The Gaiam Performance Cork dries quickly after a sweaty yoga practice, is inexpensive, and does not hold on to smell. Unfortunately, it's not an incredibly high-quality mat because of how fast the cork peels away from the mat itself. While it's an affordable option for someone looking to dip their toe in the hot yoga world, it isn't an option that will last as intended for years to come.
Gaiam Performance Cork Review
Cons: Poor quality, does not roll up or lay flat well
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Cork mats have grown in popularity over the past couple of years in the yoga world, and we had high hopes for this affordable cork mat option. However, much to our disappointment, this mat did not live up to our expectations. After the first use, the Gaiam Performance Cork started to deteriorate; the cork peeled away from the top layer after the first use, which is disappointing for a 40 dollar product.
Ease of Care
The Performance Cork does not have the usual rubber smell that a lot of mats have, primarily because it is made out of cork. It dries quickly after a hot yoga class, but the quality is sub-par, and that's being optimistic. After the first use, the cork started peeling away, revealing the mesh bottom. It wasn't easy to wipe down, as we were worried the cork might peel away even more.
After three uses of this mat, it was almost completely ruined, versus the Yoloha, which is a high-quality cork mat that didn't show any wear and tear. The cost is steep for how quickly we noticed wear and tear. While it does dry fast and does not hold onto sweaty smells, this mat received a low ease of care score.
The Performance Cork did not wow us in the dry traction arena. While adding a bit of water can make it tackier, better mats exist for the price point. If you're looking for a grippy mat for non-heated practice, we would suggest you look elsewhere.
Traction, when you are full-on sweating, gets much better. You're able to go the fullest expression of a pose without worrying about slipping and falling; we think this is the best quality of the mat, and can't say the same for every contender we tested. If you are unsure about hot yoga and want to try it out without renting from the studio, this mat excels as a lightweight option. However, we wouldn't find it suitable to use for long-term practice, as we experienced durability issues.
Comfort & Stability
The Performance Cork is quite comfortable and gives you a significant amount of cushion without impacting balancing poses. The real downfall is that it does not always stay in one place on the floor. During testing in a variety of classes, it moved around quite a bit, and we found ourselves frequently adjusting it.
Rolling out this mat is nearly impossible. It holds its rolled-up shape, but even after rolling it backward, we were not able to get it to lie flat, likely due to its light weigh. We recommend using a block to keep the mat rolled out on the floor, thus creating more stability.
The Performance Cork is not our idea of a durable mat. The cork is in flakes laid over a white mesh binder, and it started to flake off after the first use, detoriating more each time we practiced. While the mat is made for hot practice, hot yoga is precisely what made it fall apart.
While the Performance is one of the lightest mats we tested, it's also one of the most difficult to keep rolled up. It does not hold its shape and we recommend using a strap if you'd like to keep it rolled up. While it's an easy model to transport from point a to point b, we do not recommend traveling with it, as we do have durability concerns.
The Performance Cork may be a good option for someone who wants to try a more vigorous style of yoga. However, if you have a regular practice, or you're looking for an eco-friendly option or a mat that you won't need to re-purchase every so often, we would recommend looking elsewhere. If you're after a model that's wallet-friendly, we'd point you toward the Lululemon Travel Mat, our Best Buy winner. At nearly the same price point, it offers more traction and a higher level of durability.
Cork mats may be a new fad in the yoga world, but that does not necessarily mean all cork mats are ideal for long term use. While the traction is decent, this mat isn't the best option for those looking for a long-term mat, as the Gaiam Performance Cork started to peel away after our first use in a sweaty vinyasa class. It did not lay flat and we had a difficult time rolling it up to take to and from the studio.
— Bo Outland