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299 Cat's Meow 2010-10-27

North Face Cat's Meow

In the late 70's, I bought my first Polaguard sleeping bag, The North Face's Cat's Meow. For a couple of years prior to the purchase, I had read about the benefits of synthetic bags over down; but I was slow to convert.

At that time, I did not own a tent and primarily used tarps, nylon or plastic, for shelter. Practice makes perfect and I developed a talent for pitching a tarp. But, no matter how well I pitched the tarp - I was still getting wet from the ground. In those days the pad of choice was a five foot long piece of quarter inch thick Ensolite. Sleeping under the tarp and on the scanty piece of Ensolite there was always a chance I was going to get wet.

The final straw that led to my decision was after a cold, wet, muddy night. A sudden deluge leaped the containment barrier posed by the quarter inch thick piece of Ensolite. I spent a miserable night and then was cold for the rest of the trip - the bag never dried.

Using the synthetic bag I immediately felt a difference in warmth. Though both my down bag and the Cat's Meow were rated in the 20 to 25 degree range, the Cat's Meow was much warmer than the down. With the insulation not being as compressible as the down, I did not feel the cold from the ground while sleeping on the skinny pads. In the summer, however, I found that the synthetic bag was still warmer than the down - like it or not. Overall, I was sold on the bag.

Through the years, I have recommend the Cat's Meow to countless adventurers. When Amy needed a bag, well, she got a Cat's Meow.

The bag's name has not changed for over thirty years; but the bag has. The North Face has been commited to redesigning the bag to keep it fresh, competitive, and price worthy.

The new Cat's Meow uses Climashield™ Prism synthetic insulation - which is far better than down for water repellency and almost equal to down for regaining loft after compression. An added bonus for the Cat's Meow is the water repellent shell. The cost of the bags, then becomes the tipping point for a descision - the Cat's Meow easily wins the price war..

I still use my old Cat's Meow. It does not get to go backpacking; but it does get to go on camping trips. Amy's Cat's Meow is improved when compared to "ol' blue" - but I really can't complain after using the bag for thirty years.

I still recommend the Cat's Meow and at $160 it just makes me want to purr. (REI has the bag on sale - 10/27 - for $125.)

Happy meow trails.


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