The North Face Cat's Meow - Women's Review
Cons: Bulkier packed size, heavier, small fit
Manufacturer: The North Face
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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. Its 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.
Not only that, but the loft is made of synthetic fibers that will retain their 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 cozy 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 cinch the Cat's Meow's compression straps all the way down and it could still be cinched smaller. While most synthetic bags aren't as compressible as down options, this stands out above 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 among 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.
We thought that this feature on the previous version of this bag 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!
The price has jumped around in the last several years, 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.
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 of 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