Originally a way to distinguish gear that is stored outside of the standard backpack Load Carrying System, it has been slowly redefined due to magazines and other gear now being stored in a variety of locations on modern field gear. It is generally considered to be a generic term usually applied to traditional or PALS belt systems and any pouch or mounting platform that attaches to the belt system.

A modern in theater USMC officer subload frequently includes a PALS belt, a drop leg holster for the M9 pistol, and all pouches and gear stored on the PALS belt. It would not include the Marine's “rigger” MCMAP (Marine Core Martial Arts Program) belt which is used to hold up the combat trousers and display an individual's MCMAP achievement level.