Manduka eKO Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Great traction when dry, no break-in period, perfect comfort-stability combo, good for hard and soft ground, textured for added grip, cleans easily
Cons: A little heavy, creases easily, slippery when wet
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Manduka eKO is a 5mm mat made from biodegradable non-Amazon harvested rubber. The standard size of this mat is 71 inches long by 26 inches wide, and it also comes in a 79-inch extended version. This is a two-layer rubber mat — the bottom layer is the typical open-cell construction, and the top layer is a closed-cell one for increased durability, impermeability, and ease of cleaning.
Comfort and Support
The Manduka eKO shines very brightly in this department. More often than not, yoga mats will sacrifice comfort for support, or the other way around, but the eKO proudly provides both. The 5mm thickness is not too squishy underfoot but offers enough give for your boney bits, and the heaviness of the mat makes it stay in place when moving around during your practice.
Lighter mats tend to shift underfoot, particularly when making dynamic movements like jumping from Downward Facing Dog to standing. Not so with this mat — it stays in place all the time, instilling confidence through security while practicing challenging vulnerable arm balances and inversions.
Whether you are lying in Shavasana, upside down in a forearm stand, or moving slowly between asanas in your favorite Yin class, the Manduka eKO has you covered with support and comfort.
The Manduka eKO provides incredible dry grip the first time you use it however, it suffers significantly in the presence of moisture.
The rubber on the Manduka eKO has a slightly tacky feel to it, and when you set your hands and set your feet and raise your rear to the sky in Downward Facing Dog, everything stays where it's supposed to stay. It is also ever so slightly textured which helps with the dry traction. Manduka states that this mat was developed over four years by seasoned yoga teachers, and it shows, as they better than anyone know how important traction is for safe and enjoyable practice.
Whether you practice in a heated room or not, most people perspire at least a little during their practice. Where and how much varies from person to person, but for those of us to have sweaty palms, wet grip is very important.
Some of the mats in our test suite perform better with moisture. Unfortunately, that is not the case for the eKO. The texture helps a little, but it's best to use a microfiber towel with your eKO mat if you plan to use it in heated rooms.
The eKO, as its name suggests, is sustainably made from the rubber tree, Hevea Brasiliensis. This natural rubber is a renewable resource, harvested responsibly from rubber tree farms. These farmed rubber trees regenerate and produce material for 30 to 35 years. This rubber is quite durable.
The closed-cell construction prevents moisture from penetrating the mat. This means that next to no sweat is absorbed, and any dirt can be easily wiped away with a gentle cleaner or a clean damp rag. The only wear we noticed during our testing is a small amount of fraying of the texture found on the top layer of the mat. It is somewhat inconsequential and doesn't affect the grip much, but we suggest using a mat bag as most of these blemishes occur during transportation.
One thing to keep in mind is that, like all other rubber mats, you should not leave this one in direct sunlight or a hot car for prolonged periods, as it will cause the material to break down.
Ease of Use
One of the bonuses to having a closed-cell construction top layer is that it is easy to clean. While the grip and texture attract lint, dirt, and animal hair like moths to a flame, wiping the mat with a wet towel does the trick. I also take zero time to dry because it's not absorbent. Manduka recommends cleaning this mat with a 50/50 mixture of water and apple cider vinegar. They also advise against soaking this mat in a tub or putting it in a washing machine.
The eKO weighs 5.9 pounds, making it one of the heavier mats in our test suite. While it rolls up easily and fits nicely in a mat bag, the extra weight can feel a little cumbersome if you plan to walk long distances or bike to your yoga studio. The weight does offer some pros, like laying flat on the ground, durability, and firm support. So while this is a heavier mat, you are getting a lot out of the extra pound or two.
Should You Buy the Manduka eKO
This mat is not inexpensive, but if we compare the price to its performance, it is well worth the money. It falls in between the most expensive mats on the market and the mid-priced ones. Whether or not the eKO is worth the money depends on what you plan to use it for. If you're looking for the ultimate hot yoga mat, keep moving because the wet grip is not what makes this mat desirable. However, if you're looking for a firm mat that will not leave your sensitive knees feeling bruised after every practice, it is well worth the money.
What Other Yoga Mats Should You Consider?
Speaking of the ultimate hot yoga mat, the Yoloha Unity Cork actually performs better in the presence of moisture. It requires a decent break-in period, so if you're looking for a great grip out of the box, you might want to check out the Lululemon The Reversible Mat, whose grip barely changes when wet and requires minimal break-in. The Aurorae Synergy has an incredible wet grip, but you may find yourself sliding around when there is no moisture present.
— Bo Outland & Cam McKenzie Ring & Hayley Thomas
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