Difference Between ALICE Packs and MOLLE Packs (With Table)

Molle and Alice are the military acronyms, referring to a set of load-carrying systems. These are the two different styles of rucksacks used by army men of different especially. These backpacks are categorically designed for the military men to serve in the field with necessary variations and specifications.
These military backpacks are not just confined to carry the necessary tools used by army men. Nowadays, these have added to the styles of backpacks used by camping, hunting, boating enthusiasts, and other heavy outdoor activities.

ALICE Packs vs MOLLE Packs

The difference between Alice and Molle backpacks is the way of storing gear. In the Alice pack, a voluminous compartment is being designed to carry the gear along with the other small gear placed in the side pockets. On the other hand, Molle consists of several tiny pouches containing nearly all of the gear. Also, the Molle system incorporates zippers on its compartments for enclosing the gear but Alice has a metal strap system for it.

Alice stands for All-Purpose Light Weight Individual Carrying Equipment was introduced by the US military in 1973. Presently, this style has been eliminated from the service except for a few people. It is a two-component system that features many exterior pockets and one large internal compartment.

Molle stands for Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment, invented in 1997 by an R&D division of the US military. It is still used to the present day by the US army as well as NATO armed forces. It was not popular enough throughout the military until about the early 2000s. But it has taken over the former now.

Comparison Table Between Alice Packs and Molle Packs

Parameters of ComparsionAlice PacksMolle Packs
Stands forAll-Purpose Light Weight Individual Carrying EquipmentModular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment
No. of ComponentsTwo components, i.e., Existence load and Fighting load componentsThree components, i.e., Hydration bladder, Fighting load and Modular pouches
Invention year19731997
Size1456 to 3800 cubic inches2000 to 4000 cubic inches
AdvantageStrength and securityAccessibility, mobility and customization
DisadvantageInaccessible pocketsFragile frame, not waterproof
CostEconomicalRelatively expensive

What is ALICE packs?

The expansion of ALICE is All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment. It was acquired by the US military in Vietnam in 1973. It is not used as much recently. The minimum size of the Alice pack is 1456 cubic inches extend up to 3800 cubic inches. It is a two-component system that features many exterior pockets and one large internal compartment. One of the components, that is, the Existence load component includes the belt system, two small cases for first aid dressing and small arms ammunition, entrenching tool carrier, canteen cover, and suspenders. The other component called the Fighting load component includes the cover, frame, and the bag itself.

This style of rucksack is advantageous owing to its vigorousness. Because it can carry hefty stuff as it is made up of strong frames. It can be used with the frame or even without it as it consists of the external frame that manages the complete load. This pack is moisture resistant and needs no zippers for enclosing lots of gear carried in only one large bag makes it convenient.

The disadvantage associated with Alice rucksack is its feature of accommodating heavy load as it makes it uncomfortable to bear on the back.

What is MOLLE packs?

The expansion of MOLLE is Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment. It was adopted in 1997 by the US military in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. It is still in use by the US and many other military units and in fact, it is most popular at the current time. The minimum size of the Molle pack is 2000 cubic inches extend up to 4000 cubic inches. It has mainly three components, such as Hydration bladder, Fighting load, and Modular pouches for carrying lashing gear and equipment.

Molle system is based on PALS, that is Pouch Attachment Ladder System which is the system of nylon webbing used on the modern gear. Gear attachment is made easy, fast, and simple due to the reliable strap system, and it can also be customized as per the need. It has multiple locking pouches to hold various items. It becomes easy to carry water with the hydration bladder.

This system possesses zippers, for enclosing the gear, which is highly untrustworthy. And its weak external frame cast out of plastic is a major drawback that dwindles its durability. Also, its external pockets are likely to obstruct during hiking.

Main Differences Between ALICE and MOLLE Packs

  1. Owing to its ruggedness, the Alice pack is said to have great durability with metal straps and a strong external frame. On the other hand, the frame in the Molle backpack is made up of plastic which makes it relatively less reliable.
  2. Alice is cost-effective as compared to Molle.
  3. In Alice pack, pockets for stuff like water bottles are inaccessible, while Molle pack is renowned for its modularity, i.e., it has several pockets for hauling some of the things.
  4. Alice has the strap system for enclosing the gear, whereas Molle uses zippers for the same.
  5. Alice promises security and strength. Molle ensures accessibility, modification, and customization.
  6. Alice’s size may vary from 1456 to 3800 cubic inches, while that of Molle may extend from 2000 to 4000 cubic inches.


Both the styles of these military backpacks are well-suited for their respective case. Alice backpack is made out of rugged material which is favorable for the army men, hunters, and adventurers for storing bulky equipment in its large compartment, while Molle backpack is convenient for short trips, for instance, for the hikers to enjoy their trip with trivial pain on their back.

Conclusively, Molle backpacks on account of their mobility and accessibility have entered into the world of civilians with a wide spectrum of modifications. And Alice is apt for catering to the demands of military units and survivalists due to its strength and durability.


  1. https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/ADA365448
  2. https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/ADP010993
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