The North Face Cat’s Meow delivers good warmth and great comfort and packs down reasonably small for a synthetic bag.
Better pack size than most synthetic bags
Expensive for a 0°C / 30°F bag
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The North Face Cat’s Meow: first impressions
The North Face Cat’s Meow is a beautiful-looking, comfortable and very well-designed three-season sleeping bag from one of the most renowned brands in the outdoor space. It comes with a comfort rating down to freezing and a lower limit of around -6°C (21°F). In full mummy style, it features an insulated hood that can be cinched tight to keep out drafts, and it comes with a vertical baffled construction to maximize packability.
• List price: $169 / £180
• Weight (regular): 1,231g / 2lbs 11oz
• Length (regular): 197cm / 77.5in
• Fill: Recycled synthetic materials
• Comfort rating: 0℃ / 30℉
• Limit: -6℃ / 21℉
• Compatability: Backpacking, trekking, three-season camping
Additionally, being made from recycled synthetic materials, the bag promises to keep you warm even when it gets wet, and packs down to a reasonable size to easily stow in the bottom of your pack.
Weighing in at 1.23 kgs (2.7 lbs), the Cat’s Meow weighs pretty much what you would expect for a synthetic three-season sleeping bag. At $169 / £180 when bought directly from the North Face, it’s also at a similar price point to the best synthetic bags in the space, such as the Rab Solar Eco 3, the Mountain Equipment Nova III or the Robens Icefall Pro 900.
And while that means that it doesn’t necessarily excel when it comes to weight, warmth and price, I think the bag is a step up when it comes to packability. Despite not being as packable as a down bag, the Cat’s Meow is constructed from vertical baffles, which allow it to compress to a comparatively smaller size than most other synthetic bags, offering an equivalent level of warmth at this price point. This means it’s easier to carry the Cat’s Meow, making it a good choice for backpacking and thru-hiking in wet conditions, especially if you pack it in a dry bag to store it, rather than in the compression sack it comes in.
The North Face Cat’s Meow: in the field
I tested the Cat’s Meow on a few different occasions up on Dartmoor National Park. Even when the temperature approached freezing, it kept me warm and cozy, wearing just a base layer inside for maximum comfort.
As with most sleeping bag manufacturers, however, The North Face appear to play a little fast and loose with the temperature ratings. For example, a rating of 20°F or -7°C is emblazoned in block white letters on the inside baffle of the bag. To the right, the bag’s “limit temperature” is rated as 22°F or -5°C. I’m not sure how The North Face landed on these figures, but I wouldn’t intentionally take the bag down to these temperatures without taking a space heater with me. Truthfully, I wouldn’t take this bag out in temperatures below freezing, and while I’m admittedly a very cold sleeper, I wouldn’t recommend you do so either.
In designing the bag, The North Face have made some interesting choices. The white and blue color palette is striking and results in an exceptionally good-looking sleeping bag. Also, the baffles on the hood are rigid so it maintains its shape even when you’re not in it. This means you can conveniently pop a pillow inside of it, where it’ll stay in place through the night without the need to strap it around your pad.
Additionally, the bag comes with pre-fitted shock cords on the back of the bag, allowing you to strap yourself onto your sleeping pad to avoid slipping off during the night. These are great considerations and speak to The North Face’s famous eye for detail in its designs.
When it comes to the zip, The North Face have taken a bold design decision here. Instead of the standard floating zip stops at the foot of the zip, this is actually sewn into the body of the sleeping bag on the Cat’s Meow. That means you don’t have to faff about trying to connect the various zipper components in the dark or fumble around with tiny tags if you’re wearing gloves.
To prevent the zip from bursting open, the Cat’s Meow comes with a strip of webbing at the foot of the zipper, which stops things from being overly extended / ripped, while a solid strip of protective material covering the full length of the zipper prevents any and all snagging. All of the zips are YKK and feel highly durable and reliable.
Regarding the size of the bag, I’m 177cm (5ft 10in) and find that the bag is long enough for me. In warmer weather, I can leave the hood open and not cinched up. In colder temperatures, I can pack myself down deeper into the bag and zip everything up tight.
Growing up just south of the glorious Brecon Beacons National Park, Craig spent his childhood walking uphill. As he got older, the hills got bigger, and his passion for spending quality time in the great outdoors only grew - falling in love with wild camping, long-distance hiking, bikepacking and fastpacking. Having recently returned to the UK after almost a decade in Germany, he now focuses on regular micro-adventures in nearby Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, as well as frequent trips to the Alps and beyond. You can follow his adventures over on komoot, or visit www.craigtaylor.co for more info.