As a full-time travelling yoga teacher, I’ve had a lot of experience trying out travel yoga mats all around the world. In this guide I pick my favourites and help you choose the right travel yoga mat for your adventures.
- Our Top Travel Yoga Mat Picks
- Do You Even Need a Travel Yoga Mat?
- What are the Advantages of Using a Travel Mat?
- What are the Disadvantages of Using a Travel Mat?
- What Should You Look for in a Mat?
- Liforme Travel Mat
- Yoga Design Lab
- Yogo Travel Yoga Mat
- Manduka Ultralight Mats
- Mats to Avoid
- More great yoga & travel resources
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During the last six years of travel, I’ve had a chance to try out almost all of the mats on this list and many more besides. So I feel completely comfortable using the word “best” to describe my favourite yoga mats.
For me, a good travel yoga mat should just work.
It needs to be sticky and sturdy, while also being easily packable and lightweight. It’s also important that my yoga mat is eco friendly, not full of crazy chemicals, and is made by a responsible company.
Currently, I carry the Liforme mat, which doesn’t fit in my carry-on suitcase but I do love practicing on it. Jane has had the Yogo travel yoga mat for about two years now. Both these mats are excellent choices, providing everything I look for in travel mat.
I also wrote a guide to the best eco-friendly yoga mats for your home practice, so don’t miss that if you’re looking for a more everyday mat.
Below, you’ll find answers to your questions about travel yoga mats, including whether you need to get one at all! Plus, I give you all the details and my honest opinions of the best mats on the market right now.
Keep reading to find the best mat for your next adventure.
Our Top Travel Yoga Mat Picks
The yoga mat that has earned pride of place in my travel essentials is the Liforme mat. Full disclosure: since we have been stationary for the past couple of years I actually have the regular mat, not the travel mat.
I love the Liforme mats. They are sticky, sweat absorbing, have extra grip in just the right spots, I actually use the alignment marks all the time, and it’s eco too.
The Yogo travel mat is Jane’s first choice. It’s a highly portable mat and is easy to keep clean, too.
Read Jane’s review of her Yogo mat.
For hot yoga fans, we recommend the Yoga Design Lab travel mat, which was made specifically to grip and slide as appropriate during hot vinyasa sessions. When you get sweaty, the Yoga Design Lab mat keeps on performing.
Read our review of our Yoga Design Lab mats.
Do You Even Need a Travel Yoga Mat?
For a long time I travelled without a yoga mat, making my practice work on whatever flat surface I could find, be it the beach, a springy lawn, or a hard, cold marble floor.
Once I started carrying a mat, I noticed how much its mere presence encouraged me to practice. Now, when I roll out my mat (or even spot it in the corner of my hotel room), it sends a signal to my brain that it’s time to practice.
Having a mat prevents slipping and sliding across unfriendly surfaces and helps me feel a little cleaner than placing my hands, feet, and body all over the floor does.
Travel yoga mats are also thin enough that you can throw them over a borrowed mat in a studio, which is a nice homey touch when you’re far away from your home studio.
So, do you need a travel yoga mat?
Not necessarily, but I’ve found that having one makes practicing on the road easier and more pleasant.
(Don’t miss: Want to learn to pack like a pro? Check out our guide to perfect packing the minimalist way!)
What are the Advantages of Using a Travel Mat?
An alternative to getting a travel mat is to just bring your everyday yoga mat from home. Of course, that is a perfectly fine thing to do! However, there are several reasons a travel mat might be the better option.
Easier to pack. I’m a firm believer in minimalist packing, which means that I fit all my travel gear in a single carry-on sized suitcase. My small, lightweight yoga mat goes in my suitcase too, which means I don’t have to keep track of an extra item on the plane, on busses, and when moving from hotel to hotel.
Less hassle at the airport. You can usually carry a rolled-up yoga mat onto the plane without it counting as an extra piece of luggage. Most flight crews understand that it’s not going to take up enough extra space to make an impact.
