Finding the best yoga mat is crucial.
While you can easily get a cheap yoga mat at any big-box retailer, these low-quality mats tend to fall apart quickly or can get slippery when you sweat.
Even if you are a beginner or only an occasional yoga-goer, it’s worth your time to get a high-quality yoga mat.
We’ve looked in detail at the top options on the market right now; here are our top ten rankings.
1. Manduka PRO
Manduka makes a dense, incredibly strong yoga mat that’s widely lauded as one of the top models on the market. It comes in both a 75” and an 81” length, so it’s especially good if you are tall.
Users love its grip and its durability. The only drawback? All that toughness and durability means It’s very heavy!
2. Liforme Yoga Mat
Liforme makes an excellent yoga mat that’s well-suited for beginners and experts alike. Its 26 inch width is great if you have broad shoulders, and it features alignment markers to help you with your poses.
At 4 mm thick, it’ slim enough to give you a lot of stability for difficult poses. The durability and grip of a Liforme mat are legendary–daily use for years isn’t unheard of, and it’s well-suited for hot yoga.
3. YogaRat Yoga Towel
Slim, lightweight, and made of microfiber, the Yogarat Yoga Towel is incredibly popular for hot yoga. It soaks up tons of sweat while retaining grip, and unlike most other yoga mats, is both machine washable and machine dryable. It’s a popular choice among people who like to travel light. At 72 inches in length and 24 inches wide, it’s not quite as roomy as some of its other competitors.
4. Aurorae Synergy
Aurorae Synergy is specially designed for hot yoga. It’s double-sided; one side is a standard synthetic rubber, while the other is a firm, strong microfiber towel.
The two are bonded to each other, so no matter how hot and sweaty your yoga session gets, you won’t be slipping. The two-in-one design means it’s exceptional at hot yoga, but a bit lackluster at other practices.
It’s not the greatest for outdoor practice, as the microfiber towel will pick up leaves and twigs, and the Aurorae Synergy can be trickier to clean than a full synthetic mat. Still, for hot yoga, it’s hard to beat.
Hot yoga tends to push yoga mats to their limits, and people who sweat a lot can have a hard time with standard rubber or synthetic mats. The Aurorae synergy is our pick for hot yoga thanks to its ability to soak up sweat, even though you do need to wash it more often than a standard yoga mat.
5. Suga Recycled Wetsuit Mat
Suga is a small company with a dedicated following that praises its closed-loop recycling practices. Its yoga mats are made from recycled surfing wetsuits, giving them a unique, grippy feel and good durability.
Because of this unusual material, they are somewhat heavier than a comparable mat of the same dimensions. The Suga mat is 5 mm thick, and at 25 inches wide, is just a bit roomier than average in the shoulders.
6. Hugger Mugger Ultra Nature Collection
Though it’s slim and a little restrictive in size, the tough, grippy surface and the antimicrobacterial treatment that Hugger Mugger applies to their yoga mat makes this a good choice for outdoor yoga.
It can handle rougher terrain than a cheaper yoga mat, and thanks to its synthetic design, isn’t going to break down because of heat or sunlight.
7. B Mat Everyday
The B Mat Everyday is made from natural rubber, and is one of the slimmest yoga mats you can get that will still hold up under regular use.
It’s only 4 mm thick, so if a thicker mat leaves you feeling unstable, the B Mat will be right up your alley.
It’s not the best when it comes to grip under sweaty conditions, so Bikram and hot yoga enthusiasts might want to look elsewhere.
8. Gaiam Ultra-Sticky Yoga Mat
Gaiam is well-known for reasonably priced yoga mats that are beginner-friendly and are perhaps the most common brand you’ll see at retail stores.
While their Ultra-Sticky mat is a step up from their introductory model, it still doesn’t score well with users. Despite the name, many people still find it very slippery for inversions and other tricky maneuvers.
9. prAna Indigena Natural Yoga Mat
prAna makes a 100% natural rubber mat that’s accessible and easy to find. The surface is very grippy, but the material is a bit flimsy, and as with other natural rubber mats, tends to deteriorate in direct sunlight.
Many users find that it has a distinctive rubbery smell, especially when you first start using it.
10. Jade Harmony
Jade Harmony’s yoga mat is made from 100% natural rubber, with no synthetic ingredients. This has advantages and disadvantages–the natural rubber is very grippy, but this also necessarily means that the surface is rougher than most.
Another issue with the natural rubber composition is that it will break down over time if exposed to direct sunlight, so this is definitely not the mat for you if you want to do yoga outdoors.
Its open-cell construction also means that it absorbs sweat and dirt more readily, and is tougher to get clean.
Who should buy a yoga mat?
Once you’ve started doing yoga on a regular basis, it’s time to get a mat for yourself. Even if you are still a beginner, having your own yoga mat can make learning a lot easier.
