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Last Updated: May 25, 2023
If you’re an avid cold plunger or intrigued by the health benefits that come with submerging yourself in cold water, then the Ice Barrel might be for you. Cold water therapy is becoming increasingly popular and there are more and more cold plunges and tubs popping up on the market. We decided to jump into the Ice Barrel (literally) to give you an idea of how it works for cold plunging. Is this a glorified barrel, or does it have features that make it convenient for boosting your mood and immune system? Keep reading our review of the Ice Barrel to find out.
Why You Should Trust Our Review Of The Ice Barrel
We believe that recovery is just as important as fitness. In order for your muscles to repair themselves from the damage and stress of exercise, you need to let your body recover. Fortunately, nowadays there is equipment available that helps aid in the recovery process. From percussive therapy to cold water therapy, there are several ways to enhance your overall health. Even though cold water therapy dates all the way back to the ancient Greeks, there are plenty of new-age ways that you can cold plunge your body at home. The Ice Barrel is one of those ways. We froze our booties off to see how it works, if it’s worth it, and who should consider it for their home.
Our Ice Barrel Review Video
- Allow for submerging in an upright position
- Holds 105 gallons of water
- Drain system at the bottom allows for filling up and draining water
- Accessories Included:
- Step Stool
- Removable Lid
- Barrel Stand
- Protective UV Cover
- Footprint: 32” max width, 25” opening width, 42” high
- Weight Empty: 55 lbs
- Weight Filled with 80 Gallons of Water: 750 lbs
- User Capacity: 300 lbs
- Max User Height 6’6”
- Material: LLDPE (Low linear density polyethylene)
- Rotomolded Walls
- Drain System Connects To Most Standard Hoses
- Made in the USA
- Warranty: Lifetime Limited Warranty
In-depth Review of Ice Barrel
On the surface there might not be much that meets the eye with the Ice Barrel. You might be thinking, this is just a plastic barrel. You’re right, it is. However, it’s a bit more than that. So, stick with me here before you decide to fill up your trash can with some ice water.
The barrel itself isn’t like a barrel that you’d find at a rodeo. Being an equestrian, I’m pretty familiar with those large blue barrels. The Ice Barrel is actually pretty thick. The sides are rotomolded, like most ice coolers. It is lightweight though. If I ran my horse around it, he could definitely knock it over when it’s empty. He’s not a barrel horse so I’m painting a pretty realistic picture! Without water, it weighs only 55 lbs. When it’s filled with 80 gallons of water, however, it weighs 750 lbs! Plus, it can hold up to 105 gallons of water.
The Ice Barrel isn’t temperature controlled or well-insulated. It would be nice if it was better insulated to help keep the temperature of the water more regulated. If you live in a hot climate, you’ll definitely need to add ice to get the temperature under 59 degrees, which is the highest recommended temperature in order to experience the benefits. For colder areas, you might not need ice at certain times of the year. The water could even get too cold in the winter for you to jump in. The water temperature shouldn’t be below freezing when you use the Ice Barrel because of the increased risk of hypothermia and frostbite.
As far as durability, we anticipate that the Ice Barrel should hold up well when maintained. It is made out of low linear-density polyethylene plastic. It isn’t scratch-resistant, but Ice Barrel claims they’ve added a UV resistance formula to the design to help reduce fading. Ice Barrel also claims it has been tested in circumstances where the water froze in cold temperatures and the barrel has held up. The Ice Barrel comes with a lifetime warranty. It is guaranteed not to crack if it’s used properly, too.
We are unsure of the Ice Barrel’s longevity, but we will update this review once we’ve had a chance to use and test the Ice Barrel in the coming summer months. For now, we’ve only had a chance to test it during winter.
The Ice Barrel is offered in two colors, black and desert tan. Black could be better in colder climates while tan might be better in hotter climates.
The lid fits over the top to help keep debris and bugs out of the water. This helps keep the water cleaner over time. The lid is made out of the same plastic as the barrel, so it feels of nice quality. When you place the barrel on the stand, it helps prevent it from moving around. Although when it’s filled with water, it is very heavy and won’t move around. The stand helps keep the barrel level when you’re filling it. It also lifts it up to use the spigot at the bottom, more easily.
At the bottom of the barrel is a built-in spigot to control where you drain the water. The spigot has a knob to keep water in the barrel or let water out.
Depending on where you’re trying to drain the water using a hose can make it more challenging though. If it’s downhill from where the Ice Barrel is placed, this makes it easier to drain with a hose, uphill is much harder. Using a hose to drain it took significantly longer than filling it up, however.
The Ice Barrel also comes with a UV cover. It slips over the top when the lid is on and has an elastic around the bottom to keep it from blowing off in the wind.
