Went to REI today and purchased the Cats Meow, synthetic fill 20f long bags for my wife and I ($169 each). We will initially be spending most of the beginning of our Backpacking careers in the sierras and initially Yosemite. We don't plan to be out any earlier than May, or later than September but elevation will vary. Considering this background and the fact that we will be using good inflatable's to sleep on, does this sound like a reasonable selection?
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
My experience with the Cats Meow (purchased about 12 years ago) was that when new it was more like a 30 degree bag than its advertised 20 degrees. Of course by now (even though I have always stored it unstuffed and have used it only for car-camping the past 5 years) it's more like a 45 degree bag. Your mileage, of course, may vary. You may want to wear your insulating wear and a warm cap inside the bag on below-freezing nights.
Synthetics don't recover nearly as well from being compressed as does down. Try not to compress the bag any more than you absolutely have to to get it into your pack, and it will last longer. It's a good beginner bag. If you keep on backpacking, you'll probably want to save your pennies for a good down bag several years down the road.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Thanks for the reply. I might have started with down, but my wife's pretty against anything that uses animals (vegi) and the salesman's attitude towards her desire kinda cinched her decision as well. Anyway we will try to avoid camping at below freezing temps. for the first couple years. Thanks for the advice on compressing the bags, I did not realize it could be detrimental.
I have had a Kelty "black ice" bag (synthetic) for around 15-16 years and I have always kept it in it's bag and I use it very often and it always comes out of the bag just like brand new. I paid about $400.00 for it so it may have some hi-tec fabric (at the time) or something that I don't know about but I do know that it has been the best bag that I have ever had...period... except for my Western Mountaineering bag and they are to die for. Seemingly, storing this bag has not had much affect on it at sll....sabre11004
The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there 1!!!!!
I started out backpacking using a 20 year old White Stag synthetic bag. IIRC it was rated at 20 degrees. This bag had been stored compressed for at least 10 years and did not seem to suffer from the abuse. Unfortunately it also did not get any lighter or compress any smaller, so I replaced it with a Kely Lightyear 25.
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