User Review: U.S. Armed Forces MOLLE Pack
Design: Top-loading, external frame
Max. Load Carried: 80 lbs.
Height of Owner: 6'0"
Price Paid: Issued
I was issued the MOLLE pack the first time I went to Afghanistan in 2002. While the MOLLE holds a great deal more than the traditional ALICE pack and seems to distribute the weight better, there are two significant disadvantages to the MOLLE as used in combat.
The first (and most glaring) disadvantage is the shoddy construction of the plastic frame. After a couple of hikes through the rugged terrain soldiers were breaking the frames on their packs at an alarming rate. Also, because of the way the straps are connected to the frame, soldiers would torque the frame too much when trying to adjust the setup of the main pouches and it would snap. Altogether it seemed that the MOLLE was ill-suited for what has been called some of the most rugged terrain on the planet.
The second glaring disadvantage is the sheer amount of strap material. I was a member of a two-man machine gun crew. Normally a crew has three men to carry the ammunition, tripod, and spare barrel needed for efficient operation of the machine gun, so already my gunner and I were at a disadvantage. Imagine my chagrin when we are suddenly told to displace and I reach for my ammo- and tripod-laden MOLLE...only to yank on the strap and unfurl a foot of nylon before the pack even begins to lift off the ground! I found no efficient way to combat this phenomenon. It just seemed like every time I thought I had the problem solved, I would try to lift my pack and do one of those funny motions that you do when you grab something that's not as heavy as you think it is as the strap runs its course through the MOLLE frame. After I managed to get it on my back, I'd have to walk for some distance with the pack hanging from my shoulders at a 45-degree angle because the straps were too long.
This time, when I have to go traipsing around the mountains near Pakistan, I take along my good old ALICE pack.