The Best Overall Mat
Yoloha Native Cork
3 lbs 4 oz | Material:
Cork and Eco-Friendly Rubber
Comfortable and stable
The Yoloha Native Cork Mat is the best in our review, taking the cake for the first time this year. Cork mats are a new fad in the yoga world, and we can't say enough about this one. It's comfortable and stable and provides excellent traction, whether your palms are dry or sweaty. Best of all is that it's durable; we used it over the course of one year and 100 classes, and it's still in excellent condition. It has a closed-cell surface, which increases durability and decreases absorption, leaving the mat smelling fresh and minimizing the wear and tear. After using the Yoloha side-by-side with the Manduka eKO mat, we can attest to its superior durability.
Weighing in at three pounds four ounces, the Yoloha is incredibly portable and does not sacrifice comfort. The top of the mat is a cork rubber blend, and unlike other mats, does not have a distinct rubber smell. If you're looking for a great all-around mat that can handle a vigorous Vinyasa class but still be comfortable enough for a Yin practice, this is our top choice.
Read review: Yoloha Native Cork
The Top Value
Lululemon Reversible (Un)
2 lbs 3 oz | Material:
The Lululemon Reversible (Un) is one of the least expensive (without sacrificing quality) mats in the yoga world. It offers the best quality for the price, ensuring exceptional traction and portability. Compared to mats that may deteriorate in quality after a few uses, the Lululemon (Un) will see you through hundreds of classes.
The extra-thin material is not the best for a Yin class; however, most studios will offer a blanket that can give you extra support. The (Un) is lightweight and can be folded to fit in a suitcase or bag and can also be rolled. If you do not wipe it down after a sweaty class, it may leave permanent stains on the material, though it does not affect its performance.
Read review: Lululemon Reversible (Un)
Best for Beginners
GuruGrid Eco-Friendly Premium
4 lbs 8 oz | Material:
Bottom: Eco-friendly Rubber, Top: Polyurethane
Great traction when wet
Easy to care for when doing hot yoga
Grid for allignment
Balance of cushion and stability
If you are new to yoga and looking to explore your practice, the GuruGrid may be the mat for you. It features a grid that allows you to easily find your alignment and gauge your progress in your practice. It's great for any style of yoga, as it is cushiony enough for your knees but still retains stability for standing poses. You can use this mat for hot yoga and non-heated yoga.
It costs a little more than your average starter mat, such as the Clever Yoga, but the quality is worth the price.
Read review: Guru Grid
Best for Hot Yoga
2 lbs 11 oz | Material:
Bottom: Polymer Environmental Resin, Top: Microfiber towel
Great traction when wet
Easy to care for when doing hot yoga
Less cushion than a regular 5mm mat
Somewhat slippery when dry
If you regularly practice a Hot Yoga style, you know that no matter how often you rinse your mat off in the shower or spray it with "rejuvenating" cleaners, once the funky smell sets in, it's there to stay. Maybe 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. If you practice in a heated room, this innovative hybrid mat is our Top Pick for Hot Yoga classes.
It doesn't provide the same amount of traction as some sticky mats on their own, but the traction is better than some towels that we've used, and you don't have to fuss with it during your practice.
Read review: Aurorae Synergy
Why You Should Trust Us
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 Bo Mountain Biking at Northstar 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. The first part of the testing was an intensive period of side-by-side comparison at Omni in South Lake Tahoe. We compared things like dry and wet traction and comfort, with all the mats lined up side by side.
Afterward, numerous testers put each one to the test over three months, giving us valuable feedback. We rated portability by comparing the manufacturer's stated weights with our measurements; we also toted them around and packed them into bags.
Related: How We Tested Yoga Mats
Analysis and Test Results
There seem to be more yoga mats on the market today than there are styles of yoga, and that's saying something! From inexpensive mats you can pick up at a big retailer to expensive specialty ones, the options are staggering. You might think that anything will do; after all, people have been practicing yoga for over 5000 years, long before the advent of sticky mats.
However, with the current trends towards more vigorous and flow-style classes, having a yoga mat with excellent traction makes a massive difference for your comfort and safety. Selecting the right one comes down to the style that you practice. Flow yogis want sticky mats, Yin yogis prioritize comfort first, and if you've joined the Hot Yoga craze, you want something that will keep you stable and won't absorb all your sweat and get too stinky.
