Depending on what season you hike the A.T., you will encounter snow, rain, hot sun, and/or blazing temperatures. Getting a good night’s sleep in the midst of the change of seasons and temperature variation is essential to a restful journey. Selecting an effective sleeping system is pretty important. I am fairly cold-natured and want to be sure that I am not freezing at night, so I sought out a sleeping bag that would keep me toasty. On the other hand I didn’t want a bag that would make me sweat so much that I’d be drenched in the morning.
Then there’s the dichotomy between synthetic and down sleeping bags. The down bags are super warm and lightweight but can be a disaster if they get wet – providing almost no heat. The A.T. is notorious for rain…lots of it…days of it…. so I backed away from the down bags. Synthetic bags are not quite as effective in reflecting body heat but they will still keep you warm when wet.
I chose the Cat’s Meow made by North Face. It is presented as a three-season bag (good for most weather except the very cold, winter conditions). It has a temperature rating of 20 degrees Fahrenheit and weighs in at 2 pounds 12 oz. It is filled with Climashield polyester fibers and is highly rated on most gear websites. The expert at REI that I interrogated one afternoon owns the Cat’s Meow himself and gave it two thumbs up. I used it some this spring and summer but used it more as a comforter at night to take the chill off. I am looking forward to a rather cold night to try out the warmth factor. I’ll let you know.
On the warm days of summer, I sure don’t want to sleep in the heat of a major sleeping bag, so my wonderful wife made me a sheet bag. She took a manly looking sheet and sewed it in half so I can slip down inside and have a cozy summer sleeper. I have utilized it much more than the Cat’s Meow and love it. Since my wife’s name is Cathy (and many people call her Cat) I have named this summer bag the Cat’s Purrrr. If you want to try a cozy summer setting like this, for a small price and a large donation toward my hike, I will talk to the designer herself and see if she can make you one.
Sleeping in a warm bag is critical but just as important is selecting a good sleeping pad…. but that is the subject of another blog.…stay tuned.