Military backpacks include first aid kits.
Military backpacks include first aid kits.

A military backpack, also called a MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment, pronounced like the name "Molly"), is designed to adjust the amount of equipment a soldier carries. The contents of a MOLLE are similar to what a backpacker would carry but differ depending on the location of the soldier, the length of the assignment and the soldier’s mission.

Hydration Packs

Every MOLLE has a hydration pouch that soldiers can fill with water to supplement their canteens. The hydration packs can carry up to 2 liters of water that soldiers can quickly access with a tube attached to the pouch of water. According to the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, the hydration pack does not filter out water contaminated with chemical or biological hazards, but the Army is working on one that will be safe in any condition. A hydration pack can last a soldier up to 72 hours.

Food

Soldiers carry MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat) in their MOLLE packs. These food rations come in packets that are self-heating so soldiers can eat if they are in the field and are kept in a “sustainment pouch” on the MOLLE, according to the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center. In addition to MREs, a sustainment pouch has enough room for a soldier to pack extra snacks such as power bars or energy drinks. The food in a MOLLE is enough to last a soldier 72 hours.

Survival Essentials

The U.S. Army provides soldiers with survival essentials should they need to survive in the wilderness for up to 72 hours. These items include sunscreen, a first aid kit, medications, fire kit with a fire starter, space bag, extra socks, sunglasses and a flashlight. In addition, under the rucksack of a MOLLE is a compartment especially made for a sleeping bag.

Weapons and Communication

According to the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center, a MOLLE contains a claymore and antipersonnel mine in the front pocket of a rucksack. The backpack also has a bandolier that can hold up to six magazines with 30 rounds in each as well as a survival knife. A MOLLE also contains a tactical radio in a removal pocket in addition to a GPS unit, satellite phone, cellular phone and/or a laptop so it is easy for soldiers to communicate with each other.

Personal Items

In addition to items essential for survival and combat, a MOLLE may contain a soldier’s personal items such as an MP3 player, photographs, a small book and a pen and notepad.