Clever Yoga Better Grip Review
Cons: Bulky, poor quality
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.
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. The spongy rubber material really holds on to sweat after a rigorous practice; this rubber also keeps its rubbery stink no matter how much you use or wash it.
It was challenging to clean this mat because of the way it absorbed sweat. Wiping it down did get all of the moisture off, but did not eliminate or even fade the rubbery smell. Lint and animal hair were 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 permanent creases or marks in it. This mat does not roll up well on its own, and you need a strap to keep it together; even straps left permanent marks in this mat.
This mat did not score high in this metric. The top surface has a design stamped into it, which became faded after just one use. The ridges on the second side are not significant enough to aid in the traction. When in high pressure poses like down-dog or warrior, it is easy for your hands and feet to slip. Our reviewers had to hold on to the edges of the mat when practicing down-dog to ensure no slipping.
Very few mats boast traction that improves when wet, and the Better Grip isn'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.
If you use the wavy bottom part of the mat, it gets a bit easier, purely because of the texture. However, that doesn't change the fact that this mat turns into a small ice rink when faced with a hot, sweaty practice. On a positive note, 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 practical either.
If you practice any heated yoga, look for a mat closed-cell technology. Closed-cell prevents your sweat (and the bacteria that are going to eat it and causes 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 1/4 inch of foam provides a lot of cushioning, and we appreciated the extra support for our joints and bones in a variety of poses in Yin or Pilates classes.
Thicker or softer mats usually sacrifice their stability for comfort. The Better Grip mat is just as unstable as 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 moved around a lot during practice, as well; it's extremely lightweight, weighing in at 1lb. and 8oz, and the TPE material is not sticky at all. The best yoga mat is one that you hardly think about during practice, and this is not that kind of mat.
We have a lot of experience with TPE mats; 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.
The Better Grip is one of the least durable mats we tested. The TPE material is very stretchy, meaning it can be altered easily. If something is left on it for an extended period, such as a yoga strap or it gets misplaced in your car or closet, it leaves a mark on the material. This mat also curls up on the sides if it gets left out in the sun, despite being advertised as UV resistant. If you store it tightly rolled, it will take on that shape and not like to lie flat, so you'll want to leave it unrolled as much as possible.
This mat only weighs 1lb 8.3oz, which is impressive for a 6.35mm mat. Surprisingly, it felt bulky and 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. It has a hard time holding its shape and comes unrolled unless it is forced together with something like a yoga strap. We recommend this mat to be used primarily at home, as it isn't the easiest to roll up, and would not make travel a bike or foot particularly easy.
The Better Grip is a true bargain in the yoga mat world. However, we would much rather spend our dollars on a mat that will hold up to the test of time and provide exceptional performance.
The Clever Yoga Better Grip mat has not changed our minds about thick mats. We prefer 4-5mm mats for most yoga and fitness purposes, and this 6.35mm mat does not fit the script. While it is incredibly wallet-friendly, we don't recommend it for yoga.
— Bo Outland & Cam McKenzie Ring