The Ice Barrel 400 offers an immersive cold water experience but is this premium ice bath worth the price?

While there are a variety of tried-and-tested health benefits to cold-water therapy, experts suggest that such benefits are only maximised with full submersion, which isn’t exactly easy in the average bathtub. You could be forgiven for wanting to just stick to stretching exercises for your recovery needs instead. But depending on your available space and budget, there are full-immersions ice baths available – one of which is the Ice Barrel 400.

Men’s Fitness verdict

It’s certainly a long-lasting and robust option, with enough space for all but the biggest folk. But with some rivals costing a fraction of the price, the expense can be hard to justify.
  • Large enough for most body types
  • Rock-solid construction
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Premium price tage
  • Not meant for indoors
Ice Barrel with bags of ice
TJ’s apartment set-up meant a lengthy filling process involving buckets of water, but if you have a hose that’s a much easier option. (You will need to add ice, too.)

Ice Barrel 400 price and availability

You can pick up the Ice Barrel 400 on the company’s website for a hefty $1,199. Measuring 42 inches (106.6cm) high and 31 inches (78.7cm) in diameter, it resembles a lifesize version of that old Barrel of Monkeys game from my youth, except now I’m the monkey. This giant tank is rated at holding 397 litres (104.8 gal) of water, as opposed to the full 400 litres one might expect. According to Ice Barrel, this elevated tub is designed for folks up to 6 feet, 6 inches (198cm) in height and up to 300 pounds (136kg). It’s much more rigid and robust than something like the Lumi Recovery Pod Max.

The Ice Barrel 400 comes with a lid (to keep out debris), stand (to keep it level), stepping stool (to get in and out with) and protective cover. The Ice Barrel is covered by a lifetime warranty. There are no bells and whistles like the remote controlled cooling on the Edge Tub Elite.

If you’ve got a smaller frame, the newly released (and identically priced) Ice Barrel 300 measures a more modest 35.5 x 30.5 inches (91 x 77cm), and the 292-litre (77.1 gal) bin is much easier to climb into. It also has thicker insulation, so shorter folks who live in warmer climates might prefer this model. 

Ice Barrel 400 design

I’ve been using the Ice Barrel for the past year and a half to introduce cold water therapy into my fitness routine – from my New York City apartment, which is a challenge in itself. Since I live on the fourth floor, I checked with my superintendent to make sure the floors were strong enough to handle 930 pounds (422kg) of centralized deadweight – which the Ice Barrel weighs when filled to capacity. Plus, of course, my own body weight.

Thanks to my metropolitan digs, I have to fill up my Ice Barrel 400 bucket-by-bucket from the bathroom tub whenever I use it, which is tedious as hell, and far from ideal. (The whole process is a workout in its own right, and takes about 30 minutes.) Anyone using this thing outdoors, however, will have no problem filling it up via garden hose, and it’s a cinch to drain; there’s a built-in spigot on the bottom for the purpose. In short, the Ice Barrel 400 was definitely meant for the great outdoors. 

Good news: at roughly 185lb (83.9kg), my 6-foot, 3-inch (1.9m) frame had no problem achieving a full, bone-tingling dunk with plenty of room to spare for my lanky limbs. So that bodes well for anyone smaller than me. The stepping stool is useful for clambering inside the barrel, and downright essential for getting out – especially since everything was soaking wet. (Some built-in grips along the outside of the barrel might have been nice.)

Ice Barrel 400 portability (or lack thereof)

The Ice Barrel 400 weighs a reasonable 55lb (25kg) when empty, which is easy enough to move from point A to point B if you’ve got a flatbed truck and a loading buddy. As mentioned above, however, this bad boy clocks in at 930 pounds when filled with water, so it’s not exactly balcony-friendly. Once you figure out the ideal spot for your Ice Barrel 400 (ie, close to a hose with decent drainage nearby), you’ll probably want to leave it there.  

Should you buy an Ice Barrel?

Cold water therapy is the bees knees, and if you’ve got the (outdoor) space to spare, the Ice Barrel 400 might be the perfect post-workout tool your old bones – and brain – have been waiting for. Apartment dwellers will have some compromises to make to use it indoors, but anyone with a back porch and garden hose should have a much better experience. 

If your pockets are deep enough, the Ice Barrel 400 may well be worth the investment. Just make sure you’ve got the proper space for it first.

Men's Fitness reviewer TJ Fink poses in his Ice Barrel
Our reviewer TJ Fink has room to spare inside the Ice Barrel 400