Is It Worth the Hype?

The Ice Barrel 400 is a simple, fun and relatively inexpensive way to leverage the health benefits of cold plunging as part of your daily routine. It’s a reasonable option for those who either don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a fancy cold plunge tub or who aren’t comfortable building a DIY cold plunge out of an old chest freezer. 

However, it’s worth mentioning that since initially publishing this review, Ice Barrel has released two new products: the Ice Barrel 300 and the Ice Barrel 500. The latter has replaced the Ice Barrel 400 at our home spa for reasons I’ll outline in the side-by-side comparison table below.

In this review, I’ll tell you about my experience with the Ice Barrel 400 including:

Lastly, I’ll answer some of the most common questions about the Ice Barrel 400 and give you my final verdict on the product.

Hands-On Ice Barrel 400 Review


  • Offers a low-cost and convenient way to add cold plunging to your daily routine.
  • Made with high-quality and non-toxic materials.
  • Has an attractive design that easily blends in.
  • Is ergonomic and comfortable enough to chill out in.


  • Is poorly insulated and won’t keep the water cold for more than a few hours.
  • Requires a regular and steady supply of ice.
  • Requires regular water treatment and water changes.
  • Can be difficult to get in and out of the barrel, especially if you’re not in the best of shape.

Delivery and Setup

Our Ice Barrel 400 was delivered to our driveway by FedEx in a big cardboard shipping box. Fortunately, the box wasn’t heavy (about 60 pounds, including the packaging), so I was able to easily pick it up and put it on a hand truck before wheeling it to our backyard, where I unboxed everything.

If you don’t have a hand truck, you may need the help of a friend or family member to carry the box to its final destination.

Setting up the Ice Barrel was straightforward. After deciding where I wanted to place it, I positioned the stand and ensured it was somewhat level. Next, I lifted the empty Ice Barrel on top of the stand and turned it until the spigot (for draining the barrel) was facing away from the house.

After that, I positioned the step stool next to the barrel, filled the barrel to the second ring from the top with water using a garden hose, and poured in about 140 pounds of ice cubes I got from Walmart.

Once I had filled the Ice Barrel with water and ice, I was ready for my first ice bath. 

All in all, it took less than half an hour from start to finish (including filling the barrel with water, but not including the time it took to go to the store and buy the ice). 

The first thing I learned after getting into the Ice Barrel was to not overfill it, because the mass of my body displaced so much water that a lot of it spilled over the edge — including a significant portion of the ice I had poured in. So I recommend only filling the Ice Barrel about two-thirds with water before adding the ice.

The second thing I learned was that moving the Ice Barrel once it’s filled with water and ice is almost impossible. So make sure you position it exactly where you want it before filling it up. For example, I wanted to move the Ice Barrel so we’d have a nice background for the video version of this review, but I had to drain it halfway before that was possible.

Ice Barrel 400 Size and Dimensions

Some people may disagree, but I think the Ice Barrel is a great fit for any backyard.
Some people may disagree, but I think the Ice Barrel 400 looks great in the backyard.

The Ice Barrel 400 holds 105 gallons of water and is 42 inches tall with a 25-inch opening. For reference, I’m 6 feet tall, weigh 210 pounds and have relatively broad shoulders, but I easily fit inside the barrel with room to spare.

The most comfortable way I’ve found to position myself inside the barrel is in a half-squat. Since I’m suspended in water, I don’t have to engage my quads to hold the squat. In other words, my legs don’t start burning from holding that position.

If I want to submerge my head underwater (which I sometimes do to amplify the effect the ice-cold water has on my nervous system), I can just sit back until my butt nearly touches the bottom of the barrel. 

Overall, the Ice Barrel 400 is a great size that works well for many different body types. In fact, I’d argue that the 400 offers the most comfortable cold plunging position among all three Ice Barrel variants.

Materials and Craftsmanship

The body of the Ice Barrel 400 is made out of high-quality recycled materials composed of low linear density polyethylene (LLDPE), which is a lightweight and durable non-toxic plastic. That’s the same type of plastic used in food and medical-grade applications (which can be recycled after usage). The advantage of LLDPE plastic is that it’s lightweight and sustainable but sturdy enough to last a long time.

