Sleeping Bags / Mats

Connal uses The North Face Cat’s Meow and a Thermarest ProLite Plus
Anjel uses The North Face Women’s Cat’s Meow and a Thermarest Women’s ProLite Plus
We also strongly recommend a sleep sheet like Cocoon’s silk liners.

Sleeping Bags
For us the Cat’s Meow hit that sweet spot between weight, warmth and cost. It’s a 3-season bag (good for everything except cold winter camping) and features a synthetic fill so it’s quicker to dry if it gets wet.

Bags are available with the zipper on the left or the right side, which means that if you get one of each you can actually zip them together. We didn’t plan snuggling together in the bags very often (you know how sexy you feel after a week of trekking and bucket showers? not very.) but we thought it would be a good option just-in-case. The first time we zipped them together we were pleasantly surprised to find that it actually felt more roomy with the bags zipped together. Or maybe we were just exhausted – you can sleep through anything when you’re exhausted.

Men’s vs. Women’s
There are some minor differences between the men’s and women’s versions of the Cat’s Meow bag. The women’s version is “Cut to accommodate a woman’s shape” with “extra insulation in the hood and foot area where women often find they need it most.” Basically it meant that Anjel had cozy fleece at the bottom of her bag and a little fleece muff to warm her hands with.

The bags also have a little zip pocket up near the hood that was useful for storing earplugs or Anjel’s contact lens case. I’m not sure I’d put glasses in there unless you know you’re not a roller. The pocket is useful but also seemed to be the only weak spot in the bag as it eventually tore off on both of ours (it’s “welded” on, so losing it didn’t rip or tear the bag at all)

Sleeping Mats
The big things to consider with sleep mats are basically warmth, weight and durability. Our Thermarests are pretty much middle of the road; there are super-light versions but we didn’t want to risk a puncture; there are warmer versions (some even have a down fill) but we never camped in snow and extreme cold so it was never really an issue.

We both got full length sleep mats (long enough to provide padding head to foot). It’s possible to save a little weight with a 3/4 length mat, but having your heels on the ground can be a little uncomfortable and if you’re a side sleeper it can tweak your knees to have your feet an inch or two lower than the rest of you.

I didn’t read the instructions before we used them for the first time, so we may have compromised their “self-inflation” properties by not properly following the break-in procedure. The foam fill is supposed to slowly expand when you open the valve, eliminating the need for you to blow them up, but that never worked on ours. Still, they’re not difficult to blow up, and worked just fine for us.

Sleep Sheets
Sleep sheets are basically just a thin silk or cotton sheet that’s been sewn together like a simple sleeping bag.

At first It may not be clear why it’s worth spending $50 for a sleep sheet when you just spent $150 on a sleeping bag but I assure you it is very much worth it; especially for extended trips (camping or hostels) where you’ll be using your sleeping bag a lot.

First of all, they’re a great temperature controller. On cold nights they can add a few extra degrees and when it’s too hot for the sleeping bag you can just sleep in the sheet.

Second, it’s much easier to wash a quick drying silk sheet than to wash your entire bag. It’s not always possible to shower every night, and even if you do, your sleeping bag is still going to get dirty. We always slept with the sleep sheet in the bag and saved ourselves a lot of laundry trouble.

Third, just because you have a bed for the night doesn’t mean you want to sleep in it. There are places where you may have concerns about the cleanliness of the sheets or the presence of bedbugs. There were more than a few nights where we slept in our sleep sheets underneath the covers. We treated the silk with a natural insect repellant and never had any troubles with bed bugs. Also works against mosquitos in warmer climates where you’re too hot to be in your bag, but don’t want exposed skin all night.

Well worth the cost!

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