I say “usually” because, sometimes, if the airline you’re flying with has decided to be extra strict with their baggage policy, they might try to charge you extra for your yoga mat. Having a foldable yoga mat that hides away in your suitcase can make things go more smoothly at check-in.
Less hassle at immigration. When I used to carry a rolled-up yoga mat — especially when visiting places like Bali and the US — the immigration officers at the airport would often give me a hard time. They could see that I was carrying a yoga mat and thought it meant I was planning on teaching illegally in their country, even though I wasn’t.
Though they never stopped me from entering the country, there was that one time US immigration took me into secondary questioning for two hours! That extra stress on top of jet lag is pretty unpleasant. Now that I can pack my yoga mat away inside my suitcase, no more hassle!
What are the Disadvantages of Using a Travel Mat?
The big disadvantage of a travel yoga mat is that there is not nearly as much padding as you get with a standard yoga mat.
If you have sensitive knees, elbows, or spine, practicing on a travel mat takes some getting used to. It might not be advisable at all, depending on what’s going on with your body.
However, for me, I have found that most of the discomfort from practicing on a thin yoga mat can be solved by improving my alignment — so practicing regularly on a thin mat has actually improved my body awareness when I practice!
Just be aware before you buy that a travel yoga mat is not like your thick, cushiony home mat. And remember that you can always cushion your knees with a towel or blanket to protect them.
What Should You Look for in a Mat?
1. Mat portability & durability
Most travel yoga mats are designed to be ultra-light and ultra-portable but this sometimes means sacrifices have to be made on durability. If you travel a lot, you’ll want to make sure to get a mat that is both portable and durable, so you don’t need to keep replacing your mat every few months.
2. Stickiness & mat comfort
Travel mats don’t tend to be that comfortable because an ultralight mat can’t be weighed down with padding. You can always use a folded towel or blanket to add cushioning as needed while you travel.
Of course, it’s also important that the mat surface feel nice to the touch and provides the appropriate level of stickiness for the type of yoga you practice.
3. Eco friendly materials and manufacturing
This should probably be point number 1! As yogis, we should always be conscious of the impact of the things we buy on the planet and the people around us. Yes, your practice is for yourself, but it should also be about how you engage with the world around you. Choosing an eco friendly yoga mat make a good foundation for this engagement!
4. Mindful manufacturing
Along with eco friendly practices, we look into how each manufacturer on this list gives back to local communities and the yoga world. If there’s a choice, we always want to support businesses who have social responsibility at the heart of what they do!
Liforme Travel Mat
Best dual-purpose travel yoga mat
Liforme Original Travel Mat, 1.6 kg (3.5 lb), 2 mm thick
While I think Liforme makes the best yoga mats for home practice, their travel mat is a little heavy for a frequent traveller like me. If you’re looking for a mat to use at home that you can also take on occasional trips, this one is a great choice.
Before launching the Liforme yoga mat onto the world, Liforme did years of research into environmental best practices, putting together close partnerships with local manufacturers and creating one of the best, most environmentally conscious, and technologically advanced yoga mats on the market.
Liforme manufactures in a no-waste process, which I love. Plus, their raw materials are environmentally sourced and there is no PVC in sight. Their mats are made of natural rubber and eco-polyurethane that is biodegradable in normal landfills.
So if you want to start a new tradition (maybe host a ceremonial full-moon mat burial in your local park?) you’re good to go with this mat! But I jest.
Biodegradability is a serious issue as Liforme founder James Armitage explained to me:
“The main thing is the biodegradability of the mat and the issues with certain other mats. For me, this is the single biggest ‘ethical con’ out there. Those very heavy duty PVC materials, apart from being potentially harmful, take far too long to degrade when they end up (as they inevitably will) in landfills. Those materials can take thousands of years to degrade (and they’re not doing any good for the soil/earth during the process).”
If you’re priority is to get an eco friendly travel yoga mat, then Liforme is the mat to choose.