When I first stumbled across the Ice Barrel, I was concerned because I figured that LLDPE would have the same endocrine-disrupting properties as other types of consumer-grade plastic. But after sifting through the scientific literature, I couldn’t find any indication that LLDPE leaks endocrine disruptors into the water.

Based on what I’ve seen, the Ice Barrel appears to be very well-built and should last for many years. 

The only part of the barrel I recommend being gentle with is the plastic drain valve. If you bang against it too much or aren’t careful when attaching a garden hose with a metal thread, you could damage it. The good news is that damage to the drain valve is covered under the lifetime warranty, and Ice Barrel will replace it free of charge.

When you’re not using the Ice Barrel, I recommend covering it with the included protective UV cover to prevent the color from fading over time. 

Speaking of color, you can get the Ice Barrel in black or tan. I decided to go with tan because I figured it would heat up a bit less when exposed to direct sunlight. I asked the company about this and they said, “While we know that the tan barrels do keep the temperature lower for long periods of time in direct sunlight, it’s something we haven’t measured or tested to date.”

How Cold Does the Ice Barrel 400 Get?

​​I usually fill my Ice Barrel with 120 to 140 pounds of ice
​​I usually fill my Ice Barrel with 120 to 140 pounds of ice.

A few minutes after I had poured in 140 pounds of ice, I measured the water temperature at the top, in the middle, and at the bottom of the barrel. 

As I expected, the water at the top was the coldest (because that’s where all the ice cubes were floating). It measured 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius). The temperature was 41 in the middle and 45 at the bottom.

Note: Depending on how much ice you add, the water in the Ice Barrel can get close to freezing. That’s even a few degrees colder than the water in my primary cold plunge tub.

I suspect that I could have achieved even colder temperatures by using either block ice or a different ice-to-water ratio, despite the 75-degree ambient air temperature during my testing. However, I think 37 degrees around your chest and throat is cold enough to achieve the desired health benefits.

If you’ve never cold plunged before, I recommend a water temperature of 50-59 degrees. That’s cold enough to achieve the desired benefits if you can stay in the barrel for five to 10 minutes.

The colder the water is, the less time you need to spend in the water.

How Long Does the Ice Barrel 400 Stay Cold?

The Ice Barrel can keep the water cold for several hours to several days, depending on the ambient temperature
The Ice Barrel can keep water cold for several hours, depending on the ambient temperature.

The answer to this question depends on several factors, such as the ambient air temperature, the water temperature before you add the ice, and whether or not the Ice Barrel is exposed to direct sunlight.

During my initial testing on a sunny day with an ambient air temperature of 75 degrees (24 degrees Celsius), I added seven 20-pound bags of ice. That ice was almost completely melted within 3.5 hours, and the water temperature was in the high 40s to low 50s for the rest of the day.

So if you live in an area that sees temperatures in the mid-70s from spring to fall (like we do here in Georgia), you should expect to add ice to the barrel daily during those seasons. 

Ice Barrel (the company) recognized the relatively poor performance of the Ice Barrel 400 and launched two new fully-insulated variants that can maintain stable water temperatures for several days. That’s one of the reasons why I recently upgraded to the Ice Barrel 500.

Water Maintenance

I recommend ordering the maintenance kit to keep the water and barrel clean for longer
I recommend ordering the maintenance kit to keep the water and barrel clean for longer.

Besides adding fresh ice regularly, it’s also worth noting that you’ll have to replace the water every four weeks, depending on how often you use the barrel. That prevents potentially harmful bacteria and other microorganisms from growing in the standing water.

However, it’s important to mention that you can only get away with such infrequent water changes if you use non-toxic water treatment products, such as the ones Ice Barrel offers as part of its maintenance kit. If you don’t, you’ll need to replace the water on a much more regular basis.

The kit includes a water stabilizer, a stainless steel mesh net, a thermometer, a six-pound bag of eucalyptus Epsom salt, a silicone cleaning brush and a bottle of cleaning soap.

The mesh net is great for cleaning debris out of the Ice Barrel, and the water stabilizer helps clean, treat, balance, and condition the water. It further inhibits calcium, scale buildup and scum lines, helps control odors, inhibits biofilm attachment and softens the water.

