The majority of us are familiar with cooling down between sauna rounds. Perhaps with a cold shower, or rolling around in the snow.
Yet some brave souls take their wellness routines one step further by entering a cold plunge.
There are plenty of studies that show us the optimal routine and temperature for sauna and cold plunge rounds. Simply, if you are not cooling off in an ice bath or cold plunge for 15 minutes/week you are not getting the full benefits of contrast therapy.
Unfortunately, most ‘cold plunges’ on the market are nothing but water containers that require a steady supply of ice and frequently changing the dirty water. They are too warm in the summer and freeze in the winter. They have little or no insulation so it would cost a fortune to keep them temperature controlled even if they had the technology.
The best cold plunge tub maintains the desired temperature, filters water, circulates, and insulates. They save time, money, and trips to the store to buy ice. You will save money in the first year by buying a cold plunge system, and use your cold plunge 10x more often if its always ready to go.
Do you really want to spend a half hour every morning getting your ice bath ready? Of course not, you have enough to do. It’s time to find the best cold plunge system for you and your life.
II. Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Cold Plunge
Most assume bigger is better, but you’re not doing laps in your ice bath. You need to be completely submerged, and have enough room to dunk your head. Anything bigger is a waste of energy and space, frankly.
This guy is 6’4″ and fits comfortably in this Modtub Cold Plunge. You don’t want to oversize your plunge.
Insulation is the least considered and most important factor for any cold plunge. They can cut the electricity costs of running a cold plunge by a factor of 5. Don’t believe us? Think about a really good Grizzly or YETI cooler. If you fill those with ice and beer, you will have cold beer for almost a month.
Compare that with putting the ice and beer in a cardboard box. They will be room temperature in 8 hours (and make a big mess).
Coolers have a continuous barrier of insulation, and air-sealed gasket. They have been perfecting this technology for years and have gotten unbelievably good at it. That’s why cold plunge systems that start with giant coolers have such an advantage.
Many assume a cold plunge design built from scratch will be better, but they often leak, have poor insulation, and never have a gasket seal to maintain temperature. Plan on spending 2-5x more to run your cold plunge with a “new” design over those built on cooler technology.
When choosing a cold plunge tub, always make sure that the tub has insulation. Good insulation is like buying energy up front.
A good cold plunge filtration system will help provide clean, clear water for your plunge. A good filter will trap sand, soil, silt, sediment, and even rust build up in your system. With a good filter, you can feel comfortable sharing a cold plunge system with multiple people without changing the water very frequently.
Look for a system that can filter down to 30 microns, with a replaceable filter.
A chiller keeps your cold plunge at the desired temperature without adding ice. You can select your temperature down to 39F (on most chillers) and know your tub is ready when you are.
If you have system with good insulation, you can get away with a very small chiller (1/2 horsepower or less). The ModTub has such insane insulation that it can use a 1/4 hp chiller and have no problem reaching and maintaining 39 degrees f (plenty cold for the benefits).
E. Freeze Protection
Lastly, if you’re in northern climates you actually need to worry about water freezing during the winter. Because this is only half the market, cold plunge systems typically do not come with frost protection besides circulation.
Circulation will help prevent freezing, but not if it’s cold enough. If you experience weather that where the high temperature is below freezing, you should consider a stock tank heater.
These are cheap, and easy. Stock tank heaters are made to keep animal water above freezing. That’s all you need, and there’s not much to it. If you live in a sunny location you can use a solar powered stock tank heater, especially with a battery back up. Or, simply run a cable to it on particularly cold nights.
For cold plunge systems, we recommend a floating stock tank heater with a built in thermostat, like this.
As with all electronics going to your cold plunge system, make sure the circuit is GFI protected!
III. Complete Cold Plunge Systems
A complete cold plunge system comes with filtration, circulation, and a chiller at minimum. If you’re cold plunge doesn’t do that, it’s simply a water container, and you probably paid too much for it. Some cold plunges include heating, but that can also be easily added.
ModTub – The Best Cold Plunge System
Sauna Marketplace has partnered with Modtub, our favorite cold plunge system who was the first to base their system on energy efficient cooler design. These are for people who want a good looking system that is ready for frequent plunges.
It has a top of the line filtration system, chiller, circulation, and the insulation is out of this world.
Tub comes with an insulated lid completing the continuous layer of foam insulation. The system will maintain temperature of your tub with VERY little energy input.
This is easily the best home cold plunge system out of the box. Everything you need in a simple footprint.
Price: $2500 USD
Shark Tank Cold Plunge Tub
The Plunge, as seen in Shark Tank is a pretty good indoor system or outdoor cold plunge in southern climates.
Is it the best cold plunge tub? Probably not, but it is sleek and Plunge has a commercial version available.
This is the best looking, most modern looking cold plunge on the market in our opinion. It comes with a cover and has been around for a long time.
It uses a lot of the same hardware as the Modtub, featuring filtration, circulation, and an efficient chiller.
The PLUNGE does not have nearly as good of insulation as the ModTub. Plan on spending at least twice as much to keep this system cold.
That said, this is the cold plunge ice bath standard for a reason. it’s the best selling system, and you can’t go wrong with it.
Price: Starting Around $5,000
$100 off with code COLD100 $100 off with code COLD100 plus Free Shipping!
Submerge Siberian Cold Plunge Tub
The Submerge Siberian sauna comes in at $5,910 and has a lot of great features if you can afford the price.
This is the best plunge out of the box, while others require a little more assembly.
Everything is built in to a nice looking package – filtration, circulation, chiller, and even a heater for outdoor use.
It features a cedar top and a 2 year warranty.
Alaskan Cold Plunge from Redwood Outdoors
The Alaskan Cold Plunge kit from Redwood Outdoors has an electric chiller and is clad with Thermowood Spruce.
It’s a little more expensive, in the $5k range but if you’re looking for a barrel shaped cold plunge that will last, this is it.
Check it out here.
Yukon Plunge from Redwood Outdoors
Another great option from Redwood is the Yukon Plunge. Like all Redwood Cold Plunges, the Yukon has wifi capability to control your cold plunge with an app. This helps conserve energy while making sure it’s ready when you need it.
It comes with a simple ‘Intex’ pool pump to keep the plunge clean.
Check it out here.
IV. Containers for Water and Ice (Not Cold Plunge Systems)
Quickly, let’s discuss what is NOT a cold plunge system, and why.
The ice barrel is essentially a plastic rain barrel that costs $1200 USD. They’re difficult to get in, made of plastic, and awkward. They are better than a stock tank because you can cover them, but that’s about it. Indeed, you could turn any tub into an ice bath without the Ice Barrel.
We’re not really sure why people buy Ice Barrel without filtration, a chiller, stock tank heater, circulation, or insulation. Please let us know the draw! We know a lot of you will buy the Ice Barrel, you can receive a discount below:
Get $75 off your Ice Barrel purchase with Code: COLDTODAY
Ice baths and cold plunges are here to stay, but it’s time to stop marketing plastic bins as cold plunges. If you’re going to make an ice bath part of your routine you need a serious system. Luckily, proper systems are not that much more, and will save you money in the long run by not buying ice.
Buy the best cold plunge tub here.
Best Saunas to Pair a Cold Plunge Tub With
Cold plunge along with a sauna unlocks the most health benefits and will change your life. You’ve seen the best cold plunge tubs above, but what’s the best sauna to pair with a cold plunge?
Truly, the sky is the limit. Sauna Marketplace has saunas ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 high end mobile spas. However, for most people looking to get a backyard thermaculture setup, a barrel sauna or sauna tent is the best option.