Looking for a new yoga mat? After looking at over 60 options, we put 13 models through our side-by-side testing process. After dozens of yoga sessions and hours on the different mats, we were able to assess them on some important features, like how stable they were and how well our palms and feet stuck to the surfaces. We used them for several different styles of yoga and also general fitness classes, including Vinyasa, Yin, Hot Barre and Pilates. Since it's difficult to try out a yoga mat before you purchase it, we've done the "legwork" for you and have some great recommendations no matter what style you practice. Keep reading below to see our top overall pick along with other standout models for special concerns like comfort and travel.
The 10 Best Yoga Mats of 2018
|Price||$60.73 at REI|
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|$68 List||$69.95 at Amazon||$110.00 at MooseJaw|
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|Pros||Great traction, comfortable and stable||Great wet and dry traction, stable and comfortable||Great traction when wet, easy to care for when doing hot yoga||Lots of padding, will last a lifetime||Comfortable and thick, good traction and stability, lightweight, inexpensive|
|Cons||A little heavy, expensive||Heavy, strong odor, easily scratched||Not as much cushion as a regular 5mm mat, somewhat slippery when dry||Heavy, bulky, slippery when dry and wet||Bulky, thick mat isn't the best for balancing poses|
|Bottom Line||Top of the line mat that works well for a variety of styles.||This is a great mat for people with sweaty palms.||Great for hot yoga or people who like to use a towel over their mat.||This beefy mat is comfortable and stable, but has poor traction with both dry and sweaty hands.||A great option for those looking for a thicker mat or who don't want to spend a lot of money.|
|Rating Categories||Manduka eKO||The Reversible Mat||Aurorae Synergy||Manduka PRO||Better Grip|
|Comfort & Stability (20%)|
|Traction Dry (15%)|
|Traction Wet (15%)|
|Ease Of Care (10%)|
|Specs||Manduka eKO||The Reversible Mat||Aurorae Synergy||Manduka PRO||Better Grip|
|Materials||Natural rubber||Polyurethane, Rubber, Latex||Bottom: Polymer Environmental Resin, Top: Microfiber towel||Polyester, PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)||TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer)|
|Weight (lbs)||6 lbs 8 oz||5 lbs 7 oz||3 lbs 10 oz||7 lbs 13 oz||2 lbs 5 oz|
We've spent the last couple of months stretching and down-dogging on some new test models to make sure our review is up to date. We have a new Best Buy winner, the Clever Yoga Better Grip mat (only $25!), some travel mat recommendations so that you can take your practice on the go, and some updated long-term durability info on our favorite models.
The Best Overall Mat
The Manduka eKO is the best overall mat in our review for three years running now, and our testers' favorite mat to practice on. It's comfortable and stable, with great traction whether your palms are dry or sweaty. Best of all is its durability; we used it for over a year and at least 100 classes, and it's still in great shape. The eKO has a closed-cell top surface to increase durability and decrease absorption, leaving the mat smelling fresher for longer and minimizing the wear that typically wears out rubber mats faster than other materials. After using the eKO side-by-side with the Jade Harmony mat for several years now, we can attest to its superior durability.
The eKO is a little on the heavy side in the 5mm thickness that we tested, but not so heavy that you'll hurt yourself toting it around. It does have a slight rubber smell to start, but the odor quickly dissipates (unlike some other rubber models). It's also available in several different thicknesses: the 5mm thickness that we tested, the Manduka eKO lite 4mm, and the Manduka eKO lite 3mm. If lots of padding and support is your preference, go with the 5mm. If you're looking for a good balance between padding and not-too-squishy for standing poses, the 4mm is for you. And if you prefer only minimal padding but still want a little support, the 3mm is an excellent choice. No matter what thickness you prefer, 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 one after, this is the mat for you.
Read review: Manduka eKO
The Top Value
Clever Yoga Better Grip
Newer to the yoga accessory scene, Clever Yoga is making the least expensive TPE mat on the market today - only $25! That's a significant savings over the rubber models that we tested, and half the price of the other TPE mats in this review, the Prana E.C.O. and Hugger Mugger Earth Elements. We also thought it performed better than those TPE mats, as the thicker design of the Clever Yoga Better Grip (1/4 inch or 6.35 mm) make it less prone to moving around on you in class. This mat has good dry traction and only gets a little slippery when your palms get sweaty. The extra thick design was great in Yin classes (where you are sitting or laying down the whole time) and also for heated fitness classes, where jumping around barefoot on a yoga mat can leave you wanting some extra cushioning.