Due to the upright design of the Ice Barrel, it, fortunately, comes with a step stool. This allows you to get in and out, easier.
This stool certainly helps and I would like to see a seat or stool on the inside as well. We tried placing a stool on the inside, but it floated when we filled the barrel up with water. A seat or stool that is attached to the inside could be a solution. Without a stool, you have to boost yourself up to get out using the top edge of the barrel. I’m only about 5’ tall and I was able to boost myself up to get out, but it was a little challenging once I was cold and shivering.
If you’re planning on keeping water in the Ice Barrel for weeks at a time, and plan to use it outside, I would definitely purchase the Cold Plunge Maintenance Kit. This includes: cleaning soap, a cleaning brush, a water stabilizer solution, a net, Epsom salt, and a thermometer.
To prevent algae and calcium build-up, you want to ensure that the barrel stays clean. The water stabilizer solution is a nice alternative to chlorine, and a bit friendlier for your skin. It helps keep the water clean. The other parts of the kit are nice, but not absolutely necessary.
The Ice Barrel does require a little bit of maintenance if you plan on keeping it filled with water. Ice Barrel recommends changing the water about once a month or so. They also suggest using their water stabilizer or hydrogen peroxide, chlorine, or a UV purifier to keep the water cleaner for longer. We used chlorine during our testing when we kept the water in the barrel for an extended period of time.
Trust me, the last thing you want to do is hop in cold, icky water! It’s important to clean it when it needs it.
Cold Water Therapy Benefits
If you’re unfamiliar with the benefits that cold water therapy has been proven to show, here’s a little overview.
As I mentioned above, cold water therapy is great for muscle recovery. If you’re sore after a workout, an ice bath could help your muscles repair themselves. If you have inflammation in your body, it can help reduce that, too.
If you’re feeling tired and need an energy boost, a cold plunge can help! There have also been studies that show it can help with anxiety and depression symptoms. Plus, cold water immersion can boost your immune system.
Functionality & Performance
Overall, our experience using the Ice Barrel was positive. While it might not be for everyone, it has its benefits if you live in a cooler climate, need a compact cold plunge, want to use this outside, and if you want to plunge in an upright position. I know it might not seem like a big deal, but the last thing I want to do in cold water is lounge in it. Many other cold plunges are shaped like bathtubs. They require you to lie down, which to me is much more brutal than standing and squatting down. When I swim in an ocean or lake that’s cold, I don’t know about you, but I tip-toe my way in while standing, and when I get the courage I squat down or jump forward to fully submerge.
I will say that once you’re up on the stool and placing one foot in the Ice Barrel, there really isn’t any turning back. I found this to be a good thing since this was my first time taking a formal cold plunge. I couldn’t back out and it made getting in up to my upper torso easier and quicker. Our other reviewers agree and think that being in a vertical position is easier, especially when you’re new to cold plunging.
Our reviewers range from 6’5” to about 5’. We were all able to fit in the Ice Barrel and get out of it relatively easily. I had a few more difficulties getting out, but that’s where an additional seat or stool on the inside would help, as I mentioned earlier.
We only filled it up to the top horizontal ring. If it’s completely filled to the top with ice and water when you get in, some of the water will spill over the sides. Just filling it up to this level was fine for me to go underwater. When Matthew went under, some water and ice spilled out. To avoid wasting water and ice you’ll want to see what level works for you.
With just using hose water, the Ice Barrel was about 50 degrees when a few of us hopped in. We added some ice for the more seasoned cold plungers on our team, which cooled the water off to about 46 degrees. The ice did melt a little bit, but it was around 56 degrees and sunny when we all jumped in.
So far, we’ve left the Ice Barrel outside filled with water over the course of a few days at least at a time. The first time we left just the lid on, ice formed over the top of the water overnight. The nightly temperatures were around the high 20s to low 30 degrees Fahrenheit. When we left it with the lid on and UV cover, the temperature warmed up slightly from a starting 40 degrees up to 53 degrees by the end of the 3rd day. It was sunny for those days with highs around the low 50s. By the next morning, after the outside temps had dipped into the 30s, the water temperature had cooled to 44 degrees.
If you live in a cooler climate, you might not need to put ice in the barrel. For those in hotter climates, especially in the summer months, you’ll definitely need to use ice. This can be costly, but you’d have to do this if you used your bathtub, trash can, or a horse trough. Since the Ice Barrel comes with some nice accessories and is specifically designed for cold water therapy, it definitely has some features that make the price worth it. It’s also a cheaper alternative to competitors like the Cold Plunge and Polar Monkeys Portal and Inflatable Plunges. It also doesn’t require being plugged in, so you can use it pretty much anywhere.
The Ice Barrel comes with a lifetime warranty. This backs up the durable construction and helps to instill confidence in the product.