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Looking for a new yoga mat for your morning asanas? Our testers have spent the last seven years researching and testing more than 30 mats and bring you the best 15 models in this review. Hours were spent practicing on these mats, as they were tested side-by-side in studios, on decks, or in the park. From Yin and Hatha classes to Vinyasa and core workouts, we evaluated each mat's wet and dry traction, comfort, and stability. From dirty feet to pet hair, we tested how easy each is to clean, and by practicing all over town, we tested the portability and durability of each model. Whether you're after a lightweight travel option or something to save your knees, we hope to help you find the ideal companion for your practice.
Editor's Note: This review was updated on May 4, 2022. We removed two discontinued products from our lineup and redacted our Best Buy award from the Lululemon (Un) Mat, which has increased steeply in price since our testing. We will reassess Best Buy winners again at our next test cycle.
Weight: 3 lbs 4 oz | Material: Cork and Eco-Friendly Rubber
REASONS TO BUY
Comfortable and stable
REASONS TO AVOID
The Yoloha Native Cork Mat is the best in our review for its excellent overall performance. It stands out for its cork-rubber blend, which qualifies it as one of the best across the metrics. It's comfortable, stable, and provides excellent traction, whether your palms are dry or sweaty. It has a closed-cell surface, which increases durability and decreases absorption, leaving the mat smelling fresh and minimizing wear and tear. It doesn't stink like rubber (like other mats) and is incredibly portable without sacrificing comfort.
The biggest downside to this mat is its durability. When we used this mat on a grassy surface, the cork separated, and a large crack formed as a result. If you're looking for a great all-around mat that can handle a vigorous Vinyasa class but is still comfortable enough for a Yin practice, this is a great option. Just be sure to use it on harder surfaces.
The Manduka eKO is comfortable and stable and not so heavy that you'll hurt yourself toting it around. It has a slight rubber smell to start, but the odor quickly dissipates. Best of all is its traction. It has excellent dry traction and only gets a little bit slicker once your palms get sweaty. The eKO has a closed-cell top surface to increase durability and decrease absorption, leaving the mat smelling fresher longer. And, after over a year of use and a least 100 classes, it's still in great shape. It also comes in various thicknesses, with 4mm being a good in-between option.
While we love this mat, it's a little heavier than most, making it a touch harder to transport. It also requires a bit of investment. However, if comfort and stability with the option to choose your thickness are important, this is the one we'd recommend.
If you are new to yoga and looking to explore your practice, the GuruGrid Eco-Friendly Premium may be the mat for you. It features a grid that allows you to quickly find your alignment and gauge your progress in your practice. It's great for any style of yoga, as it is cushioned enough for your knees but still retains stability for standing poses.
It costs a little more than your average starter mat, such as the Clever Yoga, but the quality is worth the price. If you're looking for an excellent all-around performer, this is it; it has a higher price but offers excellent performance for any beginner or novice.
If you're tired of schlepping a mat and towel to class every day, only to have that towel bunch up on the mat and be a distraction, the Aurorae Synergy solves all of these problems. It's a microfiber towel bonded to a PER bottom that you throw in the wash after each use, and it comes out smelling clean each time. This mat is a little pricey, but since it's a towel and a mat, it's a great value. It's well made and durable. We've now used this mat once a week for over a year, and even after 60 plus classes, it still looks and works great.
Unfortunately, it doesn't provide the same amount of traction as some sticky mats on their own, but the friction is better than some towels that we've used, and you don't have to fuss with it during your practice. If you practice in a heated room, this innovative hybrid mat is a great choice.
Weight: 7 lbs 13 oz | Material: Oeko-Tex Certified PVC
REASONS TO BUY
Thick and comfortable
Stable and durable
REASONS TO AVOID
If you're looking for a yoga mat for gentle Yin classes where extra padding is welcomed, the Manduka PRO is a great choice. It's 6mm, but is comfortable PVC; while it's not the most "eco" of yoga mat materials out there, it also ranked highest for durability in our tests, which means you won't have to replace it every year like a less durable rubber mat.
The traction on this mat left a lot to be desired, both with wet and even dry hands, which is why we recommend it more for gentler classes that don't require a lot of traction. When you're spending over an hour sitting and lying on your mat, as you do in a Yin class, you want something with a little extra padding to cushion any protruding bones or joints, which is why we recommend this mat for that purpose.
This review is crafted by OutdoorGearLab Review Editor Bo Outland. She has been a Hot Yoga instructor for five years and is very familiar with the therapeutic and beneficial effects of yoga. These days, when she is not on the mat, you can find her mountain biking or climbing at Lovers Leap in Lake Tahoe.
The search for the best mat available began with lots of market research. We looked at over 60 models, weighing the relative pros and cons. We read reviews about each one before choosing the most promising to purchase and test in our practice. Our intensive testing period of side-by-side comparison took place mainly at Omni in South Lake Tahoe. We compared metrics like dry and wet traction and comfort, with all the mats lined up side by side.
