Main compartment: 10” x 7” x 4”, internal divisions with two 7” x 4” loop fields
Frontal: 7” x 7” x 1.5”, internal division with key retention
Sides: 7” x 4” x 2.5” with mesh division
Top: 9” x 4” x 1” with elastic organizer, division, mesh pocket
I wish I had a chance to do this review earlier, but better late than never. I got the Proteus a while back and found it small for my particular needs, so I was happy to see the Sabercat come out, which is a lot like a biggun' Proteus.
As you can see in my pictures the Proteus fits comfortably inside the Sabercat main compartment. The general design goal for the Sabercat appears to serve as a nice waist pack which can be worn front or back mounted. Unless something else is in the way, generally you can wear it in the back during travel to keep it out of the way and then rotate it up front when needed. Since the main belt is so thick, the flop-around while running factor isn't bad at all.
Let’s go ahead and break down all the pockets and what-not. At the very top is the Maxpedition style sleeve with shock cord and cord-lock rig. Loop velcro is down the middle for patches. The sleeve and cord allow you to ram items in there for low security, yet easy to access capability. If this area is a little more than you need, feel free to take off the cord rig to streamline things up a bit. This top area has its own pocket with double zipper clam-shell opening that folds away from the user. Inside is a sleeve with 1" horizontal elastic loops on one side and a zippered mesh pocket on the other. This is a great place for the smaller goodies.
Moving down is the main compartment. This also opens up with double zippers which can get a little confusing with the upper compartment zippers. I recommend trying to keep them staggered from each other to make things easier. The zippers go further down the pouch to make for a unique wide opening that allows full access without flopping straight down. This compartment also opens away from the user which greatly makes it vastly easier to use while still on your body. On the top of the inner main area is another larger zippered mesh pocket that has 2 vertical elastic loops. These are good for further slim organization and the loops work great for medical items. Inside the core pouch are sleeves with elastic velcro flaps on the front and back. Both also have loop velcro panels on the inside to add Maxpedition accessories like the 3 mag holder. Nothing else is on the sides, and a there is a grommet on the bottom for drainage. I feel this is a good compromise of organization ability without extra crap getting in the way.
Around over on the front is a bigger than it looks double zippered pocket. The side compression straps get in the way of the zippers a little bit, but not too bad. The exterior has modified PALS webbing for channels for vertical compression straps and to allow for adding other pouches. Between the PALS is loop velcro for name tapes and smaller morale patches. The Maxpedition logo is kindly on the webbing instead of the loop like on some older products which should make both user and Maxpedition happy :) On the inner-back of the front pouch is a sleeve with a mesh sleeve on top and divided down the middle. A key lanyard is also included. Nothing is on the inner-front, but I don't see that as a big issue. If I could change it, I would like to see some horizontal elastic there.
The sides have cloned medium sized pouches with double zipper access. The exterior has a good dose of PALS for adding pouches or general connection points, but the side compression straps aggressively get in the way of how far one can open these side pockets. One can open the pocket fully, but then it is a hassle to retrieve the back pull cord the due to the compression strap covering it. On the inner-back of these side pockets are simple mesh sleeve dividers and bottoms have bonus grommets. Although easy to miss, the exterior front of each side pocket has a slim sleeve good for longer items like flashlights and tools.
The back is simplistic with modified PALS webbing to allow use of multiple long MALICE clips to attach the Sabercat to other gear. This back panel has side access with velcro closure than can allow for the belt flaps to be tucked in to transform the Sabercat into being a bag rather than a waistpack. The belt straps themselves have nice padding with rubbery/nylon mesh on the inside for comfort and cooling and PALS webbing on the exterior for great connection point and additional pouch mounting options. If all of the belt PALS are used with new pouches, you can get quite a bat-belt of equipment storage going. The main belt connection is a simple 2" SRB, bonus elastic loops are included to hold down the extra webbing slack. The bottom of the Sabercat is simplistic, but the vertical cinch straps can be adjusted to hold other items like bed rolls down there.
As for core usability the Sabercat suffers the same problem the Proteus does in which you have to disconnect 2 SRBs to get to any of the main compartments. One can't just keep the SRBs unconnected since then the handle they are attached to will flop around everywhere. In my mind, this SUCKS pretty hard. Luckily this is an option so those who totally dig compression straps, they will be there for you. For those who share my opinion, get out your scissors and cut off the top "handle" and the side compression straps. The bottom straps you might be able to make some mods to keep them useful, but if you don't plan on any sewing, you might as well cut those off as well. I just don't see the pack being big enough to require compression, especially if you have anything already inside it. Compression rant aside, once you get the Sabercat how you want it, it is a pretty nice ride. Overall comfy since it forms a thick padded belt and can be quickly used while worn or can be detached and ripped on open for full access. With the size of the Sabercat it can perform many functions, but a few that come to mind would be a good sized medic pack or survival / E&E pack. There isn't much like the Sabercat out there, so check it out if you are in the market for a versatile butt-pack.
*Update: After documenting how the Sabercat comes normally, I modded it on up to my preferences. Mods Include:
-Cut off the handle, turned the upper back webbing connection points into loops.
-Sewed new webbing loops with ladder locks to lower front PALS to still allow lower webbing straps to function as bedroll lashes.
-Cut off side compression straps. Sewed front connections into loops and sewed side belt connections to create a new PALS channel.
-Added 550 cord handle up top, only meant to be a quick grab. If I want a full on handle I will connect a shoulder strap to the top D-rings.
Notes: With the compression straps gone I feel I am able to get to all my pockets much easier. The loops I created with the webbing will let me use ITW repair SRB buckles if I ever change my mind. Sewing the extra PALS channel on the belt sides allows for more modular attachment space.