5.11 Sabre 2.0 – numerous improvements!

This entry was posted by on Saturday, 7 April, 2012 at

Years ago I bought a 5.11 Sabre Jacket, which I reviewed here. Now 5.11 has updated their Sabre into the Sabre 2.0. Normally, with software an update in version number does not necessarily mean the actual product has become better. However, the Sabre 2.0 compares well to the original and is a great improvement on a great jacket.

The Sabre 2.0 still has the great fit and clean appearance as its predecessor. Main differences can be found in the interior, the zippers, the cuffs, the way the hood attaches and in an extra pocket on the back side. Also, there are some other nice features. I will now go over these improvements.

The original Sabre had a 100% nylon inner fabric. It does have some moisture-wicking properties but has been greatly improved in the 2.0. The upper half is a mesh, whereas the lower half is the same as in the original. The mesh really adds to ventilation, making this jacket even more appropriate for wear during physically intensive activities. Combined with a good fleece or wool liner it is even good for winter use.

The same YKK zippers are used as in the original. Especially the “blind” waterproof zippers are great in this jacket. Unfortunately, the zippers are black on all colours, whereas in the original the zippers had the same colour as the fabric (e.g. Coyote Tan). This makes the zippers really stand out, unless you have the black version as we have under review here. It is a matter of taste, of course, but with the same-coloured zippers the jacket had a neat and uniform appearance.

The zipper-pulls are another difference. The original had short pieces of rope tied into a knot. The 2.0 actually has smooth zipper-pull tabs appropriately sized for the zippers, with a nice 5.11 logo on it. Great attention to detail, really like that.

The original had the zipper-pulls on the four chest pockets and the two arm pockets. Because I often wear gloves I attached zipper-pull tabs to the zippers on the belly and also to those under the arms – even when it’s freezing you may want to open up some ventilation!

In the 2.0 the pull tabs are arranged differently. There are none on the zippers on the arms and upper-chest, but the same tabs used on the lower chest pockets can be found on the zippers on the belly. Luckily they can be easily moved to other locations, because when wearing gloves I miss the pull tabs on the arms, and those on the belly are not large enough. In order to make this jacket fully glove-compliant it would take six additional pull tabs, plus two larger ones for the belly pockets. I would love to see two sizes of zipper-pull tabs sold separately by 5.11.

The Cuffs
The cuffs were a big problem with the original Sabre jacket. The Velcro was OK but easily lost its effectiveness over time. Also, the wrist is a high-stress area and you easily get caught-up in things, causing the cuffs to come loose. For this reason, I glued them in the position comfortable for me. This works, because the elastic band has enough tolerance. I have also heard some people simply cut them off.

The new cuffs are different. Still the same elastic band, still Velcro. But now the end is reinforced and kept in place by a Prym snap. This solves the problem of the cuff coming loose and I can imagine it possible to move the snap (or add a second one) to customise fit. Remarkable detail is that the left sleeve is a little wider than the right. Although this could be just in this particular jacket and due to manufacturing tolerance, I highly doubt this knowing 5.11’s attention to detail. In fact, I think it is done with a reason: I often wear a watch on my left wrist, making the left wrist thicker. A slightly wider sleeve makes it easier to pull back the sleeve to look at the watch – never seen that before in any other jacket!

The Hood
As mentioned in my review of the original Sabre, I hardly use the hood. This is why I like being able to remove it when not in use.

In the original, three snaps held the hood in place, and two patches of Velcro secured the front. A small adjustment strap on top of the hood allowed adjustment. In the Sabre 2.0, the three snaps are replaced by a zipper and a patch of Velcro. The model of the hood is similar, but now with a drawstring along the crown of the head to adjust fit. Because I never use the hood, I cannot tell whether this is a better system.

A very strong point of the Sabre is its many pockets. They are adequately sized and positioned in the right place. The Sabre 2.0 goes a step further. Or actually, two. First of all, the zipper on the back does not open into the lining, as it did in the original Sabre, but into a separate pocket. It is sized adequately to hold the hood or documents. Judging from the construction, it is however not meant to carry heavy loads. Even though a laptop fits, it sounds like a bad idea.

The second upgrade to the pockets is an additional pocket. This is a so-called “game pocket”, running from right to left along the lower half of the jacket. A zipper on the right closes from bottom to top. This is a very convenient location to carry stuff when on a bike. These upgrades to the back-section of the jacket are really improvements.

Another small improvement, which may not be of use to some, is the way the Velcro for attaching the patch panels is sewn to the interior of the jacket. In the Sabre, the Velcro was stitched directly inside the pocket. In the 2.0 it is stitched on a small flap which comes out of the pocket when in use. In practice, I cannot say which is better.

Other Features
The way the jacket can be cinched around the waist has been upgraded. The Sabre just had two strings on the bottom of the front half, the 2.0 also has an elastic drawstring along the bottom of the back part, allowing a customised fit to keep the wind out. Also, the bottoms of the side-zippers are reinforced with a buckle to keep the parts together and relief stress off the zipper. However, when pulling the back-part away the zipper runs up and the buckle releases – providing easy and instant access to any equipment worn on the belt either left or right.

These zippers also have a rectangular metal pull tab, the purpose of which is not known to me. It can be tucked neatly with the Velcro at the bottom near the buckle to keep it out of the way.

Another change is the addition of a hole in the belly pockets. This may be useful to run a cable through, or the lanyard found on the end of the drawstring of the left pocket. There is no such lanyard in the right pocket, and I’m puzzled as to why you would want to run it out of the pocket on the inside of the jacket.

An additional upgrade is the increased Velcro patch on the left and right arm. This gives some more real-estate for patches, name and unit tags.

The pricing is slightly higher than the original Sabre, which already was quite an investment. But for this money, you get the perfect all-year-round jacket with adequately-sized pockets in the right places. Increased breathability increases comfort.

All in all, some deficiencies of the original Sabre are fixed in the Sabre 2.0, and a couple of great new features have been introduced. This is one jacket you will not regret buying!

I’m curious about experiences by others; leave a shout below!

4 Responses to “5.11 Sabre 2.0 – numerous improvements!”

  1. The pit-zips go down all the way, allowing good airflow. The fabric, due to its waterproof nature, is not as breathable as some materials so you may end up sweating on your arms.

    I have the black version, and the Coyote Tan of the original Sabre. The black fabric absorbs a lot of heat from the sun – you may want to stay away from dark colors.

  2. Seth

    Nice review of the 2.0 I am looking at purchasing this jacket for a number of uses. I am no longer LE but like the features of it and it looks tasteful. I do have a question as to ventilation and cooling during outdoor activity. How good is it? I look for jackets with “pit-zips” to regulate core temp and cooling. Looks good otherwise!




  1. Folding Blog
  2. 5.11 Zipper-pull tabs: sell them separately please @ Freeminded.org

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