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Is military-style gear, specifically backpacks, suitable for everyday use?

Who makes the Marine Corps MOLLE system backpack? Is there a civilian version? Tyrone Aberdeen, South Dakota


Many of the MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) packs used by the Marines were made by Specialty Defense Systems at three U.S. plants—another maker had a smaller contract. Who makes them is less important than who designed them, and in this case the MOLLE was designed by the Natick Soldier Systems Center, where lots of military gear is designed, with help from a Philadelphia outfit called Defense Supply Center. MOLLE packs are designed around what military people require, which is basically lots of places for lots of stuff. Its strong suit is organization, but it can also carry big loads—during tests, troops said it was OK with 120 pounds! But you’re talking about very fit 20 year olds, too.

MOLLE Military Backpack

MOLLE Military Backpack

Not sure you need the body armor bit, but MOLLE packs are suitable for everyday use and are widely available on the Internet (try Cost is usually around $75.

Keep in mind the MOLLE pack isn’t designed with civilians in mind. There’s no sleeping back compartment, for instance. But it does have a good suspension system—probably better-engineered than a lot of climbing packs—and the price is right!

The 2008 Summer Outside Buyer’s Guide is now online. From riding to trail-running to camping, get reviews of nearly 400 gear must-haves.

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Filed To: Overnight packs
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