Analysis and Test Results
There seem to be more yoga mats on the market today than there are styles of yoga! From inexpensive mats you can pick up at a big retailer to expensive specialty ones, the options are endless. You might think that anything will do; however, the yoga mat you choose depends on the primary style of yoga you prefer. We've taken decades of yoga knowledge and practice to help you find the right model so that it's one less distraction during your meditative practice. We discuss some of the pricing in the yoga mat market and what to look for when making a value-based purchase, as well as how the different models fared in our test metrics.
There are a lot of inexpensive yoga mats out there, but if it feels like an ice-rink as soon as your palms get sweaty, you may end up sprawled out on your face! Conversely, some models retail for a lot more, and we're left wondering if the product is worth the expensive price tag or if we're paying for the logo. If you're looking for something that bridges the best of both worlds — high-performing and inexpensive — you have to compare the price to performance.
Ease of Care
When it comes to cleaning a yoga mat, there are two levels of care involved: regular surface cleaning and occasional deep cleaning. For surface cleaning, most manufacturers recommend wiping it down with only water or a non-abrasive cleaning spray after each class to remove residual sweat and oils. This helps prevent sweat from building up inside your mat and making things stinky.
Deep cleaning is often an awkward endeavor. Whether you rinse it out in the shower, soak it in a bathtub, or hose it off in the backyard, there is no quick and easy way to do a deep clean, and they often take a long time to dry afterward.
If you don't see yourself doing this ever, then you'll want to consider a P.V.C. or Cork mat, like the Yoloha, Gaiam Premium Sticky, or Kulae Elite Hot Hybrid. All have closed-cell constructions and won't absorb your sweat and oils as easily as an open-cell rubber mat, thereby not needing a deep cleaning as frequently.
We evaluated the ease of care based on all of the steps needed to keep the different models clean and in good shape. We used these mats in a home with pets and noted how easy it was to remove the animal hairs from the surface. (Yoga mats are a magnet for little hairs and pieces of lint.) We also noted how easy it was to remove dirt and stains from the surface, or if they stayed there no matter how hard we scrubbed.
In our experience, the easiest mats to clean are the hybrid towel mats. These can often go directly into the washing machine after use and hang to dry. There is no scrubbing or hosing involved, and they come out smelling clean and fresh each time.
The Clever Yoga Better Grip mat attracted lint and animal hairs, and the textured upper surfaces made it challenging to remove those things while wiping it down.
You also have to be very careful where and how you hang your TPE mat to dry, as those mats get permanent creases and folds from the slightest pressure. On the plus side, you can usually wipe them down with a towel, and they are good to go.
We've broken traction down into dry and wet sections in our scoring because most of the models that we tested had a difference between the two. Wet traction is a more important consideration for those who practice heated styles or know that their palms get sweaty as soon as their bodies start moving. Depending on the style of yoga you practice, traction might not be that important at all.
Yin classes are spent sitting or lying down and require little to no traction, and some styles, like Bikram, do not involve any oppositional moves on your mat. Oppositional means you aren't putting pressure in to your hands and feet.
Conversely, a Flow style class has multiple Sun Salutations and a Vinyasa between each pose and also includes many poses that require you to push apart with your feet or out with your hands. These classes are more accessible (and safer!) with a mat that helps your hands and feet stick to it.
The top scorer for Dry Traction is the Lululemon (Un). We stuck like geckos to the sticky rubber surface on the latex side and experienced zero slipping or need to re-adjust our hands in Downward Facing Dogs. The Manduka eKO and GuruGrid were a close second for this category, but their smooth surfaces couldn't match the stickiness that the texture on the Lululemon (Un) provides. The (Un) was equally sticky when placed on top of another mat.
The TPE model that we tested (the Clever Yoga Better Grip) claimed to be sticky but did not offer much traction.
The towel hybrid models are not ideal for dry traction as the surfaces felt slick, similar to how a regular/beach towel would feel on top of a yoga mat. However, if you wet the hands and feet are a bit wet, the traction improves immensely, which brings us to our next section, Wet Traction.
Wet traction is an essential consideration if your palms sweat in any way (and most of ours do) or you practice in a hot room. Even if you aren't shedding giant drops of sweat on your yoga mat, the smallest layer of perspiration on your palms can cause you to slip if your mat does not provide wet traction.
While most of the models had a decrease in traction when wet, there were a few that did improve, like Lululemon's (Un) slick side. We even went so far as to dump a cup of water on it and then tried a Vinyasa, and we still stuck with no problems or slipping. The Jade Harmony gripped well when wet or with slippery palms, as did the GuruGrid. Some mats became quite slick when wet, most notably the Manduka eKO and the Clever Yoga. It became increasingly difficult to hold poses like Downward Facing Dog without slipping once we warmed up a bit, and our palms got sweaty.
