United States Army soldier wearing MOLLE gear

MOLLE (pronounced MOLLY as in the female name) is an acronym for MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It is used to define the current generation of load-bearing equipment and rucksacks utilized by the United States armed forces, especially the United States Army, and its use is also growing in the British Army in the form of the Osprey Modular systems. The system's modularity is derived from the use of PALS webbing, rows of heavy-duty nylon stitched onto the vest as to allow for attachment of various MOLLE-compatible pouches and accessories. This method of attachment has become a de facto standard for modular tactical gear, replacing the click and stick system used in the earliest modular vest systems (which is still in use with most Western police departments). It is produced for the United States Government under contract by several contractors, such as Specialty Defense, Armor Holdings, Ehmke Manufacturing/High Ground Gear, as well as Eagle Industries.[1][2][3]


Components of the MOLLE System

Tactical Assault Panel

The Tactical Assault Panel is to replace the Fighting load carrier. It is a bib like chest rig that can mount to the Improved Outer Tactical Vest or Soldier Plate Carrier System, or on its own.[4] The T.A.P. is covered with PALS webbing and storage for up to six rifle magazines. [5] [6]


The MOLLE 2 Rucksack and Rucksack Frame has PALS webbing stitched at places to allow for additional pouches[7] The Current Assault pack is being phased out in favor of a larger medium sized Rucksack [8]

Hydration bladder

Plastic 72oz. hydration bladder to replace the 1qt and 2qt canteens for on-the-go hydration.[1]

Modular Pouches

Pouches of various utility that can be attached wherever PALS webbing exists. Includes a "sustainment pouch" which holds several MREs.[1]


The term MOLLE is used not only to describe the specific system manufactured by Speciality Defense Systems, but is used interchangeably to generically describe all load bearing systems and subsystems that utilize the woven PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) webbing for modular pouch attachment (though MOLLE is proprietary to Natick Labs, most use MOLLE and PALs interchangeably). Derivatives based upon the MOLLE attachment method (such as the Tactical Tailor MALICE clip system) have also been developed. Any system which utilizes modular attachment methods and is usable with U.S. general issue MOLLE components is often considered "MOLLE-compatible" or is called a "MOLLE" system. More and more non-military manufacturers are incorporating MOLLE technology into outdoor equipment.

There are three general modes of attachment in the MOLLE arena, they are "Natick Snap", that uses a polyethlyene reinforced webbing strap with the 'pushthedot' snap for security. There is the polymer "Malice" clip developed by Tactical Tailor as an alternative to the Natick Snap concept, which interweaves like the Natick Snap but terminates in a semi-permanent closure that requires a screwdriver/flat tipped object to disengage. Finally there are a variety of attachments that fall into the "Weave & Tuck" category in which the end of an interwoven strap is tucked into an item's backing after attachment to a vest or pack (Paraclete's SofStrap and Spec Ops Brand's hybrid attachment).

The PALS grid consists of horizontal rows of 1" webbing, spaced 1" apart, and reattached to the backing at 1.5" intervals.

Evolution of Program and Criticisms

The MOLLE system was introduced in 1997. However it did not see widespread issue until after the September 11, 2001 attacks and was used by U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan and, later, Iraq. Early criticisms of the MOLLE system emerged, particularly from the Army. Most of these criticisms have centered on the sustainment-load pack and frame, due to the external plastic frame being too fragile and subject to breaking in the field (since mitigated), that the zippers have a tendency to burst when stuffed full, and that the pack's straps lack sufficient length to easily accommodate body armor.[3] Further, the first generation of this system utilized a "ball & socket" interface between the frame and rucksack belt (which in itself formed the waistbelt of the MOLLE vest). This interface method led to numerous lower back injuries due to the ball (mounted on the frame) missing the socket interface on the waistbelt and impacting the user's body. Subsequent redesign of the SDS MOLLE led to the deletion of this "feature" and thus the vest (FLC) and ruck/frame were separate non-integral items.

The United States Marine Corps wanted a larger load-bearing capability, a smaller overall volume, the ability to carry 60 mm and 81 mm mortar rounds external to the pack, and a simpler overall layout and organization of the system's parts. As of 2004, the Marine Corps has adopted a new off-the-shelf pack design by Arc'teryx and has begun introducing it into the Fleet as the ILBE, or "Improved Load Bearing Equipment".[9][10]

See also


External links

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