Today, we are going to talk about what is a MOLLE system. If you are an outdoorsman, a hunter, or just someone who is in the profession that needs to be tactically prepared (such as those in the military and law enforcement), then you might have heard of the term already.
You also might have already discovered by experience that you cannot really tackle on daily challenges without adequate preparedness and organization. You will need to utilize various tools necessary for your survival out there.
What’s more is that you also need them to be lightweight and handy. Not having the proper survival tool the exact second you need it might mean the difference between life and death, after all.
If you’re looking for ways to organize and create your own packing system, or how to improve the current one you’re using now, then you are in the right place. In this article, we are going to introduce you to the reliable MOLLE system, explain to you how it works, and more.
We certainly have a lot of work cut out in front of us, so without further ado, let’s get started!
What Is a MOLLE System?
What is a MOLLE system anyway, and what makes it so effective? A MOLLE system (by the way, that’s pronounced as “molly”), is an acronym that stands for “Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment.” It is, in a nutshell, a system that tells you how to add attachments to your load-carrying equipment or backpack.
The MOLLE system is distinguished with its use of the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (also known as PALS), which is a webbing you can use to attach the pouches you need wherever you prefer to attach them to. After all, this webbing can be found all over your pack, specifically on its front and sides.
The Origin of the MOLLE System
The original MOLLE system was first created way back in 1997. However, its first widespread issue can actually be dated to a more recent date. This was just after the 9/11 attacks when U.S. troops got deployed in the Middle East.
It wasn’t received positively at first, and there were actual pieces of feedback from actual users that the MOLLE system they used resulted in back injuries. However, it is important to note that the MOLLE system has greatly improved since then and has now become one of the most commonly used and most effective packing systems today.
How to Set Up a MOLLE System?
If you want to try using the MOLLE system yourself, then here is a step-by-step guide that explains how you can set up a MOLLE system:
1. Take out all the MOLLE pouches and attachments that you want to use.
2. Determine which gear goes into which pouch. For instance, it is recommended to store your flashlight into a pouch specifically made for flashlights.
3. Don’t put your gear inside your pouches just yet.
4. If you have an SOP for the placement of pouches into your system, then follow it.
5. If you don’t, then carefully plan where you want each gear to go. Consider the frequency of use of each gear, as well as its priority in your line of work.
Don’t worry about creating the perfect system right away. Getting used to the MOLLE system will take some time and tweaks before you get it to that well-oiled state.
6. Your pouch will have a strap you’re going to use to attach it to your system. Find the lead with the snap, which is the end that you want to insert first. Weave it underneath the backpack strap you want to attach it to, then weave it back underneath the pouch.
Finally, weave it into the second strap (the one that’s below the first one), and snap it in place. Take note: the keyword here is “weave”. Interlock your straps for maximum hold.
7. Now it’s time to test how stable your pouch attachment is. We are going to do that by placing the dedicated gear inside the recently attached pouch, snap it close, and start tugging on it. It shouldn’t unsnap or come off.
8. And, that’s it! You can move on to “weave in” your other pouch attachments.
Benefits of Using the MOLLE System
Once you’ve finished setting up your MOLLE system, you will soon discover its two main benefits: 1) it can easily adapt according to your needs, and 2) it helps keep you organized.
Let’s talk about both of them in more detail down below.
- It’s flexible.
One of the things we love most about the MOLLE system is the fact that it can easily adapt according to your needs. What do we mean by this? Allow us to give you examples.
Do you have specific pouch attachments in mind? No problem! Your system can accommodate them all. Do you need to remove some of your gear and replace them with others that are more specific to your mission? Here’s a tip: just keep all your gear pre-packed in their respective pouches. In this way, whenever you need to switch anything up, all you need to do is to attach and detach your pouches accordingly.
Do you have a specific use in mind? You don’t have to be a military personnel to be able to take advantage of this system. In fact, we invite you to use this system on your everyday carry (or EDC). Not only will you be able to pack more gear, but it’ll also help you keep things in their proper place.
- It’s more organized.
Compared to other systems out there, we liked how organized you can be with your MOLLE system. In MOLLE, every gear has a pouch; every item has its own pocket. If you have your entire system memorized, you will never lose an item again (or waste precious time finding it inside endless pockets).
We know what you’re thinking. You’re already contemplating on the pouch attachments and accessories that you want to use, aren’t you? Don’t worry, mate, because we’ve got you covered.
All About MOLLE Attachments and Accessories
There are literally hundreds of different MOLLE attachments and accessories out there. Hence, for the purposes of this article, we have only chosen to include the most commonly used ones.
