12 Best Ice Packs for Runners Tested
The companies who make the ice packs on our list employ experts who conduct extensive research to ensure the design and application will give you the maximum benefits of ice without doing any damage.
- Roscoe Medical Hot & Cold Reusable Gel Pack
- Moji MK2 Knee Ice Wrap
- Pro-Tec Athletics Hot/Cold Therapy Wrap
- Polar Ice Foot and Ankle Wrap
- Thrive Cold Therapy
- TheraPearl Shin Wraps
- The Coldest Water
- Core Products ACC-551
- FlexiKold Gel Cold Pack
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 12 Picks
1. Roscoe Medical Hot & Cold Reusable Gel Pack
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.
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 legs.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 life-changing!
3. Moji MK2 Knee Ice Wrap
2 part compression wrap made from pliable material
Adjustable closures for variable pressure
Convenience and mobility
Contours to the knee and stays in place
Consists of 18 individual cells that secure the gel packets in place
Some wished it was a bit larger
Moving to a slightly higher therapeutic grade option, we have the Moji MK2 Knee Wrap. This product consists of a compression knee wrap and a cold cell that is specifically designed to fit around your knee.Read more
The knee is a tough body part to ice due to its irregular shape. This isn't an issue for the Moji MK2; the cold compression getting just where it needs to go. Each Moji cold cell is soft and flexible straight out of the freezer, and it stays chilled for the duration of a standard 20-minute icing protocol. If you suffer from any knee issues, the MK2 is certainly worth considering.
4. Pro-Tec Athletics Hot/Cold Therapy Wrap
Deep cold or heat compress for therapeutic uses
Is form fitting but does not constrict when applied
Dual-strapping system holds the pack firmly in place
Best for knees, ankles, feet, wrists, and elbows
Comes in two convenient sizes that will fit most people
A few reviewers felt it could be a bit wider
If you’re looking for something a little bit less specified that can be utilized for multiple purposes the Pro-Tec Athletics Therapy Wrap is a good pick.Read more
The wrap affords a snug, comfortable, and direct ice/heat compress to a variety of body parts. The wrap comes with a hot/cold compress which easily slides into a pocket in the wrap — this ensures that it will never slip out of place. The wrap itself is easy to adjust and remains flexible even when in a fixed position. In terms of universal wraps, this is simply one of the best options out there.
5. 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.
6. Thrive Cold Therapy
Well priced product
For some users, the pack isn’t flexible enough
The gel ice compress from Thrive will be useful for many different sports and also for injuries.Read more
It’s made of nylon and vinyl fabric, it’s filled with non-toxic gel. If you put it right after the injury, the inflammation will be minimized. There’s also an additional storage bag. It’s very convenient if you want to take the packs on travel. It will cool you down for around 30 minutes. There are two sizes to choose from. Users praised the pack for being very flexible. It’s easy to use it for a neck. The ice pack is very soft to touch. According to the reviewers, the pack is very durable but it’s also soft in touch. It can be used dozens of times. It’s also advisable to put the towel on it before putting on the skin.
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. 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
It was specially created for people who play sports. If you want to recover faster, this product will help. 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 don’t need a towel to use this pack.
9. Core Products ACC-551
Comes in many sizes
It’s a little bit heavy
The next product on our list will give you a lot of relief. It’s hard to find a product that is flexible even after many hours in the freezer, this product is still elastic enough to mold to the shape of your body.Read more
It can be used for hot or cold therapy. The pack provides relief for sprains, tendonitis, and many other injuries. The compress keeps warm or cold for a long time. The ACC-551 is also totally biodegradable so it's nature-friendly. It’s also non-toxic and totally safe for your skin. Users said that they didn’t have any skin irritation during or after use. Also, you won't need a towel while using this ice pack, another nice feature.
10. FlexiKold Gel Cold Pack
Covers a really wide area of the body
It stays cold for hours so you can sleep with it
The material is easy to clean
There are many sizes available
It’s perfect to use on your back
Buyers complained about not enough gel moving from side to side
Taking cold therapy with this product gives you refreshing pain relief. It's double sealed in order to prevent any leaks.Read more
The product is quite thin since there’s not a lot of gel in it, but it still gets super extra 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 of other products on our list but it’s totally worth it.
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 and your clothes may be colored by the gel or whatever 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. Avoid products in which liquid substances stays 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.
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 not fail when you need it the most.
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.
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, are easier to use for these specific injuries but may not be easy to use overall. The same is true for ice packs that double as heat packs; so long as they can be easily heated and/or chilled, their versatility shouldn't effect their ease of use.
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.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
There's an effective method to treat most minor to moderate injuries that are encountered when running 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 the body 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
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.
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
Cryotherapy is a technique that was developed by Japanese scientists to treat patients with arthritis. It has gained popularity and been studied further throughout Europe and the Americas.
Cryotherapy utilizes the gaseous form of nitrogen to cool a person’s skin to a temperature that is thirty to fifty degrees lower than normal for approximately two to three minutes. There is no actual contact between the person and the nitrogen gas. The gas is only used to cool the chamber. When the skin begins to feel the extremely cold temperature, the brain begins to fire regulatory functions and also releases endorphins and natural anti-inflammatories.
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.
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.