Hands-on Gear Review

Compare backpacking sleeping bag ratings side-by-side >

North Face Cat's Meow 20 Review

   

Backpacking Sleeping Bags

  • Currently 3.4/5
Overall avg rating 3.4 of 5 based on 9 reviews. Most recent review: March 5, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $169 - $179 | Compare prices at 7 resellers
Pros:  Warm when wet.
Cons:  Heavy, not as light as compressible or as comfortable as a down bag.
Best Uses:  Summer backpacking.
User Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (3.6 of 5) based on 8 reviews
Recommendations:  71% of reviewers (5/7) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   North Face
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ November 17, 2012  
Overview
The North Face Cat's Meow is an ultra classic and over priced synthetic bag that walks the car camping/backpacking line. We've found that other Backpacking Sleeping Bags perform better when weight and packed size is a concern and cost less than the Cat's Meow. Similarly, for car camping and general use, we've found that bags in our Sleeping Bag Review are much cheaper and more comfortable than the Cat's Meow. Check out those reviews. You can get two other bags for nearly the same price as the Cat's Meow.

Compare top rated competitors side-by-side >

  • Photos
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge


OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

The North Face Cat's Meow is a moderate quality synthetic insulated mummy bag. It uses mid range PrimaLoft Prism insulation and a mid range ripstop fabric.

This bag is marketed as a all-purpose car camping and backpacking bag. But through testing seventy sleeping bags of all types and styles we've found other bags that perform better for backpacking and car camping and cost less. Our testing has shown that the only reason to get a synthetic bag for multi-day trips is the warm-when-wet performance advantage over down insulation. Budget car camping bags found in our Sleeping Bag Review are as warm as the Cat's Meow and up to 1/3 cheaper. See our Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review for lightweight and compressible bags, and specifically, consider the Enlightened Equipment Revelation and the Kelty Cosmic Down 20.

Our highest rated synthetic sleeping bag is the Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina. That bag offer the greatest amount of warmth and comfort when wet. If saving weight is more important than warmth, or if you plan to bring a warmer insulated jacket consider the Enlightened Equipment Prodigy, which saves 12 ounces. The latter bag offers much more performance than the Cat's Meow and costs only slightly more.

Other Versions
The North Face Cat's Meow 20 - Women's, $179.

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

Compare this product side-by-side to top competitors >

Where to Buy?


Thinking about buying some gear we've reviewed? Help OutdoorGearLab out if you do. Just click on any of the above seller links and if you make any purchase, the seller will contribute a portion of the sale to help support this site. It won't cost you anything extra, and it's a simple way to help us fund our gear reviews. Thanks!

*Most retailers free shipping offers apply only to lower 48 US states using ground/economy shipping. See retailer's website for details.


OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: March 5, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (3.6)

71% of 7 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
8 Total Ratings
5 star: 25%  (2)
4 star: 25%  (2)
3 star: 25%  (2)
2 star: 25%  (2)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 8 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
Write a Review on this Gear

Mar 5, 2014 - 01:34am
 
The bags of Polarguard started arriving and the Cat's Meows and the Sylvester Vests started out the door in the mid-seventies at TNF. The bags have always sold well (the Polarguard upper body products--not so much) as they are just a basic design, and contoured to the body's shape, as opposed to the old squared-off Yeti bags, and better suited weight-wise to packing than wider cuts, natch.

I've no idea what or how they make 'em now, but the fact is they ARE the correct shape and they DO maintain loft when soaked, so you can rely on them to function this way.

If you have a gripe about temp ratings, speak to the hand, for it's the only one listening. This has ALWAYS been a stupid idea to include in a catalog. A bag is simply warmer than another, based on loft and pattern and that is that. Anyone like me who has poor blood circulation knows to take these things with two salt tablets and call the hand tomorrow.

I'm glad to know the company has not changed the basics.

MFM, late of TNF's original Factory Outlet, Berkeley
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Mar 4, 2014 - 04:24pm
Fletcher · Climber · Altadena, CA
This has been my go to bag for car camping with the kids and JT trips for years. This is the second one I've had. I've also used it for one short backpacking trip with my kids.

It is a bit heavy, but not overly so in my opinion. But I tend to orient toward the Norman Clyde school of packing, so maybe it's just me. I've found it to be a warm and durable bag. The zipper does get hung up occasionally, but that seems to happen to with other bags I've had too. Again, maybe it's just me.