Portability and durability
Liforme’s Travel Mat is about the same size and weight as the Manduka eKO Lite – so it’s not quite as light and packable as I’d like. But if you’re not a full-time travelling yoga teacher like me, Liforme’s Travel Mat is great for commuting and less frequent travel.
In terms of durability, here’s what Armitage has to say:
“We are proud of how durable the material is, even though they are clearly not meant to last a lifetime. That should be a selling point, not the other way round. Once discarded, all the materials we use in our Liforme mat will degrade within a few years in normal soil conditions.”
Mat stickiness and comfort
I really love the texture of Liforme’s mats, which provides stability and comfort without being overly sticky like some mats. The etched laser markings that offer alignment guidance are a brilliant feature and I can imagine that they might transform your practice.
How they give back
In addition to their commitment to environmentalism in their production, Liforme also gives a part of its profits to Friends of the Earth, Yoga Gives Back, and the RSPCA.
Yoga Design Lab
Best mat for hot yoga adventures
Yoga Design Lab Travel Yoga Mat, 0.8 kg (1.8 lb), 1 mm thick
When Yoga Design Lab contacted us about their eco-friendly, foldable travel yoga mat, we were immediately drawn in by their story. Owner Chad started the company while on holiday in Bali, after seeing a sea of boring single-coloured mats at the Yoga Barn. He created his own line of mats, with a silky-soft texture and gorgeous prints, using recycled materials. The mats are also machine washable, so what’s not to love?
(Don’t miss: My guide to the best yoga in Ubud, Bali) →
Yoga Design Lab mats are made from two layers: one is natural tree rubber and the other is recycled plastic water bottles. In case you’re worried about practicing on plastic, rest assured that the bottles are completely sterilized before being turned into the colourful microfibre layer of the mats. The designs are created using eco-friendly water-based inks.
Portability and durability
The Yoga Design Lab travel mat folds up small enough to fit easily into my suitcase. Plus, because of its two-layer construction, it seems to be a little tougher than the Manduka or Jade travel yoga mats made.
Mat stickiness and comfort
The Yoga Design Lab mats have been specifically designed to perform well in hot yoga classes – they stick better when wet. The soft absorbent surface takes the place of a yoga towel when you’re practicing hot vinyasa.
Tips for a Stickier Mat
Since Jane and I don’t really practice in hot studios, we sprinkle a little water at the top and foot of the mat before practice, which turns it from slick to sticky. We’ve also heard that after a few washes this mat gets much stickier. Jane will be folding this up and carrying it in her suitcase, so we’ll update you in a few months!
As far a comfort goes, the silky, fluffy texture of this mat is so different from most yoga mats, it makes just lying on it a pleasure. The mat is a little thicker than most travel mats but obviously won’t provide the cushioning of a non-travel mat.
Yogo Travel Yoga Mat
Best mat for minimalist packers
Yogo Travel Mat, 0.9 kg (2 lb), 1.5 mm thick
When I asked my Facebook fans what travel mat they would recommend, the Yogo name kept popping up again and again. This thin yoga mat is the most packable yoga mat on the list and is the one Jane carries in her suitcase.
Since it’s designed specifically for travel, the Yogo travel mat folds up tiny and even has built-in straps to keep it folded. The straps can also be used to help hang it to dry after washing it in the shower.
As with all the best yoga mats, the Yogo Travel Mat is made with eco-friendly materials. The mats are made with natural tree rubber that is biodegradable and comes from renewable rubber plantations.
(Don’t miss: Our guide to the top eco retreats around the world) →
Portability & durability
Yogo makes much of the tiny proportions of their mat when folded, and it IS small. I do love the inclusion of the straps on the Yogo mat, to keep it compressed when it’s folded. As for durability, the company claims it can be used as a travel mat or an everyday mat — though we can’t back that up since we haven’t been using it every day.
