Plate Carrier Hydration: IcePlate® vs. Camelbak (What is the difference between hard and soft hydration bladders?)

Plate Carrier Hydration: IcePlate® vs. Camelbak (What is the difference between hard and soft hydration bladders?)

(Prefer to listen? Follow this link instead!)

At Qore Performance® we make a product uniquely suited to solve body armor cooling/heating and plate carrier hydration problems. It is called IcePlate®. A hard cell structural hydration bladder shaped like a Medium ESAPI armor plate, IcePlate is a novel thermoregulation and hydration technology. Naturally, we get lots of questions about it. In this article we want to address one of the most common questions we receive: “How is IcePlate® different from soft hydration bladders like Camelbak?”

This table provides a quick summary of the differences between IcePlate® and legacy bladders from the competition, but you can also click here for a detailed IcePlate FAQ.

Plate Carrier and Backpack Hydration System Comparison
Qore Performance IcePlate® CamelBak ThermoBak Source Tactical Hydration Pack
Capacity (fl oz/L) 50-100/1.5-3 100/3 100/3
Max Cooling Power (Watts) 70-140 0 0
Empty Weight 12 or 24 oz 22 oz 18.7 oz
Plate Carrier Mounting Internal or External External Only External Only
Cooling / Heating
Back Face Deformation Protection
TotalDrain Technology
Slimline, No-Bulge Packing
Integrated Strap Loops
On-Body, Anti-Freeze Cold Weather Design
Dishwasher Safe
Pelican Cooler Optimized
30% Storage Density Advantage vs. Bottled Water
Requires Cleaning Kit
Anti-Bacterial Design
Quick Disconnect Capable


Thermoregulation a.k.a "Cooling and Heating"

One question we are asked all the time at events is: "Why can't I just freeze my Camelbak?" The short answer is simple: Conduction (for more on Conduction, check out our article on Human Cooling Basics). Bladders don't have it and without it, you cannot be cooled or heated by the water you are carrying. Bladders require a backpack of some type to carry on your person. This pack blocks the conduction necessary for your body to conductively transfer heat to/from your bladder, preventing thermoregulation and leaving the bladder to serve just one function: hydration.

Other Key Differences

Conformal Geometry Matches Armor Plates

IcePlate Torture Testing

Our IceAge Ecosystem offers many ways to wear and use IcePlate®


IcePlate® TotalDrain Technology by Qore Performance

Back Face Deformation Protection

Armor Contour Matching by @angry.canadian

Hydration bladders are currently the most common hands-free hydration solution and generally range in capacity from 34 fl oz. to a whopping 102 fl oz. A variety of brands make bladders today, including Camelbak, Source, and Platypus. The basic idea is a soft resealable bag that can be stored in a backpack or other carriage system with a hose and valve for easy drinking. A backpack or other carriage system (which prevents conductive contact with the body) is required for a bladder because it takes a cylindrical shape once filled. Bladders have become the standard method of hydration transport for many industrial professionals, outdoor enthusiasts, and military personnel because they are easy to carry.

This soft bag construction means cleaning and drying bladders is difficult and can lead to moisture retention, yielding unhygienic residue. Freezing filled bladders or filling them with hot water is not recommended. Their soft construction can be damaged by warm contents and overfilled bags can burst when frozen. If you want a bladder of cold water it's better to add some ice cubes. When compared to a bottle, bladders give you mobility and capacity at the sacrifice of durability; a frustrating prospect for hard use. Many people feel that Source currently makes the best bladder on the market because of their balance of durability, modularity, and hygiene.

IcePlate stores more water in less space, preserving precious packing volume in backpacks

IcePlate® is not a hydration bladder, it is high-tech thermoregulation tool that uses the magical power of water to help every human who sweats to realize their full potential. By combining the durability of hard plastic water containers (it’s constructed from FDA certified, BPA-free HDPE) with the convenience of a bladder with 50 fl oz./1.5L capacity, placed directly against your body. Our proprietary (and patent-pending) TotalDrain Technology lets users drink all the water they carry, and IcePlate® is also dishwasher-safe, making hygienic storage a breeze. IcePlate® comes with a few extra unique benefits such as core temperature regulation and impact trauma protection. Designed to be 90% filled then frozen, IcePlate® sits close to the body to regulate core temperature while providing ice cold drinking water as it thaws. IcePlate® is worn using any plate carrier, compatible backpack or an IcePlate-specific carrier like the Comfort Harness or HiVis StayFrosty Vest. IcePlates® fitted with our Quick Disconnect accept most hydration bladder hoses on the market like CamelBak and Source. 

For those wondering if their gear is going to work with IcePlate®, stay tuned as we’ll be posting Plate Carrier and Backpack compatibility charts soon. This will be a fantastic resource for readers considering making the leap into the Ice Age with us!

Shop IcePlate® Collection

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.