The extra thickness might throw you off a little when trying to balance on one leg, so keep that in mind if you normally have a hard time in balancing poses. And while it is lightweight, it's bulky and might not even fit in your standard mat bag. We also experienced some permanent creasing and marking on the Better Grip. This is a common problem with TPE models, so be aware of how you are storing or hanging it, and choose a darker color. None of these are deal breakers though considering the price and all-around good performance of this mat.
Read review: Clever Yoga Better Grip
Top Pick for Hot Yoga
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. You are also probably 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 and more. 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.
It doesn't provide the same amount of traction as some sticky mats alone, but the traction is better than some other towels that we've used, and you don't have to fuss with it during your practice. This mat costs around $60, but since it's a towel and a mat it's actually a great value. Finally, it's really well made and durable. We've now used this mat around 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.
Read review: Aurorae Synergy
Top Pick for Comfort
If you're looking for a yoga mat for gentle Yin classes where extra padding is welcomed, and you don't need great traction, the Manduka PRO is a great choice. It's 6mm of dense but still comfortable PVC, and while it's not the most "eco" of yoga mat materials out there, it also ranked highest for durability in our tests, which means that you won't have to replace it every year like a less durable rubber mat.
The traction on this mat left a lot to be desired, both with wet and even dry hands, which is why we recommend it more for gentler classes that don't require a lot of traction. And when you're spending over an hour sitting and lying on your mat, as you do in a Yin class, you want something with a little extra padding to cushion any protruding bones or joints. This was our favorite mat for those situations.
Read review: Manduka PRO
Top Pick for Travel
If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, you should always bring the Gaiam Foldable mat with you. It weighs only 1 pound, and takes up little to no space, as you can pack it flat inside your suitcase or carry-on bag. It has a sticky texture that offered better traction than the Gaiam Premium Sticky mat that we tested, and it is easy to wipe down clean after class.
What it doesn't have is a lot of comfort and stability; at only 2mm thick you can barely tell that there is something under you on a hardwood floor. But, when used over a rental mat or on a hotel room floor that you'd rather not lie down on, it feels just fine. It only costs $25, so even if you only travel occasionally, it won't break the bank to have one of these hanging around.
Read review: Gaiam Foldable
Great All-Around Mat
Jade Harmony Professional
We love the Jade Harmony Professional so much that we had to give it a little extra shout out. This mat has supreme sticking power, even when our hands got a little sweaty, and it was our favorite option for Vinyasa classes. Even after ten Sun Salutations, a racing heart and sweaty palms, we still stuck like a gecko to the rubber surface. This mat is 4mm thick, which is great for balancing poses (not too squishy) while still offering decent cushioning.
While we loved the stickiness of the rubber surface, it was also one of the least durable mats that we've tested. After about six months of regular use, the foot-end of the mat started to deteriorate (from repeated rolling over your toes in Vinyasa classes. It's also a little hard to keep clean. The top surface is so sticky that it tends to attract lint and small hairs, and doesn't give them up easily. Don't use this one at home if you have pets! While the Jade Harmony won our Editors' Choice award in previous reviews, the lack of durability in this mat compared to the Manduka eKO made it drop a few points in our estimation. It's great while it lasts, but with a regular practice, you'll be replacing it every six months to a year, which is a little disappointing.
Read review: Jade Harmony Professional
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 $20 yoga mats you can pick up at a big retailer to specialty ones that cost $100 or more, 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 great traction makes a huge difference for your comfort and safety. Selecting the right one for you often 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 won't absorb all your sweat and get too stinky.
Selecting the right yoga mat for you might also involve considering what it is made of. Many yoga practitioners also 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. If you're also in the market for clothes to wear to your next class, check out our Yoga Pants Review. 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.