Here they are:
- Basic Gear Pouch
This pouch attachment usually comes with external slip pockets and one main zippered compartment. You can put basic survival gear in the slip pockets of this pouch, such as a pocket knife and a flashlight, and put other equally important gear inside the zippered compartment.
- Med Pouch
This pouch has been strategically designed to hold your first-aid needs. In fact, some med pouches come with zippered mesh pockets inside the main pouch, allowing you to just zip the pouch open completely without having to worry about your bandages and prescription meds flying off.
- Sustainment Pouch
Here’s a pouch attachment you should never forget especially during long trips: the sustainment pouch. It’s the pouch where you’re going to store your rations. Some sustainment pouches have a water bottle attachment, but if yours don’t have one, then you can simply get a separate pouch for your water canister.
- Weapons and Ammo Pouches
Since this system is originally intended for military and law enforcement use, then it really is not that surprising that there are a lot of different weapon and ammo pouches out there to choose from.
Finally, there are D-rings. These are accessories that you can attach to your MOLLE system in order to accommodate even more attachments and accessories (as if the existing variety of pouches are still not enough).
The MOLLE system is just full of endless possibilities, and that’s why we cannot recommend it enough!
The Cons of Using the MOLLE system
Of course, no matter how much we like it, every system still has its flaws. The same goes for the MOLLE system. In fact, here are two big MOLLE system downsides:
- Bigger packs can get heavier easily
The MOLLE system is known for its capacity to hold a lot of things at any given time. The problem is, some people can go overboard, filling up their pack with unnecessary objects they only deemed “necessary” at the time of packing.
In order to avoid this, we recommend getting a smaller pack instead, or one that will be able to hold all your essentials—nothing more and nothing less.
- Using this system can quickly turn into an organizational nightmare
The MOLLE system gives everything its own place. However, the real problem arises when you have not completely memorized your system just yet. If your pack is filled to the brim with more than 10 attachments at a time, then just searching for a pen can take you half an hour!
With that being said, what do you need to do? Well, we advise to keep your system simple at first, then gradually build on it as you get used to it. Don’t switch up the location of your pouches as well, unless absolutely needed.
With constant use and practice, you will eventually memorize where things are located, and hopefully, be able to access them even during zero-visibility situations.
Simple MOLLE Systems for Beginners
In order to help you create your own personal MOLLE system, allow us to share a simple foundation that you can build on. Before we start, please note that the system that we are going to share with you was made with the beginner adventurer in mind.
What this means is that this a good place to start if you’re thinking of using your MOLLE system for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities in general. In short, they are for civilians and not for those in the military service and law enforcement.
With that being said, here is the step-by-step guide:
1. Fill up your go-to pouch first. This is going to be your basic gear pouch, and it should be attached to a place you can easily reach at any time.
Fill it with the basic gear you will probably reach for frequently. This includes a power bank, a navigation device, a flashlight, a multi-tool, a pocket knife, and a couple of meal-replacement bars.
2. Fill up a smaller pouch with a signal kit. This is another basic survival pouch you will be glad to have in case of emergencies. You can pack a signal mirror, a whistle, and fire-starting essentials in it. You can also store a smaller pocket flashlight in here.
3. If you’re carrying a weapon, plan the most convenient place to strap it on. We recommend strapping your ammo pouch near it as well.
4. The next two pouches that you need to prepare are your first-aid and sustainment pouches. Don’t forget to pack bandages, duct tape, a nail clipper (just in case you need to remove a hangnail or a split nail), bug spray, sun protection, and of course, your prescription meds.
What you want to put into your sustainment pouch is up to you. Just make sure that you fill it with food items that can be easily consumed and cooked.
5. Finally, you can pack all your other gear, clothing, sleeping bag, and other needs inside the main compartment of your pack. If they don’t fit, then you can just attach them anyway using straps and clips.
We have finally covered all the basic things you need to know in order to maximize the use of your MOLLE system. But did you know that your canine companion can use the system too?
MOLLE Systems for Canines
Yes, that’s right. MOLLE systems are not just for humans; your K-9 unit can use it as well. There are MOLLE vests made in different sizes to fit different service dog breeds. In this way, your canine companion can carry his own weight and even share the burden you bear!
The Bottom Line
The MOLLE system truly revolutionized tactical packing, and what’s great about it is everyone can use them. You don’t need to be a soldier or a cop in order to make use of this awesome system. Anyone who needs to prepare a pack for survival can make use of it, especially with the help of the quick guides we have shared above.