How Does MOLLE Work?

MOLLE systems (pronounced "Molly") let you attach multi-tools, knives, magazine pouches, and other equipment to tactical backpacks, rucksacks, and load-bearing vests. Here’s how MOLLE works, plus a few tips to help you get the most out of your system.

The Principle Behind MOLLE

Don’t let the friendly sounding name fool you. MOLLE, which stands for "modular, lightweight load-carrying equipment," means business. Rows of heavy-duty nylon fabric called PALS, short for "pouch attachment ladder system," are stitched on backpacks and rucks, load-bearing vests, and other gear so you can easily attach MOLLE pouches and accessories to your equipment for secure, adaptable on-the-go access.

Using a MOLLE system, you can attach these and other items to your gear:

  • Magazine and grenade pouches
  • Canteen carriers
  • First-aid kits (including military-style "individual first aid kits," or IFAKs)
  • Sustainment pouches
  • D-rings for slings and other gear
  • Holsters
  • General-purpose gear pouches in various sizes

How to Use a MOLLE System

Your MOLLE attachment system will likely consist of SlickStick® or MOLLE-specific straps that are designed to weave between the attachment and the equipment you're adding it to. These sticks securely snap shut to hold your attachments in place.

Follow these steps to attach your MOLLE gear to a compatible webbed platform:

  1. Choose a location to attach your gear. If you’re following an SOP, you already have a plan – but if you’re free to choose where your gear goes based on what’s easiest for you, try experimenting with the placement of your MOLLE pouches on top of your backpack or other equipment to determine the best configuration before attaching anything.
  2. Hold onto the end of the SlickStick with the snap attached, and thread the stick through the bottom row of nylon webbing that your MOLLE attachment will align with, snap side up.
  3. Weave the stick or strap through the first row of nylon webbing on the backside of the attachment, tightening as you go.
  4. Continue weaving the stick through the webbing on your equipment and the attachment until all that remains are the snaps or buttons at the top.
  5. If your attachment includes multiple SlickSticks or straps, repeat this process for each stick until the entire attachment is secure.
  6. Once you have the attachment exactly where you want it, secure the snaps or buttons to make sure your gear stays put.

Tips for Using MOLLE Gear

Putting together MOLLE-compatible equipment properly takes time, but these tips can help you attach your accessories more efficiently:

  • For attachments with multiple sticks or straps, weave both straps through the nylon webbing at the same time. MOLLE sticks and straps are rigid, so alternating between the sticks while you’re weaving can make the process easier.
  • Don’t skip over any webbing while weaving your sticks and straps through – use every row to keep your gear as secure as possible. Use all the webbing you can on both your gear and on your pack or vest.
  • You can use ALICE clips with MOLLE gear, but these outdated clips are not as versatile or durable as today's more advanced MOLLE-compatible equipment. If you have a choice, skip ALICE and use MOLLE instead.

MOLLE isn’t hard to use, but it does take time to configure. Now that you know how MOLLE works (and how to attach your accessories properly), you’ll always be able to outfit yourself with the gear you need for your next mission – and beyond.


 

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