You know what to expect from your mat in different poses, and if you make a good choice, you’ll have a mat that’s the right size, provides enough cushioning and also stability, and has a good grip even when you’re sweaty. If you’re relying on whatever yoga mats happen to be on hand at the yoga studio or the gym when you practice yoga, you’re not going to have as consistent of an experience.
Not only that, you’re relying on the gym staff to clean off the mats, and if they don’t do a good job, you could end up with a staph infection or ringworm in your skin.
Psychological research also suggests that buying a yoga mat can help you be more consistent with practice—buying a mat acts as a form of self-investment.
Because you’ve spent money on something, your brain will start to think of it as a bigger priority in your life. You might observe a similar phenomenon when you start paying for a yoga class, versus dropping in with a friend for free. This seemingly paradoxical result also explains why paid weight loss programs are more effective than free ones.
People who are tall, have broad shoulders, or who sweat a lot will get even more benefit from taking the time to choose a high-quality yoga mat.
If you’re tiny and don’t sweat much, any old yoga mat might work fine for you. But size constraints and performance when wet are some of the biggest differentiators among lower and higher quality yoga mats, so if these characteristics matter to you, you’ll definitely want a high-quality yoga mat.
How we ranked
While many people evaluate yoga mats based only on appearance, our focus was performance. We took several criteria into account, including the size, thickness, material construction, and grip, particularly when the mat is wet from sweat and humidity.
Bigger and thicker aren’t always better—if you’re relatively short or have narrow shoulders, a big mat is only going to mean more weight to lug around without any real benefit. As such, we selected a range of products with a range of sizes for possible inclusion in our rankings.
Aside from the size, the most obvious difference among yoga mats is thickness. And again, thicker isn’t always better. Super-thick yoga mats can be unstable, particularly if the material is too soft. Research on footwear has echoed these findings: shoes with thin soles are much more stable than shoes with thick, soft soles. These same reasons are why gymnasts and martial artists go barefoot (and why yoga is traditionally practiced barefoot, for that matter).
So, while people with bony feet may want to opt for a thicker mat, we rejected products for our rankings if they were too thick and too soft. A thick but rigid mat is no problem, though it does mean more weight to carry around.
The material of a yoga mat is largely what determines its longevity. Cheap yoga mats that you can get at department stores might feel pretty good underfoot right away, but the foam used to make them will quickly collapse or wear down, leaving unsightly scuffs and eventually a completely useless yoga mat.
Higher-quality products last much longer, and can be used in more rugged settings—a very important characteristic if you do outdoor yoga. Rocks and sticks will easily puncture cheap department-store yoga mats.
We sought out reviews from dedicated users who had used a particular mat for several months at a time to see which brands held up under strenuous use conditions.
Since many yogis are eco-conscious, we also paid attention to the environmental impact of the materials used to make the mat. Products like the Suga mat, which is made from recycled wetsuits, scored extra points for its eco-friendly design.
We also paid close attention to how each yoga mat performed in hot, sweaty conditions. Given the rising popularity of hot yoga practices like Bikram, hot yoga practitioners want a mat that is grippy and doesn’t slip when it gets sweaty.
Along with this criteria, we also checked to see how easy it was to clean off a yoga mat after it gets sweaty. Mats with a microfiber surface perform great when they get wet, but can be a real pain to clean compared to a foam mat.
Finally, though it was a secondary criteria, we checked to see if a yoga mat had a rubbery smell when it was freshly unpackaged. Though this smell goes away within a week or so, it can be pretty annoying, especially in a small yoga studio. As such, we deducted points in the overall rankings from products that had a rubbery off gassing smell.
By weighing yoga mat performance across all of our criteria, we came up with our final, comprehensive list of the best yoga mats of the year.
You have a few options for choosing a yoga mat’s material. In terms of the composition of the mat, you have two basic choices: natural rubber or a synthetic compound.
The thickness of your mat will dictate the degree to which it aids or hinders your balance, and the conditions in which you’ll be using your mat will affect whether you want an open cell or closed cell material.
Before the most recent surge in yoga’s popularity, high quality yoga mats were hard to find. Those that you could find were usually made with rubber. Now, there are a lot of alternatives, each of which has benefits and drawbacks.
Rubber (technically latex rubber) comes from the sap of the rubber tree, which is grown in the rainforest. As such, rubber is a natural material, though it can be toughened and improved with industrial processing.
Natural material enthusiasts will usually opt for a rubber yoga mat, though there are some important reasons you might want to consider an alternative.
First off is rubber’s resiliency. While it is naturally a very stretchy and springy material, it does not handle extremes of environment very well. Research on the chemistry of latex rubber demonstrates that the latex molecules tend to break down after exposure to ultraviolet light or heat (1).
