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The lowdown on portable ice baths

Keen to join the ice bath revolution? Here’s what you need to know.

When it comes to talk about athletic recovery and general well-being, it feels like ice baths are in every conversation these days. Traditionally confined to locations like gyms, sports clubs and wellness facilities, portable ice baths now offer a versatile and convenient alternative. If you’re in the market for an at-home or on-the-go experience, here’s what you need to know.

Potential benefits

Cold water therapy is not new, dating back to the ancient Greeks and reappearing throughout history. Advocates suggest that cold water immersion can have many positive physical and mental effects.

Enhanced recovery

Immersing in cold water can be a quick and efficient means of reducing muscle soreness and inflammation. The cold temperature helps constrict blood vessels, minimising tissue damage and promoting faster recovery post-exercise or injury.

Improved circulation

Cold immersion has been shown to enhance blood circulation, which can aid in the removal of metabolic waste products from the muscles. This improved circulation contributes to overall cardiovascular health.

Alleviation of pain

The numbing effect of cold water can alleviate pain and discomfort associated with various conditions such as arthritis, injuries, or chronic inflammation.

Reduced fatigue

Regular use ice baths may help reduce fatigue and enhance endurance by preventing the build-up of lactic acid in muscles, a common byproduct of intense physical activity.

A word of warning

As with any new fitness or wellness regime, you should check with your healthcare professional beforehand to make sure this activity is suitable for you. This is especially important if you have pre-existing conditions like hypertension or cardiovascular disease. Certain medications rule out cold water therapy as well, so be sure to discuss these details with your doctor before you plunge.

Portable ice bath

Portable ice bath options

Portable ice baths come in a range of styles

Inflatable tubs

Made from durable materials, inflatable tubs are a great option when it comes to transport and storage. They often include a built-in drain and can be spacious enough to accommodate multiple users.

Collapsible ice baths

Designed for convenience, collapse baths fold away when not in use, making them ideal for infrequent users or where there is limited storage space. They are typically lightweight and easy to assemble.

Mobile ice baths

While not quite as portable, some mobile ice bath units come fully equipped with a chilling system, including temperature control functionality – usually via a smart phone app. These aren’t quite as easy to manoeuvre about but are a solid at-home option if you don’t plan on transporting them regularly.

Chilling methods

Keeping things cool on the go relies on one of two main chilling methods, both of which require a bit of pre-planning.

Ice cubes

Traditional ice cubes are the most obvious and easily available method. Users can either purchase bags of commercial ice – a recurring expense – or create their own ice supply using ice trays and a freezer.

Gel cooling packs

Frozen reusable gel packs are a mess-free and efficient cooling solution. They are easy to handle and can be strategically placed within the portable ice bath for targeted cold therapy. You’ll also avoid the inevitable plastic rubbish associated with purchasing bags of ice.


Portable ice baths are a cost-effective alternative to traditional, fixed installations. Pricing varies based on the type of bath and the chilling method, but you can find the most basic of inflatable options available from around $100.00. A durable tub with thermal lid and a cover will probably set you back a couple of hundred. Throw in a few bags of ice or some gel packs and this is a comfortable entry point if you want to get a feel for cold water immersion before committing to something more serious.

As with most tech, he more functionality, the higher the price you can expect to pay. Once you start adding items like chillers, temperature control, self-cleaning and sanitation, pricing quickly moves into the thousands.

There’s a tonne of options online, so do a little research before you dive in. Think about the space required, how often you plan to plunge and how easy it will be to drain, clean and fill the bath in between uses. Whether you’re an athlete looking for quicker recovery, someone managing chronic pain, or simply want to get on the well-being bandwagon, the convenience and versatility of portable ice baths can make them a great addition to your routine. Just be sure to get the go ahead from your healthcare provider first.

You can read more on cold water immersion including details on the legendary Wim Hof method in our article, ‘Dipping a toe into cold water therapy’.

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