All about the MOLLE tactical gear attachment system


The MOLLE(pronounced like the name “Molly”) system is designed for rough terrain and harsh conditions. MOLLE is an acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment. The system uses modularity with easy access points for attaching gear. The equipment is a favorite of military units, police departments and fire departments. The design for load-bearing equipment was preceded by the ALICE system(see our article on ALICE vs MOLLE), which is an acronym for All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment.  The MOLLE system has not only been adopted by the US government for use in their military backpacks but has also become the De facto gear attachment standard for military grade backpacks by big name manufacturers including Blackhawk, Maxpedition and 5.11 tactical.

Most of the MOLLE gear has webbing on each side of the equipment, such as on the vests or belts. The Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) provides multiple points for attaching gear on the rows and columns of the webbing. The fabric is usually a high tensile strength denier nylon, which is lightweight, water resistant and durable. The traditional fabric colors are blacks, grays, olive drabs, sandy browns and camouflage.

blackhawk-molle-beltMOLLE belts are padded so that heavy gear will not cause injury. Most of the MOLLE connection points are buckles or clips. The belts are designed to stay cinched. The webbing encircles the outer side of the belt and is stitched with reinforced stitching at several intervals. The sections may be less than three inches wide and will accommodate a military T-ring, which slides into the webbing sections and exposes the ring below the webbing. The MOLLE knife sheath will easily attach to the front or side of the belt.  Spec-Ops makes a seriously nice MOLLE knife sheath and it comes in multiple colors.

The webbing resembles stripes on the gear. The system permits gear to be attached and spec-ops-molle-knife-sheathsecured. Some of the equipment may have compression straps that can be used to cinch the load into a tight bundle. When gear rolls around, there are greater risks of abrasion and injury from the shifting load. The MOLLE attachments are designed to prevent accidental loss of gear, which is not easily ripped off of the equipment. Denier nylon exceeds industry standards for tensile strength and was once considered for bullet proof gear. However, the ballistic features are not as strong as standard bullet proof gear, such as Kevlar.

The MOLLE webbing permits heavy pouches to be clipped to the equipment. Most of the gear can be clipped to more than one connection point. The MOLLE pouch may be attached with C-clips, which secure the pouch at each end and prevent rocking. The webbing is as sturdy as the MOLLE straps. The reinforced stitching will support a holster and a weapon, while also providing points for attaching a jacket.

MOLLE gear pouches have reinforced seams and heavy zippers. The MOLLE Panel is a flat zippered pouch that is 14 inches wide and 10 inches long, with six rows and seven columns of condor-molle-zipper-pouchexterior webbing. The fabric is 1000 denier nylon.  The Panel is available in black, coyote and drab, which is a dull olive color. The MOLLE Velcro Panel is a flat panel that has webbing on one side and Velcro on the reverse side, which can be used to attach patches. There are grommets on the four corners. Two metal carabiners can be used to attach small gear. The Velcro Panel is a separator with a modest size of 10.7 inches wide and 15.8 inches long. The fabric is quilted micro-suede and is available in black or coyote.

The MOLLE plate carrier is designed like a chest harness and provides additional options for a ballistic vest. There are rows of MOLLE webbing on the exterior side of the plate carrier. The tactical gear is durable and provides several choices for attaching gear. The multiple points for attaching gear permit the load to be more evenly distributed. In contrast, the ALICE system molle-plate-carrierhas fewer rows of webbing. Improvements in the distribution of the load can help to relieve stress at pressure points and to reduce fatigue factors, which can be treacherous on a mission. The webbing permits weapons and pouches to be rearranged on the different rows.


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I'm a former US Marine, full-time father and husband, and part-time survivalist. I like old things, like music, furniture and time-tested survival technique, but there's always a place in my heart for new technology such as weapons and sleeping bag fill. I'm here to share my knowledge and experience, and I hope you'll share yours as well.