There are a lot of inexpensive $20 yoga mats out there, but if it feels like a slip and slide as soon as your palms get sweaty and you end up sprawled out on your face, you'll pay for it at the chiropractor's later! Conversely, some models retail for over $100, and we're left wondering if the product is worth the expensive price tag, or if you are just paying for the logo. If you're looking for something that bridges the best of both worlds — high-performing and inexpensive — check out our Price vs. Performance chart below. We've graphed the cost of each model according to its price, and those that lie on the bottom right are a great value. Most notably in this review, that is the Clever Yoga Better Grip mat ($25), which costs a fraction of the more expensive models but still performs well.
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. Also, 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, however, 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. Here's how we scored each model for their Dry Traction:
The top scorer for Dry Traction was the Jade Harmony Professional. We stuck like geckos to the sticky rubber surface and experienced no slipping or need to re-adjust our hands in Downward Facing Dog. The Manduka eKO and Lululemon's The Reversible Mat were a close second for this category, but their smooth surfaces couldn't match the stickiness that the texture on the Harmony provides.
The Jade Voyager was equally sticky when used on top of another mat, but by itself on a hardwood floor there was no give in the thin material, and the traction didn't feel quite as good. The TPE models that we tested (Clever Yoga Better Grip, Prana E.C.O., and Hugger Mugger Earth Elements) were also fairly sticky. One disappointment was the Manduka PRO. This highly rated mat was more slippery than we anticipated, even when the mat and our palms were dry. Manduka states that the stickiness improves with use, and we did find a slight improvement in traction by about the tenth class, but it still had nowhere near the sticking power of the eKO and Jade Harmony models.
The towel hybrid models were also not ideal when it came to dry traction, as the surfaces felt slick without much give that our palms could dig into. This is similar to how a regular towel on top of any yoga mat feels. However, if you wet the hands and feet area 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 big 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 have good wet traction.
While most of the models that we tested had a decrease in traction when wet, there were a few that did improve, like Lululemon's The Reversible 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 Professional still stuck well when wetted or with slippery palms, as did the Manduka eKO. Some mats became quite slick when wet, most notably the Manduka PRO and the Gaiam Premium Sticky. 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 traction on the mat/towel hybrid models also improved when wet. In fact, we now prefer to spray the hand and feet areas of those towels with a bit of water before class as the improvement is so 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. So 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 PRO and eKO models and the Lululemon The Reversible Mat all had good cushioning, with the weight of the mat helping it stay in one place while we were practicing on it. The Clever Yoga Better Grip was also very comfortable and surprisingly stable for such a light mat. 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 Gaiam Premium Sticky 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 towel hybrids did not score so well in this category either. While their overall thickness was comparable to some of the mats in this review, (4mm for the Kulae and 5mm for the Aurorae), that includes the towel which doesn't provide much cushioning. It was difficult and even painful to try some poses on these mats, like Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), in which your weight is resting on your hip bones. The Aurorae is slightly thicker and offers a bit more cushioning than the Kulae, but it still did not have the same plush feel of a traditional yoga mat. And last, as well as least, were the travel mats. At only 1.6-2mm thick, they offered little to no padding and were not at all comfortable and stable.
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 Manduka PRO. It showed no signs of breaking down or wear during our testing period. We also examined a tester's personal mat that has over three years of regular use on it, and it still looks great. No chunks missing, cracking, or wearing away of the upper surface. This mat is made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). While PVC is not the most eco-friendly compound (it's a known carcinogen that releases toxic dioxins when burned) and many manufacturers like to tout that their mats are PVC free, Manduka asserts that the durability and longevity outweigh the negative aspects of the material. We'll leave that one up to you to decide — but if you do purchase one of the PRO mats make sure to pick a darker color (the lighter color that we tested marked up easily) that you won't get bored with since you'll be using it for a long time.
We were also impressed with the durability of the towel hybrid models that we tested: the Kulae Elite Hot Hybrid and Aurorae Synergy. These mats are meant to be thrown in the washer after each use (if they get drenched with sweat), and 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 of the backing in either of them. Both of these models are well-constructed and made to withstand dozens of trips through the washing machine. One tester went so far as to complete a 30-Day Challenge with the Kulae mat (30 classes in 30 days!), and at the end of it, the mat still looks virtually brand new. This is good news for the Hot Yoga lovers out there who practice daily.
