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Portable Ice Baths and How They Work

Portable Ice Bath NZ

Typically, an Ice Bath is a period of time you would submerge in cold water. This could perhaps be in a lake (in winter) an extremely cold outdoor swimming pool, (and get ready for a shameless plug)…a Freeze Tub portable ice bath or even a cold shower can work too.

Typically a portable ice bath can be called several different names, so don’t get too confused, they are probably the same thing.

You may have come across:

  • Cold Plunge Pool
  • Ice Chamber
  • Ice Bath
  • Portable Ice Bath
  • Inflatable Ice bath
  • DIY Ice Bath
  • Outside Ice Tub

Basically, if they look like a thermally lined PVC tub that hold roughly 400L of water and big enough to fit up to 6″7″ tall person – it’s probably what you’re looking for, portable ice bath.

You’ll find once you get one installed on your deck, you’ll fill it with hose water. You’ll be anxious and more than likely, apprehensive to get in.

Each cold water therapy session lasts 3 to 15 minutes. Your first time, probably 1 min (has to be a joke somewhere in there…) but the more you do it, the longer you can last.

The benefits of submerging in cold water aren’t immediate, it does take some time before you receive the full benefits that cold water therapy provides, but if you’re even slightly a skeptic – read on, you’ll see the benefits soon enough.

What to Look for with a Portable Ice Bath

These little ice chambers are becoming quite popular, you’ll start seeing them in a number of gyms, sports institutes, mates back yards and more than likely on your news feed.

Given how it makes you feel, you’ll be hooked pretty quickly. But taking your time and making the correct choices when you’re looking to buy an ice bath, can save you, time and a whole lot of moolah.

Don’t get sucked in for the cheapy Temu or Grab One deals. If you see an Ice bath for $200 and one for $100, you bet there’s a difference. It could be size, materials, stiching or thermostaic layering but lets break it down a little more.

Things to look for in a good portable ice bath.

Easy Drainage System

Most good Portable Ice Baths have 2 drainage systems. One that drains water out from the bottom of the ice bath and one that sides on the side of the ice bath.

They do exactly the same thing except the side draining portal has an extendable hose pipe that can redirect water. You can repurpose water for the garden once you’ve finished with the water.

Outdoor Compatible / UV Resistant

A good ice bath needs to withstand external elements. Especially with the UV we get in summer the outer layer of the ice bath needs to be durable and able to resist the direct sunlight for years.

In saying that, like with most things (spa pools, patio furniture, BBQs) over time, the fabric can start to discolor but the integrity of a good ice bath is for it to last 5 to 7 years when you look after it.

If you are not planning to use your Ice Tub in a while, we suggest you drain your tub of water, dry it out completely, dismantle it, and fold it away. This way, it will last a lot longer than leaving it unattended in the elements outside.

Waterproof Cover

Safety and waterproof covers are a must, like with any pool, safety first. I, like most people, leave their portable ice bath outside on the deck, filled with water. I want it to be ready as soon as I want to cold plunge.

However, if you’re a family with small children, I would consider you taking into account covering your pool with both the thermal lid and double it up with the waterproof cover.

It’s still not 100% foolproof and these can still be removed by children so be mindful not to let small children around the portable ice bath unattended. Or, if you want to be 100% safe, cover your ice bath with a round peice of plywood with a heavy brick or something on top.

Things to Consider When Buying a Portable Ice Bath

Pricing and Budget

They say you get what you pay for. It’s pretty much the same with a portable ice bath.

Generally, it’s a pretty simple concept and in fact, you don’t even need to buy a tub, you can jump into the bath with some ice and soak away the pain.

But realistically, the average bathtub is over 1000L water and if you cold plunge 3-4 times per week, that’s one heck of a water bill.

Typically, an Ice Bath ranges from $150 to $200 NZD. You will find subtle differences in the manufacturing of these ice baths though and this is something we want you to be aware of.

Thermal Layers:
Some Ice Baths have 2 or 3 layers of PVC with little to no thermal qualities. While others have 5 layers of thermal and PVC layering. You’ll read in the descriptions of the product what specifications the ice bath has.

Ice Bath Size:
This is important. We’ve noticed some Ice Baths come onto the market and they are bad…like, woefully inadequate.

We’ve seen them and they are not fit for service. They are 65cm x 75cm, and some have pushed the boat and spent some more to get 75 x 75cm.

If they were on the movie set for Lord of the Rings, all good. Anyone over 5″5″ and 60kg would struggle to have a ‘pleasant experience’.

On the upper end of the Ice Baths, you have the Freeze Tub Pro for just under $2000, and if you want to go even next level, there are professional, commercial-use cold plunges with smartphone-integrated options and chillers that keep the water chilled to 2° to 3° Degrees Celcius, for those serious plungers.

The other expense you will need to consider is Ice. You can either buy Ice from the service station but after a while, it gets a bit spenny! You’re better off making and storing your own ice cubes in a chest freezer.

It is a little bit of a hassle each day twisting the ice trays into a bucket but you get used to it and after a few days, you’re all set.

