The MOLLE pack is part of a group of bags and other equipment used by soldiers to carry items. MOLLE stands for MOdular Lightweight Load-bearing Equipment. The MOLLE pack is probably the most common method of carrying a given type of gear for a soldier on the battlefield today.
The MOLLE (pronounced “Molly,” as in the female name) first came into existence in 1997, but it didn’t see widespread uses until after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Prior to the MOLLE’s inception, the ALICE (All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) system was the standard issue for purposes of carrying gear. Components of the ALICE system are still used in the U.S. Army, although the MOLLE has since become very popular among soldiers for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marines now use the MOLLE instead of the ALICE in the field.
There are three basic components of any MOLLE pack: (1) the Fighting Load Carrier, which is a vest that carries much of the load; (2) a plastic 72 oz. hydration bladder for a convenient form of hydration; and (3) a customizable number of modular pouches.
The vest features a waist belt which transfers some of the pack’s weight to the hips so there is not too much strain on the shoulders and back. The vest is worn at all times and makes use of PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) webbing for attaching and detaching components of the pack. The vest also has small compartments that can store just about anything, including gun magazines. The actual rucksack includes a pocket to hold a claymore. There is an internal bandolier which can house several magazines, and a pocket built for a radio.
The problems with the pack (that have now been fixed) were that the zippers would come open if the pack was full, and that the straps weren’t long enough to cover over body armor. In the Marines, the MOLLE was supposed to be replaced by the Improved Load-Bearing Equipment (ILBE) system, but that system has had problems with use in conjunction with the Modular Tactical Vest.
The MOLLE backpack serves our soldiers overseas well, but it also is great for civilian use. Its versatility is its biggest strength, which means it can be used to carry just about anything that will fit in it. Its camouflage design makes it great for hunting. The variety of customizable compartments can be used for extra ammo, snacks, or small pieces of extra clothing for warmth. The pack is also great for camping and hiking, since it’s a combination of a backpack and hydration pack. But don’t let our ideas limit your use of the MOLLE pack — you can use it to carry anything.
The MOLLE pack is especially great for non-military use for those who need to carry a lot, but don’t want a pack quite as big as something like the Eberlestock Skycrane. Even the full MOLLE pack with all the attached compartments is somewhat big, but you can make the pack smaller by removing some of the compartments.
There are all kinds of MOLLE packs you can get for yourself. Choose from this great selection.
Written by Craig Kent, member of the Best Military Surplus team.