Best Yoga Mats Compared - The Expert Review

Best Yoga Mats Compared - Expert Review

I’m just going to say it: the relationship you have with your yoga mat is intimate.



All sports require equipment, but the mat you practice on is a place you'll experience ecstasy, transformation, vacations and even tears. Your mat IS your sacred space. It's the supportive sidekick of your yoga journey, yet also the surface on which that very journey takes place. Finding the mat that fits you and your practice is essential. 

Let’s take a look at the top mats of 2015 comparing material, thickness, weight, stickiness and price, in the hope that YOU can discover your yoga mat soulmate.   
  
 
 

First Vinyasa: The mat lacks texture. It’s just a flat, black, surface, but incredibly non-slip. Cushioning is minimal. If I had to describe this mat in a metaphor, I’d say it’s dry like the desert.

Thickness: 5mm (size is 68” X 24”) It’s not as long as some of the other mats, but this didn’t bother me at all when practicing. 

Material: Rubber-free and latex-free absorbent material. Perfect for those with a latex sensitivity. 

Sweat Test: A+ You could use this mat as an umbrella. No matter how much water I spritzed on it, I stayed secure and slip-free. The mat’s top layer absorbs moisture like a magic trick. 

 
 

SUMMARY

Grade: A- 

My Pick for: Bikram yogis and hot vinyasa yogis who know they’re going to drench the mat 

Pros: Secure and slip-free, stays magically dry for sweaty, humid classes

Cons: Lacks texture, depth, and the cushioning you might want in a more traditional (not hot) practice

 
 

First Vinyasa: Feels slippery at first to touch, but this seems to enhance the mat’s stick factor after breaking it in. Love the size. Dimensions feel just right. 

Thickness: 4.7mm (size is 71” X 24”) Marketed as “travel-friendly.” Thin but sturdy. Love the extra inch of length.

Material: Fabric-like proprietary Manduka closed cell construction (prevents moisture and slipping, keeps out bacteria)

Weight: 4 pounds. Not heavy, but not light either. 

Sweat TestI slipped and slid as soon as I got the mat wet. Didn’t feel like I could safely maintain downward dog.  

 
manduka pro lite sweat test
 

SUMMARY

Grade: B 

My Pick for: Alignment focused yogis who love Hatha, Iyengar and want to travel

Pros: Nice long length, lifetime guarantee, sticky once broken in, lightweight 

Cons: Pricey, doesn’t maintain stickiness when wet 

 
Manduka PRO ($108 retail, $98 at Yoga Outlet)
 
 

First Vinyasa: This has the fabric-like texture of the Manduka Pro Lite mixed with the dry grip of the Gaiam Sol, an awesome combination. Like all Manduka mats, it needs to be broken in.

Thickness: 6mm (size is 71” X 26”) Two inches wider than standard mats to help you practice comfortably. 

Material: Fabric-like proprietary Manduka closed cell construction (prevents moisture and slipping, keeps out bacteria)

Weight: 7 pounds. Heaviest mat in this review. 

Sweat TestB+ I was happily surprised that even when wet, this mat stays sticky and safe.  
 
 
 

SUMMARY

Grade: A

My Pick for: Yogis who want a hybrid mat with texture that’s still sweat-proof

Pros: Nice texture, sticky when moist, large and spacious, life-time guarantee 

Cons: Expensive and heavy

 
Jade Harmony ($74.95) - Also comes in a long 74" version 
 

First Vinyasa: Ideal combination of cushioning and traction. While Manduka mats need to be broken in, Jade feels fantastic to grip from day one. Open cell construction makes it stretchier and springier than Manduka mats. 
 
 
 
 

Thickness: 5mm (size is 74” X 24”) Longer and thinner than Manduka Pro. Even though it’s technically thinner, it feels like it has more cushioning because of the springy, open cell construction. 

Material: Eco-friendly natural rubber tapped from rubber trees (no PVC)

Weight: 4.5 pounds. Substantive, but sill easy to carry around. 

Sweat TestB+ Like Manduka Pro, stays sticky when wet, but still doesn’t offer the traction of the Gaiam Sol

 

SUMMARY

Grade: A

My Pick for: Yogis who want a hybrid mat with texture that’s still sweat-proof

Pros: Perfect balance of comfort and traction, not too heavy, holds up well to moisture  

Cons: Not appropriate for those allergic to latex, pending color choice can dirty easily, smells strongly of rubber for first two weeks

 
 
 

First Vinyasa: It’s SO cushion-y. I feel like I’m doing yoga on a cloud. There’s an element of buoyancy, lightness, and it’s sticky too!

Thickness: 5mm (size is 72” X 24”) Amazing cushioning. The mat makes my whole practice feel lighter.   

Material: TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer), PVC free, no latex or rubber of any kind (non-toxic). Pretty Henna art of the top of the mat. 

Weight: 2.2 pounds This mat it LIGHT. It rolls up thick, but is so light you won’t mind carrying it everywhere you go. 

Sweat TestB The springy texture of that mat absorbed moisture well. That said, it’s clear this mat wasn’t designed for hot yoga. 

 
 

SUMMARY

Grade: B+ 

My Pick for: Yogis on a budget who want to soar into arm balances and inversions, then land on a springy surface

Pros: Lightweight, long, superior cushioning, great price! 

Cons: Doesn't handle moisture as well the Jade, Manduka and Gaiam Sol

 
Hugger Mugger Para Yoga Mat ($100 retail, $69 at Yoga Outlet!)
 

First Vinyasa: Wow, it’s sticky! I’m impressed and feel insanely safe, with no risk of slipping at all. Feels (and smells) VERY rubbery.

Thickness: 6mm (size is 70” X 24”) Shorter than Jade, but with more cushioning. 

Material: Renewable, natural rubber. Similar to a brand new Jade mat, it *really* smells like rubber when new.

Weight: 6.05 pounds This mat is heavy. Rolls up thick.

 
 

Sweat TestA-

It’s always possible to slip on a mat slick with sweat, but the odds of slipping seemed VERY low with the Para Yoga Mat. The mat felt secure and sticky, even when spritzed with water. 

 

SUMMARY

Grade: A 

My Pick for: The sweaty folk, men, people into hot yoga

Pros: Super sticky, decent cushioning, resists sweat well 

Cons: Heavy, rolls up thick

 
Hugger Mugger Tapas Ultra Mat ($39.95, $35.99 at Yoga Outlet)
 
 

First Vinyasa: It’s sticky, stable, with just the right amount of cushioning. I really like its cheerful, deep blue color too. 

Thickness: 6mm (size is 68” X 24”) 

Material: 100% PER, antimicrobial, free of heavy metals and phthalates 

 


Weight: 2.5 pounds. Easy to carry around. 

Sweat TestC Similar to the Manduka Pro Lite, this mat just didn’t hold up well when spritzed with water. 

 

SUMMARY

Grade: B 

My Pick for: Beginner yogis on a budget 

Pros: Sticky when dry, good cushioning, easy to transport, great price

Cons: Hands may slip with excessive sweat and moisture 

 

Author 

Brett Larkin teaches vinyasa flow yoga at top San Francisco studios and on her YouTube channel, where thousands of students have studied with her for more than 10 million minutes. Find her "yoga hacks," yoga teacher training tips, and free yoga/meditation classes at BrettLarkin.com