MOLLE — What Is It? Is It Useful? | The Atomic Bear
By: Jeff Truchon 20/12/2022

soldier with a molle webbing backpack

The need for a MOLLE backpack cannot be overemphasized in this day, where the need for prompt preparedness is key for individual survival. We understand this and are committed to ensuring the protection of your gear or accessories is paramount whether you're a military person, a hiker, a hunter, or a traveler. 

The information you need regarding MOLLE components and accessories, including how they improve the use of backpacks and vests, is provided in this article.

What is MOLLE? 

Modular lightweight load-carrying equipment, or MOLLE, is a system used for gear arrangement and attachment, introduced in the military in 1997, enabling you to fasten several tools and pieces of gear to backpacks and bags. PALS (or pouch attachment ladder system) stands for rows of strong nylon that may be made. It is not a particular kind of clothing or equipment. Simply put, it's a term for load-carrying modular structures that allow you to attach various tools, equipment, and other things.

PALS is implied when someone speaks of a "MOLLE grid." Any MOLLE-ready item, such as a strong MOLLE backpack, must include this nylon webbing as a key component. With the help of this webbing, you may make several attachment points identified by stitched-in loops where you can attach MOLLE strap pouches, tools, and other equipment.

Because MOLLE is durable and flexible, you may design the containment model that works best for you. Additionally, it enables you to attach equipment other than your standard tools, like holsters, flashlights, first aid equipment, canteens, and D-rings, for other gear.

Although bags and packs are useful for transporting gear, MOLLE allows you to carry more, so you can have a wider variety of equipment. MOLLE is among the most famous modular systems due to its adaptability and the extensive selection of MOLLE bags and attachments.

A Brief History of MOLLE 

1941 Mountain Rucksack (courtesy of JW Hale)

1941 Mountain Rucksack (courtesy of JW Hale)

Military gear is uniformly distributed for ease and to make it simple to arm large numbers of service members with identical gear. Standardization began thousands of years ago. However, the U.S. military in the early 1900s began using the phrase "en masse" to describe all standardized gear, from large machinery to outfits.

This heightened the demand for a carrying mechanism that allowed soldiers to swap pouches and other components while assembling their equipment. The MOLLE system superseded the All-purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) system. ALICE also took the place of earlier systems.

GIs with ALICE system packs

GIs equipped with ALICE compatible gear


PALS refers to the durable nylon webbing grid arranged in rows on the vest or pack and through which accessory straps may be threaded to fasten tactical equipment like pouches and drinking sacs. Before Natick Labs developed their exclusive attachment mechanism that integrates with PALS, PALS was initially introduced and utilized with considerable success.

Natick Labs permits specific producers to make MOLLE strap attachments. The system was designed to make use of PALS webbing by including straps and additional webbing on devices to enable the sewing of the belts between them, significantly enhancing the strength of the bond.


The Modernized Load-Carrying Equipment (MLCE) and Individual Load-carrying Equipment (ILCE) systems were replaced by the All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) in the U.S. Military in Jan. 1973.

The ALICE concept had a single primary sack into which all attachments and equipment had to fit. These bags occasionally contained so much stuff that the zippers failed. This was a common issue. Although they contributed some usefulness, the little side pockets had a very constrained capacity.

Hard choices had to be made regarding what could and couldn't be transported due to the limited space and equipment available.

The fact that items in ALICE were submerged in a large pack made it challenging to reach them when necessary immediately.

The ability to completely customize where your stuff is located in your bag is the MOLLE system's biggest benefit. Having a pouch or other item you use located on the outside of your backpack, where you can quickly get it, is far more convenient than having to search within your backpack for it.

Modules may now be stacked on top of one another to expand storage capacity, another noteworthy addition to the MOLLE system. The system is designed to be flexible and effective in storing and finding important items.

What are MOLLE Pouches?

A MOLLE pouch is a special attachment that you may connect to the main pack to carry everyday or specialized things. Pouches come in various sizes, shapes, colors, and pattern combinations. They can also be either vertical or horizontal.

Furthermore, depending on what will be put in the pouch, they might have different depths. Some pouches have internal divisions that create distinct sections. A few are more cushioned, watertight, or submersible.

In challenging circumstances and conditions, the bag is held firmly in place by strong straps. All of the connectors are hidden beneath the bag, which means nothing can catch on an object and pull it open. Even during times of war, the reliability of this interlocking technique has been demonstrated.

Types of MOLLE Pouches

There are various types of MOLLE pouches available for purchase from both legitimate manufacturers and businesses who plagiarize the system to market their own, occasionally one-of-a-kind modules. 

