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Hiking Back Pack's with Molle?
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adam mcconnell
Hiking Back Pack's with Molle? on 05/14/2013 11:35:05 MDT Print View

I'm not an avid hiker, but am a gear junkie. I have several different packs for various purposes and hobbies. I am gearing up for a hiking trip to GNP this July. I was re-examining my pack and some things I plan to carry. What I've found is that backpacker packs are pretty straightforward - you buy a design for the components it has. I realize many here want light weight and mass volume. I understand that, but when you want to add extra stuff, how do you do it?

I have a tactical backpack, with molle attachments. I can add extra space when I need to. I can attach first aid kits outside my pack, so I don't take up my cargo space. I can add additional packs on the exterior for quick easy access to common need items. What's more, it makes smaller packs expandable for times I may go longer and need more. Right now, I'm simply trying to figure out how I want to carry my bear spray. I have a molle attachable case that will hold the bottle, but no way to attach that anywhere on my kit - shoulder straps or waist band. It won't do any good in my pack when momma bear is galloping towards me.

What modular back packs are out there for a 40-60 L pack? Why haven't the major brand developers adopted the molle concept? Seems to me there is a design opportunity.

David Anderson
(kickemall) - F

Locale: Northcoast of Ca.
Kifaru on 05/14/2013 11:38:25 MDT Print View

Take a look at

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Modular Packs on 05/14/2013 12:00:36 MDT Print View

Why We Don't Have Modular Packs

Most UL packs are designed to carry 35 pounds or less. They save weight by not having heavy hipbelts and suspensions. So even if you added a lot of accessories there would be a limit to how much they could haul. The Molle is a cool idea but even stripped down its going to be a lot heavier then a typical UL pack.

There are a few UL packs with removable accessories but none take it as far as the Molle. The HMG Porter and McHale packs both have removable pockets for example.

How To Carry Bear Spray

One easy way to carry your bear spray is put it in the elastic holster it comes with and attach that to your belt or pack with a cheap carabiner. That has worked for me when I carried bear spray. I prefer to hang if off my pants belt not my pack. That way it is always in the same place whether I have my pack on or not. Another option is the chest harness that UDAP makes.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Hiking Back Pack's with Molle? on 05/14/2013 12:00:53 MDT Print View

"Why haven't the major brand developers adopted the molle concept?"

Because it adds unnecessary weight.

You can add pockets that connect to the side compression straps for any pack. IN addition, many packs in the lightweight realm come with front pockets already so very little requirement to add additional volume. When not in use, the front pockets lay flat.

With respect to your bear spray, I carry mine in my side pocket (water holster) and it can me out in 1/2 a second.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Hiking Back Pack's with Molle? on 05/14/2013 13:33:00 MDT Print View

Because anything you might need to get to quickly can be placed in the large outer pocket that most packs have or the hip belt pockets.
Backpackers don't need organized pouches for magazines, grenades, or any specialized equipment and spending an extra 2 seconds finding something isn't going to result in our death.
The molle system is mostly a combat vest thing anyways.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Hiking Back Pack's with Molle? on 05/14/2013 14:03:22 MDT Print View

"organized pouches for magazines, grenades, or any specialized equipment and spending an extra 2 seconds finding something isn't going to result in our death."


Paul Kelly
(lympit) - MLife
lympit on 05/14/2013 21:23:43 MDT Print View

granite gear has had molle on their hipbelts (civilian packs)for a few years, with their own pouches.
there new backpacks (civilian)for this year have molle on the pack body.

Mike In Socal
(rcmike) - MLife

Locale: California
Stuff outside the pack on 05/14/2013 21:30:26 MDT Print View

I generally don't like to carry things outside my pack because I'd be concerned about dropping something along the way.


Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Hiking Back Pack's with Molle? on 05/14/2013 21:46:58 MDT Print View

I've used Molle gear but I wouldn't use it for backpacking or for traveling for a couple of reasons:

1. As mentioned above, way to heavy

2. Around the U.S. isn't a problem but when I travel outside of the country, I don't want to look like GI Joe for safety reasons.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Aftermarket pockets... on 05/14/2013 23:47:39 MDT Print View

I have an REI Cruise UL 60 (predecessor to the Flash 60).

