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Are you considering incorporating cold-water immersion therapy into your recovery routine? Or do you simply get a kick from the uncomfortable? In any case, portable and inflatable ice baths offer practical solutions for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and individuals seeking effective muscle relief. But what the hell is the difference…
This article answers that question, discussing convenience, durability, setup, and maintenance factors. I’ll also share some of my favourite products on Amazon, offering pros and cons based on experience. So, whether you’re looking for stability or optimal temperature control, you can dip your toe in the world of portable and inflatable ice baths.
What is an ice bath?
Taking an ice bath, also known as cold-water immersion, is a therapeutic practice that is old as time; however, it’s made a comeback thanks to celebrities like Wim Hof and Joe Rogan.
It involves submerging the body in freezing water and is commonly used by athletes to help reduce inflammation, relieving muscle soreness after intense physical activity. People often take ice baths to help minimise swelling, which can occur due to micro-tears in the muscle fibres. It’s also now used by a wider audience who believe there are additional health benefits.
The typical temperature range for an ice bath is between 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees Celsius), although some may be even colder. The duration can vary depending on preferences and the purpose of the therapy. For instance, I jump in mine for 5-10 minutes instead of a hot shower to reduce skin inflammation. You may stay longer if you’re using it for sports purposes.
Please note that ice baths are intense and may only suit some. Those with medical conditions or sensitivity to cold temperatures should exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional before stripping off.
The different types of home ice baths
Home products are often more convenient than makeshift setups using regular tubs or containers. Ice bath products also typically have funky features like temperature control, insulation, and drainage systems. If you’re in the market for one, here are your options:
- Portable ice baths: These baths are often made of PVC or polyethene and are equipped with insulating layers to help maintain the desired temperature. They may include a drainage system for easy water removal after use. If you have limited space, portable ice baths are a good choice.
- Inflatable ice baths: Searching for a sturdy tub that you can quickly inflate when needed? Inflatable baths come with insulating layers and drainage systems, popular among those who like frequent use.
- Cold water therapy systems: Some companies offer specialised systems explicitly designed for recovery and rehabilitation. These systems typically consist of a tub or a container with built-in temperature control mechanisms to regulate the water temperature accurately. They may also have features like massage jets or adjustable water flow for added therapeutic benefits.
The best inflatable ice baths
Tubble® Royale Inflatable Bath Tub
Meet the Tubble® Royale Inflatable Ice Bath, your ticket to cold water recovery. I love this model and manufacturer because the onus is always on comfort — a significant feat when you’re in uncomfortable water! It features flexible sides, a soft sitting area, and an integrated headrest, allowing you to unwind while icy water works its magic. I’m just over 6′ tall, and there’s enough space for me to stretch my legs comfortably. The 6-layer PVC construction means it’s happy to handle varying temperatures — I’ve used it with ice-cold water and hot up to 45°C without any issues. Another bonus: you can inflate the Tubble Royale within a minute.
Irtree Inflatable Portable Bath Tub
The Irtree Inflatable Ice Bathtub is one of my favourites. This gem is conveniently sized 31.5″ (diameter) and 29″ (height), making it perfect for both indoor and outdoor use. It’s super practical. The Irtree is light, moveable, and has a water valve and piping system that drains after every use, eliminating any hassle. The construction is also surprisingly premium for the price tag, comprising three layers of waterproof and resistant fabric. Like the Tubble Royale, you’ll get neck and arm support, with the addition of a water cushion for next-level comfort.
Intus Life Ice Inflatable Bath Tub
The Intus Life Ice is perhaps the sexiest-looking ice tub of the three inflatable varieties. It exudes quality. And that’s because it’s made of the good stuff — hardy materials that withstand countless cold water therapy sessions. I’ve used mine repeatedly, and it still looks as good as new! One thing that makes the Intus slightly more desirable than its peers is the surrounding inflatable ring. It’s so bloomin’ comfortable and serves as excellent support. I also love the added convenience of the protective lid and quick-release tap. Not only do they maintain the ideal water temperature, but you’ll never get dirt or debris. The best part, though? That huge 400-litre interior. It’s like having my own personal cold plunge pool right at home.
Other inflatable ice baths
The best portable ice baths on Amazon
The Arctic Pod
The Arctic Pod has a top-quality design that’s fit for use in any weather. With a generous 80 cm diameter and 70 cm height, it accommodates people up to 6’7″ comfortably (one of the most spacious around). It’s easy to maintain as the protective cover keeps it clean. What I love about this model is that there’s no inflation required; it’s always ready to use. Quick assembly with removable support legs, a convenient quick-release tap, and a stylish solid top ring complete this exceptional portable ice bath.
The Cold Pod
The Cold Pod is an incredible portable ice bath tub. Designed for indoor and outdoor use, it features a hygienic smart lid and four layers of robust, waterproof materials. The brilliant thing about this product is that it’s one of the best at keeping internal temperature consistent. Lightweight and portable, it also comfortably fits most body types and is perfect for people up to 6ft 7in tall. The drainage system is decent too; just turn the drain and rinse the tub every four weeks.
Last but not least we’ve got the Polarpod, a premium bath tub engineered with triple-layered ice insulation. This is perhaps the poshest pod on our list, featuring leak-proof construction, an inflatable support ring, and weather-resistant outer coat. Plus, it comes with a free ice hood for outdoor protection. Portable and easy-to-use, this collapsible ice tub also serves as a shower bath tub. If you’re looking for the ultimate cold water therapy companion, the Polarpod is the one.
Other portable ice baths
What to consider when purchasing an ice bath
When browsing for portable and inflatable ice baths, consider the following factors:
- Size and capacity: Determine the dimensions and capacity of the ice bath to ensure it can accommodate your body comfortably. Consider the available space in your home or where you plan to use it.
- Material and durability: Look for ice baths made from durable and puncture-resistant materials like PVC or polyethene. Ensure that the product is built to withstand regular use and has a good reputation for longevity.
- Insulation: Check if the ice bath has the proper insulation to help maintain the desired water temperature during your therapy session. Insulation can contribute to a more effective and comfortable experience.
- Drainage system: Look for ice baths with a built-in drainage system or a convenient way to empty the water quickly after use. This feature simplifies the cleanup process and ensures efficient water removal.
- Portability and storage: If you need to transport or store the ice bath frequently, consider models that are designed to be portable and easy to inflate/deflate. Look for compact designs and lightweight options.
Where should I place an ice bath?
When setting up a portable or inflatable ice bath, choose a suitable location that provides stability, convenience and easy access to resources. You’ll want a level surface, adequate space, a water source and drainage, and shelter. Ventilation is also key to prevent condensation buildup.
Are portable ice baths more expensive that inflatable ice baths?
Yes. Portable ice baths are slightly more expensive because they typically come with additional features, such as insulation, better drainage systems, and sturdier construction materials.
How easy is it to maintain and clean each type of ice bath?
Both types of ice baths typically have drainage systems, making water removal and cleanup relatively easy. Cleaning the tub can be done using mild soap or cleaning agents, followed by thorough rinsing and drying.
How easy is it to set the temperature?
Both types of ice baths can provide the desired cold therapy temperature range. It’s essential to monitor the water temperature and adjust the amount of ice to achieve a range of 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees Celsius)
How long does it take to set up and prepare each type of ice bath?
Setting up a portable ice bath typically involves filling it with water and adding ice. The time required will depend on the bath size and water availability. Inflatable ice baths can be quickly set up by inflating them using an electric or manual pump. The setup time will vary depending on the specific model and pump used.