Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment (MOLLE)


Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment (MOLLE, the pronunciation of MOLLE is molly) is a product which was used by the US army and the marines for replacing the old-fashioned ALICE (All Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment), this plan was proposed in 1974, and Integration Individual-soldier Fighting System design plan was proposed in 1988.

The Origin of MOLLE

MOLLE was proposed formally when United States Department of Defense began to look for the replacement of ALICE in 1994. The US army and the marines held an investigation and proposed proposal plan a carrying equipment with modularization, durability and comfortableness was designed in which, and then MOLLE was created.

US Army Academy of Environmental Medicine in Natick of Massachusetts provided help to the relevant biomechanical studies programs to look for the most effective carrying method and investigate and survey the difference of the performance of people with different carrying equipment. Center of Military Biomechanics Research (CMBR) contrasted internal frame COTS (COTS) backpack with the standard version of ALICE, the results showed that the lower expenditure of energy and fewer displacement appeared when business backpack carry 75 pounds objects. Just because of the volume structure of business backpack and the suitable loading center, lower energy was used, and the users have the good walking positions. The relatively narrow and long business backpacks have more ideal loading center for centrally placing objects than ALICE.

The proposal that replacing ALICE with Internal Frame COTS Backpack was rejected because of the not enough heat dissipating capacity, but the similar volume structure was adapted in the design of MOLLE. Other favorable characteristics of biomechanics were used in the design of MOLLE, belt which can distribute load is a good example.

Prototype of MOLLE was developed by US Army Soldiers System Center (Natick, Massachusetts). The new technology was used in the frame of MOLLE which was used for the construction of rapid prototyping equipment model in Natick for first time. the designer replaced the aluminum tube of ALICE with the new style plastic frame same with the plastic of car bu
mper. The new plastic frame remarkably promoted the durability, and the applied temperature range was extend from 40℉to 120℉(about from -40℃to 49℃).

Prototype of MOLLE was evaluated by Center of Military Biomechanics Research CMBR. MOLLE was recognized as the replacement of ALICE, as the sta
ndard individual load carrying equipment of US army and the marines because of its outstanding characteristics and performances. MOLLE system was tested by all soldiers of 25 infantry divisions in Hawaii with 6 months. This system won high praise, even the load is more than 120 pounds (about 109 jin). US army also considerate the results of test to MOLLE provided by female soldiers. The size of MOLLE was slightly decreased in order to meet the needs of all soldiers, male and female based on the results of test.

 A specialty defense company in Tanmore of Pennsylvania got the first contract for producing MOLLE system, 216000 sets MOLLE system were began to produced for the marines and forward-deployed forces of army by this company since October, 2001. The expedition forces of the marine deployed in Afghan were issued with added 1200 sets MOLLE system.

By 2003, army were not issued with MOLLE in a large scale, the units deployed in Afghan were centrally issued with MOLLE, and a few MOLLE were used in the war of Iraq. At the beginning, woodland camouflage was adopted in the design of MOLLE, desert camouflage was adopted in the design of MOLLE by 2004, universal camouflage pattern was adopted in the design of MOOLE since 2006.

MOLLE is a complete modular load carrying equipment system which consist of load bearing vest with backpack handle, main pack with accessories bag and sleeping section attached on the external frame. At the same time, MOLLE system also consist of a patrol pack which can be used alone or be used as a connection with the main pack in order to increase the carrying capacity. Many different combination can be assembled in order to provide different load for different masks in MOLLE system. Attached pockets for carrying magazines and grenades were installed on the common load bearing vest. The connection device of load bearing vest was specially designed that the external frame of main pack was installed on the belt of vest in order to transfer the load of shoulders and back to hip because of that the power of hip can help a soldier to carry more objects with lower strength consumption.

 There are detachable pockets to meet different carrying needs in nylon mesh vest which is an important part of MOLLE. Different version load bearing vest was designed for every member of a group which consist of rifleman, pistol soldier, automatic weapon soldier, grenadier and corpsman.

The new style suspension system increased the carrying capacity of MOLLE that the straps and belt with heavy backing strap can be adjusted according to the length of body of soldier. There are only two sizes by contrast with MOLLE. The new style suspension system help soldier to transfer more weight to shoulders and
hip, soldier can transfer and adjust the distribution of weight in order to reach more comfortable state based on his feeling according to adaption and adjustment of some distance.