Aftermarket side pockets and a Dana Wet Rib front pouch are what I deem necessary to both expand the capacity of the pack and put needed items ready to hand. My side pockets are never more than 3/4 full but they keep things like 1st aid kit, stove bag, fuel, water treatment bag (Steripen, extra battery & chlorine dioxide tabs), potty bag and toiletries kit all outside the pack where I want them. No digging through a main compartment for TP and potty trowel/snow stake.

The Wet Rib pouch carries my bike bottle W/ electrolyte drink, compass, snacks, a mini PT Scout headlamp, etc.

On my shoulder straps are two small zippered pouches. Left side is for the GPS, in the right side rides my Olympus TG 1 waterproof camera. Close at hand and ready. The tiny factory pouches on the waistbelt are (barely) big enough for extra coin batteries for the headlamp and a Swede Firesteel W/ tinder in a snack bag.

If your pack carries all you need without side pockets, pouches, "etc." and without straining the seams then fine. I'll carry a few extra pocket ounces for the conveniance and expanded capacity. As my food bag diminishes I could always remove the side pockets and put them inside the pack - but I never do in the summer. In winter other detatchable pockets for my backcountry ski pack often ride inside unles I'm doing overnighters and need more space in the main pack.

I'm probably going to make my own lighter Dyneema fabric side pockets and Wet Rib. Just having trouble finding the right shade of mauve.

That's my case for extra pockets and pouches. Not minimalist for sure but always useful.
HYOH and Carry Your Own Style Pack.


Edited by Danepacker on 05/14/2013 23:54:01 MDT.

adam mcconnell
Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment on 05/15/2013 10:05:31 MDT Print View

Eric, I like your approach. This is more of what I was thinking. I have a 40L pack and was looking it over for space to store non-clothing items. My main compartment is large enough, but then it will contain most everything I plan to pack. That doesn't seem the best use of space. There is a reason the military have molle on all their packs.

"The molle system is mostly a combat vest thing anyways." I have to totally disagree with this comment. As the acronym goes - Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. The molle system is used on all military issued gear. It allows you to start small and expand your setup based on your activity/mission. Yes, it adds weight, but I'm sure the backpacking manufacturer's can find ways to lighten the design. And while having a molle attachable pack in OD green or some Camo pattern may indeed look "tactical", again, I'm sure the look can be civilianized.

I will look into some of the manufacturer's listed for future reference. Thanks for the input.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment on 05/15/2013 10:24:04 MDT Print View

Adam - does your pack have side compression straps? At least two? Then there is no need for Molle. Look to Granite Gear for their Armoured Pockets - they will fit any pack with two side compression straps. This way you don't have to get a pack with Molle, which don't exist in the lightweight pack realm.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
daisy chains on 05/15/2013 11:06:01 MDT Print View

Usually backpacks that are not too minimal will have one or two daisy chains of webbing running along the outer edges of the front of the pack. This is sufficient for lashing or hanging anything outside should the occasion arise. True MOLLE is a nice system if you plan on putting stuff on the outside of your pack all the time, but is overkill if it is only used some of the time. Also, heavy.

Most people, I gather, would rather carry as much as possible inside the pack rather than the outside for several reasons, including better balance (stuff isn't swinging around), lighter weight (less materials) and not getting snagged on branches or rocks.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Hiking Back Pack's with Molle? on 05/15/2013 11:49:59 MDT Print View

You have people here cutting the extra webbing off their waist belts and other pack straps, so adding MOLLE webbing is a step in the wrong direction. Add-on pockets add an extra wall plus the attachments, zippers, Velcro, etc, so they are heavy for the capacity gained, and they aren't cheap.

IMHO, MOLLE is designed to attach heavy stuff--- far more than anything an UL hiker would normally add, so it is overkill at any rate. There is nothing in my pack that weighs as much as a couple grenades, loaded rifle magazines or other battle gear that is typically hung on MOLLE webbing. I rarely run, roll, crawl on the ground, grind my pack up against rough walls, or enter and exit vehicles or aircraft in a hurry with heavy loads. I don't need split-second access to my gear.

Outer pack attachments tend to catch on brush and other trail hazards. Stuff hung on the outside of a pack tends to sway and bounce, using up more energy and more opportunity for chafing and general clumsiness.

