Inspired by tried-and-true emergency responder protocols, our Co-Founder and CEO Justin Li initially thought to combine first aid science with athletic base layers while on duty as a sworn law enforcement officer in the California desert. Faced with difficult terrain, a formidable adversary, heavy protective gear, and high altitude, Justin was looking to improve his odds in the field. Unwilling to add more weight to his kit, he realized that efficiently offloading heat to stay hydrated was the best way to boost his endurance, strength, focus and recovery. After the mission, he realized that solving this problem could have implications far beyond Constitutional law enforcement. Improving performance through hydration could help any human who sweats—especially athletes seeking a competitive performance advantage, military personnel and fellow law enforcement officers.
Armed with Otter Pops, a sewing machine he barely knew how to turn on, and his favorite compression shorts, he set out to build the first prototypes. After hacking together some crude samples, Justin then teamed up with former Stanford Baseball player and problem-solving guru J.D. Willcox to form Qore Performance®. Taking a crash course in apparel design and American manufacturing, J.D. and Justin traveled the country to source and build out what would become TCCC Base Layers, culminating in a set of premium next-gen USA-made products that boosts hydration by 40%, giving athletes a distinct competitive advantage on the field.
Qore Performance successfully launched another TCCC Baser Layer (then referred to as WHT or Wearable Hydration Technology) innovation--The Hydration Shirt--on Kickstarter in December 2015. During the campaign, an office associated with the US Army called looking for a way to solve the “body armor cooling problem for soldiers" downrange and in CONUS training environments. While TCCC Base Layers are potent and efficient weapons in helping your body offload heat, there are some situations where operators simply need more power than TCCC Base Layers could provide. The tradeoff had always been weight - nothing on the market was light weight enough and cost-effective enough to be feasible, and most of the more powerful initiatives involved 'ground-up' approaches, redesigning a soldier's whole kit.
In our work with TCCC Base Layers, we had become experts on absorbing and extracting heat. We knew that the single most powerful coolant readily available is water, which operators also happen to *already* be carrying. So we set out to more efficiently repurpose this water, talking to end users, interviewing dozens of veterans from Special Mission Units, white-side SOF, Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen about their constraints. Operators were constantly telling us the drawbacks of their current canteens and bladders (noise, lack of space efficiency, prone to rupture, freezing in cold conditions, etc.), and their crude practice of shoving frozen bottled water in their plate carriers, cargo pockets and every nook and cranny available to stay cool. However, the inefficient placement and the limited mass of each water bottle provided only a fraction of what was possible. Enter IcePlate. We designed IcePlate® to minimize weight, maximize duration, and maximize body contact. We put in a drain so operators can finally drink all their water. And we made sure it was thinner and lighter than what they were being issued. As an added bonus, it also provides added protection against impact. Working with the top thermoplastic engineers and designers in the US, IcePlate went from concept to prototype to reality in only six months' time, and is now deployed across all branches of the US military as well as in the kit of body armor users worldwide.
Just two months after launching IcePlate®, we received this LiveChat:
Justin headed out to Arizona where he met with Kevin Fry and Daniel Trotter at Chick-fil-A Scottsdale 101. Shortly after the meeting began, Kevin and Daniel were outside testing IcePlates live. IcePlate® appeared to fit the bill perfectly. It was powerful and long lasting, easily fitting over standard uniforms. Daniel purchased five units to run a pilot and sent Justin to meet with Phil Thomas at his Scottsdale store who also purchased five units to run his own pilot program.
Extremely pleased with the performance of IcePlate®, Kevin, Daniel and Phil connected Justin with the Hospitality Team at Chick-fil-A Corporate who asked us to make IcePlate® available to all Chick-Fil-A stores. We have recently expanded to work with several other outdoor Industrial customers, including Dutch Bros Coffee, Raising Cane's, Boeing, FedEx, Costco, Valvoline Instant Oil Change, and Shake Shack.
We are proud to work with these great folks, and are inspired by their dedication to hiring, retaining, training and empowering great people.
IceVents® and The Honeymoon
In October 2017, Justin married his wife Tracy. While they were on their honeymoon in Hawaii, Justin noticed a repeating pattern of honeycombs which led to his vision for how to reinvent plate carrier shoulder pads from the ground-up. He remembered how in-effective all of the shoulder pads for his existing kit were from the many days spent on duty in the high alpine deserts and border regions of Southern California. They were hot and they still fatigued your shoulders - an inherent design injustice. He saw a way to both distribute load and ventilate at the same time. He sketched a crude drawing on a piece of hotel stationary that would later become IceVents.
Three months later, the first IceVents® Classic prototype was born and it far surpassed expectations. It was both breathable and load-distributing. The team knew the impact potential of what they had just created. IceVents® Classic were launched Thanksgiving week in November 2018.