For this project I needed to revise my hiking/camping gear.

In a traditional vest, each pocket is sewn in place and will only accommodate gear that would fit into EACH pocket. Even with 1000 pockets, once would never be able to fit a folding shovel (A good one at least), or a full 2 liter water bladder, or a drybag full of extra clothes.

Instead of going out and buying different vests for different trips, I wanted 1 solid platform which could handle just about any situation.

In the military, the Modular Lightweight Load-bearing Equipment (MOLLE or LBE for Load-Bearing Equipment) fighter vests are light weight and breathable, while still allowing the person to attach many different pockets and pouches. This was the basis of a great platform, but I normally carry far less administrative equipment/tools and have no need for a magazine pouch or grenade pouch.

After much research, I also found that very few of these LBE vests were made for long-term use. If I were to be active duty and only need my plate carrier to last a few missions at a time, these hook & loop designs would be perfect. However, I am a civilian, I need something that will last a few years of constant use, and velcro just doesn't do it for me.

The militarized vests also have key features that are specifically used in the field of combat, I do not foresee much combat which would require me to fend off bullets or radio in for an air strike.

I need this vest to be in a whole new league of it's own.

Modular LBE (This is a must)
Breathable (I need to be able to use it in hot/humid conditions. I live in the desert but a large portion of the U.S. also gets very humid)
Load-Bearing (I don't need multiple map pouches or anything too light. The vest is meant to take the place of a 45L+ backpack....do the math)
Tough (This thing needs to last a few years, I don't feel like having to make a new one every 6 months)
Water/Mold resistant (Yes I carry items which need to remain dry if it rains. Hopefully something that wont let my gear soak all the way through if I fall in a small puddle or if it rains for 4 days straight)
Easy Access (As I wont be carrying a 65L+ worth of gear, I'll need uber quick access to anything and everything)

Results so far:
Finished with the back piece

Need to complete:
Front of vest
Gear specific pouches/pockets/etc
The backpack portion (The last "backpack" portion I made was far too large for the vest, I am thinking something smaller is in order)

Step 1: Choose Your Template and Materials

For template I went with a front and back "Flap" which would be connected using plastic buckles.

For materials I used:
1.5 yards of Duck fabric (60D Nylon with PVC coating)
Roughly 300 inches of Nylon webbing/straps (About 25 feet)
1/3 of a cheapo camp mat (Any sealed foam should work. Open foam will absorb sweat and begin to mold/breed bacteria)
8x Male buckle (Three pronged end)
<p>wow... 4 years...no comments?! That's a shame.</p><p>Well I like what you have here (I guess by now HAD here)</p><p>there is something to be said about making a fully custom MOLLE vest... and I can understand looking for the perfect piece...can be near impossible... I too have high standards.</p><p>well..</p><p>cheers</p>
Currently testing my vest, will post more pics in the 'Ible later, Duck fabric (PVC coated Nylon) does not have a high breath-ability so I added a foam pad with channels and breathable mesh to distance my skin from the PVC/Nylon combo.
<p>This project is a bust. The channels did little to increase airflow and/or reduce heat build up. I broke down and purchased a micro-chest rig that is much smaller and much more comfortable in climates above 30F degrees.</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: I grew up in downtown Phoenix, moved to California in my youth and was kicked out of the house (Permanently....seriously) for smoking an illegal ... More »
More by EndureReclaimRebuild:Survival Series 1.02 - FAK Retrieval Practice Survival Series 1.01 - Pre Bug-Out Physical Evaluation Project: MOLLE. Codename: LBE Vest. M1 
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