The History of MOLLE

Soldier wearing body armour vest with MOLLE webbing and pouches, holding a rifle in a desert environment.

MOLLE – Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment – is an essential part of military equipment, helping soldiers since before the millennia. The military consistently uses MOLLE, but other users include law enforcement, firefighters, and adventurers.

MOLLE uses different compartments of webbing, which allows the gear to be customisable for different circumstances. The MOLLE system features on bags, body armour and vests.

ALICE – All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment – was not an ideal system, so the US military quickly began researching a new replacement.

It was first introduced in 1997 as a newer model of the ALICE system and focused on taking the weight off the wearer. Its nylon-based webbing helps to distribute weight, which makes it perfect for the military. The first stage of research determined that MOLLE could allow the wearer to comfortably carry 55kg.

The webbing is the key attribute that makes MOLLE so useful. The stitching of the webbing is entwined in rows, keeping the nylon reinforced. Different components can also be attached to the webbing, meaning it is not only strong but also versatile. This webbing creates a strong structure and ensures that your equipment remains in place during high-paced activities; the heavy-duty webbing cannot be easily detached, so no equipment will be lost.

The original system was not accepted worldwide because of structural issues. The Army would frequently find that the plastic framework of the equipment broke quickly, leading many MOLLEs to be deemed incompatible. A major issue was the waist belt of the original MOLLE vest. Despite distributing the weight better than the ALICE system, the ball-and-socket interface, if faulty, caused numerous back injuries.

Designers eventually overcame these issues and MOLLE is now a household name.

Webbing may be the highlight of MOLLE, but they are certainly not the only essential component. The other components include:

  • Tactical assault panel
  • Assault pack
  • Hydration bladder
  • Rucksack (of varying sizes)
  • Pouches

Most products are adaptable and allow different components, especially pouches, to be added. Pouches of different sizes can be attached to the exterior and interior surfaces, allowing the wearer to carry pretty much anything, meals, guns, ammunition, and flares.

These components form the MOLLE system and make load-carrying simple. Being in the military market for over two decades, MOLLE has made military operations and load-bearing easier, only shown by its continuous use and popularity with militaries worldwide. 

Ready to experience the benefits of MOLLE for yourself? Check out SafeGuard Armour's collection of MOLLE-compatible vests, designed to provide ultimate customization and versatility for your personal protection needs.