The Clever Yoga Better Grip mat is one of the least expensive yoga mats we've ever purchased that still performs well, earning it our Best Buy award. This extra-thick mat is made with TPE, which is a "greener" alternative to PVC and is also recyclable (assuming you can find somewhere that accepts it). We typically prefer a slightly thinner mat for most yoga classes, as thicker ones can be squishy, which makes standing poses more challenging. The Better Grip mat did feel more compressed and solid than the other TPE mats that we tested, but not quite as stable as the Manduka PRO. We appreciate the extra cushioning for fitness classes though, so if you are looking for something for your Pilates or Barre classes, this mat is an excellent choice. And at $25, we wouldn't hesitate to pick it up for a niche use either, like the occasional Yin class where you like a little more padding.
Clever Yoga Better Grip Review
Cons: Bulky, thick mat isn't the best for balancing poses
Manufacturer: Clever Yoga
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Clever Yoga Better Grip is a thick yoga mat made of TPE (thermoplastic elastomer). Clever Yoga states that the TPE is "UV resistant, odorless and free from PVC, Phthalates, Silicone, Latex and other toxic materials." It's 6.35 mm thick, 25.25 inches wide and 72 inches long. It currently comes in about ten different color options, though we'd recommend going with a darker color to minimize the appearance of dirt and scuffs.
This mat got a good score for dry traction. Though not quite as sticky as some of the rubber models in this review, we did stick pretty securely.
The top surface has a design stamped into it, but the ridges are not significant enough to aid in the traction like they do on the Jade Harmony Professional, which had the best dry traction of any mat in this review. As such, you might start to feel a slight sliding action in poses such as Downward Facing Dog.
There are very few mats who's traction improves when wet, and the Better Grip wasn't one of them. Because the TPE material doesn't absorb any moisture, water (or sweat) just pools on the surface of the mat and makes it slippery.
The good side to this is that it won't absorb much sweat and get stinky, but if you're practicing hot yoga, you'll want to add a towel. Clever Yoga states that "you can just wipe your sweat off during your practice if you prefer not to have a towel on top of your mat," but that is not really practical either. You can also check out the Aurorae Synergy, which is a towel/mat combo, or the Lululemon The Mat, whose traction does improve with moisture.
If you practice any type of heated yoga, look for a mat like this one that is made with a closed-cell technology. This prevents your sweat (and the bacteria that are going to eat it and cause your mat to get stinky) from taking up residence in your mat, decreasing the smell and increasing its longevity. While no mat smells like roses after months and years in a hot room, a closed-cell mat will smell fresher for longer.
Comfort and Stability
This was one of the most comfortable mats in our review, and it received top marks for this category. The 6.35 mm of foam provide a lot of cushioning, and we appreciated the extra support for our joints and bones in a variety of poses.
Sometimes thicker or softer mats sacrifice their stability for their comfort. The Better Grip mat is more stable than the other TPE mats that we tested. The Prana E.C.O. and Hugger Mugger Earth Elements mats seemed to have a life of their own and moved around on us during class. The thicker Better Grip mat stays in place, and we felt safe practicing inversions on it. However, the thicker material did make balancing poses a little trickier. If you find yourself struggling in poses like Tree or Eagle, you may want to step off your mat for those poses.
We have a lot of experiences with TPE mats, and while this one held up fairly well during our testing period, it still showed the wear typical of this style of mat. Overall, it's going to be slightly less durable than a thick PVC mat like the Manduka PRO, but have a longer lifespan than an open rubber mat like the Jade Harmony Professional.
The good side to TPE is that it is UV resistant, so it won't break down like a rubber mat will if you forget it in your hot car. But TPE crease, dents, and gets marked very easily. The top surface is easily scratched, and if you set something heavy on it you might be left with a permanent dent. If you store it tightly rolled it will also take on that shape and not like to lie flat, so you'll want to leave it unrolled as much as possible.
This mat weighs only 2 lbs 5 oz, which is impressive for a 6.35mm mat. But we did find it bulky and a little more challenging to tote around, and its score reflects that.
Because this mat is so thick, when you roll it up it ends up having a wide diameter, and it doesn't fit in a lot of standard sized yoga mat bags. You'll want an adjustable strap style carrier for this one. While it's the same size as the Manduka Pro, it weighs 5 pounds less, so in that sense, it is much more portable. If you're looking for a mat that rolls up compactly, check out the Jade Harmony Professional. And if you need a mat for traveling that can fold up into a suitcase, we like the Gaiam Foldable.
Ease of Care
On the "surface" it would appear as though TPE mats are very easy to care for, but in many cases, we find them more challenging in their regular ease of case than some other mats.
Lint and animal hair seem to be attracted to this mat, and we had a hard time getting them off. While this style of mat doesn't require the "deep-cleaning" that you are supposed to do with rubber mats, we don't know too many people who actually put their mat in a bathtub regularly — usually it's a quick rinse off in the shower or a spray down with some mat cleaner and a towel. When you do clean it, you have to be careful how you hang it to dry if you don't want to end up with some permanent creases or marks in it. Finally, this mat did get some marks on it that we couldn't scrub off — we'd recommend a darker color to avoid the marks.
The Clever Yoga Better Grip is a great mat for a variety of styles and classes. We liked it particularly for Yin classes, where extra padding is nice when doing a lot of seated and prone poses. We also liked it when doing fitness classes on a mat, like Barre and Pilates, as it provides a lot of cushioning. This mat also works well for heated classes, when paired with a towel, as it won't absorb your sweat and get stinky like a rubber mat will.
The Better Grip retails for $25, which is a true bargain in the yoga mat world. Other inexpensive mats include the Gaiam Premium Sticky mat, which is thin and not at all comfortable. Both of the Prana and Hugger Mugger TPE mats retail for twice the price of the Better Grip, and they don't perform as well either. While we preferred this mat for certain styles over others (Yin and Hot Pilates as opposed to Vinyasa), with the low price point, we wouldn't hesitate to pick this mat up for a specific class use.
The Clever Yoga Better Grip mat has changed our minds a little about thick mats. Normally, we prefer 4-5mm mats for most yoga and fitness purposes, but this 6.35mm mat is so comfortable and still on the stable side. Best of all is the price ($25), which is one of the lowest in this review.
— Cam McKenzie Ring