How to Mount Esstac KYWI Pouches | The Ultimate Esstac KYWI Guide
Esstac KYWI pouches are some of the most popular rifle and pistol magazine pouches on the market. The “KYWI” in the name stands for “Kydex Wedge Insert,” and you pronounce KYWI like the kiwi fruit.
The confusing thing about KYWI mag pouches is that there are a bunch of different mounting options. Each option is designed for different applications, so if you order the wrong type, it can be annoying. If you’ve never messed with MOLLE pouches and MALICE clips, you may not know how they work or how to use them. It can be puzzling, trying to figure out what attachment system is right for you.
This article is going to answer all of your questions about Esstac KYWI pouches! I’ll explain the various mounting options available and show you how to install each style, including helpful pictures and videos along the way!
Table of Contents
Here is a cheat sheet for various acronyms and phrases you'll see and what they mean:
MOLLE – “Modular Light-Weight Load-Carrying Equipment” is a pouch or other gear designed to interlace with PALS. It’s pronounced like the name, “Molly.”
PALS – “Pouch Attachment Ladder System” is the horizontal rows of heavy-duty nylon fabric sewn onto backpacks, plate carriers, chest rigs, and battle belts.
MICRO MOLLE – Battle belt webbing that is ½ inch wide webbing vs the standard 1″ MOLLE
KYWI – “Kydex Wedge Insert” is the molded Kydex insert that Esstac uses in their pouches.
KYDEX – Kydex is a thermoplastic moldable material used for Esstac KYWI pouches. It gives them a rigid shape that helps retain magazines.
MALICE CLIPS – Plastic flexible bands that lock in place, these are one of the industry standards for mounting MOLLE pouches on PALS webbing.
WTFIX Straps – “What The Fix” or “WTF” Straps are made by Whiskey Two Four from laser-cut Hypalon material. They are very flexible and strong, and they do not cause hotspots, as MALICE clips can.
ONE-WRAP – This is a double-sided, one-inch wide strip of Velcro®. It’s the best way to attach MOLLE pouches to battle belts and duty belts, by far.
ZIP TIE – Zip ties are a type of fastener used for all kinds of things. They are made from strong, flexible, plastic material and are designed to lock as you tighten them.
MAGAZINE – A magazine is a device that holds ammunition and feeds it into firearms.
PLATE CARRIER – A type of tactical vest, designed to carry hard ballistic plates and other gear
CHEST RIG – A type of tactical vest, designed to hold various items like magazines and other gear, chest rigs typically do not hold ballistic plates.
IFAK – An “Individual First Aid Kit,” also called a “Blowout Kit,” designed to be small enough to carry on a belt or plate carrier. It contains medical tools to stop massive bleeding.
LARPING – “Live Action Role Playing” is a type of interactive role-playing game. The participants portray characters through physical action, often in costume and with props (usually in their mom’s basement while the chicken tendies finish cooking).
Now that we have the jargon out of the way, let’s get started!
What are Esstac KYWI pouches?
Esstac KYWI (pronounced like kiwi fruit) pouches are hybrid nylon/Kydex pouches. They are designed to hold magazines and other gear securely, while also helping to reduce noise from weapons, slings, and other junk rubbing against them. The outer nylon pouch is basically a hollow rectangle with loop velcro sewn onto one side. The Kydex wedge insert (“KYWI”) is shaped in such a way that it will securely hold your magazines without the need for bungee cords, straps, buttons, or any other nonsense. Having the tops of your mags exposed without extra junk in the way makes them much faster to access if you need to do an emergency reload. Esstac KYWI pouches come in all sorts of shapes and sizes to accommodate different types of pistol & rifle magazines, handcuffs, radios, and more. All Esstac KYWI pouches are made in the United States and are fully Berry-compliant (DOD requirement for military gear to be made in the United States).
How Do Esstac KYWI Pouches Work?
Esstac KYWI pouches are designed with a Kydex insert that compresses against the magazine and keeps it in place with tension and friction. The outer pouch is generally made from 500D Cordura Nylon, which helps keep the magazine quiet while not sacrificing any durability or security. Esstac KYWI pouches have no closure system and are designed to mount onto a MOLLE webbing platform or belt. Unlike most other tactical nylon brands, Esstac does not sew MOLLE straps on the back of their KYWI pouches.
