Manduka has a great reputation in the yoga mat industry and makes a variety of popular mats. They are best known for their original Black Mat PRO and the lighter PROlite series. We've retested the Manduka PRO in our updated review; while it came up short, we liked it for gentle Yin classes or times when we felt like we needed some extra padding. The PRO doesn't have great traction, dry or wet, and comes with a long break-in period, so if you do a lot of Down Dogs in your practice, this might not be the best option for you. This mat has a closed-cell construction and shouldn't absorb oil and sweat like open-cell rubber mats do, making the ease of care somewhat easier. This mat is expensive though, and they use some laudable manufacturing processes; you could always just buy two PVC mats and stack them on top of each other if you were looking to save a few dollars.
Manduka PRO Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lots of padding, will last a lifetime
Cons: Heavy, bulky, slippery when dry and wet
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Manduka PRO mat is made of polyester and PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a plastic polymer. While there are more "eco" materials used to make biodegradable mats, like natural rubber, PER (polymer environmental resin) or TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer), Manduka considers this line of mats to be an "environmentally conscious choice," as the PVC is eco-certified as zero-waste, and they design their mats for durability. They also say that their mats "rarely end up in landfills like inexpensive sticky mats," though we're not sure we would attest to that. This mat weighs a whopping 7 lbs 13 oz and measures 71" long by 26" wide and 6mm thick. While this mat didn't receive a very high overall score, due to the traction issues and lack of portability, it did still stand out for its great comfort and stability.
The dry traction on this mat felt similar to that of the yoga towels in this review, which is to say not very good. Even at the start of class, when our hands were still dry, and we hadn't even started working up a sweat yet, Down Dogs felt a little slippery and insecure.
Manduka advertises that this mat needs a break-in period, and it's true. When we first unrolled this mat and compared its wet and dry traction to the Jade Harmony and Lululemon The Mat, it came up far short. We wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt, though, so we kept using it, and by around the 10 class mark, we did notice the dry traction improving slightly. That said, it was still nowhere near as sticky as the other top models.
While the dry traction on this mat was not stellar, the wet traction was downright slippery. We had to stop and wipe our hands on a hand towel, even in a non-heated class, to prevent ourselves from slipping, and our feet felt slightly insecure as well.
Manduka recommends using this mat for Hot Yoga classes, as its closed-cell design keeps the sweat and bacteria out, but if you do, you'll want to use a towel with good traction on top of the mat to minimize slipping.
Comfort and Stability
This mat scored at the top of the pack for comfort and stability. The 6mm thickness provides ample cushion for even the boniest yogis, but the overall effect is still stable and not squishy. This mat is so heavy that it won't move around on you when jumping from Downward Facing Dog to standing, and you can feel secure performing head and arm balances on it.
Durability was another standout area for this mat. Manduka touts this line as having excellent durability, and we can attest that these mats do have a long life. One of our testers has been using this mat for almost three years with little sign of wear or deterioration. When the apocalypse comes, all that will be left will be the cockroaches and this mat.
This mat weighs almost eight lbs, making it the heaviest model in this review. While it rolls up fairly tightly, it is a noticeable brick in your yoga bag. However, if you're the kind of person who regularly drags two mats to class for extra cushion, then using just one of these mats instead might lighten your load a bit.
Ease of Care
The Manduka PRO was relatively easy to care for. This mat has a closed-cell construction and doesn't require the deep cleaning that a rubber mat needs. Simply wipe the mat down with water after a sweaty class or use some Mat Renew Spray to freshen it up a little.
As easy as the regular cleaning is, we did have to knock a few points off, as we tested this mat in a lighter color and found it challenging to keep it clean. It marked easily and eventually the back of the mat where our feet usually are started to turn darker and dirty, and it stayed that way. It's lovely that these mats come in a variety of bright and light colors, but we've realized there's a reason for the standard black or dark purple mats — it's harder to see the dirt.
The Manduka PRO is one of the most expensive mats in our review. If you've been replacing cheaper mats every year or so, then maybe this will save you money in the long run, but it does feel like a lot of money to spend on a mat, particularly when it doesn't have the best traction.
The Manduka PRO is an incredibly comfortable mat. It doesn't have the best traction and isn't our favorite overall, but is a great option for those looking for some extra padding.
This mat also comes in a PROlite version, which is thinner (4.5mm) and not as wide (only 24 in) for only $80.
— Cam McKenzie Ring