This is not good news if you plan on doing yoga outdoors, or if you have a habit of leaving your yoga mat in your car while you are at work. Heat from a hot summer day can easily exceed 150 degrees fahrenheit, which will make short work of the latex molecules in your yoga mat after a few weeks of constant exposure (2).
Ultraviolet light can damage rubber yoga mats. Ultraviolet light is especially problematic, because the high-energy photons in from an ultraviolet light source–like the sun–constantly bombard the latex rubber molecules in a traditional yoga mat, which breaks down the molecular bonds that hold it together over time.
A third reason makes natural rubber an unattractive material for yoga mats for a small fraction of the population. About one percent of the general population is allergic to latex, but this number climbs much higher among people who are exposed to latex on a regular basis.
This can include doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who wear latex gloves (3). Once your body develops a sensitivity to latex, you might find yourself getting redness, irritation, itching, or rashes from a latex rubber. If this is the case, you might want to opt for a synthetic mat.
Many high-end yoga mats are not made from latex. A wide range of synthetic rubber substitutes are available, and each company usually has their own special formulation for optimal grip, durability, and springiness.
With some lower quality brands, there are concerns about “off-gassing”–this is the slow evaporation of volatile compounds that are a byproduct of the manufacturing process.
When you walk into a freshly-painted room and are overwhelmed by the sickly-organic smell, that’s off-gassing. Cheap, poorly-produced yoga mats can off-gas toxic compounds, since the materials that go into the mat are usually byproducts of petroleum processing.
Quality manufacturers will guarantee that there are no toxic or volatile compounds in their mats, so this is less of a concern.
Closed cell yoga mats can resist sweat better than open cell mats. Synthetic yoga mats usually feature “closed cell” construction, meaning that the microscopic foam cells that make up the mat are hermetically sealed–they are air and water-proof, so sweat and dirt won’t get inside the mat (4).
This contrasts with a natural rubber mat, which is often open cell foam. These do tend to soak up sweat, making them get dirtier easier and more difficult to clean and dry.
With a closed cell mat, cleanup is easy as a simple wipe-down. However, the open-cell construction of a natural rubber mat (as well as a handful of synthetic mats) does tend to make them grippier under hot and sweaty conditions.
High-quality synthetic mats can usually match this with special treatments that make their materials equally grippy, but not all manufacturers can achieve this.
Thickness varies widely from mat to mat. In terms of thickness, there’s a tremendous range of options, from thin and firm 3 to 4 mm mats to cushy mats that are twice as thick or more.
Two factors are going to affect your level of comfort and your ability to perform on surfaces of different stiffnesses. The first is how well your body tolerates hard surfaces.
On the bottom surface of your foot (especially on your heel and around the ball of your foot) your body has deposits of fat that are explicitly for cushioning. However, the thickness of these pads varies across the population quite substantially (5).
Some people have well-cushioned feet, while others have relatively little fat, and the bony parts of their heel and the ball of the foot protrude more.
For those with less fat under their feet, they will be less able to tolerate a very thin yoga mat without getting foot pain, and may want to opt for something thicker.
As you get older, the thickness of these fat pads tends to shrink, so older yogis might want to gravitate towards a thicker mat too.
The tradeoff for more cushioning is slightly worse balance. There is a comprehensive body of scientific research into the effects of varying levels of underfoot cushioning on single leg balance, and it all indicates that a softer surface is more challenging for balance (6).
If you struggle already with single-leg poses, a thin mat might give you a leg up when it comes to improving your postural stability.
Q: How thick of a yoga mat should you get?
A: The default thickness of a yoga mat is one eighth of an inch (or about 3 mm). Thicker mats clock in with a thickness of around a quarter inch (6 mm), and are popular sizes among premium brands.
You can get even thickener mats, but these are not recommended unless you have a specific therapeutic need (e.g. sharp knee pain that is aggravated with thinner mats).
If you’re looking for versatility, a quarter inch or 6 mm is a good place to start, though you should also pay attention to the material the yoga mat is made out of. A firm 6mm mat can feel much more stable than a soft 3 mm mat.
Q: What is the best size of a yoga mat?
A: A “standard” yoga mat is usually 24″ by 68″, but this isn’t the right size for everyone. Taller people will want to opt for a longer mat—some brands come in lengths of up to 81”.
A longer mat can also be incredibly useful for doubling up the mat for kneeling poses, so don’t think that a longer mat is only for tall people.
Width shouldn’t be overlooked either. People with broad shoulders may find 24 inches a little too restrictive; indeed, premium yoga mats often add another inch or two for more comfort.
Q: How wide should your yoga mat be?
A: As noted above, most standard yoga mats are 24 inches wide. If you have broad shoulders, or if you just want to have a little more breathing space, you can opt for a wider yoga mat. Just be aware that the width of your yoga mat is what dictates how long it is when rolled up—an extra wide yoga mat will take up more space when rolled compared to a standard yoga mat.