Instead of chlorine or bromine (two chemical water conditioning agents often used in pools and plunges), Ice Barrel’s water stabilizer uses a copper/silver ion formula that doesn’t emit caustic vapors, irritate the skin or damage hair or swimwear.

Ice Barrel Pricing

The Ice Barrel 400 retails for $1,199.97 plus $95.00 for shipping. But if you use my affiliate code MKUMMER, you’ll get $150 off your purchase.

Buy the Ice Barrel

The Ice Barrel 400 is also available on Amazon, but you won’t be able to use my discount code if you purchase it there.

My Experience With the Ice Barrel 400

Don't overfill the Ice Barrel (to avoid spilling half of the ice cubes when you get in).
Don’t overfill the Ice Barrel (to avoid spilling half of the ice cubes when you get in).

There are a number of things I like about the Ice Barrel 400.

For starters, I feel comfortable being upright in the barrel, knowing that I can just stand up if need be. I’m a seasoned cold plunger and I don’t freak out when my entire body (including my head) is submerged in ice-cold water for extended periods (I spent 15 minutes in the Ice Barrel while recording my video review). 

However, being upright instead of lying on my back feels more natural and calming. Plus, it offers me a better view of our backyard while enjoying the cold.

I can only imagine that someone new to cold exposure might appreciate the ability just to stand up when they can’t handle it anymore. 

The other thing I like about the Ice Barrel 400 is that it doesn’t require a chiller or a water filtration system that runs 24/7 (as is the case with my Plunge ice bath tub). However, this is also a disadvantage because it means you have to frequently refill the barrel with fresh ice and replace the water every few weeks.

That brings us to the main disadvantage, which is that you need a continuous supply of ice. 

In other words, you need a commercial ice maker (such as this one from Home Depot), as the ice maker that’s built into your freezer won’t produce enough to sufficiently cool the water.

If you don’t want to invest in a good ice maker, you’ll become Walmart’s new favorite customer by spending $25-$35 on ice cubes for every plunge. That adds up quickly and I don’t think it’s worth the cost or hassle. 

The other downside to being in a barrel versus a tub is that you have to be more athletic to get in and out of the water. So if you’re severely overweight and can’t lift your body weight (even with the assistance of the water), you may have trouble getting into and out of the barrel.

Tips to Simplify Water Maintenance

The included cover protects the Ice Barrel from harsh UV light.
The included cover protects the Ice Barrel from harsh UV light.

I highly recommend filtering the water when filling the barrel to remove chlorine and other nasty contaminants that are part of most city drinking water supplies.

In our case, we have a whole-house water filter from Radiant Life that filters the water before it enters the house. While I highly recommend installing such a system to improve your water quality and prevent the buildup of black slime, you don’t have to go that far just to enjoy an ice bath.

The least-expensive option to filter the water for your barrel is to use a charcoal filter cartridge you can attach to the end of your garden hose

Additionally, I recommend using a mesh net to remove any debris or dead insects daily or before you jump into the barrel.

Last but not least, I recommend using non-toxic water treatment options, such as hydrogen peroxide, to keep the water sanitary for longer. The colder the water is, the fewer bacteria can grow in it. So you’ll likely have to worry less about keeping the water clean in the winter than in the summer.

Ice Barrel Side-by-Side Comparison

As mentioned in the intro, Ice Barrel has three distinct products in its lineup, including the Ice Barrel 400 (reviewed in this article), the Ice Barrel 300, and the newest Ice Barrel 500.

Ice Barrel 300 Ice Barrel 400 Ice Barrel 500
Insulated Yes No Yes
Easy to get in and out ★★☆ ★☆☆ ★★★
Position Seated Half squat Seated
Chiller ready Yes No Yes
Max height and weight 6’2” and 250 lbs 6’6” and 300 lbs 7’ and 300 lbs
Price $1,199.99 $1,199.99 $1,499.99

As you can see in the table above, the Ice Barrel 400 isn’t insulated, whereas the 300 and 500 are. As a result, you can expect much better temperature maintenance performance from the 400’s newer siblings.

