10 Best Ice Packs for Runners Tested
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
Covers a really wide area of the body
Stays cold for hours so you can sleep with it
The material is easy to clean
Many sizes available
Perfect to use on your back
- FlexiKold Gel
- Roscoe Medical Hot & Cold
- The Coldest Water
- O2 Cold Therapy with Compression
- Koo Care 2
- TheraPearl Shin Wraps
- Polar Ice Foot and Ankle Wrap
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Ice Packs for Runners
1. FlexiKold Gel
Covers a really wide area of the body
Stays cold for hours so you can sleep with it
The material is easy to clean
Many sizes available
Perfect to use on your back
Buyers complained about not enough gel moving from side to side
While this is a basic ice pack, its quality materials and construction, large size, and tons of satisfied customers made us put it #1 on our list. It's big enough and flexible enough to use just about anywhere, and it's double sealed in order to prevent leaks.Read more
The product is quite thin since there’s not a lot of gel in it, but it still gets super cold. As there’s less gel than in other products, it is more flexible and pliable. Helps with inflammation, swelling, and muscle pain. The nylon cover is smooth to the touch and much more comfortable than the plastic ones that come with many other products. There’s also a neck contour version available, specially designed for neck pain. A very durable and excellent product for frequent use. It’s more expensive than some other products on our list but it’s totally worth it.
2. Roscoe Medical Hot & Cold
Helps assist with a variety of aches/pains in different body parts
Good for sprains, contusions, headaches, and even toothaches
Three convenient sizes
Won’t freeze solid like a block, maintains flexibility
Has a chemical smell at first
There is nothing fancy about this ice pack but it’s a good place to start from. Everyone should have a couple of these handy packs around due to their versatility and effectiveness.Read more
These type of packs are pretty common, but we included the one made by Roscoe Medical because of the strength of its seams. One drawback of these types of packs (especially with heavy repeated use) is that the seams can split leaving you with blue goo all over you and the couch. With the Roscoe Hot & Cold Pack, this should not be an issue.
3. The Coldest Water
Retains the cold for a long time
Soft fabric covering
It’s definitely on the more expensive side
If you’re looking for something bigger, you should definitely check out The Coldest Water ice pack. It’s 15.2 x 11.7 inches so it’s one of the biggest on our list.Read more
This product was specially created for people who play sports. If you want to recover faster, this product will help and it’s great for fast pain relief. If you have any ankle sprains, back pain, or any other muscle pain, this pack will minimize it. The pack molds really well to the shape of your body, and provides relief to the appropriate area. However, for some users, the pack was too stiff and they felt there was a lack of flexibility. The material is very comfortable on the skin and you don’t feel like you're putting plastic on your body. Users were also amazed by the temperature of the pack. It retains the cold so well that some users described it as the coldest pack they had ever used. Even after 20 minutes of use, it stays cold. Another nice thing is that you don’t need a towel to use this pack to insulate yourself from cold burns.
4. O2 Cold Therapy with Compression
Ice and compression combined
Fits great around the knee
Some reports of durability issues with ice pack
Not good for skinny legs
This product is unique as it offers the user compression along with the healing effects of ice to help you recover faster. And it's specifically designed for use on knees, which any runner can appreciate. Compression increases blood circulation, so fresh oxygenated blood rushes to the area speeding healing.Read more
Materials and Durability
This product is made with high-quality materials that have been approved by professional physical therapists who freeze, thaw, and re-freeze these ice packs constantly, so you know that if it will take that kind of continuous use it will hold up to use at your home. We did find a few reports from users that the ice pack portion of the product started to leak over time, but this is typical with this type of product and didn't seem to be a consistent issue.
Ease of Use and Versatility
Reviewers said that it was easy to use, both to put on the knee and to inflate for compression. Because of its knee specific design, this product isn't really that versatile.
This product is one of the more expensive ones on our list, however for those looking for the healing effects of both ice and compression all in one product it will be money well spent.
5. Koo Care 2
easy to use
not as durable
The Koo Care 2 ice pack is affordable and easy to use. It is a great option for everyday use.Read more
This ice pack is versatile and perfect for all areas of the body It comes with a one year warranty and is one of the most affordable options on our list.
Hot and cold therapy
This is a gel icepack that will help relieve your pain and improve your overall range of motion if you are struggling with that. It is easy to use and great for the hip, shoulder, back, and knee.Read more
This ice pack is perfect for athletes and the everyday person--it's easy to use and perfect for pain relief from arthritis or muscle pain. It provides hot or cold therapy and provides a compression fit for added relief. The best part is that it comes with a money back guarantee (although it is a bit pricey, to begin with).