Mat stickiness & comfort
The Yogo is most sticky when dry, and Yogo say that, “it will stay stickier than other mats in hot yoga up until a certain moisture level — then it is safer to use a yoga towel.” If you’re a hot yogi and you’re using a Yogo mat in class let us know how that’s going.
Comfort-wise, it is very similar to all the travel mats on this list, so don’t expect much cushioning!
How they give back
The Yogo team partners with the NGO Trees for the Future, with whom they plant a food tree for every mat sold, and they work with impoverished rural communities to help them farm sustainably. The initiative helps support poor communities by creating a sustainable source of food, while also helping to protect and restore the environment.
If you like the sound of these mats, check out our in-depth review here.
Manduka Ultralight Mats
Manduka offers two options for travel yoga. First is the eKO SuperLite, a super lightweight yoga mat. Then comes the eKO Lite, which is a little heavier, but adds more comfort. If you’re looking for a non-slip yoga mat, a Manduka mat might be the right choice.
Since I first wrote about yoga mats a few years ago, Manduka has made improvements in their production line as a result of inquiries by customers like me. They now have zero-waste production for many of their mats, including the eKO Lite.
Both the Lite and the eKO SuperLite are made from biodegradable natural tree rubber and no toxic chemicals are used in the manufacturing process.
Portability and durability
The eKO SuperLite is totally foldable and will fit snugly into your suitcase or backpack. The eKO Lite is a bit thicker and heavier, so provides more padding but it is a slightly less portable yoga mat. Manduka mats are famously durable, but don’t expect a lifetime guarantee for their travel mats like you get with their PRO yoga mats.
Mat stickiness and comfort
I do love practicing on the eKO SuperLite travel yoga mat. Yes, it’s very thin and light but it provides really good grip on the floor and for your hands and feet. If you’re looking for a really sticky yoga mat, then a Manduka eKO yoga mat is probably the right choice.
There is no padding to speak of in their travel yoga mat, which means that you’ll feel very connected to the floor. On the other hand, if your knees or spine need extra padding, you won’t get it from this mat (or any travel yoga mat).
Bonus tip: I had two students using the eKO SuperLite at a workshop I was teaching in Hamburg and both of them turned their mat over to use the bottom as the top. They said they find the mat slides around on the floor if it’s the “right way” up. Good tip!
How they give back
iIn the US, Manduka have a mat recycling program. When you buy a new Manduka mat you can send them your old mat, of any brand, to be recycled into new products by The Renewal Workshop.
Mats to Avoid
lululemon Yoga Mats
When I first wrote this post, I recommended the lululemon travel mat — and in fact, I still love to practice on the (Un)Mat. It just feels good for my practice. However, I no longer recommend lululemon yoga mats because there are just so many preferable options out there. The (Un)Mat is too thick to be foldable and honestly, I’d rather support smaller companies who are focussed on yoga — especially those who prioritize environmental concerns and social responsibility.
Gaiam Yoga Mats
Since the Gaiam foldable yoga mat is a popular travel mat, I felt that I should explain why we decided not to recommend it in this post. This is because it is made from PVC.
We’re concerned about the already overwhelming plastic pollution problem on earth — and we think our yoga gear shouldn’t add to that! Gaiam does not provide any information about the eco-friendliness of their products on their website, leading us to believe that the environment is not a priority for them.
More great yoga & travel resources
We have lots of other blog posts you’re not going to want to miss.
I hope this guide helps you choose the best eco friendly yoga mat for your travels and your practice. We want every journey you take to be transformational and doing yoga while you travel is a great way to make that happen. If you choose one on this list or have another favourite, let us know in the comments below or get in touch via Instagram.
♥Happy yoga adventures, Stephen
We’re not going to lie, it takes a LOT of work to create travel guides like this. But it’s easy to help us out! If you book or buy something using one of our personal links in this post, we’ll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you. Of course, we would never recommend anything we didn’t 100% believe in! Huge thanks in advance! –S&J
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