The pack I use has a top pocket and waist belt pockets already. That is more than enough, if not too much, for trail-side convenience and organization. Most of the add-on pockets offered for UL packs are designed to add a snack, compass, sunscreen, or other small light items.

So that is my take on why you don't see MOLLE webbing on UL packs.

If volume is a consistent problem, I would go with a slightly larger pack with good compression features so you can shrink it a bit when not fully loaded. It will always be lighter and less expensive to have a larger pack body than adding pockets.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Hiking Back Pack's with Molle? on 05/15/2013 12:11:46 MDT Print View

First aid kits? as in plural. What else you got in there? Read some gear lists here to see where we are coming from.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Hiking Back Pack's with Molle? on 05/15/2013 12:33:59 MDT Print View

I can personally carry everything I need for the day in my hip belt pockets including, food, compass, maps, etc. I can throw a rain jacket into a large external mesh pocket if the weather is getting cruddy. My pack is more or less packed with my day's schedule in reverse in that the items I won't need until the evening are at the bottom (e.g. sleeping bag, then food bag, etc. I've carried my fair share of 50lbers and even more than that in an Alice pack; I have no great desire to return to those weights unless I'm on some sort of an expedition with little to no support. Even then, the weight penalty of ballistic nylon/Molle isn’t something that would be incorporated into my kit.

HYOH, my friend has a Molle pack (Maxpedition maybe?) he really likes for backpacking. Maxpedition, Blackhawk, 5.11, et al make great durable gear but they are more than double the weight and the same or more financial cost of my incoming Ohm 2.0; I don’t really see that they offer me anything to justify the weight penalty but YMMV.

Renais A
Side pockets on 05/15/2013 13:09:01 MDT Print View

I am curious about what aftermarket side pockets you are using. I am still searching for the side pocket solution that fits my hiking. I am particularly interested in side pockets that do not interfere with access to the main pack compartment, and that do not easily snag when going through close quarters.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Side pockets on 05/15/2013 13:26:57 MDT Print View

For the life of me people don't read:

adam mcconnell
Pack attachments on 05/15/2013 14:13:27 MDT Print View

Okay, the idea that external pouches or attachments would create instability or get snagged makes some sense. However, molle locks down pretty darn tight, but could create crevaces that could snag a branch or something.

Davey, my pack does have compression straps. I'm working with the Solaris, by TNF. The weight is good and compartments worked for what I wanted. The pack doesn't have much to work with on the straps and waist belt doesn't have a pocket. These are the primary points I'd like to attach small items. The waist belt will block access to my pants belt, so I loose another access point. I will check out the website you mentioned and see if anything may work.

FWIW, my 40l pack will hold everything I plan to pack. I am a dayhiker making frequent stops with kids and thus will be in and out at each interval. Otherwise, I'd pack bottom to top and not worry about a thing. My pack will be working like a diaper bag, only my kids are 9 and 11! : )


Patrick O'Neil
(human) - F
Re: Pack attachments on 05/15/2013 15:16:01 MDT Print View

I own a kifaru Zulu G2, this thing has molle everywhere. I can say that the suspension is great. I've attached water bottle pouches and two small molle pouches on the belt. I also got the xtl lid. Problem is that the belt and lid are not included in the weights listed on their site. I went out for 2 nights and carried food for 4 days in a BV450 just to see what I could cram in there. I weighed myself on a bathroom scale before leaving. With the pack full and on I was 30 pounds heavier. The bag carried great and I had all this molle to add more stuff, I thought to myself "Great!"

When I got back I bought a digital travel scale you can use for weighing carry on by hanging it off a hook. The kifaru with all the pouches and beefy lid weighed 7.5 pounds! I threw on the large back pouch pocket and gps pouch and the weight went to 8.3 pounds! So essentially I had 23.5 pounds in there and 7.5 of that was food and the canister (yeah about a 15-16lb base weight so shoot me). Long story short there are plenty of packs around 3 pounds and under that can carry 25 pounds pretty easily so I just ordered a ULA Catalyst, which has massive side pockets and a large pocket on the front as well as hip belt pockets. I'm guessing these pockets will help me organize and grab stuff on the go pretty well . . .