As with increases in length and in thickness, wider yoga mats will also be heavier, so keep this in mind if you need to carry your yoga mat around a lot.
Q: How much is a yoga mat?
A: Yoga mats can range from as cheap as $12 to nearly $150 for some of the top of the line premium models. As with most health and fitness products, you get what you pay for.
A cheap yoga mat is liable to fall apart fairly quickly, and won’t be made of high quality of material. Higher end and more expensive mats tend to be thicker, more rugged, and larger.
They also have nice features like ergonomic carrying straps and much better performance when you are sweaty. People often start with a cheap mat, but as they progress in their yoga practice, quickly discover the limitations that come from lower quality mats and switch to a higher-end product.
Q: What is the best yoga mat for beginners?
A: Beginners might be tempted to get a big, thick mat that feels comfortable, not realizing that mats that are too soft are unstable and difficult to balance on.
Another classic beginner mistake is to choose the cheapest mat on the market, then struggle when the mat gets sweaty or begins to deteriorate after several weeks of use.
Several of our top picks, like the Liforme mat and the Yogarat Pro, are great choices for beginners because they are thick enough to be forgiving on a hard surface like concrete, but not too soft to be unstable.
Q: What’s the best kind of yoga mat for men?
A: Generally, men are taller, have broader shoulders, and sweat a lot more than women. While this isn’t true for all men, it’s certainly the rule rather than the exception.
Because of these characteristics, men will benefit from premium quality yoga mats that are wider, longer, and have better grip when sweaty.
The Manduka Pro is an excellent choice for men, with both 75 and 81 inch length options and excellent grip even when drenched in sweat. If sweat is a real problem for you, check out the Aurorae Synergy—its microfiber design means that you can maintain grip even if you are pouring sweat. Just make sure you clean it well after it gets sweaty!
Q: Do you need a yoga mat to do yoga?
A: Technically, you don’t need a yoga mat, but many studios and gyms require it. They want to keep any sweat or germs that you might be shedding on something you own, and using a mat helps avoid a sweaty mess on the floor.
Even if you are doing yoga on your own, you’ll quickly find that hard surfaces are extremely uncomfortable in some poses. From a practicality perspective, yoga is a lot easier when you’ve got a mat, though you’re free to practice yoga on grass, dirt, or sand without a mat.
Q: How do you clean a yoga mat?
A: Most yoga mats clean up well with just a wipedown with a rag soaked in warm water. If you’ve really gotten your yoga mat dirty, you can use a mild detergent in warm water.
Make sure you wash it off well after using a detergent, though; you don’t want to leave any soap residue on your yoga mat. Yoga mats that feature microfiber surfaces can often be thrown in a washing machine set to a gentle wash cycle with a small amount of a mild detergent.
Always hang-dry a yoga mat; never put it in a drying machine. Also avoid harsh chemical cleaners like chlorine bleach at all costs.
Q: What is a yoga mat strap good for?
A: Yoga straps just make it easier to carry your yoga mat and store it while rolled up. If you have a gym bag, water bottle, or backpack to bring with you, it’s far easier to sling your yoga mat over your shoulder using a strap.
Straps are a great feature, but you should be choosing a yoga mat primarily based on its dimensions and its material construction.
Q: What is the best yoga mat for hot yoga?
A: If you are doing hot yoga, performance while sweaty is the most important criteria for choosing a yoga mat. More advanced premium yoga mats like the Manduka Pro and the Yogarat Pro achieve good grip in sweaty conditions thanks to high-quality materials and clever textures applied to the mat.
If you sweat a lot, you may also want to consider a yoga mat that has a microfiber surface, like the Aurorae Synergy. These can soak up a lot of sweat and still perform well.
They do have the drawback of being more difficult to clean once they get sweaty, though—they tend to need to be washed on a regular basis, as opposed to foam-based mats which can be wiped down with warm water, dried, and be ready to go again.
If you are serious about yoga–in fact, even if you are not serious about yoga–it’s worth your while to get a quality yoga mat.
The choices can seem overwhelming, but once you know how to navigate the difference between a rubber and a synthetic mat, a closed cell versus an open cell mat, and the benefits and tradeoffs that come with a thicker or a thinner mat, you’ll be well-equipped to make the right choice for you.
Most people will find that a synthetic yoga mat about 5 mm thick, made by a quality, reputable manufacturer, will suit their needs.
This type of yoga mat is usable by just about anybody in just about any situation. Ultra-thin, ultra-thick, and latex rubber mats definitely have their advantages in certain situations, but a synthetic middle of the road mat from a high-ranked company is a good place to start if you’re at a loss for where to begin.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 yoga mat recommendation, click here.