SURVIVAL & MOLLE
Assuming you’ve either read or already know about MOLLE, mental images of its Military and Law Enforcement uses and appearance is probably the first thing to pop into your head. We’re not going to discuss those applications but rather, take a look at some pros and cons of the MOLLE system and its relevancy to a survival or emergency situation.
In our opinion, having the opportunity to use and integrate MOLLE compatible equipment and apparel is the ideal way to solve the problem of being able to carry the additional gear and items you may desire if something goes wrong.
We say, “having the opportunity” because let’s be realistic – unless you’re always wearing some MOLLE competent (not realistic unless you’re Military/LEO…), there’s a very distinct chance that when disaster strikes, you won’t have it on your person or readily available. You may return home or head to your spot only to find that your gear is ruined, stolen, or any number of plausible reasons why it wouldn’t be available.
That being said, we still see a practical use for integrating MOLLE compatible components in your system of survival kits, BOB’s, etc. Before we discuss the relevant pros and cons of using a MOLLE system, we want to clarify what we’re talking about.
MOLLE stands for MOdular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment.
The term MOLLE originates from the US Military to describe its current system of load-bearing equipment. Another important concept to understand what MOLLE is actually referring to is PALS. PALS is an acronym that stands for Pouch Attachment Ladder System. If you’ve ever seen a MOLLE component, PALS is the webbing. PALS is also US Patent 5724707, which is an interesting read if you want to learn more about the history and technical details behind it.
Now that we’ve defined what we mean when we refer to a MOLLE system, let’s take a look at some pros and cons of actually integrating one into your survival equipment.
Simply put, convenience is the biggest advantage we see in utilizing MOLLE. This is a simple and practical advantage of using it. The way we see it, despite whether you plan on bugging in, bugging out, etc., having a system that allows its operator to carry more equipment and items is better than not having one.
The convenience aspect is certainly more beneficial for folks who may not already have basic load bearing equipment (LBE) such as backpacks, bags, cases, apparel, etc. We think in the vast majority of realistic survival situations, that having basic LBE is a good idea. You never know when having to leave an area quickly may become your best option. If that’s the case, do you have enough bags or luggage to fit all the essential items you’ll want to bring with you? If you do, will you have the capacity to pack them in an easily accessible manner should you need certain items quickly (firearms, medical supplies, etc.)? If you don’t, you may want to consider using some type of MOLLE system. This brings us to our next point which is both a pro and con…
Cost is always a big factor in deciding to try or improve upon gear purchases. The bottom line on MOLLE and whether its worth it is dependent on a couple of points:
- For individuals who have little to no load-bearing equipment already, we feel that implementing a MOLLE integrated system of backpacks, weapon cases, bags, or whatever your need may be, is very feasible. Basic MOLLE “carriers” (such as a MOLLE compatible backpack, vest, duffel bag, etc.) will be the largest expense in a MOLLE system. For those who are unfamiliar, MOLLE systems are extremely versatile so there’s a large number of individual components you can use in conjunction with a “carrier” such as those referenced above. Common components include, magazine pouches, hydration packs, phone or communication pouches, tool pouches, etc. These vary widely in price ranging from anywhere to $10-$30 for most individual components based mainly off of quality and function of the individual pouch. The biggest financial risk for individuals wishing to start their own MOLLE system would be purchasing unnecessary carriers or individual components. As with most other survival skills and concepts, thorough planning will reduce this risk so identify what you really need as opposed to want prior to browsing online or going to the store.
- For individuals who already have an adequate system of bags or other LBE that’s not already MOLLE compatible, it probably wouldn’t make sense for most folks to replace their existing gear solely to make it MOLLE compatible. In other words, MOLLE is a great tool to have both in survival and non-survival situations, but it’s not 100% necessary. It’s not essential to making it through any particular survival situation (other than war perhaps…) or emergency that you may face. But if you can afford it, or integrate it into your system with any future purchases, you won’t be disappointed.
We believe the price of many basic MOLLE carriers and components will continue to decrease overall based in part off the Marine Corps decision to transition to a different load bearing system.
Also, because of the ongoing conflicts the US Military has been engaged in over a decade now, the amount of recycled surplus components (mainly the ones beneficial to a combat situation, magazine pouches, hydration packs, etc…).
It’s also worth noting that the price is going to be higher for higher quality components. This may sound obvious but just keep this in mind if you decide to purchase some MOLLE component. A low quality carrier or pouch is worth nothing if it breaks or otherwise fails to function when needed most.
The convenience a MOLLE system can provide is due mainly to its extreme versatility of carriers and components available for purchase.
For us, having a system capable of being useful not only in a survival / emergency situation, but also for recreational shooting applications was very important. Having the ability to quickly transition back and forth from these two unique and wide-ranging uses was also something we considered when deciding to go with a MOLLE system.
The vest has been very useful for days spent on rural land, enjoying the outdoors and target shooting. We attach an E-tool, magazine pouches for the desired firearms being fired that day, a basic medical kit, hydration system (for hikes and ease of not having to lug around a gallon or more of water…), cell phone/wallet/keys, etc., and on the back, a basic document module that contains miscellaneous items and relevant legal documents (license, any applicable firearm permits, etc.). By using the vest, it’s made time at the range or doing various tasks outside more organized, more efficient, and thus, more enjoyable.
When not in “range” mode, we change out some components and it quickly becomes a “bug out vest” should the need arise. We also use other MOLLE carriers such as the bag and a backpack. Each carrier can quickly be configured in just a few moments to accommodate a variety of tasks and uses. Keep in mind, there’s a good selection of different uses for the carrier or individual component pieces so the range example is just one…
Other than price, we feel image is a disadvantage. Although some carriers and components are discreet enough, many others are not. Especially in urban and suburban areas, the “tactical” look that a MOLLE system often projects could potentially draw unwanted attention to yourself. At worst, you could be targeted by other individuals or groups for having the “tactical” look. For others under different settings, it could be a non-issue, so as usual use common sense and apply it to your specific situation.
That pretty much concludes our opinion of the pros and cons of integrating MOLLE compatible carriers and components in your general load-bearing equipment.
A MOLLE system provides the user a versatile and convenient platform for quickly moving, storing, or otherwise organizing your tools and gear. If you don’t already have anything along the lines of basic load-bearing equipment, or are in the market for new gear, the cost is not unrealistic.
Its image in certain situations may be negative or even harmful and draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Remember to apply common sense and througough planning prior to implementing or starting a MOLLE compatible system.
If you currently use a MOLLE compatible system, or an alternate system and would like to share, please drop a comment or contact us!