Students are always asking me for advice on the best travel yoga mats.
In truth, to keep my carry-on luggage small enough, I haven’t been carrying a travel yoga mat. This means that I’ve had the chance to try out a range of different yoga travel mats (and everyday yoga mats) as I move from studio to studio teaching Adventure Yoga workshops around the world.
In a couple of weeks, when I fly to Helsinki, I will get my brand new foldable yoga mat, which is, not coincidentally, my top pick of all the yoga travel mats available today.
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This year I’ve practiced on yoga mats from all of the major mat makers and plenty of minor ones too. For this post, I’ve selected six of the best travel yoga mats based on:
- Environmental impact
- Portability and durability
- Mat stickiness and comfort
This guide will help you decide what to look for in a travel yoga mat and figure out which yoga mat is best for you. Though prices are shown in US dollars, these mats are available around the world.
Here are my picks of…
The best travel yoga mats for your adventures
Skip ahead to find out which travel yoga mat is my favourite — it’s the one I have in my carry-on suitcase.
Manduka’s Travel Yoga Mats
Manduka offers two options for travel yoga. First is the eKO SuperLite, a super lightweight travel yoga mat. Then comes the eKO Lite, which is a little heavier, but adds more comfort. If you’re looking for non-slip yoga mat, a Manduka mat might be the right choice.
Here’s how they rate:
Environmental impact. Manduka have been very open and communicative with me every time I’ve contacted them about their mats. Manduka CEO Sky Meltzer even phoned me once to discuss my concerns over the environmental impact of their yoga mats.
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 recently in Hamburg and both of them turned their mat over to use the bottom as the top. They said they find the mats slides around on the floor if it’s the “right way” up. Good tip!
JadeYoga’s Travel Yoga Mats
Environmental impact. JadeYoga made the original natural rubber yoga mat — they basically invented the eco yoga mat — so they have a lot of experience when it comes to minimizing environmental impact. Jade Yoga travel mats are made sustainably with natural rubber and they do not contain PVC, EVA, heavy metals, or synthetic rubber. Their mats are made in the US and Jade also plants a tree for every mat sold, so that’s a pretty cool bonus.
For an all natural yoga mat, made with sustainability in mind, Jade yoga mats are an excellent choice.
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Portability and durability. My very first mat was a Jade mat and though I loved it, it started to stretch and slide pretty quickly – within a year it was completely worn out. Judging from online reviews, Jade has improved the durability of their mats since then and people are able to use them for several years without much sign of wear.
The Voyager folds up to about the size of a yoga block, so it’s super easy to pack in a suitcase. At 0.7 kg, it is the lightest travel yoga mat on our list. The company recommends the Voyager only for travel use only because its portability reduces the durability. If you want something a little more durable, but still portable, the Jade Travel Mat might be a better option.
Mat stickiness and comfort. I have tried the Voyager and I really like it. It feels similar to the Manduka eKO SuperLite but the Jade Voyager weighs a couple of hundred grams less. Again, like all yoga travel mats, you won’t get any padding out of the Jade Voyager.
lululemon athletica’s Travel Yoga Mat
lululemon Reversible (Un)Mat, 0.9 kg, 1.6 mm, $48
Environmental impact. During my research, I found lululemon the least forthcoming about their environmental practices. While all the other companies answered all of my questions, I never got a reply from lululemon about their yoga mats. Their website also has less information about their environmental impact than the other yoga mat makers.
Lululemon uses polyurethane and latex in their mats and they don’t give much more information than that – which of course makes us wonder what they’re not saying.
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Portability and durability. The (Un)Mat is light and easily rollable. It will also fold but isn’t necessarily designed to do so, so you’ll get creases if you carry it this way. The mat seems almost indestructible, so you won’t need to replace it for years. However, it also means the mat will stick around in landfill long after we’re gone.
Mat stickiness and comfort. Before we left LA, I was regularly practicing on the (Un)Mat. This is basically the top layer of their regular mat, so it’s got the same sweat-absorbing features, is incredibly sticky (especially when wet) and has anti-bacterial properties.
Jane’s note: I also practiced on the (Un)Mat for a few years and though I loved the thin and lightweight design (less padding meant I couldn’t be sloppy with my alignment) I found that after a while it lost its stickiness. The lululemon mats seem to be best as a hot yoga mat or for really sweaty people – if you don’t sweat much, you might find it’s not the stickiest yoga mat after a few uses and you’ll be slipping around like I did.
Liforme’s Original Travel Yoga Mat
Liforme Original Travel Mat, 1.6 kg, 2.0 mm, $115
Environmental impact. 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 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 Jade Travel Mat and 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.
And the best travel yoga mat for 2017 is…
The travel yoga mat that has earned pride of place in my carry on suitcase is the JadeYoga Voyager mat. It is an all-natural folding yoga mat and the lightest of the mats I have reviewed — perfect for my carry-on luggage. One of my teachers, who travels with the JadeYoga Voyager, recently told me that the best thing about it is that “it just works”.
It’s sticky, not stretchy, and offers a little padding. All the other features are just icing.
Right now, the Jade Voyager is the best yoga travel mat available. That being said, if Liforme released a super-light version of their travel yoga mat this year, I would be very tempted to test it out!
♥ Happy yoga adventures, Stephen
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