 Fighting Load Carrier (FLC) replaced the mesh belt of Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) and the brace
s of ALICE. FLC can significantly increase the amount of carrying cartridge of soldiers, and evenly distribute weight along body of soldier. Metal buckles were not adopted in FLC, because skin can be accidentally injured by metal buckles with great weight easily. There is H type belt to reduce the heat accumulation. Vest can be adjusted to any sizes. Soldiers can let hips share partial load by fastening the belt of frame of MOLLE on the lower part of FLC. There are 3 pockets with cover (every pocket can carry two 30-pounds magazines) , 2 grenade bags and 2 water bottle pouches.

 There is a front pocket for claymore in main pack. There are a cartridge bag six 30-pounds magazines can be contained and a detachable tactical radio pocket. There are 2 d
etachable accessories bags for placing Meal, Ready-to-Eat Individual (MRE) at both sides of pack, there is remaining space after placing MRE in the two accessories bags. There is a sleeping section for placing the new style army modular sleeping bag.

All big pockets of MOLLE – external pocket of main pack, for example – D rings were installed in order to carry objects with hooks. Plastic perspective identifying window was installed in pack which make soldiers do not make mark on nylon fabric with camouflage polyurethane coating or paste their name card on nylon fabric. Every set system consist of 2 bundled hambrolines with 6 inches for carrying big object, mortar pallet or 5-gallons container, for example. If a plastic buckle fractured, you can look for the spare replacement from the bag full of sample spare replacements in the box full of tools for repair jobs contained by the system.

Every set MOLLE system has a matching water pouch used in action as supplement of 1 quart (about 0.95 liter) canteen. The standard version system can not be used in environment of biochemical pollution, but it must be used before that the mobile drinking water system can be used in all environments was developed.

The detachable backpack can help soldiers to accommodate masks much more easily. Soldiers will spend 72 hours or nearly 72 hours on handling of problems and dick-waving, pack was used for carrying equipment (extra water, rations and ammunition, for example) for them. The modular design can help soldiers to bring themselves to war footing by releasing big pack and removing the detachable pack after reaching the destination. The accessories bags in the side of pack can be removed and be installed at the patrol pack in order to provide same carrying capacity with medium-sized ALICE pack for soldiers.

The woven ribbon used for attaching bags in Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) of upgraded MOLLE system was used in MOLLE and other most system (body armor, carrying equipment or vest, for example.) developed after MOLLE for attaching small-sized bags, accessories bags and other accessories as a standard method.

The Second Version MOLLE

The modify plan for some parts of MOLLE was proposed based on the feedback of soldiers on the battlefield on the first version MOLLE. The second version of MOLLE was produced after modifying. Following are the main changes.

· removed the rapid release frame inserted in Load Bearing Vest (LBV)completely

·  replaced probe and slot structure with rapid release structure for cooperation with belt installed in frame forever.

· For the belt installed in frame of the second version MOLLE, there is only a uniform size.

· molding belt was canceled when LBV of MOLLE was designed again which was named as the second version FLC.

· canceled the multifunctional belt because the functions of vest of MOLLE were extended

· replaced hip pack of MOLLE with belt of the second version MOLLE

· Multifunctional water bottle pouch was adopted in the second version MOLLE system

· single 30-pounds pouch was canceled

MOLLE system provided for US army were improved, and for the marines, MOLLE system was replaced with new product.

Designer made some amendments on MOLLE system based on the feedback of soldiers on the battlefield on the first version MOLLE system, removed the rapid release frame inserted in Load Bearing Vest (LBV)completely, for example. The developer replaced probe and slot structure with rapid release structure for using traditional belt installed in frame forever better. Because probe and slot structure bring difficulties to many army soldiers and the marines.

The zipper would suddenly opened when MOLLE is full of objects in Afghan. Another shortage is that straps are too short to cross over body armor (PASGT or Interceptor, for example) for adjustment. Zipper with lock function and more long straps were provided in improved MOLLE system


The marines still are not satisfied with the improved MOLLE system, so MOLLE system and old-fashioned ALICE system (All Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment ) were replaced with improved Individual Load Bearing Equipment (ILBE).