Molle system explained

You may not have heard of MOLLE systems before, but chances are you have seen its robust nylon grid many times on tactical backpacks, rucksacks and much more.

MOLLE (pronounced Mollie) systems might sound friendly, but, when it comes to increasing your carrying performance, they mean business.

Exceptionally versatile, MOLLE systems allow you to secure anything from multi-tools, knives, ammunition pouches and much more to tactical backpacks, load-bearing vests, belts and bags.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about MOLLE, including our top tips for getting the best value from your equipment.

What is molle?

The acronym MOLLE stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It is the military specification which defines load-bearing design for equipment utilised by NATO forces.

The MOLLE attachment system enables users to securely attach smaller packs and items to tactical backpacks and carry bags as well as tactical vests and rigs
Smart by design, this universal specification allows users to reconfigure equipment with smaller packs and MOLLE pouches, as and when necessary. With the only requirement being a free space on its nylon grid, the possibilities offered are seemingly limitless, making MOLLE a highly versatile system that can be configured to suit each individual and the task at hand.

The grid, which features rows of heavy-duty nylon, is also sometimes known as PALS, or a Pouch Attachment Ladder System.

Patented by the US Army NSRDEC (Natick Soldier Research, Development and engineering centre), the grid ensures that smaller equipment can be securely attached onto load-bearing platforms, such as rucksacks, by snaking the straps of the MOLLE-compatible pouches and carriers through the nylon grid.

Importantly, MOLLE systems let you secure a range of items to your gear, thanks to a wide range of general pouches available in sizes to meet your needs.

Alongside this, there are carriers and pouches designed to serve specific purposes. These include canteen carriers, first aid kits, sustainment pouches, D-rings for slings and much, much more.

How to use molle systems?

Typically, a MOLLE system features strong nylon MOLLE-specific straps which allow you to weave your attachments with the equipment you may be adding it to, such as a backpack.

MOLLE systems are very straightforward to work with. If you have an SOP then you will have a plan in place for your system. However, for those working without an SOP, follow these steps to attach your gear to a compatible platform.

1. Location, location, location
Choose a location based on what will be easiest for you. Experiment with how you place MOLLE pouches to determine what offers the best fit for you before you attach.

2. Weave it through
Begin at the bottom row of the nylon webbing your attachment aligns with and thread your strap through the first row of nylon webbing at the back of your attachment. Remember: tighten as you go. Continue this until all that remains are snaps/buttons at the top.

3. Multiple straps?
Often a pouch or carrier can have multiple straps. If this is the case for you, simply repeat the first two steps for each strap until you are securely attached.

4. Secure it.
Once your attachment is exactly where you need it, simply close snaps/buttons to ensure your gear is secure.

top tips for attaching molle gear

Once you have got the hang of securely attaching equipment, there are some ways of working with your MOLLE gear more efficiently.

Simultaneous weaving
If you have attachments with multiple straps, try weaving them through the nylon webbing at the same time. Because they are so rigid, it can make attaching gear easier and quicker.

Use all the webbing
It may be tempting to skip webbing while weaving your straps but remember to use each and every row. It is the only way to keep your gear as securely as possible. Make sure you use every bit of webbing you can on your gear, as well as on your load-carrying pack or vest.

ALICE clips are compatible with MOLLE gear but use them with caution. They aren’t as versatile or robust as MOLLE-compatible equipment.

benefits of molle

Introduced by the military, these versatile systems offer users practical benefits – whatever their aim.

While the nylon grid increases storage and organisation potential, it lays flat when not in use. This means when you aren’t taking advantage of storage opportunities, it isn’t adding unnecessary bulk to your gear. MOLLE’s grid system, likewise, allows you to remove modules – as necessary – for a lighter and less bulky carry.

While some prefer a design that’s less ‘tactical’, MOLLE systems offer outstanding compatibility for a number of purposes, thanks to its modular approach. To understand this better, let’s consider a real-world example. Let’s say you are preparing for a weekend away, following a busy week working in the city.

Your rucksack is filled with those things you need in your everyday city life, such as a laptop, notebooks and pens. When it comes time to pack your outdoor gear, the last thing you need is to have to keep repacking your kit. After all, you’ll be using a lot of the same things. And this is where MOLLE systems reign supreme.

Just add or remove pre-packed pouches as necessary to ensure your backpack is ready to go – whether it’s for a day in the city or a weekend in the wilderness. For example, it takes just a few seconds to swap over from a heavy multitool sheath and pouch full of driver bits to a first aid kit. Because they offer so much versatility, it means you don’t need to commit to a larger backpack. MOLLE’s modular approach means you can make your existing pieces of kit work together – whatever your situation.

types of molle gear

There are a number of types of MOLLE-compatible load-carrying gear. These include tactical assault panels (TAP), assault packs and rucksacks. A range of sizes and features ensures that the user can find their perfect carrying solution. Importantly, these all feature the robust PALS nylon grid.

Wherever this webbing features, you can attach utility pouches. Alongside general purpose pouches, there are specialist attachments, such as hydration bladders which offer on-the-go hydration.

A sustainment pouch, holding three MREs, can be attached too, ensuring nourishment wherever your journey takes you. In addition, there are MOLLE pouches available to carry a range of items: from gas masks and flares to handcuffs, pistols and pepper sprays.

Products using the MOLLE system are interchangeable and are not brand specific. This means that products from manufacturers such as 5.11 Tactical and Viper Tactical can be combined for the ultimate in flexibility.

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