The reason Esstac doesn’t include dedicated MOLLE straps is to allow the end user to decide what mounting solution would be ideal for their intended application. For example, if you were going to mount the pouch on a battle belt, the best option (in my opinion) is One-Wrap Velcro®. On the other hand, if you were mounting Esstac pouches on a plate carrier, you might want to use Tactical Tailor MALICE Clips or WTFix Straps.
By allowing the end user to choose a mounting solution, Esstac pouches are extremely versatile and can be used for a huge variety of applications.
Various Ways to Attach Esstac KYWI Pouches
MALICE Clips were invented by Tactical Tailor and have evolved over the years into the current “Fight Light” version, which is lighter, stronger, and easier to use than their original square designs. Tactical Tailor MALICE Clips are made out of a semi-ridged plastic material that is flexible enough to weave through PALs loops but strong enough to hold pouches and other gear securely in place.
MALICE Clips also feature a locking design that requires a flat head or similar prying device to unlock it, making them extremely secure. They are available in two sizes, 3″ and 5″, as well as black or brown colors.
WTFix Straps are made from laser-cut Hypalon® material by Whiskey Two Four in Arizona. Legend has it, these are named based on the number of F-Bombs you’ll drop while trying to install them correctly. However, once you get them right, they are awesome! As far as I know, these are the lowest profile and lightest methods to attach pouches and other gear. WTFix Straps are extremely flexible, but they don’t stretch at all. Unlike MALICE Clips, WTF Straps don’t have a large locking mechanism that will cause hot spots over time. Though they can be tricky to install, if you use a zip-tie as a lead, it’s pretty easy. More on that below!
One-Wrap is a flexible 1″ wide strip of Velcro® material that can be used to wrap around surfaces like belts or other webbing. One side is hook (scratchy), and the other is loop (soft). It can be wrapped in either direction and will stick to itself very effectively. Velcro One-Wrap is the ideal solution for attaching Esstac KYWI pouches to a battle or duty belt. One-Wrap is also great to keep in your kit for repairs, field expedient mounts, and general uses.
1.75" & 2" Belt Loops
The belt loop options from Esstac are plastic injection molded and are designed to weave into the PALs webbing on the back of the pouch. They allow you to thread the pouch over any standard belt that doesn’t have a dedicated MOLLE/PALs attachment system. Basically, if you prefer wearing low-profile or conventional belts, the belt loop option may be a good fit for you. Personally, I would recommend going with One-Wrap, as it will be a lot more secure and less likely to move around your belt.
The MOLLE Stick is a simple, but extremely effective attachment system for MOLLE/PALS webbing. Made from high-strength Acetal polymers, the MOLLE Stick is designed to be inserted through the webbing and then locked in place with the top latch. Removal is just as easy, with a firm pull on the cord, unlocking the top latch, followed by an upward pull to remove the MOLLE Stick. The MOLLE Stick is also equipped with bridging cord loops that enable quick and easy removal of multiple MOLLE Sticks. The MOLLE Stick is simple, strong, and easy to use, making it an essential gear for anyone using MOLLE/PALS webbing. These are best for attaching IFAKs and other first aid gear that needs to be easily accessible and quickly removable.
Zip Ties shouldn’t be your primary method of attaching pouches to your gear. While they can seem to work well, they can also break fairly easily. Think of zip ties more as a secondary or backup mounting solution, rather than your go-to method. These are great if you need to tighten a pouch down to prevent movement when attached via a different method. For example, battle belts that use micro MOLLE webbing will leave enough space for MALICE Clips and WTF Straps to move around quite a bit. You can use zip ties to tighten everything down and drastically reduce that movement.
Zip ties also work well for rigging up field-expedient repairs and unconventional requirements (i.e. if you had to carry a set of bolt cutters or other breaching gear and didn’t have a purpose-built pouch for them). Similar to One-Wrap, always keep a few zip ties in your kit, just in case.
Which Attachment Method Is Best For You?
