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Choosing the Right Cold Plunge: A Buyer’s Guide

Cold plunging has been gaining traction for its health benefits (muscle recovery, improved circulation, enhanced mood, and more) — but with so many options available, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming. This guide aims to clearly define the different types of cold plunges and cover their unique features to help you find the perfect fit for your space, needs, and budget.

What are the Different Types of Ice Baths?

Let's explore the different styles and categories of cold plunges available to help you find the perfect match:

Why Choose Ice Bath Barrel?

One of the most common form factors, an ice bath barrel (or vertical cold plunge) is a large, cylindrical tub designed for immersion in an upright position. They're typically made from plastic and some have insulated walls to maintain water temperature. Although ice barrels themselves generally have smaller footprints, they often require stairs to enter and exit the taller tub, which increases the space that they take up.

Why use it: Upright cold plunges offer a space-saving design that is often priced lower than larger tubs. This form factor typically has a simple design that still relies on ice to cool the water, which may be preferred for those who looking for a more DIY approach to cold plunging.

What Are the Benefits of Inflatable Cold Plunges?

These lightweight, inflatable tubs are perfect for those who want portability. They're commonly made from a durable, multi-layered PVC material and can be deflated and stored when not in use. Depending on the quality of materials, inflatable plunges may not be as durable as their rigid counterparts. They also might not be the best choice for those seeking a top-of-the-line immersion experience.

Why use it: Affordability, ease of use, and portability are the key benefits of inflatable plunges. They're ideal for smaller living spaces or backyards and can be a great option to travel with or for those just looking to get started cold plunging.

cold therapy for all, designed for you

How do Full-Body Ice Baths Enhance Recovery?

These traditional full-body cold plunges resemble large bathtubs and allow for full-body immersion in a seated or reclined position. They can be made from various materials like plastic, steel, or acrylic and may come with additional insulation features. Sitting plunges take up more floor space than some other options and can be found with or without chillers.

Why use it: Sitting ice baths are a good option for those who find a vertical plunge uncomfortable or have difficulty entering and exiting a tall tub. They're also one of the more common styles on the market and offer the best immersion experience.

How Are Smaller Cold Water Bowls Used for Facials?

These specialized ice bath bowls are designed for just facial immersion, offering a more targeted approach to cold therapy. They're typically made from durable and easy-to-clean materials like plastic or stainless steel.

Why use it: Facial ice baths can help reduce puffiness, brighten skin, and promote a more invigorated appearance. They're a convenient and small-scale way to incorporate cold therapy into your skincare routine.

Why Consider Hot & Cold Plunges for Recovery?

These unique plunge tubs either offer two separate chambers (one with hot water and the other with cold water) or a built-in heater and chiller system that allows you to adjust the water temperature from hot to cold. They allow you to choose between hot or cold water therapy for recovery, relaxation, and more.

Why use it: While often more expensive than traditional cold plunges, the flexibility of heated and chilled water can be appealing to those interested in contrast therapy.

Purchase Factors: What to Know

Here are some key considerations to guide you through the decision-making process:


Ice baths come in a variety of sizes, so knowing how large your designated area will be ahead of time is crucial. Make sure to factor in the tub's footprint as well as additional clearance for comfortable access and moving around the plunge. Account for any necessary equipment (like chillers or stairs) that might take up extra space.


Cold plunges are an investment in your health, so choose a material built to last. Popular options include plastic, steel, and fiberglass/acrylic. Here’s a breakdown of each:

  • Plastic tubs are generally lighter, more affordable, and easier to maintain, but might offer less insulation than other materials.
  • Stainless steel offers a sleek look and impressive durability but can be a pricier option that’s less comfortable and loses temperature more quickly.
  • Fiberglass-reinforced acrylic has a smooth, non-porous surface that's easy to clean, and the combination of material layers makes it a superior insulator to maintain water temperature more efficiently.

Features & Included Items

Many ice bath options come with add-ons or accessories to enhance the cold plunging experience. For example, if maintaining a precise cold temperature is important, consider a plunge with a built-in water chiller and temperature controls (this eliminates the need for constant ice refilling). Features like grab bars or stairs can enhance safety, especially for those with mobility limitations. A patch kit for minor repairs can be another valuable addition for inflatables, ensuring small tears or punctures don't disrupt your cold therapy routine. Lastly, insulated covers for the tub not only improve temperature retention but also keep debris out of your water.

Setup & Maintenance

Some ice baths require minimal setup, while others might involve a more complex assembly process and plumbing (our cold plunges require less than 30 minutes to set up or no setup time at all). Factor in the time and tools needed for installation before making your purchase decision.

Regular cleaning and filtration are essential for keeping a clean and functional cold plunge. Check the ease of cleaning for each model you consider, including how accessible the filtration system is for replacement or cleaning (for example, our All-In has an easily accessible filter right at the top).


Don't underestimate the value of user reviews. Read what others have to say about the cold plunge's construction quality, ease of use, temperature control effectiveness, and the level of customer service offered. Our cold plunges have hundreds of reviews to hear from, with an average rating of 4.8.


Cold plunges range in price based on size, material, features, and brand reputation. Determine your budget and prioritize the features most important to you. Remember, a high-quality cold plunge is an investment in your long-term health and wellness. With proper care and maintenance, it can serve you for many years to come.

take the plunge

Best Cold Plunge Lineup on the Market

Our new Evolve Series expands our lineup of cold plunges to all of the form factors we’ve discussed today. Whether you’re looking for an affordable pop-up ice barrel, an inflatable tub with easy setup, or our higher-end Evolve XL and All-In models, you can find what you need at Plunge.

Compare our different options to find the right cold plunge for you! We also offer affordable financing options and our products are eligible for HSA/FSA so that anyone can experience the power of plunging.