An Idiot’s Guide to EDC & MOLLE: Small Radio Pouch

Depending on what you’re doing and where you’re going, you may need to carry a small two-way radio. I know I do. About 16 months ago, I bought my first BaoFeng (now “Pofung”) UV-5R radio. I’ve bought two more since then. And another model as well. Why? They’re UHF and VHF. They’re ridiculously cheap. And they work as well–or better–than some radios I use that cost nearly $2000. Since I started messing with these radios and showing them off to people, my co-workers have bought at least a dozen of these for their own use. In the field, or elsewhere, I want quick access to it–for everything from weather radio to listening to ham radio storm spotters, to communicating on local, state, or federal public safety radio systems.

MOLLE solution: The Condor HHR pouch. The pouch only has a single strap in the back, but for a small radio, it really doesn’t need any more. It’s perfectly suited to holding the BaoFeng UV-5R, with the belt clip still attached. So I can quickly remove it from the pouch and clip it to a pocket or wherever else I need to, in order to send/receive easily.

The HHR pouch is somewhat similar to the frag grenade pouches, but the flap is tapered, to allow the antenna and volume knob to stick through. And it’s a Velcro closure, versus an actual clasp. It also features elastic cord and an adjustable stopper(?) to allow you to tighten the pouch, if needed.

This pouch would also be suitable for GPS units or most FRS radios. It attaches securely and stays attached. Really, there’s nothing else to be said. If you need a small radio pouch, this is the best way to go. I have one of these pouches (and a radio) on each of my packs.


An Idiot’s Guide to EDC & MOLLE: Frag Grenade Pouches

When trying to figure out what would serve me best for my EDC/MOLLE setup, I poked and prodded around the internet. I read a lot of product reviews, Googled endless images, and searched out phrases like “best molle pouches”. One of the things I read was that a frag grenade pouch was a good all-around pouch to have. So I ordered a couple. What I found is that they’re outstanding in one capacity, and not as useful as other pouches for nearly everything else.

The frag grenade pouch is a good sized small pouch: It’s two MOLLE straps wide, and about three “row” long. Roughly measured, the pouch itself is about 2.5″ wide, about 1.5″ deep, and about 3″ tall. Thereabouts. It’s well-suited for carrying something the size of an Altoids tin or slightly larger. It’s perfectly suited to carrying a pair of mini-binoculars. They’re something I don’t need that often, but when I do need them, I want them quickly.

I’ve also read about people using them for GPS units, airsoft grenades, or a number of other things. For that sort of thing, they’re probably perfect.  So, in summary, if what you’re looking to carry is between about 1 Altoids tin and 2 Altoids tins in size, then this is a good pouch. For smaller loose items, look at a more enclosed pouch, like the Condor i-Pouch.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Addendum to Previous Post: WHY Use Molle…

As I mentioned previously, when writing “An Idiot’s Guide to EDC & MOLLE”, I am the “idiot” in question. As such, I forgot something relatively important in the introduction: Why use MOLLE at all? Why not just shove everything in your pack and be done with it, digging it out as needed? Simple: Organization and quick access.

By using MOLLE pouches, I keep things organized. My pens, etc., flash drives, small flip books, and small screwdrivers are in one consolidated place. Not rattling around and working their way to the bottom of my pack. By putting an IFAK in a MOLLE rip-away attachment, I can have all my meds and first aid supplies in my hands–organized–with the unhooking of one clasp and tearing the pouch from its Velcro.

These MOLLE pouches act like a mini-backpack hooked to your backpack. My pack is always within arm-length reach in a vehicle, so if I notice my phone going dead, or I need the headphones to make a hands-free call, I simply pop open the gadget pouch and grab what I need. It simplifies, organizes, and speeds up everything. That’s the “why”.

And everything I’ve learned has been through research, trial, and error. MOLLE pouches are pretty easy to come by. Most of them can be found for under $10 online. So I’ve bought some things that haven’t worked for my situation, and others that have worked very well. Hopefully, you can learn something from my free-wheeling spending on MOLLE gear.

Additional entries will have additional details. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

An Idiot’s Guide to EDC & MOLLE: An Introduction

Before we start, a quick blurb about me: I am not military personnel or a law enforcement officer (LEO). I work in the field of emergency management, and on any given day I may show up for work and be told to drive 400 miles and situate myself appropriately to conduct damage assessments, integrate into an incident command structure on any nature of disasters (wildfire, tornado, flood, etc.), assist with interoperable communications, or any other number of things. In short, when I go into work, I need to be prepared to respond to just about anything emergency management related. I do not carry a firearm either in a professional or recreational setting, so I’ve got no input of value on that particular subject. Okay… Onward.