The best attachment method for Esstac pouches depends on your intended application and personal preferences. It also depends heavily on exactly where you’ll be mounting the pouch. For example, if you are mounting a pouch to a battle belt, One-Wrap Velcro would very likely be your best bet. On the other hand, if you were going to mount it on a plate carrier or tactical vest that has MOLLE/PALs webbing, then MALICE Clips or WTFix Straps would be better choices.
Mounting Options Summary
One-Wrap Velcro is best for any and all belts, especially two-piece battle belts with velcro attaching the inner and outer belts together.
MALICE Clips are best for fast and strong mounts on plate carriers and chest rigs, as long as you don’t mind the large locking section at the bottom of each clip.
WTFix Straps are best for chest rigs and plate carriers, if you’re trying to go as light and low-profile as possible. These are best for preventing hotspots and pressure points if you need to flex and move in your gear quite a bit (compared to MALICE Clips). WTF Straps would be a good choice if you tend to spend long periods of time laying on your stomach and you already have enough back problems.
Belt Loops are best if you’re using a belt that isn’t specifically designed to carry pouches via MOLLE webbing, and you want to be able to slide the pouch(es) on and off the belt quickly. Esstac belt loops weave into the PALs webbing of their pouches and lock into place very securely.
Zip Ties are a good backup retention system for tightening the pouches down to prevent movement. Zip ties should not be your primary method of attaching an Esstac pouch to anything unless you don’t have any other options.
My personal favorites are One-Wrap for belts and WTF Straps for everything else. The MALICE Clips are the second easiest to use behind One-Wrap, but I’m not a huge fan of the large square portion that will stick out beneath each pouch. This is especially important to think about if you’re working with very limited space on your kit. Another negative aspect of MALICE Clips is that those locks can really dig into your hips, kidneys, etc., depending on where you have them mounted. I definitely would not recommend MALICE Clips for battle belts.
How To Mount Esstac Pouches With One Wrap Velcro | Step By Step
The One-Wrap Velcro system is ideal for battle belts, as well as any other belt, even if it isn’t specifically designed to carry pouches. One-Wrap is not a good option for plate carriers or traditional MOLLE weaving patterns. For that reason, the following instructions will be dedicated to mounting a pouch on a belt:
Using Velcro One-Wrap insures that the pouch will stay exactly where you placed it, no matter how hard you pull on it. It won’t slide around. Using this method also gets the top of the pouch lower than the other methods, which makes accessing your magazines easier and faster.
How To Mount Esstac Pouches With WTFix Straps | Step By Step
WTFix Straps are ideal for mounting pouches on chest rigs and plate carriers. They can be tricky to work with because they are so flexible. However, once you get them installed correctly, they do a great job of locking the pouch down. WTF Straps are the lowest profile and lightest method of attaching MOLLE pouches that I’m aware of. Also, they will not absorb water, and they aren’t affected by hot or cold temperatures.
One awesome tip for mounting WTF Straps that I learned from Scuba Steve on AR15.com is to use a zip tie as a guide for the strap. You weave the zip tie through the two cut-out ends of the WTF Strap and then pull it through the various layers of webbing when you install it. The zip tie does a great job of pulling the WTF Strap through and makes it MUCH easier to do. You may also find that a pair of needle nose pliers come in handy for this job too.
How To Mount Esstac Pouches With MALICE Clips | Step By Step
The MALICE Clip system is great because it’s super fast to use, and the pouches don’t move around much once installed. This makes them ideal for plate carriers or chest rigs, where you want a secure connection but not necessarily a permanent one.
MALICE Clips are one of the most popular methods for mounting pouches onto plate carriers and other items with MOLLE webbing. The large locking section at the bottom of each clip can be somewhat bulky, so it’s important to keep this in mind when selecting which mounting method to use, based on where you’re mounting the pouch.
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
Now you know how to install Esstac pouches on your gear using One-Wrap Velcro, WTFix Straps, or MALICE Clips. Whichever method you choose, make sure everything is secured before it really matters.
This content was written to help the reader attach Esstac KYWI pouches, using One-Wrap Velcro, WTFix Straps, or MALICE Clips. If you found this information helpful, let us know and share it with your friends. Our team is available to address any additional questions you may have.