7. TheraPearl Shin Wraps
Perfect for shin splints, stress fractures and more
Holds temperature for the medically recommended period of time
Simply pop in the freezer or toss in the microwave
Made from non-toxic materials
Latex and BPA free
Some wish that they would adjust tighter
The TheraPearl Shin Wraps are a great way to do this. They smoothly envelop your calves and shins and provide a calming chill or an invigorating burst of warmth (depending on what you need). These wraps have a double velcro adjustable strap set which makes sure that they stay in place. They also are guaranteed to hold their therapeutic temperature for a minimum of 20 minutes. Don’t let shin issues keep you out of commission, fight back with TheraPearl Wraps!
ProTip: These wraps are slim enough to fit underneath your pants, so if you want you can put them on at the office and take a load off your shins while you work.
8. Polar Ice Foot and Ankle Wrap
Great for cold therapy after surgery
Build to articulate perfectly around the ankle
Has hook & loop closure straps
Surface has soft fleece covering to protect skin
It could be a bit more pliable
For any type of soft tissue trauma in the foot or ankle area, strapping on the Polar Ice Foot can be a great first step in healing the injury. Reduce swelling, control pain and get yourself back to full speed as soon as possible.Read more
This is another custom designed icing implement that will more thoroughly cover your ankle than an all-purpose pack ever will. On the interior, the Polar Ice foot has encapsulated ice packs filled with purified water. On the exterior, you have a soft fleece that is easy on the skin and protects from frostbite. Combine the two with a smart design and you’ve got a winning ice pack.
can be wrapped
stays colder longer
User friendly, convenient, self-icing tool
Plastic handle does not conduct cold temperature leaving your hands unaffected; simply fill cup with water and put it in the freezer
Can be used for sensory stimulation, splint cooling, or general muscle work
Reusable (eco-friendly) and easy to clean
Easy to use
May start to crack after long use, due to repeated hot/cold transitions
This is a handy ice massage tool that can breath new life into tired and sore muscles.Read more
Research (and our own experience) shows that icing can be more effective when a good bit of pressure is applied. Add in the motion of moving the CryoCup around and it’s easy to understand how this method can reach deeper into the muscle tissue and achieve better results. One point of caution, however: when applying ice directly to the skin, be sure not to overexpose one area as this can result in frostbite. On the plus side, your fingers won’t freeze when applying the ice and this product is much more eco-friendly than throwing away a bunch of Dixie cups every week. If you’ve never tried it before, an ice massage can be exhilarating.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The material the ice pack is made of should be high quality, durable, and pliable in order to fit to your body correctly. Seams must be well-made and they can’t split or you or your clothes may be colored by the gel or whatever other substance is used in the pack. After taking it out of the freezer, the gel or any other substance should be flexible to easily fit the shape of your body. This is actually one of the biggest complaints we hear about ice packs, that when they're frozen they aren't flexible enough to be of much use. Because of this we made sure to add several products that remain flexible even when completely frozen. Avoid products in which liquid substances stay only on one side of the pack. The majority of the ice packs that you buy may or may not have warning labels on them. Be sure to check over these ice packs, prior to use to see if the inner material is dangerous. These days most companies only use non-toxic substances in their products but you can never be too careful and it pays to double check before buying and using.
Obviously the durability of the ice pack is a really important factor to consider. You want something that you can use again and again, and that won't fail you when you need it the most. It's really annoying, and bad for your health, recovery, and training, to think you have an ice pack all set to go, only to pull it out of the freezer only to find the seams split and gel leaking out making it unusable.
We considered over 1300 reviews to see what users had to say about the durability of various products we were considering for our list. Some of the products are more durable than others, but we didn't include any that had a ton of complaints about the durability. Some of the things that make products like this durable are using high-quality materials, solid seam construction, and the quality of the gel or liquid used. Even if the exterior materials are of good quality, if the gel isn't it could lead to bursting and leaks in the ice pack, so you want to be sure that all of the materials used are high-quality, not just some of them.
In all honesty, there shouldn't be too much thought that goes into the use of an ice pack. The aim is to relieve pain and stress by simply applying it and relaxing. Because of this, one of the most important aspects of a well-made ice pack is how easy it can be used in order to bring about this relief. Ice packs that offer specialty uses, such as those that target specific areas of the body such as knees, shins, or elbows are easier to use for these specific injuries but may not be easy to use overall and typically don't offer much in the way of versatility. The same is true for ice packs that double as heat packs, which most of the ones on our list do. So long as these products can be easily heated and/or chilled, their versatility shouldn't affect their ease of use.