Freeze Tub have large custom designed silicon ice trays for freezing chunks of water. If you buy 3-4 of these, they are equivalent to a 5kg bag of ice from the service station. These large blocks of ice take longer to break down, keeping the water cooler for longer.

Silicon Ice Trays (2)


NEW Large Silicon Ice Trays. Each holds 1.2kg of Ice. The larger surface area of these blocks of ice keeps the water colder for longer whereas smaller ice cubes, melt quickly. Keep your plunging experience cold with our new large ice trays. These come…


Portability and Space

You will find portable ice baths are far easier to maneuver around because when empty, they weigh about 3.5kg. When full, it’s not moving anywhere – you’ll ahve 400kg of a solid rock, so I wouldn’t consider moving or dragging it at that point or you will de-laminate the bottom and have a lovely waterfall.

So consider your environment and space.

Some people leave their ice baths in the ‘shower’, but when we saw the photo…we couldn’t help but think that was a bad idea. It looked like these people were showering in the Tub and we thought of the soap scum, shampoo plus the dirt. Ditch that idea!

Portable Ice Baths are designed to move around, you can break them down and fold them up in about 5 minutes.

We have some athletes who take their ice baths to track events, and sporting camps, and people even take their portable ice baths on holiday, it’s not just for faster recovery.

There is sufficient evidence to suggest that cold water plunging has an immense impact on the immune system and mental well-being.

Also, location is a factor when purchasing your portable ice bath. You don’t need a huge space, if you live in an apartment complex, the outside balcony is the perfect spot. Just make sure you have a water supply.

We see most people pop them by the hose tap, you need a water supply unless you like taking 20+ buckets of water from the tap to the portable ice bath, so they tuck away nicely in the corner if you want.

Safety and Cleaning

Ice Baths have their dangers for both yourself and for others. I mentioned previously about not leaving open pods of water near where children could climb in so if you have young children, take measures to ensure they are safe.

Ice Baths put the body under stress. These stresses react differently to an individual so we advise initially to discuss with your health care provider before any cold plunging. But generally, if you don’t have an issue swimming in lakes and in the sea, then having an ice bath with tap water isn’t that much colder (for the beginner).

As you get more experience and want to test your limitations and start to plunge into colder waters, then be mindful of the dangers.

  • Never cold plunge while intoxicated
  • Don’t dive (or manu) into your ice bath (can’t believe I have the write that down) but if you plunge into very cold water submerging your entire body quickly, you could have an involuntary urge to gasp for air. By gasping for breath, you will instead, suck in water.
  • Don’t hyperventilate while cold plunging. Both have benefits, just not together.
  • If you’re prone to seizures, or passing out, of course, plunge in pairs.

Clean your tub with mild detergent and water (not harsh, scratchy like chemical-based detergents) Rinse with and dry with a soft dry towel. Make sure you get into the creases of the ice bath where mold and bacteria can build up over time.

Wash your Ice Tub out well…or else you’ll end up plunging into a cold soapy ice bath.

Best Portable Ice Baths

Of course. We’re going to say, Freeze Tub Solo. We have researched about 30 different types of ice baths. We focused on:

  • Safety
  • Quality of Design and Materials
  • Ensuring it looks good
  • Reliable
  • Durable
  • Portable
  • Price Point

Portable Ice Bath NZ

Chest Freezer (not so portable)

chest freezer ice bath

DIY Ice Bath

Having a chest freezer as an ice bath, although we thought initially it is a good idea, they are a bit cumbersome, and certainly not portable and we suggest never plugging it in. Ever.

They are designed to not be an ice bath for obvious reasons and although a little Kiwi ingenuity never hurt anyone (well, it probably has at some point), if you plug in your freezer you have a 100% chance of electrocuting yourself.

You might think, well, I will plug it in and not get in but I will just make sure the water gets cold. We’re not sure if that is even a good idea. That plug lead goes to the chest freezer, if there is a crack in the base and the water gets close to the electrics, the whole chest freezer becomes a death trap.

Water and power don’t mix.

They are also prone to leaking as they are not designed to hold a heavy weight (like a human) and your foot upon entry or pushing yourself to get out has been known to crack the plastic base and your chest freezer becomes a leaky not so portable ice bath. It also requires sealing.


If you want to know if cold plunging is for you, then you could try filling the bathtub for a few weeks and trialing it.

You could also place in the bath a bucket of ice to get it really cold. We’re sure the other family members will be wondering what the whimpering sound and heavy breathing is coming from the bathroom but it’s better than perhaps investing in a Freeze Tub solo and finding it just sits on the deck – but we’re confident you’ll love cold water plunging so much you’ll be hooked after your first ice bath.

Shoot us back any questions you have on cold plunging but if you’re ready to join the revolution, jump into your first portable ice bath, the Freeze Tub Solo and we’ll see you on the other side.


  • Dale Folland

    Dale is a seasoned Nutritionist with over two decades of experience in the health and wellness industry. His expertise has been sought after by elite groups such as NZ SAS Soldiers and NZ Fire Service, where he has contributed to optimising their performance and well-being. Dale is also a renowned speaker and educator and his work has been recognised in publications like the Daily Mail and various US media outlets.

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  1. Pingback: Cold Plunge Pools vs Ice Baths. What's the Difference?

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