What Does MOLLE Stand For? The Big Question

If you’ve ever watched an action-packed movie, you more than likely saw actors sporting lightweight, tactical vests and backpacks. As a matter of fact, you’ve probably seen real-life military personnel with camouflage backpacks that have pouches and compartments in every crevice.

This equipment has a very crucial purpose, and there’s a name for it:

MOLLE. Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment.

Many NATO forces, including the United States Army, use MOLLE. The reason the MOLLE system is so popular is because it’s based off the Pouch Attachment System (PALS), rows of webbing that support pouches used for storing weaponry, equipment, and various other devices that are vital to combat.

History of the MOLLE System / What is it?

Although soldiers have been using leather straps to carry their weapons and equipment since the early 20th century, the MOLLE system wasn’t introduced until 1997. What did soldiers use pre-1997? The answer to that is ALICE, standing for All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment.

After it was adopted by the United States Army in 1973, ALICE became the go-to gear carrying system around the world because of its ability to hold multiple items in a single large compartment. On the other hand, MOLLE stores items in multiple pouches using zippers, whereas ALICE uses straps to close its pouches. While ALICE is still used today, MOLLE has definitely become the preferred gear storage system for both soldiers and outdoorsmen.

Types of MOLLE Products

Fortunately, you don’t have to be in the military to buy products that use the MOLLE system. Various online and in-store retailers sell these military-grade products that were once exclusive to the United States Army. The MOLLE-compatible gear that retailers sell is great for avid hunters, fishermen, hikers, and anyone else who needs easy access to their equipment. While there are countless products that are engineered with the MOLLE system, the most common include tactical vests, military-grade backpacks, combat pants, and first aid kits.

Tactical Vests

With their rows of webbing, tactical vests make it easy for you to store and reach items on your chest, back and sides. Tactical vests are typically made of nylon, are adjustable, and latch shut with either buckle and or Velcro. Since these garments are designed to be worn in extreme environments, they are wear-resistant and very durable. Like buying any product online, you should always read reviews of the particular brand and see how it lines up to other vest manufacturers. Keep in mind that while some of them include adjustable ammo and flashlight pouches, others are merely just MOLLE-compatible, and you’ll need to purchase pouches on their own.

Military-Grade Backpacks

If you’re the outdoorsman type, chances are you’ve seen MOLLE (otherwise known as “tactical”) backpacks. These backpacks are designed for trekking across rough terrain, both during extremely cold and hot weather. You can get yourself a high-quality bag for as little as $30, and we have a complete guide featuring the best ones available on the market. No matter what activity you are doing, you can customize the position of flashlights, compasses, knives and more. So, if you’re right-handed, you could store a box cutter on the lower right-hand side of your backpack, for example. Unlike flimsy school bags, bags using the MOLLE system are built to be tough, scratch-proof, durable, and comfortable.

Here’s a glance at some of the common features of MOLLE backpacks:

  • Water-resistant
  • Large capacities (30 to 50 L)
  • Made of either 600 denier polyester or nylon
  • Double-stitched fabric
  • Mesh padding

Combat Pants

You’ll definitely take things up a notch with a pair of MOLLE combat pants, and don’t worry, they’re good for a lot more than just combat. Combat pants are lightweight, allowing for quick movement across rugged terrain. A standard pair of these trousers has over ten pockets, knee pads (for crawling, kneeling, etc.), and Velcro straps so you can adjust them to your waist size. You won’t have to worry about ripping or tearing your pants when you make quick movements because they’re usually made with ripstop fabric, a woven fabric made of nylon that’s tear-resistant. Matched with a MOLLE tactical vest, combat pants make a perfect addition to your outdoor and adventure gear.

First Aid Kits and Pouches

Not only do they make full-size MOLLE backpacks, they also make first aid kits and pouches that are much smaller but still use the same webbing system. First aid kits usually have a few rows of straps, a zipper closure, and weigh between six to eight ounces. The inside typically has a few compartments along with additional straps to organize your medical supplies. With their durable outside straps, first aid kits and pouches are designed for you to hook them on your backpack. If you’d rather travel light and don’t have a bag with you, the kit can be hooked to both combat pants and tactical vests. Having easily-accessible first aid is imperative when it comes to outdoor survival.

Miscellaneous MOLLE Accessories

Since most vests, bags, and pouches are merely just stitched with the MOLLE system, there’s an enormous variety of accessories you can buy to customize your gear. These accessories typically include multiple straps, so you can attach them to your bag and also attach additional items to the accessory itself. The accessories available include but are not limited to insulated water bottle carriers, radio and pistol pouches, multi-purpose utility bags, D-ring rotation clips, and knives. Since MOLLE bags, vests, and pants are designed to be lightweight, you can afford to carry multiple accessories at a time.

Quality, Durability, and Strength

When MOLLE products are compared side-by-side, there are three things they share: quality, durability, and strength. It’s no wonder that multiple NATO armies are using them – these things are built to last and when retailers advertise that they are extremely durable, they aren’t joking. The vast availability of MOLLE Products on the internet help drive down the price too, meaning you can have quality at a price that won’t kill your wallet. So, whether you’re a member of the military, a paintballer, or a hunter, investing in MOLLE gear will make you better equipped for your next adventure.

Scott Moey

Based in Brooklyn, New York, entrepreneur and philanthropist Scott Moey lives a wild life as an adventurer, explorer and traveller. He blogs about his love for the outdoors on LiveOnceLiveWild.com.

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