Our website is supported by our readers. We sometimes earn a commission when you click through the affiliate links on our website at no extra cost to you.
Updated: December 19, 2023 with added scientific resources and citations.
We’re seeing more and more headlines about ice bath tubs and they’re really having their moment. This is sort of strange since ice baths have been around for years to help athletes recover from injuries. I guess that’s what happens when you throw a celebrity (or two) in freezing water and it goes viral.
While ice baths are all the rage right now, the majority of the brands getting endorsements are…uh-hum…expensive! Sorry, Joe Rogan. As much as he evangelizes the benefits of his favorite ice bath tub, which does look pretty amazing BTW, $16k is a bit too much to spend.
Related Reading: How To Build A DIY Water Chiller For Cold Plunge
We can’t all freeze our butts off like a rock star, but there’s good news! Cheap (inexpensive), high-quality cold plunge tubs that you can use at home can be had for very little money if you know where to look. To help you out, we scoured the internet and compiled a list of the 5 Best Cheap Ice Bath Tubs for those who are on a budget.
The Benefits of Cold Plunge Therapy
With all of the exposure that they’re generating, you would think that an ice bath is a miracle cure-all. Well, not quite and the benefits of a cold plunge will greatly vary from one person to the next.
Dr. Andrew Huberman, a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine, has stated many times the promising benefits a short burst of cold water can have on the human body. Besides building mental toughness, the icy shock can stimulate brown fat (the “good fat”), reduce systemic inflammation, and increase testosterone, among other things.
“Temperature is a powerful stimulus on our nervous system and indeed on every organ and system of our body. Cold in particular can be leveraged to improve mental health, physical health, and performance. Meaning for endurance exercise, for recovering from various forms of exercise, for actually improving strength and power and for enhancing mental capacity.”Huberman Lab Podcast #66
As a personal challenge to myself, I too have embraced the cold plunge life. While I still struggle with the initial dip, I’ve noticed a marked difference in reduced muscle soreness and improved day-to-day recovery.
As I said, your results may vary, but if you’re looking for the cheapest, most affordable portal of entry, these are the best ice bath options available.
5 Best Cheap Ice Bath Tubs Of 2024
- Best Ice Bath Tub on a Budget: The Ice Pod
- Best Inflatable Tub: Spartan Ice Barrel
- Best Non-Traditional Ice Bath Tub: Rubbermaid Stock Tank
- Best High-End Tub: Ice Barrel
- Best Ice Bath Tub/Hot Tub combo: Coleman 4-Person Inflatable Hot Tub
Get $10 off with promo code “RECOVATECH“
The Ice Pod is one of the least expensive at-home ice bath tubs out there coming in at $120. With super durable, yet portable construction, you can set up and take down the Ice Pod in a snap.
The Ice Pod does come in a standard and a PRO version, with the PRO version adding twice as much insulation and superior materials. It will only run you about $30 more, so for long-term durability, it might be worth the extra splurge.
For your convenience, a handy drain plug is located at the base of the tub, saving you the embarrassment of trying to topple it over to empty it.
Also consider: LifePro Allevachill
Dimensions: 32 inches wide x 29 inches tall.
Weight: 8 pounds
If you’re at all familiar with inflatable Stand Up Paddle boards (SUP), the Spartan ice bath barrel is constructed in the same vein. In other words, it’s incredibly durable, and once inflated, the sides are rock solid.
This inflatable cold plunge is made with industrial-grade stitching overlaid with a high-grade PVC shell that can be rolled up and carried away in the included backpack. It’s the ultimate solution for home or for people who want to take their cold plunge on the go. Best of all? It inflates in as little as 2-5 minutes with the included double-action hand pump.
Also to note, two chiller-ready valves are built in.
Read our in-depth review here.
Dimensions: 38″W X 30″H
Weight: 38 pounds
It’s certainly not the most elegant DIY home solution, but it’s certainly an affordable cold plunge option! Meant for cattle and livestock, this 100-gallon Rubbermaid stock tank is large enough to submerge yourself and stretch your legs a bit too.
