Hydrophobic Plate Carriers: Are they worth it?

Hydrophobic Plate Carriers:  Are they worth it?

The following article is by one of our long time customers, Gunnar Anderson. Other than loaning gear mentioned in the article for research purposes, we had no hand in the testing or the writing of this article. The idea, from inception to execution, was entirely that of Gunnar Anderson and does not represent the positions or opinions of Qore Performance® in anyway.




Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain. IcePlate EXO®, Qore Performance’s hydrophobic plate carrier, can help you avoid that unnecessary pain better than Velocity Systems’ SCARAB LT.

This is the third in a series of articles (see Crye Precision JPC 2.0 comparison and Shellback Tactical Banshee comparison articles here) evaluating the weight difference between Qore Performance’s IcePlate EXO®, a hydrophobic plate carrier made by Qore Performance®, and other plate carriers.  This series was inspired, in part, by the story of Nike’s founders, my own experience from track and field, and reading stories about people who climbed Mount Everest saving weight by cutting their toothbrushes in half.  In this article, we will compare IcePlate EXO® to another favorite of armed professionals since 2014 - the Velocity Systems SCARAB LT.  We will get into the hard data later, but here are the highlights:

  • IcePlate EXO® is 47.10% lighter than the SCARAB LT when dry.
  • IcePlate EXO® is 55.84% lighter than the SCARAB LT when wet.
  • IcePlate EXO® absorbs 63.67% less water weight than the SCARAB LT.

I will not regurgitate all of the details from the earlier articles, but here are the key figures used to calculate how ounces add up over distance:

  • The average walking stride is 2.5 feet per step.
  • The average person takes 2,112 steps per mile (5,280 feet per mile ÷ 2.5 foot stride = 2,112 steps per mile).
  • Even an additional ounce adds up to 132 pounds over a mile (2,112 ounces ÷ 16 ounces per pound = 132 pounds).

Here are the differences between the two plate carriers after applying the calculations to the IcePlate EXO® with their EXO MOLLE Cummerbund and the SCARAB LT.

  • IcePlate EXO® weighs 2,013 pounds less than the SCARAB LT over a mile when dry.
  • IcePlate EXO® weighs 5,049 pounds less than the SCARAB LT over a mile when wet.

Experimental Design

Qore Performance® loaned me one of their EXO MOLLE Cummerbunds to use on my IcePlate EXO® for testing. Their EXO MOLLE cummerbund is made from the same unique laminate used in the IcePlate EXO®.  This laminate is hydrophobic – meaning it repels water.  

Meanwhile, a good friend loaned me his Velocity Systems SCARAB LT so I could engage in my amateur science experiments.  Velocity Systems’ website is vague on the details regarding the material used to make the SCARAB LT, but they do advertise that some of its accessories are made from 500 denier Cordura nylon.  After handling the SCARAB LT, it seems to be made from the same heavy-duty 500 denier nylon used by other plate carrier manufacturers - First Spear, Ferro Concepts, Spiritus Systems, Tactical Tailor, LBT, 5.11, etc.

Like my previous plate carrier comparisons, I stripped down each PC by removing magazine pouches, swift clips, and shoulder pads, grabbed a food scale, and headed to the saltwater pool.  I weighed each carrier dry and after spending fifteen minutes in the water:

IcePlate EXO®


Difference (weight)

Difference (%)


1 lb. 1.125 oz.

2 lb. 0.375 oz.

15.25 oz.



1 lb. 14.25 oz.

4 lb. 4.5 oz.

2 lb. 6.25 oz.


Difference (weight)

13.125 oz.

2 lb. 4.125 oz.

1 lb. 7 oz.


Here are what the weights shown above mean for these plate carriers:

DRY: IcePlate EXO® is 15.25 ounces lighter than the SCARAB LT. At 2,112 steps per mile, that’s a difference of 2,013 pounds spread over that mile. (2,112 steps x 15.25 ounces ÷ 16 ounces per pound = 2,013 pounds per mile)

WET: IcePlate EXO® is 2 pounds 6.25 ounces (38.25 ounces) lighter than the SCARAB LT. At 2,112 steps per mile, that’s a difference of 5,049 pounds spread over that mile. (2,112 steps x 38.25 ounces ÷ 16 ounces per pound = 5,049 pounds per mile)

One ton is 2,000 pounds. Dry, IcePlate EXO® saves you a ton and a plus-sized newborn over a mile. In terms of objects, it is the weight of a telephone pole, a grizzly bear, two tigers, or a grand piano.

Wet, IcePlate EXO® saves you over two and a half tons.  Putting over 5,049 pounds in practical terms, IcePlate EXO® saves you the weight of a yak, a giraffe, or roughly three and a quarter Zodiac FC 580 inflatable boats.

The additional water weight absorbed by the SCARAB LT can be linked to its spacer mesh. The spacer mesh and padding used in the SCARAB LT is reminiscent of the same padding used in my football shoulder pads once upon a time. It’s also the same construction found in backpacks like the Vertx Gamut 2.0, a backpack that I own and love despite the use of construction materials that date back several decades. Of course, I just use it as an oversized commuter bag - not something that I carry in hot weather for any extended period. Items with this type of padding seem great when brand new and tried on for short periods in controlled climates (read that - air conditioning), but they absorb sweat and all sorts of other nastiness that give rise to that locker room smell. If you’ve ever played hockey or football, you know that unique smell shared by all locker rooms. It comes, at least in part, from the stink absorbed and retained by spacer mesh and padding.

Getting back to a PC that lacks that locker room smell - IcePlate EXO® can save you real pain over distance. The advantages of using a hydrophobic carrier like IcePlate EXO® is for more than just maritime operators - the advantages apply to anyone who sweats, is ever in the rain, or is otherwise exposed to moisture. When paired with Qore Performance’s IceVents®, it can also save you from some nasty odors. Only you can answer whether you need this next-level plate carrier or whether the competition is sufficient. Qore Performance® acknowledges on their website that their gear is not for everyone - they design their gear for elite armed professions.

Gunnar Anderson is a former EMT, rescue diver, and prosecutor who now trains and advises both law enforcement and emergency management.


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