Related: Buying Advice for Yoga Mats
Selecting the right yoga mat might also involve considering what it's made of. Many yoga practitioners have deep-rooted environmental sensibilities as part of their practice of Ahimsa, which involves compassion and "doing no harm" unto others, whether it's people, other living things, or the planet. If you're concerned about what your mat is made of and how it's manufactured, you'll be happy to know that some companies have gone a long way towards ensuring their mats are non-toxic and eco-friendly. We'll cover all of that and more below.
We've put our decades of yoga knowledge and practice to the page to help you find the right model so that it's one less distraction during your meditative practice. Below we'll discuss some of the pricing in the yoga mat market and what to look for when making a value-based purchase, and we'll also discuss how the different models fared in our test metrics.
Related: The Best Yoga Pants
A selection of yoga mats from this year's lineup!
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 and you end up sprawled out on your face, you'll pay for it later! 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. Most notably in this review, the Lululemon (Un) costs a fraction of the price of more expensive models but still offers exceptional 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 PVC or Cork mat, like the Yoloha, Gaiam Premium Sticky, or Kulae Elite Hot Hybrid, which 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.
The easiest ones to clean were the hybrid towel mats. The Mika Mat goes in the washing machine after use and hangs to dry. If hung in a 70-75 F room, it dried out overnight. There is no scrubbing or hosing involved, and they come out smelling clean and fresh each time.
The Clever Yoga mat attracted lint and animal hairs, and the textured upper surfaces made it difficult 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 who 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 don't require any traction, and some styles, like Bikram, do not involve any oppositional moves on your mat. 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 easier (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 Dog. The Manduka eKO and Guru Grid 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.
Traction on the latex side of the Lululemon (Un) is exceptional. You can see our reviewer is putting all her weight on her hands and feet.
The TPE model that we tested (the Clever Yoga Better Grip) claimed to be sticky did not offer much traction. Another disappointment was the Mika. This highly rated mat was more slippery than we anticipated, even when the mat and our palms were dry or wet. Mika states that the stickiness improves with use and when wet; while we did find an improvement in traction when our hands were wet and as time went on, it had nowhere near the sticking power of the Yoloha and Lululemon models.
The towel hybrid models were not ideal when it came to dry traction, as our palms didn't have much to dig into, and the surfaces felt slick; this is similar to how a regular towel on top of a yoga mat feels. However, if you wet the hands and feet are a bit, the traction improves immensely, which brings us to our next section, Wet Traction.
Wet traction is an important 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, likeLululemon's (Un) slick side and the Mika Mat. 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 Guru Grid. 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 Gaiam Performance Cork dried much faster than its competitors.
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 to practice on. 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, Guru Grid and Yoloha all had adequate cushioning, and the weight allowed it stay in one place while we were practicing on it. While the Prana E.C.O. and Hugger Mugger Earth Elements were comfortable, they were both so light and thin that they 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.
The Native provides plenty of cushion for your joints in poses like Camel.
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 that is 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 obvious 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 personal 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.
Bo Outland with the new round of mats.
We were also impressed with the durability of the towel hybrid models we tested, like the Mika Mat and Aurorae Synergy. These mats 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. However, even after multiple trips through the washing machine, there was no separation of the two layers or cracking and flaking on the backing in either. This mat is well-constructed and made to withstand many trips through the washing machine.
Mika about to take a bath in the washing machine.
We did have 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. We have an older version of the E.C.O. (which is also made of TPE) in our gear closet and noticed that it started to crack and separate after about a year of use.
After one practice, the Gaiam Performace Cork started to visibly flake away.
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 easily 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 something to travel with. 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 carry 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 models 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 very thin and we recommend you use a blanket to provide extra cushion for joint intense poses. Another option is to place the Un on top of a studio rental, as rentals can be known to provide sub-par traction.
You can see from the side view of the Lululemon (Un) that when folded, it gets very compact. It's easy to squish it down in a carry on or suitcase.
The lightest yoga mat we tested, was the Clever Yoga Better Grip (TPE), which weighs just over two pounds. While this model is light, it doesn't roll up compactly. In fact, 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 Clever Better Grip needs a mat strap to keep it together; however, a mat strap leaves a permanent visible mark.
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 heavier mats that we tested were the Manduka eKO and the Mika. While it wasn't fun to cart such heavy mats around, they were comfortable and stable, and the weight isn't a dealbreaker if you're carrying from your car to the studio.
The Yoloha is our first choice if shopping for a new mat. If it does not provide enough support, simply roll it over for more!
Whether you are just getting started in your yoga practice or have been at it for years, we all need something underneath to cushion our bodies and provide a landing zone for our occasional crashes. 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.