It’s also worth noting that the Ice Barrel 400 doesn’t have built-in connections to hook up a chiller, whereas the two other Ice Barrels do. (The company does sell a conversion kit that allows you to drill holes and connect a chiller.)

Another significant disadvantage (at least in some cases) is the Ice Barrel 400’s height, which makes it difficult to get in and out of the barrel, even with the step stool.

At the same time, its height is actually one of my favorite things about it, because it allows me to remain fully upright and submerge my head entirely. Neither the Ice Barrel 300 nor the 500 are tall (or deep) enough to do that without some weird acrobatics.

For that reason, I wish Ice Barrel made a fully-insulated and chiller-ready version of the 400, perhaps with an integrated step stool as is the case with the 500.

Ice Barrel 400 FAQs

The first time I took an ice bath, our German shepherd wasn't sure what to make of it.
The first time I took an ice bath, our German shepherd wasn’t sure what to make of it.
How heavy is the Ice Barrel 400?

The Ice Barrel 400 weighs 55 pounds when empty and 750 pounds when filled with 80 gallons of water. That’s why it’s essential to figure out where you want to place the barrel before you fill it.

How much ice does the Ice Barrel 400 require?

That depends on the ambient air and water temperature. As a rule of thumb, 10 pounds of ice will drop the water temperature by approximately four degrees Fahrenheit, assuming an initial water temperature of roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you don’t want to do the math, I recommend starting with 100 to 140 pounds of ice if you use ice cubes. With block ice, you might need less.

Does the Ice Barrel offer an optional chiller unit to keep the water cold?

Yes, the company offers a separate chiller, but it’s incompatible with the Ice Barrel 400 (unless you drill the holes and install the necessary plumbing fixtures yourself). The new Ice Barrel 300 and 500 already come with the hookups required to connect a chiller.

Is there any physiological difference between ice bathing in an upright position versus in a reclined position?

I haven’t found any evidence suggesting a difference between ice bathing in an upright position vs. lying down. However, some people might find it more relaxing to be upright with the ability to stand up at any moment. 

Ice Barrel 400 Review: Final Verdict

Ice Barrel 400

Michael Kummer

Quality of materials and craftsmanship


The Ice Barrel 400 makes it easy to add cold therapy to your daily routine, but unless you live in a cold climate, you’ll need a dedicated ice maker to keep the water cold.

I wasn’t sure how much I’d like the Ice Barrel 400, considering that it doesn’t come with a chiller and filtration system (two of the main things I look for in a cold plunge). Plus, I wasn’t sure if standing/squatting in a barrel rather than lying in a tub would be comfortable for someone of my height and weight. 

However, during my first ice bath, I realized just how pleasant it felt to squat in cold water, covered by a layer of ice cubes. Having ice floating in the water around my neck made me feel like I could become the next Wim Hof.

Funnily enough, despite the ice in the water and the slightly colder water temperature than what I’m used to from my Plunge tub and my TheraFrost ice bath, I didn’t feel the need to get out. Instead, I felt at peace in my barrel and I noticed how quickly my heart rate slowed down while I was watching our chickens search for food in our backyard.

The main disadvantage of the Ice Barrel 400 is its lack of insulation, which prevents it from keeping the water cold for extended periods in warmer months. (Insulation also helps prevent the water from freezing during the winter.)

The bottom line is that while the Ice Barrel 400 is one of the best ice baths on the market, I’d consider picking the Ice Barrel 300 or 500 instead. If you go with the Ice Barrel 400, make sure you get a decent ice maker so you’ll have a steady supply of fresh ice. That’s especially important during the warmer months of the season.

Medical Disclaimer

The information shared on this blog is for educational purposes only, is not a substitute for the advice of medical doctors or registered dieticians (which we are not) and should not be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any condition. Consult with a physician before starting a fitness regimen, adding supplements to your diet, or making other changes that may affect your medications, treatment plan or overall health. and its owner MK Media Group, LLC are not liable for how you use and implement the information shared here, which is based on the opinions of the authors formed after engaging in personal use and research. We recommend products, services, or programs and are sometimes compensated for doing so as affiliates. Please read our Terms and Conditions for further information, including our privacy policy.

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