Here is a list of a few of the more well-known pouches:

  • — Pouches for water bottles
  • — Map pouches
  • — Tool and knife pouches
  • — Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) pouches
  • — Magazine and ammunition pouches
  • — Admin pouches
  • — Pouches for cell devices and two-way radios
  • — Firearm holsters
  • — Bladder pouches for hydration
  • — Sling pouches
  • — Flashlight pouches

How Do MOLLE Systems Work? 

Selecting the precise location of the module on the main pack is the first step in attaching an accessory to it. When picking an attachment site, factors like balance, comfort, accessibility, and even utilizing one less essential module to shield other more essential ones are all considered.

Once you've determined where your item would work best, you can unsnap its bands and weave them through the PALS webbing's primary (highest) slot.

The system is compromised if the MOLLE straps are threaded through all of the MOLLE webbing holes on the main system in a straight downward motion. It will largely still hold, but as you walk, your item will flap around.

The straps have to be woven. The strap goes through an opening in the main sack, an opening in the accessory, an opening in the main sack again, and finally, another opening in the accessories. The accessories and main load are firmly fastened together by straps interwoven between the two connecting points.

Because the straps are weaved, pressure is distributed evenly, and accessories stay firmly connected to your backpack, vest, or pack. Even with several attachments deployed, the backpack moves as a single unit.

The Atomic Bear MOLLE Accessories

molle webbing accessories

Molle webbing allows the attachment of many items outside of your backpack, organized and ready to use. The Atomic Bear MOLLE accessories are designed to help dress up a backpack. The D-Ring carabiner is perfect to tie in rope, a water bottle, or any keyring. The bungee straps can hold a flashlight, gloves, or secure a rag. The MOLLE connectors are great to attach pouches or any molle webbing flat surface soft gear together. Fina,lly the clip carabiner is perfect to attach any keyring to your belt or any MOLLE webbing.

Who Uses MOLLE? 

Not only the military of the United States, the United Kingdom, and NATO adopt this well-designed facility. Others who utilize it include members of your neighborhood's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams, police officers, park rangers, rescue squads, survivalist groups, spelunkers, climbers, firefighters, and the list goes on.

Most of us might think of an excuse to use a kit bag equipped with MOLLE tech. Could we not?

Other MOLLE Uses 

Beyond law enforcement or tactical military activities, MOLLE is useful in a variety of other contexts. It's excellent for your daily carry bag. By using MOLLE, you may more easily adapt your configuration and improve the interior space of your pack or bag.

It is suitable for hunters as well. MOLLE pouches let you carry extra ammunition and the equipment required to handle animals.

Outdoor enthusiasts, as earlier mentioned, will like MOLLE as well. Hikers can make storage arrangements in their knapsacks. If you're inventive, the possibilities of using this equipment are endless. These pouches allow you to free up precious space for other essential goods and equipment.

Benefits of MOLLE 

Instead of completely replacing PALS with a new method of attaching modules, MOLLE decided to use the advantages of PALS that were already in place.

Now that MOLLE and PALS' strengths have been integrated, the system is significantly improved in several ways:

  • — Standardization, dependability, and simplicity of use.
  • — Flexibility: You may select many other things to connect to your bag.
  • — Storage and retrieval are simple. You can always find your essential equipment.
  • — More room: Add items to the exterior of your pack as well as the interior.
  • — More effective gear arrangement.

Adding an extra layer on top of current attachments will add extra room to your pack once you have covered the MOLLE webbing that is still accessible.

Tips for Using MOLLE 

MOLLE attachment mechanisms are often made up of SlickStick or MOLLE-specific straps that you interweave between the gear or bag you're attaching to and the attachment. These sticks click shut to secure the items you attach. The system must be carefully designed since it is firmly fastened to your backpack or vest. To aid you in being as effective as you can, consider the following tips:

  1. When attaching MOLLE attachments with several sticks or straps, it is simpler to thread them all through the webbing at once. Because of the hard nature of these sticks and straps, weaving is made simpler by switching between them.
  2. Even though they aren't as strong or adaptable as the more sophisticated MOLLE gear, ALICE clips are compatible with the MOLLE gear. If you have an option, use the MOLLE.
  3. When weaving your sticks and straps through the nylon webbing, ensure you don't skip any of it. The system may get weaker if some webbing is missed. Your item will be solid and safe if you weave carefully.

Once you get how it functions, MOLLE is simple. It may take some effort to configure, but the more you use it, the easier it gets.


To assist you in connecting all your gear to your main vest or backpack, there are several accessories available. If you can get approved gear since it often lasts the longest.

Whether you need to pack up for a vacation or as a military person, the MOLLE is an effective and adaptable system to help you attach your stuff to the main backpack. 

The old ALICE system requires updates like MOLLE and PALS. The time is right for an update this year.

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