Reviews You Can Rely On

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

An inexpensive and versatile synthetic bag, this is an excellent choice for breaking into backpacking
The North Face Cat's Meow - Women's
Photo: The North Face
Best Buy Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $190 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Light and compressible synthetic, keeps you warm when wet
Cons:  Bulkier packed size, heavier, small fit
Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 11, 2021
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 17
  • Warmth - 25% 8
  • Weight - 25% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Packed Size - 15% 6
  • Features - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The North Face Women's Cat's Meow has been around for several years, receiving new iterations periodically. The current version is much lighter, compressible, and comfortable than previous iterations. Because of these upgrades and the modest price tag, it earns our favor. It outperforms several down sleeping bags we tested with a fantastic warmth to weight ratio and is the best synthetic product of the bunch. 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 to moderate 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 coastal climates. Synthetic insulation will keep you warm when it gets wet since it can maintain its loft, unlike down products. If you're just getting into backpacking and want a truly versatile sleeping bag, this is a great place to start.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Best Buy Award    
Price Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$319.95 at Amazon$258.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$249.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$157.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
71
77
71
71
61
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Light and compressible synthetic, keeps you warm when wetComfortable, lightweight, excellent materials, not constrictingComfortable and warmComfortable, warm, roomyComfortable, inexpensive, recycled materials
Cons Bulkier packed size, heavier, small fitComforter sometimes does not stay tucked inNot light, hood draw cords hard to use, large for a women's sleeping bagHeavy, bulkyHeavy, bulky
Bottom Line An inexpensive and versatile synthetic bag, this is an excellent choice for breaking into backpackingA great, high-quality choice at a relatively low price for those looking for a lightweight bag that doesn't sacrifice comfortA favorite of many trail ladies out there, the Angel Fire earns high marks across the board and would be an excellent addition to any backpacker's kitThis middle-of-the-pack sleeping bag is comfortable, warm, and fine or short backpacking trips and car camping excursionsThis well priced synthetic bag is a great choice for your car camping needs
Rating Categories The North Face Cat'... Sierra Designs Clou... Marmot Angel Fire Mountain Hardwear B... Marmot Trestles Eli...
Warmth (25%)
8.0
5.0
7.0
8.0
5.0
Weight (25%)
6.0
9.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Comfort (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Packed Size (15%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Features (15%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Specs The North Face Cat'... Sierra Designs Clou... Marmot Angel Fire Mountain Hardwear B... Marmot Trestles Eli...
ISO/EN Comfort Rating (F) 22 F 26 F 30.4 F 15 F 20 F
Fill Type Heatseekerâ„¢ Guide synthetic insulation PFC-Free DriDown Duck down 650-fill-power down HL-ElixR synthetic fibers
Measured Weight (in lbs) 2.5 lb 1.7 lb 2.5 lb 2.5 llb 2.8 lb
Total Weight (oz) 40.2 oz 27.4 oz 39.8 oz 39.7 oz 44 oz
Fill Power Synthetic 800 650 650 Synthetic
Women specific features Women's specific cut More insulation per square inch than men's version Women's Specific Fit - more Insulation in Key Areas Additional insulation Women's specific fit
Fill Weight (oz) Unspecified 14.8 oz 23.5 oz Unspecified Unspecified
Material 20D Nylon Ripstop/taffeta 15d nylon risptop 30d 100% Nylon DWR 1.18 oz/yd | 30d 100% Nylon Ripstop DWR 1.5 oz/yd 20D Ripstop Nylon 20-denier recycled ripstop polyester
Neck Baffle Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Pocket No No Yes - Internal Stash Pocket and Heater Pocket in Footbox Yes Yes
Sleeping Pad Sleeve No Yes No No No
Zipper Length 59 in N/A 63 in & 13 in 66 in 53/15"
Shoulder Girth 58 in 59 in 57 in 60 in 58 in
Hip Girth 58 in 58 in 58 in 50 in 58 in
Foot Girth 40 in 39 in 46 in 40 in 45 in
Stuff Sack included? Compression sack and storage bag included Stuff sack and storage bag included Stuff sack and storage bag included Stuff sack and storage bag included Stuff sack and storage bag included

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, despite being a synthetic model. This is a great value bag for a tight budget, and a good option for wet or humid weather.

Performance Comparison


The Cat's Meow is our favorite synthetic bag and our favorite...
The Cat's Meow is our favorite synthetic bag and our favorite steal-of-a-deal under two hundred bucks.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Warmth


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 similarly. 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 smart 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 almost 20-degrees Fahrenheit.

The North Face Women's Cats Meow has most of its insulation on the...
The North Face Women's Cats Meow has most of its insulation on the top of the bag to take full advantage of the heat storing loft.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Weight


Weighing in at 2.5 pounds, the Cat's Meow is a light synthetic bag. In comparison to most of its down competitors, it's not as lightweight, but it does beat out some budget down models and is 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 2.5 pounds 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, on repeat. Avoid it for super long thru-hikes.

We like that The North Face slimmed down the Cat's Meow's features...
We like that The North Face slimmed down the Cat's Meow's features and it is now a lighter and more versatile bag.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Comfort


We love the Cat's Meow's 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 sleeping bags (which often come in a single "women's" size) 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".

The North Face Women's Cats Meow is a bit of a snug fit for a...
The North Face Women's Cats Meow is a bit of a snug fit for a regular size woman. Our 5'5 tester found she could barely get the hood up.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Packed Size


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 and less weight. We can cinch the 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 model stands out above the rest. Other down bags that sport additional features are not as compressible as the Cat's Meow. Overall, this is a great packed size among synthetic sleeping bags.

The Cat's Meow's included compression sack is too large for this bag...
The Cat's Meow's included compression sack is too large for this bag and could be much smaller. Here we see it cinched down, but it could be compressed further with a better-fitting sack.
Photo: Jessica Haist

Features


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.

The Cats Meow is quite warm, especially when you cinch down the hood...
The Cats Meow is quite warm, especially when you cinch down the hood to keep all the warmth in.
Photo: Ian McEleney

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. They are convenient for keeping a headlamp or phone warm, preserving batteries, and at hand should they be needed in the night.

Value


The price has jumped around in the last several years, but we think the current price makes the Cat's Meow 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. All this wins it our recognition for anyone looking for a great sleeping bag without breaking the two hundred dollar price level. 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 North Face Women's Cats Meow is a great choice for wet or humid...
The North Face Women's Cats Meow is a great choice for wet or humid weather. Take it rafting or through the rain on the coast. It'll keep you warm and cozy through it all. Best of all, its price-to-performance ratio is excellent.
Photo: Jessica Haist

Conclusion


The upgrades in material, features, and weight to the Cat's Meow makes it our favorite synthetic bag and an unbeatable value. It is by far the lightest and most compressible synthetic bag we've tested and we are impressed. Its 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