The price is reasonable and it tend to be a sale bag at REI about once a year (around 30% off) if you can wait.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Mar 4, 2014 - 01:24pm
Elcapinyoazz · Climber · Joshua Tree
I've had many of these over the years. They are great bags, and really you are choosing between very small feature differences on these type bags between brands. The materials and cut are essentially the same whether Marmot, TNF, Sierra D, or any other. Over the last 25 years, I've had Marmot Wizards (3 of them), SierraD Wild Bills (2 of them) and Cat's Meow (3 of them). Usually you are making a choice on price and things like trim on the hood, drawcord closure mechanism, watch pocket, zipper style, etc. Used to alwasy get SierraD's on closeout from campmor with a free thermarest. Then the best deal was marmot, last few the best deal I've found were the TNF. Only thing I liked better on any of the others was the fleece trim on the hood of the old SierraD and the "coded" drawcords (one flat, one round)

If you are sleeping "cold" in this, it's not the bag, it's you. You'd have the same experience in another brand of the same fill and approx weight. Eat some fats before bed and you'll be plenty warm. I'm very low bodyfat % and the difference between going to bed on a diet of carbs and one heavy on fat is the difference between shivering and sweating.

For Outdoor Gear Lab, comparing this to something like a 2lb 900 down fill Feather Friends (which I've also had for 20 years now) is apples and oranges. I'm not throwing that thing in the dirt, or taking it on a wall where a wet down bag is death, and it cost 3x what I paid for the last Cat's Meow. Let's be a little more honest about the comparisons. This is a great bag for 3 season use and abuse. Light enough for a few days backpacking, cheap enough to abuse, warm enough for 3 seasons.

Personally, I'd call it a 30deg bag but I also don't look at manufacturer claims to compare bags, I look at weight of fill material.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Mar 4, 2014 - 12:08pm
FortMental · Climber · Albuquerque, NM
An excellent beater bag for sleeping in dirt, on rocks, in front of the fire, back of the car, and to loan to friends. Fairly indestructible.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Mar 3, 2014 - 03:02pm
Blackwater · Camper · Miami, FL
I am not sure why so many had problems with temp rating. I have 3. My first was bought 16 years ago and I had it well below 32 degrees. I stayed dressed, but I had no issues what so ever. Warm and dry. I have since retired her though. The other 2 I have are within the last 4 years and have gotten minimal use. The zippers will snag a bit from time to time.. There are many other bags that are out there I will start looking at. I would not call this a summer bag, more of a spring or fall, but I guess that all depends on where your at :). I am a cold sleeper, but again I have never had any issues. Also, the other 2 are bought after the company got switched up a bit. I have not put the newer ones anywhere near the elements as my first.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jul 9, 2011 - 03:31am
WML · Climber · Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
Cold at a temperature not within 10 degrees of the rated bag, very disappointing. It was something like 40 degrees out one night in the Sierra, and I was still cold in this thing (and I sleep warm). Back to REI it went…

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Apr 26, 2011 - 10:44am
freerider · Climber
high traverse your review is about the old cats meow if you have had it for 4 years now. maybe copy it to the right bag?
the cat's meow is really good, and warmer than they say. the zipper works super well.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Feb 2, 2011 - 11:02am
HighTraverse · Climber · Bay Area
I've had a Cat's Meow for 4 years now. It's definitely NOT a 20 degree bag as they claim. I'm not a cold sleeper yet the limit for me with this bag is about 32 degrees in a tent with long johns, even when it was new out of the sack. At about 25 degrees I've had to sleep with my clothing and a vest on. It's sturdy, comes with a compressor sack that crunches it pretty small. The zipper operation is dodgy and gets hung up frequently. I'm 6ft2 and have the Long size. It's a little longer than I need. The regular was too short. Inexpensive, just don't expect too much of it. I don't find the draft tube much of a problem.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No


Have you used the North Face Cat's Meow 20?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...

Write a Review on this Gear
Click to enlarge
North Face Cat's Meow
Credit: www.northface.com
Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
Backcountry $168.95
MooseJaw $168.95
RockCreek $168.95  -  6% off!
Compare prices at 7 sellers >

*Help support OutdoorGearLab. If you click on one of the seller links and make a purchase, a portion of the sale helps support this site
Related Best-in-Class Review
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review

The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review

We tested 34 of the best quality lightweight backpacking bags in a head-to-head competition that assessed the following categories: fit, weight, warmth, packed size, and features.
Helpful Buying Tips
How to Choose the Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag - Click for details
 How to Choose the Best Backpacking Sleeping Bag

by Chris McNamara and Max Neale
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Subscribe to our Newsletter