Ice baths and cold plunges, also known as cold water immersion therapy or cryotherapy, has ancient roots but has gained recent popularity among health enthusiasts. It offers various benefits including reduced inflammation, immune system support, stress management, and potential weight loss. However, there’s much to learn about its effects, necessitating further research. Let’s not forget contrast tubs which are also called “dual plunge tubs” or “contrast pools” which combine a hot tub and cold tub in one unibody vessel.
The trend of cold plunges has risen over the past 5-6 years, as evidenced by their presence at the International Pool and Spa Show last November where at least a half a dozen hot tub manufacturers introduced 1-2 models cold plunges into their lineups for 2024. We expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future as this segment of the at home cold plunge market continues to grow. Evaluating different brands and models is essential for finding the optimal cold plunge tub and in this article we will compile a list of health benefits as well as buying considerations.
- Reduce Inflammation: Studies have shown that cold immersion aids muscle recovery, particularly beneficial for athletes with rigorous training and back-to-back competitions, events, or games.
- Immune System Benefits: Combined with breathing exercises and meditation, cold exposure activates the sympathetic nervous system, enhancing the body’s immune response.
- Boost Metabolism: Cold water exposure may increase metabolism, aiding in calorie burning.
- Stress Reduction: While research is ongoing, cold immersion’s activation of the sympathetic nervous system may positively impact mental health.
- Wim Hof Method: Physical and mental health benefits of focused breathing and cold therapy.
Regarding duration, three minutes is a recommended benchmark for cold plunging, but individual tolerance varies. Daily or weekly cold plunging seems safe, with no apparent negative side effects reported, however, it is recommended that you seek the advice of your doctor or health care professional to make sure that cold water therapy is right for you. See our previous article on “How To Use A Cold Plunge for Cold Water Immersion Therapy”.
Considerations when choosing a cold plunge tub include size, portability, durability, construction, cleaning systems, performance, and price (budget).
Cold Plunge Buying Considerations:
- Performance – How well does the unit maintain temperature? Does it have a built-in (integrated) chiller system or is it an external chiller? If it’s contrast pool (hot tub and cold plunge….aka “dual plunge”) then does it have have jets on the hot water therapy side?
- Overall Size and Gallonage: It’s important to consider how much space this is going to take up at your home and how much water the tub holds relative to the footprint. Since cold plunge are typically smaller than hot tubs it is important to look at water displacement once you fully enter and immerse yourself in the tub. If the tub in small and the volume is low then a larger person can cause too much displacement and overflow problems. Cold tubs can weigh 20 – 350 pounds “dry” depending on the size, construction, and whether there’s a chiller or no chiller system. The volume can also vary from 60-120 gallons depending on size. Altogether the “wet” weight can be 500-1300 lbs. Based on the desired location you’ll want make sure that your foundation can support the weight.
- Delivery and Installation: Ease of installation is a consideration, as some tubs may require complex assembly. For example, is the chiller integrated or is it external. Does it require a nearby power source or water source? Power requirements for a fully integrated contrast pool (dual plunge) can require 220v/50amp electrical connection while a simple cold plunge with chiller will require 110v/15 amp (dedicated). In some instances, you will need to hire an electrician to run the circuit.
- Comfort: Comfort is essential for extended use, regardless of whether one is standing, sitting, or lying down. Consider your height and weight to determine if the cold plunge will be spacious enough for you.
- Price and Value: Despite the cost, the features and functionalities included in the price should be evaluated. Simple ice baths will be on the lower end of the price range while larger, fully integrated chiller models will be on the higher end of the price spectrum. If you have an HSA (Health Savings Account) then it’s worth looking into the eligibility of using those funds to purchase of a cold plunge.
- Water Managment and Care – Does the unit have a filtration system with easy to remove and clean cartridges. Does it offer a water sanitation system such as ozone water purification, UV, or other.
- Insulation: Does the unit have any additional insulation aside from the structural wall material. For example, does it have blown insulation or perimeter insulation? Good insulation will retain the cold temperature and minimize loss from warmer ambient temperatures.
