If you ever read about tactical load bearing equipment you can’t have missed the term “MOLLE” or “PALS”. The acronyms mean “Modular Leightweight Load-carrying Equipment” and “Pouch Attachment Ladder System”. Both terms are usually used synonymously – read below for some tactical nerd info why this isn’t completely correct.

We wrote a complete introduction to MOLLE/PALS in the past, so if you want more details, read this post, too.

A short overview

But first let’s get to the core why it is useful. PALS is a system of loops. 38mm wide loops in rows of 25mm wide webbing that are 25mm wide apart. You find these loops on big items like backpacks or vests and on small items like pouches. When you align them so that the loopy strap on one item is aligned with the free space between two straps on the other you can weave something through the loops on both items. Thus you are creating a very tough connection that is virtually unbreakable.

Many makers have their own system of connectors you can weave through. Some items have sown on straps with some sort of lock at the end. Others just have loops on the items and connectors are separate. They can be locking pieces of webbing or plastic sticks etc. Options are virtually endless you just have to be careful if you need extra connectors when buying items.

But the loops have a lot more to offer. Many items are small enough so you can just stick them through the loops to mount them. Like chemlights, emergency shears etc. Other items come with PALS connectors like knife sheaths. And of course you can always use carabiners or paracord to connect or dummy cord other items. In fact, the potential uses are endless so we wrote several posts on how to use MOLLE as a civilian or more general howtos on using the system.

Just remember, nowadays most makers build systems that are compatible to MOLLE or PALS. So you can find all kinds of slits and loops that will connect. An item doesn’t have to have the standard webbing to be compatible.

History of MOLLE

Starting 1994 the US Marine Corps was involved in developing a new load carrying system that should be better adaptable to the needs of an individual soldier than the old ALICE system. What came to life was MOLLE, a distinct set of backpack, vest and several pouches. New about this system was a combination of straps and loops called PALS that allowed to move pouches all over vest and backpacks. You could even easily replace pouches with others so you could adapt your kit to your needs as a medic, machine gunner or whatever role you had.

The first MOLLE system had some drawbacks and the Marine Corps stopped using it. Later the US Army improved on the first version and made it their standard load carrying equipment.

In short: MOLLE means a certain set of backpack, vest and pouches. PALS means the loops that allow to interconnect its pieces.

PALS is so easy to use that it caught on extremely fast. Nowadays more or less every maker of tactical gear uses PALS compatible systems. This has the huge benefit that you can interconnect bags and pouches from different brands just as you see fit. In fact, in many item descriptions it’s not even said anymore that an item is PALS compatible because people just expect it.