„Building a superhuman future“ „Ice Age EcoSystem“ …, as soon as I read such premises I usually ignore them and shift them into the realm of tactical pseudo science. There are a lot of „gamechangers“ in the industry and as soon as I read about them I turn my head, raise an eyebrow, look back and continue with what Iam using.
I applied the same procedure when hearing about Qore Performance the first time a few years ago. If you had asked back then, I would have betted that this company wouldnt be relevant in 2023. But it seems Iam not always able to predict the future.
When I first considered getting an Iceplate I just wanted one thing. A rigid camelbak. „Why would someone want that?“ you may ask. Well, when it comes to hydration we usually have two options hands-on hydration (bottles) and hands-free hydration (bladders). Now hands free hydration systems like Camelbak or Source have become a staple in the military because of their obvious easy use. You dont have a huge bottle in front of you, you dont have to unscrew a cap and remove said bottle from a pouch.
The issue is that bladders, even when properly used, are literally consumable items. They tend to leak, or sometimes even burst. In cold weather this can result in your kit being wet and frozen and in hot weather this can result with the majority of your valuable water being lost.
Bottles are rugged, but get in the way, on the go hydration is always a bit tideous with them, they dont really encourage you to drink. In my experience, be it duty related or recreational, a 1l Nalgene always lasted longer than a 1,5l Camelbak – which is a bad thing.
So I ignored the other advertised benefits of the Qore Iceplate and just got for that rigid, plate shaped canteen with a hydration hose. It did fit well into my larger and medium sized packs, I was able to squeeze it into my Velocity Systems 24h assault pack. So far so good. End of the review.
But its only the beginning…
Before I continue about my further journey with Qore Performance I want to cover the technical aspects of the Qore IcePlate. The Qore IcePlate is a SAPI plate shaped canteen, its made in the USA and features a screw on connector for a Source hydration hose. When you look up closer you can see that the plate is not only curved, but also features four lashing points and a slanted bottom.
The slanted bottom creates a big advantage over bladders, as you can consume every drop of water out of the IcePlate.
The capacity according to QorePerformance is 1,5l. As it takes no lab environment to test this I can confirm that this is true. 1,5l is the perfect size for for a hydration bladder in my experience, as you get more water than there is in a canteen, while maintaining a very slick profile. When you get your IcePlate you will be getting the plate, the Source hydration hose, the hose adaptor and a so called IceCap.
The IceCap is basically a closure for the plate that enables you to put the plate into a freezer. This is due to the intent behind the IcePlate I ignored. While the frozen water will melt over time, it also radiates coolant energy, meaning it will keep you cool in two ways: Hydration and thermoregulation.
As external thermoregulation will also reduce your hydration requirements (your bodies thermoregulation is responsible for most of your water loss, AKA sweating) you will also have to drink less. Thats at least the theory. As said before, I never purchased the IcePlate with that intent.
This surprisingly changed in winter during a training in the Alps. It was snowy, slightly below freezing point and I expected my IcePlate to freeze. It didnt, despite using cold water, the iceplate was so close to my body (mounted to the suspension of my pack) that it got heated from the bits of bodyheat penetrating my insulation layer. The next day I used hot water, and the thermal benefits worked in both ways.
„So if this works in a completely different application, it should work in the intended application!“ was my next thought. Due to the fact that Iam always busy I forgot about testing it. However, when I did a 10km ruck run during summer with only my cammie pants and a tshirt I used cold tab water. The result was that I felt really comfortable during the whole run. I repeated it with frozen water and it felt even better.
The next step was mounting it to the inside of my platecarrier, which first of felt unusual but was extremely comfy. I dont have a lab environment, a science degrees or something but as soon as benefits show when you are not really counting on them, I call it a beneficial effect.
The next chapter of my journey is also a disclaimer. I reached out to Qore Performance over two years ago, to get two of their plates. They provided me their plates and their IMS sleeves. After some radio silence I reached out to them more and more and asked questions about their products, while also making suggestions. This resulted in Justin Li (the CEO of Qore Performance) and me setting up a meeting when I was in the US anyways.
We actually did see that we attended the same carbine class by accident. That showed me that Qore Performance is not only an innovative but a responsible company, with a CEO that goes out to train to stay close with the intended customer base. On the trip back to Qores HQ in Washington D.C., Justin also told me about the hundreds of civilian, non- tactical customers they supply with IcePlates, including large fastfood chains in hot parts of the US. So the benefits of the IcePlate even justify their purchase to the „greedy“ corporate world.