So you’ve heard the term “EDC” and you want to know more about what, exactly, that means. Well, here’s my interpretation (your mileage may vary): “EDC” is “Every Day Carry”. Or, those items you carry with you every day. Depending on the day, that may vary. But there’s some things that you probably always carry with you: Your car keys, your wallet, a pocket knife and/or multi-tool.

Then, depending on your level of forethought or your concern for preparedness (or the requirements of your profession), you may go above and beyond that. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. You may have an EDC bag–a sling bag or a backpack containing those items that, depending on your circumstances, you may want or need access to during the course of your day. This can include things like pens, pencils, notebooks, a laptop, a flashlight, a charger cord for your phone, an individual first aid kit (IFAK), etc.

Or, if you’re me, you carry all of the above, plus basic screwdrivers, markers, maps, a tablet, binoculars, a programmable two-way radio (and the cable to program it), a daily planner, gloves (both disposable and “work”), medicine, a battery to charge your phone, and adapters for everything.

When it comes to EDC, the best thing to do is figure out what you may want, need, or wish you had on any given day, and make you EDC bag from there.

Okay, So You Want to Build an EDC Pack. What Do You Buy?

Short answer: Whatever you want. There are several makers of backpacks and sling packs out there. And most of them seem to be copying Maxpedition designs–and offering them at a much lower price point. This is not an endorsement, but I currently use two sling packs and one backpack from Red Rock Outdoor Gear. I’ve found their sling packs to be fantastic, but I haven’t decided about the backpack yet. I love the design (and the colors of their “Rebel Assualt” line), but the shoulder straps are a little thin–both in size and padding–and are starting to show some minor signs of fraying. When shopping, just go to your favorite site (or search engine) and use phrases such as “tactical pack”, “tactical sling pack”, and “tactical backpack”. You’ll get relevant results.

As to the sling pack versus backpack debate… I use both. I’ve found advantages and disadvantages in both.

Dividing the weight of the pack between both shoulders, versus primarily carrying it on one with a sling pack. Generally larger carrying capacity than sling packs. Generally more MOLLE webbing.
CONS: Not as quick to put on or take off as a sling pack. Generally narrower straps. Not able to access pack while still carrying it.

More comfortable straps. Easy to access contents of pack without taking it off. Can usually be worn with pack on chest or on back. Can usually be worn over one shoulder, or diagonally (say, from left shoulder to right hip), giving some flexibility in how it’s carried.
CONS: Medium to large sling packs, carrying a full load, can cause the straps to push into your chest–even if said straps are well-padded. This can aggravate respiratory conditions, such as asthma. Generally less carrying capacity and MOLLE webbing than backpacks.

So What About MOLLE? How Does That Figure In?

What is MOLLE? Wikipedia defines it as “an acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It is used to define the current generation of load-bearing equipment and backpacks utilized by a number of NATO armed forces”. It uses a standardized Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) webbing to allow you to quickly add or remove purpose-specific pouches (or other attachments) to your MOLLE-compatible pack, bag, vest, etc. In other words, let’s say I have a backpack with MOLLE webbing and I want to add a small two-way radio, but I want to be able to access it quickly. I grab a trusty model “HHR” pouch, made by Condor, weave the MOLLE strap on the pouch through the MOLLE webbing on the pack, and VIOLA! I’ve got a radio pouch integrated into my EDC. And they make MOLLE attachments in just about every size and shape you can imagine.

Some of the most useful pouches I’ve found are admin pouches (designed to carry pens, etc.) and “gadget” pouches. I’ve seen admin pouches used to carry tools, configured as IFAKs, or as intended. In mine, I tend to carry pens, pencils, a highlighter, a flash drive, an extra-compact phone charger dongle, etc. Gadget pouches are generally designed to carry phones and accessories. I tend to put just accessories in mine: Charging cable, AC USB adapter, DC (car) USB adapter, charging battery, stylus, and headphones. If needed, I can drop my phone in there, as well.

In future entries, I’ll go into more detail on how I have my packs loaded out, but this is just a very long-winded introduction. Hopefully, for the non-military, non-LEO folks, it’ll help take away some of the mystery on exactly what EDC and MOLLE is–and isn’t.