We did have durability issues with some of the models in this review. We noticed that during the first few times we used the Prana E.C.O. and Hugger Mugger Earth Elements (very similar to each other), little flakes of the TPE were coming off and sticking between our toes. These TPE mats are also prone to creasing and cracking. They ended up at the bottom of the pile one day, and the weight of the other mats was enough to cause some permanent creases in areas where they got folded over themselves. We have an older version of the E.C.O. in our gear closet and noticed that it started to crack and separate a bit after about a year of use.
As for the rubber mats in this review, we had some mixed results with their durability. The Lululemon The Reversible Mat was easily scratched by our toenails, and the surface tends to wear down fast in the feet area. The textured surface on the Jade Harmony breaks down easily due to the friction from your feet rolling back and forth over your toes in a Vinyasa-style class. Because it has an open-cell design, the sweat and oils from your body penetrate the mat in the spots where your hands and feet usually press the most (top and bottom) and eventually stain it. As for the thinner Jade Voyager, the kind of wear seen on the Harmony below after about 60 classes would be enough to wear a hole through it, so that mat should only be used infrequently when traveling.
Not all rubber yoga mats fall apart though! We were impressed with the design of the Manduka eKO made it one of the most durable yoga mats in this review. It has a closed-cell layer on top of the rubber to increase its longevity, and our personal version of this mat has over 100 yoga sessions on it and is only now starting to show a bit of wear.
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 a deal, but you'll start to notice the weight if you're carrying it on your back for long distances, in addition to a towel or two (if you practice Hot Yoga), 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 were the travel mats, the Gaiam Foldable and Jade Voyager. These weigh 1 and 1.5 pounds respectively 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 suitcase, but these mats are so thin that they are only usable on top of a carpet or other mat.
Of the "regular" yoga mats that we tested, the lightest ones were the Prana E.C.O., Hugger Mugger Earth Elements, and Clever Yoga Better Grip (all TPE), which all weighed just over 2 pounds. While these models are light, they don't roll up that compactly, particularly the Clever Yoga mat which is 6.35mm thick. 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. Those factors influenced their portability scores a bit.
The Kulae Elite Hot Hybrid was also on the lighter side (2 lbs 11 oz), and since it replaces your mat and towel, it's saving you both weight and space. The heavier mats that we tested were the Manduka PRO and eKO models. While it wasn't fun to cart such heavy mats around, they were the most stable and comfortable ones that we tested, not to mention the most durable. The rubber mats all tended to be on the heavier end, with the Jade Harmony Professional the lightest of the bunch at 4 pounds 9 ounces.
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 TPE mat, 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 Aurorae Synergy and Kulae Elite Hot Hybrid go in the washing machine after use and hang to dry, and if hung in 70-75 F room they dried out overnight. There is no scrubbing or hosing involved, and they come out smelling clean and fresh each time. We got some stains on the Aurorae at one point, and they came out in the next wash cycle with a little stain remover spray and no scrubbing on our part. The downside to this system is that you might need more than one mat if you have a daily practice but don't like to run your washer after each class.
Of the traditional models we tested, the Manduka PRO and Gaiam Premium Sticky were the easiest ones to keep clean in terms of their regular care. They are "closed-cell" mats, so don't require regular deep cleaning, and the smooth upper surfaces wiped down easily and didn't hold on to lint or stray hairs. We did have some issues with dirt staining on the Manduka PRO though. Our feet left "dirt imprints" on the back end of the mat, and these marks did not want to come off. In this mat's defense, we did choose a lighter color, and if we had purchased it in black, we might have never even noticed the dirt. However, it was disappointing to have to practice on a dirty looking mat.
The TPE mats all 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.
When it came to deep cleaning, rubber mats like the Jade and Lululemon The Reversible Mat took several days to dry out afterward, and you can't leave them in the sun to help hasten the process as that will degrade the material. While all this cleaning may seem like a pain, it is recommended to help lengthen the life of your yoga mat and prevent the buildup of odors and stains.
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.
— Cam McKenzie Ring