was able to find credible sources that supported or confirmed each of Ice Barrel’s purported health benefits.

Per a UCLA Health report, the human body expends energy while trying to achieve thermal homeostasis in cold temperatures. The result is that calories are burnt and, in the process, a more advantageous metabolic state is entered into for weight loss. 

A systematic review in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health found that, across 104 studies, that voluntary cold water exposure improved insulin sensitivity and reduced insulin resistance. These benefits have downstream protective effects against metabolic diseases, obesity, and health disease. 

I also found some evidence that purports that cold water immersion reduces inflammation and pain post-workout as well as alleviates mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. 

How to Use The Ice Barrel

The Ice Barrel company recommends that individuals use their product for about 5 to 10 minutes as a form of post-workout therapy. You don’t necessarily have to be an athlete or fitness junkie to use it, however, as the myriad benefits of cold water immersion apply to everyone. 

According to the Owner’s Guide document, the Ice Barrel is meant to be filled by with water with ice added until the user’s desired temperature is reached (usually 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Every plunge requires 10 to 20 lbs. of added ice in order to maintain the desired temperature. 

Users are recommended to soak up to shoulder level for no longer than 10 minutes at a time. 

Every three to four weeks, the water in the Ice Barrel should be changed. 

Which Ice Barrel to We Recommend?

Honestly, it makes little difference which model you choose. Ultimately, they both do the exact same thing for the exact same price. 

One of the only deciding factors that should determine whether you choose a 300 or 400-model Ice Barrel is your height. 

If you’re on the taller side, you may want to opt for the Ice Barrel 400 since it allows you to stretch out your legs and sit in an upright position rather than lying down. Shorter individuals, therefore, may prefer the 300 model. 

Either way, you’re going to get a great product. It’s simply a matter of your height and whether you prefer to be upright or in a laid-back position when using the tub. 

Conclusion: Is the Ice Barrel Worth a Shot?

The Ice Barrel might have raised an eyebrow initially, but it’s made me a believer. These aren’t merely toys or gimmicky fad items for a wellness enthusiasts—rather, they are serious therapeutic tools for mental and physical stress recovery. 

If you’re building an outdoor gym that you want to take to the next level, or simply want to take a refreshing ice plunge after a long workout, I think the Ice Barrel 300 or 400 would make a great addition to your lineup. It’s certainly one of the better tools for injury prevention and recovery that you could add to your routine. 

While it might not be for everyone, especially given the price tag, if you’re serious about your fitness recovery or just looking to add a refreshing routine to your wellness arsenal, it’s worth checking out. If you’ve got the bucks to spare, I’d say, “Take the plunge!”

Image of Ice Barrel's logo

PRODUCT REVIEW:

Ice Barrel

Phone: (555) 555-5555
URL: www.icebarrel.com


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