May 19, 2001
After two years of adjustments and redesign, the Army will start issuing the new MOLLE rucksacks to high priority units this summer. The Modular Lightweight Load-carrying equipment system consists of several elements:
@ A load-bearing vest with room for six rifle magazines, two grenades, and two canteens.
@ A rucksack as the main gear-carrying element. Soldiers complain that unlike the earlier ALICE packs, it won't stand upright and is actually a little smaller than ALICE.
@ A patrol pack designed to carry three days of rations. The added volume of this pack means the total MOLLE system actually carries more than ALICE.
@ A small waist pack which can be used on its own or snapped to the rucksack.
@ A bedroll bag which snaps to the frame.
@ A camel-back water system similar to commercial designs, with a drinking tube.
@ A bandolier which carries an extra six magazines of ammunition for the rifle. It can be snapped inside the patrol pack or rucksack or carried on its own strap.
Soldiers praise the system since it can be adjusted to fit each soldier. The straps can be moved to fit the shoulders of women, which are shaped differently than the shoulders of men. The drawback to this is that if two soldiers end up swapping packs in mid-battle, they may well be quite uncomfortable until they can trade back or make adjustments. The old ALICE packs had few adjustments and everyone's pack fit everyone else the way it fit its owner. The plastic packframe often broke in testing, but since they all broke at the same place the Army was able to strengthen this area before full production began.--Stephen V Cole