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The North Face Cat's Meow 20 - Women's Review

   
Best Buy Award

Sleeping Bags - Women's

  • Currently 4.0/5
Overall avg rating 4.0 of 5 based on 3 reviews. Most recent review: July 25, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $169 - $188 | Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Warm, inexpensive, durable
Cons:  Bulky, heavy, tiny stow pocket
Best Uses:  Car camping, short backpacks, big wall climbing
User Rating:     
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 (4.0 of 5) based on 2 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (2/2) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   The North Face
Review by: Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ November 1, 2013  
Overview
The Cat's Meow has been made by The North Face for years it's the classic introductory sleeping bag for outdoor recreation - and for good reason. It's inexpensive and does the job well, which is why we give it our Best Buy award. It is relatively lightweight for a synthetic sleeping bag, and warmer than any other in this review. The Cat's Meow is much bulkier than the more expensive Mountain Hardwear Ultralaminina 32, and we are afraid the quality is lower as well since we have already found a hole in the stitching of the bag.

Luckily, we had the Cat's Meow with us when we were hit by an intense, windy thunderstorm in our floorless shelter, where driving rain came in under the tarp. It was a comfort to know this synthetic bag would retain its loft even if it got wet. This bag kept us warm in all kinds of weather this summer in the high alpine and while car camping.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

A tried and true, inexpensive, synthetic insulated sleeping bag, the Cat's Meow is an excellent introductory sleeping bag for short backpacking trips and car camping adventures.

Performance Comparison
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We had the Cat's Meow with us when we were hit by an intense, windy thunderstorm in our floorless shelter, where driving rain came in under the tarp. We were comforted knowing the synthetic insulation would keep us somewhat warm even if it got wet.
Credit: Jessica Haist


Warmth
This sleeping bag is the warmest of the synthetic bags we evaluated. It kept us warm in the alpine during the summer months, when temperatures can dip down into the 30's. We think the key to the Cat's Meow's warmth is in large part due to the fit of the bag. Our 5'5, tester found it fit her perfectly and kept the heat trapped inside with its large neck baffle and draft tubes. The North Face has also added more insulation to the hood and foot box of this women's specific sleeping bag to keep the extremities nice and toasty.

Weight
We were surprised to find that this bag weighed in only half an ounce heavier than our lightest synthetic bag, the Ultralaminina. We may have been deceived because the Cat's Meow seems much bulkier. This bag uses a lightweight exterior material and slimmed down features to keep it relatively light, though it doesn't pack down very small.

Comfort
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The Cat's Meow is the warmest synthetic sleeping bag we tested. Jessica Haist, our 5'5, tester found it fit her perfectly and it kept the heat trapped inside with its large neck baffle and draft tubes.
Credit: Ian McEleney
As we said before, this bag fits our tester like a glove, and there is enough wiggle room in the shoulders to wear an extra layer if things get really chilly. We like the material against our skin, and the additional insulation placed in key spots makes for a cozy sleep. The large baffles around the neck sometimes feels a bit restrictive, but the extra warmth provided by this baffle makes it worth it.

Packed Size
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The Cat's Meow comes with a mesh storage sack and a compression sack. We found the compression sack to be cumbersome and heavy.
Credit: Jessica Haist
The Cat's Meow was one of the bulkier bags in this review, and its material does not compress as well as the Ultralaminina's or any of the down sleeping bags. This could be due in part to the design of the compression sack that comes with the bag. It is poorly designed and seemed overly heavy for what it was. We suggest shopping for a separate stuff sack that is lighter and easier to use.

Features
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The Cat's Meow has a small interior stash pocket that we found to be a little too small to be useful. It could barely fit a small headlamp.
Credit: Ian McEleney
We love the extra insulation packed into the foot box and hood where we women need it most, as well as the soft, lightweight bag material. The stow pocket in the interior of the bag is slightly too small it barely fits a small headlamp - and we think it could have used another inch or two of fabric to make it a bit larger. We also wish that the draw cords on the hood and neck baffles had different strings, like on the Slumberjack Latitude 20 - Women's so they could be tightened independently. The glow in the dark zipper pull is handy for late night bathroom trips but the zipper catches more than other bags.

Versatility
Because of its bulkiness and weight, the Cat's Meow is much less versatile than a down sleeping bag like the REI Joule, or even the Ultralaminina, that packs down much smaller. But for what its worth, this bag is a workhorse and is good for trips where you expect the weather to be wet and cold. The Cat's Meow is a great introductory bag for a beginner backpacker as it is inexpensive for its quality.

Best Application
The Cat's Meow Women's is a great car camping sleeping bag. It will also work well for short backpacks, especially in wet climates like the Pacific Northwest or Alaska in the summer. This could also be a good choice for any big wall lady climbers.

Value
This is a great value for a decent product that can get you started on your outdoor adventures.

Conclusion
The Cat's Meow is the Best Buy in this review, and is ideal for someone who is looking for an inexpensive summer backpacking sleeping bag that will keep her warm in all conditions. It is comfortable and surprisingly lightweight when compared to other synthetic bags in this review (it is almost as light as the Ultralaminina).

Other Versions and Accessories
North Face Cat's Meow 20, Men's, $170.

Jessica Haist

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: July 25, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (3)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 2 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Jul 25, 2014 - 11:38am
bikermanlax · Road Biker · Wisconsin
While I'm replacing it now, I've had the Men's version (actually when I bought it, I think there was no distinction between men's and women's bags - progress)since 1987. I'm passing it on to my son. Still is in good shape. Comfortable down to the upper 40's. Not a rip, zipper works well.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jul 24, 2014 - 01:49pm
elcaballito · Backpacker · Charlottesville
I've had this bag for about 8 years and have used it for weeks on end of summer camping. It kept me comfortable through several sub freezing nights while wearing good long underwear, socks + a hat, so I'd say it's true to the 20F rating. As far as modern sleeping bags go, it is much larger and bulkier when fully compressed compared to other things you can buy now. It will keep chugging along even if it gets damp, which I was happy to learn after 5 days of pouring rain in the low 50's in Boundary Water Canoe. Sadly the insulation has deteriorated and this bag is losing its warmth, though I suppose 8 years is a reasonable lifespan for a bag.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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The North Face Cat's Meow 20 - Women's
Credit: The North Face
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