So what the Iceplate does is not only hydration, its heat stroke prevention and actually boosting performance. Dont expect the IcePlate to make you a marathon runner, when you never did a marathon. But the benefits of thermoregulation are proven in several studies, this is not only true for hot weather, but also for temperate weather, as soon as you go active your body will invest ressources into cooling. Freeing up those ressources allows your body to employ them elsewhere.
So how do I mount an Iceplate. When you purchase the plate alone, you have several mounting options. For rucks its either putting it into the packs bladder compartment or – as long as you have an external frame backpack, putting the plate between the suspension system and the pack itself. With the crossfire DG3 the plate stays put without any mounting hardware. For other packs like the ALICE pack, Velcro OneWrap will do the job.
Mounting it to platecarriers without any additional products can be done by using the lashing points and zip ties. Make sure to mount it to the inside of the platecarrier. Another way to do it is when your platecarrier accepts a plate and softarmor backers, in this case you first insert the plate and after that slip in the IcePlate. For me its the best way of mounting the IcePlate to a platecarrier as it reduces bulk and weight.
The next way is to use the IMS Pro Sleeve or the IcePlate EXO sleeve. Both sleeves feature loop velcro on both sides and can be mounted to the inside or outside of your platecarrier in variety of ways. OneWrap is included and one of the ways to do it. I personall prefer using the IcePlate Exo backpanel, as its shoulder straps nicely sandwich between your platecarriers shoulder straps and create additional security. They are also compatible with the IcePlate EXO CRH system, which allows to use it as an industry standard chestrig harness.
Last but not least there is a product just called the IMS. Its a taditional MOLLE sleeve for your Iceplate, purely intended to mount the IcePlate to the back of your platecarrier, you will lose all thermoregulation capabilties, but still get the benefits of a plate shaped hydration bottle. However, you can also put the IcePlate into your ballistic plate pocket and move your ballistic rear plate into your IMS sleeve. There are tons of legit options here.
Quality, Fabrics and Construction
So far Iam very satisfied with all of Qores injection molded products, everything is manufactured inhouse and so far I only encountered a missing rubber O-ring, resulting in leaking. Luckily there was a replacement O-ring coming with the IcePlate, so this issue could be solved easily. The hands free hydration component is made by Source Hydration. I have a major distaste for Source and prefer the hands free solution made by Camelbak. In my opinion the system is less intuitive compared to Camelbaks solution and the drinking valve cover, dummycorded with some kind of micro cord is a major distraction. It resulted in me getting caught in it when trying to ditch my ruck several times. Otherwise I had no issues in over two years of semi constant use.
All Nylon components are also made in-house and use a propietary laminate. They are well designed and are doing what they are intened to do. Qore does a great jon in explaining possible mounting options on their website. But all in all, a nice thing about their IMS and EXO sleeves is that their abundance of holes, slits and loop velcro allows you to do almost anything with a bit of common sense, OneWrap or zipties. All sleeves also offer great hose routing options, eliminating the need to shorten hoses or twist them.
Should I get a Qore IcePlate?
In my opinion there is no reason to dont get one. It performs as advertised and I dont see any major drawbacks compared to hydration bladders. So even if you are a simpleton like me and just want a rigid bladder, Qore has got you covered. Of course a Qore Iceplate mounted to a platecarrier is really thick on first sight, but actually its profile is lower than that of a Camelbak. The only drawback I see compared to a bottle is that the System is harder to refill, but the same goes for Bladders.
I would highly suggest you to be more open minded towards the thermoregulation feature than I was in the beginning. I dont want to make this a study, as Iam the wrong person for performing it, but my experience clearly can confirm the enhanced comfort. Also having a „bladder“ that does not freeze is a large asset.
An issue for people reviewing the Iceplate exclusively in their „non-permissive“ living room environment may be the sloshing sound it creates when not completely filled. Now, bladders do the same (and yes Iam aware of the method of turning them upside down and „vacuumizing the bladder). Even Canteens do the same the Iceplate is a bit louder when you grab it and deliberately shake it. But I couldnt really find any big differences between the sounds when moving at day or night. Actually slow movement does not create sloshing sounds with the IcePlate. Contrary, slow movement causes sloshing sounds when using bottles.
Getting an IcePlate is primarily about getting over things you are used to see or used to do. You usually dont mount a bladder towards your body, you usually dont want cold objects having contact with your body and you usually dont care for thermoregulation. There is only one way to get over it, try using an IcePlate.