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In the past year, I’ve tested and reviewed a good number of cold plunges. From the IcePod to the Ice Barrel, they’ve all had their pros and cons. But in terms of pod/barrel-style ice baths, the Spartan Barrel stands out to me as one of the best portable cold plunge options I’ve found so far.
One of the best mid-tier cold plunges you can buy. It’s affordable, well-made, and comes chiller-ready.
The Spartan Barrel: What is it?
Spartan Willpower is one of those companies that cropped up all over social media this past year. Their primary product was the budget-friendly portable ice bath pod, but more recently they’ve begun offering inflatable cold plunges too. One of which is the Spartan Barrel.
Now the Spartan Ice Bath Barrel isn’t anything we haven’t already seen from high-end companies like Sun Home Sauna. It’s an inflatable tub built with high-quality materials and retails at an insanely affordable price of only $440.
To add to its value proposition, one of the most compelling features is the inclusion of universal 1/2″ built-in chiller ports to hook up a water chiller. No matter how you look at it, constantly adding ice to a cold plunge is nothing less than annoying. Take it from me, adding a chiller to the Spartan Barrel is the best decision you’ll ever make. Plus, it’s not too expensive to do.
Check out the DIY video below. I show you how to build a complete cold plunge setup for less than $1000.
Unboxing and First Impressions
The Spartan Barrel and all its accessories come rolled up inside an oversized travel backpack. Included are the barrel itself, an insulated inflatable lid, a double-action pump, and a repair kit.
After unpacking everything, you can easily inflate the barrel in 30 seconds or less. If you’re at all familiar with inflatable stand-up paddleboards (SUPS), the inflation process and connections are identical.
To me, it’s remarkable how easy it is to set up.
Build Quality and Design
The resemblance to stand-up paddleboards isn’t just aesthetic; it’s indicative of the strength and resilience of the materials used. Made from thick, high-quality rubber with a hardened-wall design, you would never guess it was inflatable.
Unless you’re unnecessarily careless with pointy objects, this barrel should be able to the rigors of regular use. Perhaps even the occasional handstand or impromptu cannonball (please don’t attempt it). For any reasonable wear and tear, a 1-year warranty should have you covered.
The overall dimensions of the barrel measure 37″ wide by 30″ tall making it surprisingly spacious. It can hold up to 130 gallons of water and is advertised to accommodate individuals up to 6’11” and 300 lbs. Anyone wanna dial-up Shaq to prove that?
Functionality and User Experience
Using the barrel is straightforward – fill it, chill it (again, opt for the chiller), and plunge in. As someone who appreciates the finer points of cold therapy, I found The Spartan Barrel’s performance outstanding.
The double-thick, air-filled wall makes a great insulator. Heat of course being the #1 enemy of any cold plunge, the Spartan can maintain cold temperatures much better than some of its competitors. More on that later.
From a plunging perspective, most anyone should be able to not only submerge up to their shoulders but dunk their head under the water without issue. Like all cylindrical ice baths, you’re unable to sprawl out inside, but it’s very unlikely you’re going to feel cramped in any fashion. To me, it feels much larger than it is.
Spartan Barrel vs IcePod vs Ice Barrel 300
Comparing the Spartan Barrel to its market competitors is like the tale of Goldilocks. Taking into account the price, options, and specs, the Spartan takes the middle ground, being “just right”.
Now, you might remember the IcePod I tried a while back, the budget-friendly one? This is leagues ahead. Against the IcePod, the Spartan shines with its superior durability, inclusion of built-in universal chiller ports, and better insulation. Yes, it’s more expensive, but I believe those features justify the upsell.
On the other hand, when compared to the pricier Ice Barrel 300 ($1199), The Spartan Barrel still holds its own impressively. While it may not match the Ice Barrel 300’s durability and class-leading insulation, it offers a near identical cold plunge experience, with similar size and features like two chiller ports and a lid. Plus, its portability and price point (1/3rd the cost of Ice Barrel 300) make it a winner.
Conducting some very basic market research, in terms of value for money, the Spartan Barrel stands out in the market. That $440 price tag strikes a very attractive balance between quality and cost. As far as I know, no other company is offering a comparable inflatable barrel anywhere near that price.
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.