Because it’s meant for commercial applications, the construction is as solid as it comes. Unlike the other inflatable options that could be prone to puncturing, this tub will likely last you a lifetime.
A 1-1/2 oversized drain is located on the bottom for easy emptying and cleaning as needed.
Dimensions: 31 in. W x 53 in. L x 25 in. H
Weight: 32.4 pounds
Enjoy looking like you’re sitting in a barrel of Kentucky Bourbon as you experience the euphoric high of near freezing cold water. Ice Barrel is by far the most expensive choice on this list, but still, it’s certainly worth considering.
Coolness factor aside, the Ice Barrel is actually pretty practical and comes with everything you need in the box. Holding up to 105 gallons of water, this made in the USA product is made of recycled materials which is always good for the planet.
Ice Barrel includes a lid to keep the bugs out, a stand, stairs to help you climb in, and a protective UV cover. Best of all, it is covered by a lifetime warranty should anything not hold up to frequent use.
Dimensions: 42” in H x 31” in W. The opening is 25” wide
Weight: 55 pounds
Related Reading: The Ice Barrel 300 Review
Alright, now hear us out on this one. Yes, the Coleman SaluSpa technically is a hot tub, but a hot tub that’s not warmed up is basically just an ice bath, right? Exactly! There are no rules that say otherwise.
There are actually a lot of reasons why you should consider this as a hot tub ice bath combo. The first being the price. Priced around the $450 range, that’s a relative steal, especially when you consider that it’s first a hot tub.
That brings us to the second benefit, the pump filter. Unlike the other options, this one is self-cleaning which will save water and potential headaches.
Third, misery loves company, yes? If that’s true, you can now double dare your 3 closest friends to join you as you prove your insane tendencies to freeze yourself.
All in all, the Coleman Inflatable hot tub is the perfect ice bath…and hot tub.
Dimensions: 71″L x 71″W x 26″H
Weight: 73.11 pounds
Are Cheap Cold Plunge Tubs Worth It?
If you’re not sure if an ice bath tub is worth the
insanity hassle, be sure to check out our article about the 5 benefits of a cold plunge.
We go into extensive detail and highlight all of the benefits of a cold plunge including reducing systemic inflammation, improving mental health, and much, much more.
If you’re on a budget and you’re not wanting to spend a ton of money, the cheap alternatives mentioned above are great. We should note, that a water chiller does make these infinitely better.
Alternatively, if you want to figuratively “dip your toes” into the world of cold plunges, try taking a cold shower for a week or so and see how you respond. Assuming you fall in love with ice bathing, then make the decision to buy a dedicated tub.
Related Reading: 5 Best Ice Therapy Machines
How Cold Does The Water Need To Be?
An ice bath needs to be at or below 59°F (15°C) to provide significant benefits. Immersing the body in cold water can help reduce swelling and muscle soreness, improve recovery time, and boost the immune system, among other benefits.
Be forewarned, that immersing the body in extremely cold water can be dangerous, particularly for individuals with certain medical conditions, so it’s always best to consult a doctor before trying an ice bath.
To make sure the water isn’t too cold, we suggest buying an inexpensive water thermometer so you can keep on eye on the temperature at all times.
Are Ice Baths Effective For Muscle Recovery?
As has long been the go-to for alleviating post-workout injuries and soreness. It’s been a locker room staple for years now. But do ice baths really work? Well, according to a recent study published in 2022:
Studies have found that CWI (cold water immersion) is one of the most effective recovery strategies implemented by athletes, with an effectiveness rating of 4.3/5
So yes, in certain scenarios, some sort of application of cold therapy can be helpful, but not always. It’s been suggested to see how your body responds before doing it too often.
Editor-In-Chief at Recovatech. Dr. Ben is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic with over 10 years of clinical experience. He specializes in structural and neurological imbalances with an emphasis on functional movement patterns, exercise performance, and muscle recovery. He has been the team chiropractor for professional baseball and soccer organizations, as well as collegiate athletes. In his personal life, he’s always been driven when it comes to athletics and personal performance.