Most ice packs, and the top ones on our list in fact, are of the most basic variety; flat and square or rectangular with no other features such as straps etc. Depending on where and how you plan on using the pack, this can actually make it easier or more difficult to use the pack. For example, if you want to lie down with an ice pack on your back, having straps or other attachments can get in the way and make it harder to use. But if you want to wrap the pack around a joint such as a knee or ankle then NOT having straps makes it much more difficult to use because you have to sit there and hold the pack for the 15-20 minutes of recommended icing time. Be sure to take all of this into consideration when making your selection, and since most of the products on our list are really affordable, as an investment in your health and wellbeing we recommend buying several different types of packs for different parts of your body.
While choosing the best product, you should consider what’s the aim of its usage. If you’re going to use it on small parts of your body like knees or hands, you don’t need to purchase a big one. It’s a different story if you're looking for relief for your back, shoulders, or arms. You must be aware that an ice pack must fit around the whole area of the arm, leg etc. It’s usually better to buy a bigger one because while it may be a little heavier than a small, it will still work with smaller parts of the body, whereas small packs won't work for larger body parts. Remember also that even for the back, a product shouldn’t be too heavy because you may have a problem with keeping it in the freezer. Another thing to consider is the shape of the ice pack. The majority of ice packs that you buy may be shaped the same but in the event that you run into an oddly shaped ice pack, it may be more difficult for you to use on different parts of your body.
Many people may think that ice packs shouldn’t be very expensive and they really aren’t. You have a wide range of prices- from 20 dollars products to those which price may be higher than 50 dollars. However, the most expensive products aren’t always the best ones. You should personalize your product. We would recommend checking the price after considering the other important factors. Remember also that if you need an ice pack for your back it won’t cost the same as an ice pack for the wrist. No matter what, you should never put a price limit on caring for your body. You need your body for all daily functions and its not worth being miserable and mistreating injuries.
On one hand, you can't put a price on effective injury treatment supplies. But on the other hand, no one wants to pay out the nose for an ice pack of all things! Some of the products on this list are certainly on the higher side of the price spectrum. However, all of the products listed here will provide real relief and treatment for serious injuries, which more than justifies the price in our eyes. Still, you may want to be mindful of the cost for each product when making a purchasing decision.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
There's an effective method to treat most minor to moderate injuries that are caused by running. It's known as the RICE protocol. This is an acronym that stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Essentially, you should immediately stop using the affected body part, apply ice to the hurt area, provide some compression, and keep the affected limb elevated. In most minor cases of injury, this is the most effective and time-saving method of treatment.
Although the numbing effects of an ice pack on an injured area can be soothing to the point that you'll want to wear it for a long time, the truth is that you should only ice a particular body part for twenty minutes at a time. Failing to remember this rule can result in moderate to severe skin damage and increased pain.
Other Factors to Consider
Some of the ice packs listed here also offer the ability to provide compression to the affected area. This can be a useful design aspect since it allows for you to handle another important part of the typical treatment process when handling the vast majority of running injuries. However, compression isn't always the correct way to handle some running injuries, so it's worth considering whether or not you want to invest in a product that always compresses the affected region.
Frequently Asked Questions
While there are many benefits to icing an injury, one of the main reasons ice is used as a go-to is because it just feels good. With that being said, there are also facts behind why icing is beneficial. Icing helps minimize swelling and also can reduce bleeding in the tissue, muscle spasms, and pain.
While some ice packs do have an expiration date, you do not always need to follow it. Icing can be done with an expired gel ice pack with no repercussions. When you start to ice, it works generally the same as a new, used, or expired ice pack. The dates that are listed on these ice packs are more of a recommendation date rather than an expiration date, and to be honest it's mostly a way to get unsuspecting people to buy more ice packs.
Depending upon what you are looking for in an ice pack, there are several things to consider. The shape forming gel ice packs may be more beneficial for multi-purpose use, whereas hard ice packs will be difficult to use when icing around the wrist or other rounded body parts. These harder or firm ice packs can burn the skin by being too cold. With that said, think about what kind of injury that you are trying to heal.
Experts usually recommend icing an injury for no longer than 20 minutes. We know how good ice feels on a swollen limb or joint, and that it's tempting to leave it on for a lot longer than 20 minutes, but it's not a good idea. Ice relieves pain and swelling because it constricts the blood vessels, which numbs the pain and reduces blood flow. Leave the ice on for too long however, and the blood vessels can get so constricted that more damage is caused, which in turn leads to even more swelling and inflammation.
Experts agree that RICE is the best way to care for a sports injury. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. In an ideal situation, you will ice the injury immediately after it happens for 15-20 minutes max. You should then follow 20 minutes with the injury on ice with 20 minutes off for the first 48 hours. After the first 48 hours, it's beneficial to apply ice to the injury for 15-20 minutes and then follow it immediately with a hot pack or by getting into a hot bath or tub. This causes fresh, oxygenated blood to flood into the cold area in the body's natural attempt to return balance to your circulatory system's overall temperature, which in turn speeds healing. This is where having multiple ice/hot packs can be extremely useful.