The North Face Women's Cat's Meow has had some significant upgrades to its design and materials since we last took it for a spin on our sleeping pads. It is much lighter, compressible and comfortable than previous iterations. It is our favorite synthetic bag, earning a Top Pick award. It outperforms several down sleeping bags we tested with a fantastic warmth to weight ratio. It is an excellent choice for any short backpacking or extended car camping trip, especially if you're in a wet climate where there's a chance your stuff may get wet.
The North Face Cat's Meow - Women's Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Light and compressible synthetic, keeps you warm when wet
Cons: Bulkier packed size, heavier, small fit
Manufacturer: The North Face
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Women's Cat's Meow has slimmed down on unnecessary features included in previous versions. It's added warmth by putting insulation in all the right places, piling more on top and less on the bottom, making it more effective. It's shell and insulation materials make it super compressible as well! This is our favorite synthetic sleeping bag (and our Top Pick), and a great option for wet or humid weather.
The Cat's Meow is rated at an EN comfort rating of 22-degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature rating is slightly warmer than average, and we would agree that the Cat's Meow performs in a similar way. This bag is warm and cozy, keeping us warm on cold nights, be it dry or wet! Much of its ample warmth is attributed to its new design.
The North Face has gotten clever with constructing the Cats Meow. They have moved the majority of the insulation to the top layer and just left a thin layer on the bottom. We think this is super smart and way more efficient. Insulation keeps heat in by trapping air molecules in the loft. This air warms up, keeping you warm. Any insulation that is under your body is being compressed, and therefore not lofty so it is ineffective at containing heat and keeping you warm. Your sleeping pad is what should be keeping you warm and insulating you from the ground, not the insulation on the bottom of your sleeping bag. The Cat's Meow does a great job keeping you warm with its clever design. The Mountain Hardwear Lamina 15 also uses this insulation strategy.
Not only that, but the loft is made of synthetic fibers that will retain its warmth, even when wet. This adds to its overall warmth in all types of conditions. Our verdict? This is a super warm synthetic option that will keep you warm in all sorts of conditions, down to 22-degrees Fahrenheit.
Weighing in at 2.5 pounds, the Cat's Meow is a light synthetic bag. In comparison to down competitors, it's not as lightweight, but our top option if you're in search of a synthetic bag that offers a lightweight design.
One way to lighten your load with this product is to choose a different compression sack. The Cat's Meow's included compression sack weighs 4.2 ounces, which is unnecessary weight. By purchasing a lighter sack, you can shave off the ounces, making it a more viable option for adventures that require lightweight gear. While this is fairly lightweight for short backpacking trips, it is not our favorite for long adventures that will have you trudging for hours, day after day, for months on end. Avoid it for super long thru-hikes.
We love the Cat's Meow's new soft shell and liner materials. They are very comfortable and feel soft on the skin. It is also nice that this bag still has a thin layer of synthetic on the bottom layer so you don't feel the more coarse materials that would otherwise cause discomfort. Sleeping in it is plush and comfortable, offering a nice sleep all night long.
The fit of this bag is on the snug side. Our 5'5 tester, who is usually exactly the right size for most women's products found that she could barely get her head into the hood making it feel slightly claustrophobic. We couldn't find any sizing materials on TNF's website, but Amazon says that the max height for size Regular would be 5'6. We think it is closer to 5'4. We did not get a chance to try out the long, so we are unsure how large that size is.
As with most synthetic bags, the Cat's Meow is not very compressible. As we mentioned, the compression sack is huge and bulky. We like the idea of a compression sack for synthetic bags, but it should be smaller. We can synch the Cat's Meow's compression straps all the way down and it could still be synched smaller. While most synthetic bags aren't as compressible as down options, this stands about the rest. Other down bags that sport additional features are not as compressible as the Cat's Meow and it offers a little more versatility in this feature. Overall, this is a great packed size amoung synthetic sleeping bags.
We were pleasantly surprised when we received the Cat's Meow and discovered that The North Face had eliminated the "hand warmer pocket" that had been inside this bag's previous version. (Buyer beware, the description on The North Face's website still says a "hand warmer pocket" is included).
We thought that feature was very unnecessary and added bulk and weight. The North Face has streamlined the features to create a much more versatile and higher performing product.
Our favorite sleeping bag feature is the small stow pockets many manufacturers include inside their bags. Unfortunately, this product does not have one and we wish it did!
We think the Cat's Meow is a great all-around choice for all your camping needs. It is light enough to carry on short backpacking trips. It could be a good choice for activities where your kit is in danger of getting wet like boating trips or in rainy climates like the Pacific Northwest. Synthetic insulation will keep you warm when it gets wet since it can maintain its loft, unlike down products.
The price has bumped up to $199 this year, the same price as the Lamina, but we still think, this is a great value product! It's a very light and compressible synthetic option. Its insulation will keep you warm when wet, making it a great option for humid or wet weather. Its compressibility makes it decent for short backpacking trips while its warmth is sufficient for cold nights. Overall, it performs well for a lower price. If you don't need quite as warm a bag check out the Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 - Women's that retails for $150, but isn't quite as warm or lightweight as the Cat's Meow.
The upgrades in material, features, and weight to the Cat's Meow makes it our favorite synthetic bag and a Top Pick. It is by far the lightest and most compressible synthetic bag we've tested and we are impressed. It's a clever design of having most its insulation on the top where it is most effective makes it a very warm bag as well. At a low price, we recommend it for car camping and short backpacking trips.
— Jessica Haist