- Warranty – Is there an on-site (at home) warranty? Does the warranty include parts and labor? Many cold plunges purchased online will come with a limited warranty (one year or less) and it will be “parts-only” which means you’ll have to do the labor yourself or hire a third party service technician to complete any repairs. Buying locally from dealer typically give you the peace of mind of getting a part and labor warranty.
Cold Plunges Brands and Models Based on Type:
Ice Baths – Small, economical tubs that simply require filling with a garden hose and adding ice until desired temperature is reached. Prices for the ice baths below range from $150-$1,000. If you on an even stricter budget there’s do it yourself options such as using a galvanized steel stock tank from your local hardware or feed supply store.
- Ice Barrel – two sizes available. The Ice Barrel 300 and Ice Barrel 400
- The Cold Pod – four model in various sizes available (Cold Pod, Cold Pod XL, Cold Pod Elite Bath, Cold Pod Elite Barrel)
- The Ice Pod – One size fits all unit that can hold someone up to 6′ 9″. Optional chiller system available.
- OrcalPlunge Ice Barrel – Three models to choose from (Ice Barrel, The Migaloo, and The Mammoth). Optional chiller available on all units.
- NordicWay Ice Bath – Round and extremely portable unit that can fit heights up to 6′ 8″
Cold Plunge Economical – Chest Freezer Conversions
- BoxPlunge – Simple and economical option with built in chilling system. The BoxPlunge is a portable chest freezer type design that is available in five sizes (Box 8, Box 10, Box 12, Box 14, and Box 19)
Cold Plunge Premium – While ice baths are budget-friendly, cold plunges offer better temperature regulation.
- Plunge – Three models available with chiller systems (the Plunge All-In , Plunge, and Plunge All-In Commercial). Pirce range from $5,000-$10,000.
- Redwood Outdoors – Three inflatable cold plunge kit models to choose from (Pacific Cold Plunge, Alaskan Cold Plunge, Yukon Cold Plunge XL, and Yukon Cold Plunge)
- Polar Monkeys – Four models available with chiller systems (Cyber Plunge, Portal 2.0, Brainpod 2.0, and Start Treatment 2.0). Prices range from $4,000-$6000
- Renu Therapy Cold Tanks – Higher end cold plunge units priced between $9,000 – $13,000. Models include the Cold Stoic Classic, Cold Stoic Classic 2.0, and the larger Siberian Cold Plunge.
- Chilly GOAT Cold Plunge – The Alpine Terrain Cold Tub goes for $8495 and features a fully integrated chiller.
- AvantiKul Everest – Well built with steel framing and aluminum siding, the Everest is one of the nicer premium cold plunge units on the market. The Everest starts at $6995.
Oversized Cold Plunge – Most of the cold plunges on the market are designed for 1-2 people, however, if you’re looking for an extra large cold tub that can fit 3or more people then you might consider the options below.
- ColdTub – Coldtub offers three oversized models including the PolarPool (3-5 person), IceBox (5-7 person), and PolarPlunge (8-12 people). Prices range between $17,000 – $27,000.
Contrast Therapy Plunges – Also referred to as dual plunges, contrast pool, hot+cold tubs, and dual temp plunges.
- AvantiKul K2 Dual Plunge – The K2 is a cold Plunge/Hot Tub Combo
- Chilly GOAT Dual Plunge – The Valaris Terrain and Valaris Glacier hot tub + cold tub combo offers the best in contrast therapy. Unlike most cold plunge units, the Valaris requires a 220v/50amp electrical connection (hard wired). The Valaris starts at $14,000.
- Passion Spas “Mont Blanc” – The Mont Blanc dual plunge is the biggest and very best in contrast therapy combing a smaller cold tub and a larger hot tub. The Mont Blanc requires a 220v/50amp electrical connection for the hot tub side and a separate 110v/15amp connection on the cold tub side.
In summary, while cold water immersion offers various health benefits, thorough consideration of tub features and personal needs is essential in selecting the most suitable option.
Also, for more information visit our hot tub buyer’s guide pages. Also, click on the pink boxes and complete our free local quote form to get competitive prices from local dealers in your area. You can also click our “Spa Buyer’s Consult” link above to get one on one expert advice on the cold plunges available in your area.