Molle/PALS is a great system when you want to add extra functionality or capacity to your setup. We already had some posts about what this system is and how it can be used. So you already know it’s a combination of standardized loops and connectors which help to attach pouches, sheaths and other gear to your backpack or bag.
But what to do if you want to use a PALS attachable sheath on a pants belt? While the sizing of the loops is great for interconnecting, they are not as easily usable with other widths of straps like belts. The 1 inch width of PALS is just to small for belts. Skipping a loop might leave too much space and the connection get’s wobbly. Even more so not all Molle gear comes with straps as connectors attached. Some just have loops and it’s up to you to find something to weave through them. Some sheaths even break the compatibility to PALS so much that they will work with a panel of loops but can’t be used with a strap to secure them. (Just look at the pictures because this is a bit hard to explain)
A simple yet effective solution
Helikon-Tex came up with a nifty solution: The “BMA” (Belt Molle Adapter). It comes in three sizes and two colors. Every version has 3 rows of laser cut PALS loops. The size gives the amount of channels: 1,2 or 3.
All models of the BMA consist of a rather stiff plastic card that’s covered with Cordura into which the PALS loops are laser cut. This card gives the stableness to keep the attachment from being too wobbly. On the backside of the adapter are 1 or 2 sets of velcro flaps that wrap around belts of up to 45mm width. When closed over a belt the inner side of the flaps is rather slippery plastic which helps if you want to move the adapter around. The backside of the panel is textured enough to keep the panel where you want.
The belt mounting flaps are a bit tricky to attach while wearing your belt because it’s hard to align the velcro parts onto each other. Especially the hook side of the velcro might rough up your clothes or your belt when they are not fully covered by the loop part. So better be safe and close them with your belt lose. What works great on the other hand is quickly releasing the adapter from your belt . This way whatever you’re carrying on your belt is not in your way when you sit down in enclosed spaces like a car’s seat. You could also use it to remove inappropriate gear in social situations (think of large knives).
The combination of the slick inner side of the flaps and the textured back of the panel is a good compromise. You can slide it along your belt without having to use excessive force but still it won’t move around all the time by itself. Just pull the adapter away from your body and slide the panel along your belt.
How I use it
I’m using the 3 channel version of the BMA to carry a small fixed blade knife which’s sheath was built to be attached to PALS webbing as you can read in my review about this specific knife. I tried to use the loop that came with the sheath on my belt directly but it wouldn’t stop moving around and even tilt in different directions. To be fair it’s a bit tricky to weave the connector through the laser cut loops on the BMA but that’s nothing you attach and detach on a daily basis.
I just noticed that most of the time I prefer to carry gear in bigger bags and anything attached to your belt might get in the way when carrying a backpack with a waistbelt. This leaves me with using the adapter mostly when carrying a slingbag or smaller backpacks without waistbelt.
Until now I only used the adapter for fixed blade knives but writing this post got me thinking. I might even get another BMA to have options for keeping bulky items close. As I carry some sort of bag most of the times I don’t see the BMA as a way of expanding my overall carrying capacity but to keep bulky items which I might need to grab immediately very close. I’m thinking of knives, flashlights, tourniquets for example. If you have to dig for them in your bag it’s either too late when you find them or you just don’t bother because there might be an easier option around. A classic “you carry around this stuff all the time, but when I drop something in a bar you don’t have your flashlight at hand to search for it?” situation.
So plan in advance what you’re gonna carry where and keep in mind that Helikon has some options to help you with interconnecting otherwise incompatible attachment systems.
The BMA is part of Helikon-Tex‘s „Versatile Insert Series“ which consists of several small but handy adapters which help with combining otherwise incompatible pieces of gear. Another similar item is the MOLLE adapter which looks like the BMA but instead of the belt mounting flaps has a velcro hook back to mount it into any velcro lined bag.
- Material: Cordura
- Weight: 16g/29g/39g
- Size: 5x9cm/9,5x9cm/13x9cm
About the author
widhalmt is what you might call a tactical gearhead with a focus on collecting. Like your average nerd he likes to dig into topics he’s interested in and learn as much about them as possible. Then he tries to get hold of his items of interest (he’s quite picky about brand and model when he chose a certain item) and put them to the test. Be it while walking the dog in the woods or go for overnighters outdoors.
In his daytime job he works as lead support engineer for an open source IT consulting company. Since his work involves a lot of travelling and going to customers he has quite some experience in choosing items that are rugged enough for constant travelling but still work in an office environment without offending anyone by being “too tactical” (although he tends to stretch that last part a bit). It’s safe to say that he has some tactical gear on him when he walks out the door (and sometimes even when he stays at home).
In tactical gear he has very widespread interests but if he had to pick something, it’s be knives, bags/backpacks and camo patterns (especially PenCott)