What is a MOLLE vest?
A MOLLE vest is a tactical vest that is designed for the harshest conditions, roughest terrain, and situations where one must be tactically proficient. MOLLE stands for “Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment” It is pronounced like the name Molly and is a favorite with tactical forces and self defense enthusiasts the world over.
MOLLE is so popular due in large part to it’s modular nature. It allows a vest wearer to choose which gear they will carry and exactly where on their chest rig it will go. If a wearer of a MOLLE vest is left handed they can set their weapon, flashlight, radio, or canteen in the most comfortable position possible. Military, law enforcement, private security, and even fire departments utilize MOLLE in their gear.
How a MOLLE vest works
MOLLE works by stitching heavy-duty nylon fabric panels into tactical vests, rucks, and backpacks. These durable loops offer great flexibility for operators to attach equipment in the places that work best for their needs.
Most MOLLE attachments use the SlickStick system. It threads through the MOLLE loops to align the way you wish, and then snaps in. Depending on the size and type of MOLLE pouch, holster, or other equipment there may be multiple attachment points. Most of the MOLLE gear has webbing on each side of the equipment, such as on the vests or belts. The Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) provides multiple points for attaching gear on the rows and columns of the webbing.
Depending on the application, a MOLLE vest wearer can choose their chest rig configuration. Keeping the most mission critical gear front and center improves speed and reaction times.
- Sidearm Holsters – traditionally military and law enforcement has relied on MOLLE for sidearm carrying. However with increased instability a lot of regular citizens are choosing it
- Ammunition – an empty firearm is an expensive paperweight, so ammo on your chest rig keeps your most vital tools right where you need them
- Flashlights – knowing where your flashlight is for fast access is key, day or night.
- Radios – Whether you’re a prepper, regular citizen, or armed force, staying in quick communication is a key to success.
- Pouches – pouches offer flexible cargo for any application
- Canteens – staying hydrated is necessary for survival and staying alert
- First-aid kits – to be able to treat injuries in the field
- D-Rings – for gear attachments and slings
Tactical vests for civilians don’t have standard operating procedure guidelines like military or law enforcement. You’re free to choose what gear you’ll have on your chest rig and where it goes. It is a best practice to only choose the most essential gear for your MOLLE vest. Not only does too much gear get confusing, but it adds weight and reduces mobility.
Step 1 – Choose your gear
A good way to choose what gear ends up on your MOLLE vest is to categorize your gear. Think about what you need frequently, need sometimes, and might need. It is also important to configure your chest rig in a way that meets the application requirements.
Say you’re interested in a MOLLE vest for a SHTF situation. You’re going to want to have a knife, first aid, ammunition, and a sidearm holster. You may also choose to add a flashlight to your MOLLE vest as you never know if it will be light when threats come.
MOLLE is also a great asset for people who are prepping for natural disasters. Having fast access to gear to take care of injured and the yourself is mission critical. The primary attachments for medical response to natural disasters includes first aid equipment, water, a radio, and any other gear that you’d rely on in an emergency.
Step 2 – Lay it out on your MOLLE vest
The layout of your equipment on your MOLLE vest should reflect what you will need most. Consider what type of emergencies you imagine you’d put the vest on for and what you will need in those situations. Whatever you need the fastest access to and will use most needs to be at the most natural points to access. For example, if you are considering a MOLLE vest for tactical applications, you’ll want your sidearm holster and ammo to be unobstructed. In addition, you will want that equipment to be in the most convenient spots.
Step 3 – Secure your gear on your vest
Use the sticks or straps that come on your MOLLE attachment accessories. You will thread the straps or sticks through the heavy-duty MOLLE loops in the positions that work best for you. Once they are in their stations, ensure they are completely secure. The last thing you need is an equipment failure in a crisis. Fortune favors the prepared, so make sure you are.
Step 4 – Training Your Muscle Memory
A major key to being proficient with a MOLLE vest is to practice using it and wearing it. Use it in the field and practice with your unloaded weapons and equipment to train your muscle memory. Then you’ll reach faster without having to search and find what you need. When we are faced with fight or flight we need our instincts to be second nature. It should be second nature while wearing the vest to be able to hit a radio key, access your sidearm, or grab a flashlight.
MOLLE Vest Care
Improper cleaning or use of ballistic panels can result in serious injury or death.
A MOLLE vest or any tactical vest is an investment; an investment in safety and being able to protect yourself or potentially others. Taking care of it so it is ready when needed is a big deal. You should store it properly and wash it correctly if you are using it often. Doing so will extend the life of your MOLLE vest and ensure it is in good condition to provide what you need..
Storing Your Vest
These steps help maintain vest protective properties and prolongs vest life by protecting from environmental factors such as sunlight, UV light, moisture, etc.
- It is best to place your vest flat in a carry bag
- They should be stored in a dry cool place when not being used
- NEVER allow your ballistic pads to be folded for storage
- Avoid storing your vest in excessively hot, cold, or humid conditions
Washing Your Vest
- Remove the carrier straps and ballistic panels
- Never wash the carrier straps with the carrier
- Hand-washing is best but the GENTLE cycle with a mild detergent is ok
- Wash the straps by hand separately
- Allow the carrier and straps to air dry or machine on LOW HEAT
- NEVER use fabric softener or bleach
- NEVER dry clean
- NEVER iron your vest
- NEVER use deodorizing sprays such as Lysol or Febreze
- NEVER wash the ballistic panels
- ALWAYS monitor the condition of your MOLLE vest for excessive wear, loose stitching, or tears.