You've seen it everywhere—a nylon grid on the exterior of tactical packs and equipment. Most people use it to attach extra carabiners, keychains, or suspend additional gear on. Maybe you're wondering: where did this design come from, and what is it really used for? Read on to learn more about how this military system was created and how it can help you improve your everyday carry.
MOLLE and PALS Defined
You may have heard of the term “MOLLE-compatible” when talking about the grid system, but it's actually only half of the equation. MOLLE is an acronym which stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It's a military specification that defines the load-bearing design in equipment used by NATO armed forces. This universal spec lets smaller packs and pouches swap in and out as needed by the user anywhere there's a grid on their gear.
The nylon grid itself is actually called PALS, or the Pouch Attachment Ladder System. The system is a patented design by the United States Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) that allows smaller equipment to be attached onto load-bearing platforms like bags or vests securely by “snaking” the straps of MOLLE-compatible gear through the grid. In scenarios where there might be crucial items in those pouches, the last thing you want is for them to become detached from your pack when you need them the most.
The Benefits of MOLLE Compatibility for Everyday Carry
Say you just got back running a day's worth of errands in the city, stocking up on supplies for a weekend road trip. Your bag is full of gear you know you'd need when you're in town, like your laptop, pens, and notebooks, but now it's time to pack your outdoors gear. You don't want to have to keep repacking your entire kit, especially since you'll be reusing a lot of the same stuff.
Here's where MOLLE really shines—going from urban daypack to outdoor essentials is as easy as adding or removing pre-packed pouches. You can take off that heavy multitool sheath and pouch full of driver bits and swap in a first aid kit, for example. You don't have to commit to buying large, individual backpacks anymore; thanks to the system you can make existing pieces of your kit work together, whatever the situation calls for.
In addition to the convenient space to hang extra gear, it also means that every piece of MOLLE-compatible equipment you buy will work with each other. This gives you peace of mind when making your purchases, since you know that it will be immediately compatible with the rest of your carry. This allows for a future-proofed and consistent layer of customization and modularity that lets you optimize the way you carry by letting you plan ahead when building your loadout.
MOLLE in Action
Check out how some of our readers get creative and put MOLLE/PALS to good use:
EMTs need lots of specialized gear when on the job, but not necessarily when out in town.
This EDCer made his own backpack, making it a point to include a PALS-like grid for attaching his gear.
PALS also works inside bags for customizable organization—here’s an example using the UC30 backpack and pouches from Propper.
Is MOLLE-Compatible Gear Right for You?
- Increase storage and organization easily
- Removing modules reduces weight for a lighter carry
- Future additions to your EDC are guaranteed to be compatible
- Grid system is designed to be extremely secure
- PALS lays flat, adding no additional bulk to your gear when not used for attachments
- Design may be too “tactical” for some
- The security of PALS may be a liability if you need a quick way to attach or detach modules
- Can make it easy to carry more than you need to, which can be a strain on your body
By now, you should have a better idea if using a MOLLE/PALS system in your everyday carry is right for you. If so, you can start with options from our sponsor Propper at the link below. If you already use MOLLE or PALS in your carry, let us know in the comments how it's helped you solve your everyday packing problems!
This is a sponsored post presented by Propper.