The traction on the mat/towel hybrid models improved when wet. We prefer to spray the hand and feet areas of the towels with a bit of water before class, as the improvement is significant.
Comfort and stability
This category rated how supported we felt and how stable the mats were when we practiced. The whole reason we use a yoga mat is to cushion our body from the floor and protect our joints and bones, but if it shifts around underneath you and does not provide a solid surface to practice on, then this defeats the purpose. We evaluated each mat based on the cushioning provided, as well as its stability.
The top-performing models in this category were some of the heaviest. The Manduka eKO, GuruGrid, and Yoloha all had adequate cushioning, and the weight kept it in place while we were practicing on it. While the Hugger Mugger Earth Elements was comfortable, it was also so light and thin that it tended to shift around on us a little bit. The Clever Better Grip was the "jumpiest" mat that we tested. While it has decent cushioning, it did not stay put and shifted underneath us every time we tried to jump from Downward Facing Dog to standing.
Durability is an important consideration when purchasing a yoga mat. Many companies tout their "green cred" via toxic-free manufacturing processes and zero-waste factories. While that's all well and good, the greenest option is to buy nothing, so if we can get a model that lasts through years of use, we are doing a far better thing than if we purchase something recyclable but falls apart in six months. While we weren't able to achieve six months of regular use with each mat during our three-month testing period, our team of testers practiced at least a dozen times on each model to see if any apparent flaws showed up. We then compared older and well-used mats that we had in our closets to see what a year or two of use did to it.
The model that scored highest for durability was the Yoloha; it showed no signs of breaking down or wear during our testing period. We also examined a tester's mat (that has over ten years of regular use) to find that it shows little signs of wear and tear. This mat is made of eco-friendly rubber and cork, ensuring it not only has a low impact on the environment but that it's long-lasting.
We were also impressed with the durability of the towel hybrid models we tested, like the Aurorae Synergy. Towel hybrid mats are meant to be thrown in the washer on occasion (if they get drenched with sweat), but we were skeptical that they could handle repeated washing. Even after multiple trips through the washing machine, there was no separation of the two layers or cracking and flaking on the backing. This mat is well-constructed and made to withstand many trips through the washing machine.
We had durability issues with some of the models in this review. We noticed that during the first few times we used the Clever Yoga and Gaiam Performance Cork, little flakes of the TPE or cork were coming off and sticking between our toes. The Clever Yoga mat is also prone to creasing and cracking. They ended up at the bottom of the pile one day during testing, and the weight of the other mats was enough to cause permanent creases in areas where they folded over themselves.
As for the rubber mats in this review, we had some mixed results with their durability. The Lululemon (Un) was easily stained if sweat was not wiped away, and the surface tends to wear down faster in the feet area. The textured surface on the Manduka eKO breaks down quickly due to the friction from your feet rolling back and forth over your toes in a Vinyasa-style class.
Not all rubber yoga mats fall apart, though! We were impressed with the design of the GuruGrid mat, and it was one of the most durable in the lot. It has a closed-cell layer on top of the rubber, which increases its longevity.
Portability is an important metric to consider if you use public transportation or walk/bike to get to and from your studio, or you are looking for a mat to take traveling. The models that we tested ranged in weight from one to almost eight pounds. Carting a heavy eight-pound mat from your car to the yoga room is not too big of a deal, but you'll start to notice the weight if you're carrying it on your back for long distances. You'll also want to think about the portability factor if you plan to bring an additional towel or two (if you practice Hot Yoga), in addition to a change of clothes, shower essentials, etc. Some days our yoga bag feels like a 20-pound survival kit!
The lightest and most compact model that we tested was the travel mat, the Lululemon (Un). This mat weighed in at two pounds and three ounces and can either be folded or rolled up compactly. Being able to fold a yoga mat is great, as it can then easily fit in a small carry-on or suitcase. However, this mat is skinny, and we recommend you use a blanket to provide extra cushion for intense joint poses. Another option is to place the Un on top of studio rental, as rentals can be known to provide sub-par traction.
The lightest yoga mat we tested was the Clever Yoga Better Grip (TPE), weighing just over two pounds. While this model is light, it doesn't roll up compactly. We had a hard time finding a bag that it would fit into, and if we tied it up with a strap, it developed creases. We would recommend this mat as a starter mat or one used for Barre or Pilates.
The Yoloha was also on the lighter side, weighing in at three pounds, eight ounces. Since it replaces your mat and towel, it's saving you both weight and space. The Manduka eKO and Lululemon Reversible were some of the heavier mats we tested. While it's not fun to cart such dense mats around, they were comfortable and stable, and the weight isn't a dealbreaker if you're carrying from your car to the studio.
Whether you are just getting started in your yoga journey or have been at it for years, we all need something underneath to facilitate our practice and provide a welcome cushion as we move through our poses. We hope our review has helped you in your decision-making process and that you've found the perfect option for whatever style or tradition you follow.
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