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How to Pick the Best Travel Yoga Mat
Taking your practice on the road with you can be key to surviving long flights, bus rides, and road trips. Muscles get tight after walking across Paris or sitting still for 8 hours on the red eye. Tempers flare due to jet lag and our diets are off kilter. Maintaining your personal yoga practice while on vacation can make all the difference. But to make those hotel room chaturangas a little easier. you want to make sure you pick the best travel yoga mat for your needs
Do you need a travel mat?
There are so many accessories and props on the market today that it can be hard to decipher what you actually need. I find having a mat with me on the road makes the difference in whether I practice or don’t on vacation. Rolling out my lightweight yoga mat in my hotel room automatically puts me in a mental place that is ready to practice. I feel like I’m home on my mat. And a yoga mat for travelers is going to be easier to pack and weigh far less than your everyday yoga mat. If you travel often, you should absolutely invest in the best travel yoga mat.
You can also roll out your travel mat on top of the rental mats if you practice at studios on vacation. I never feel like the rental mats are as clean as my own personal mat, so a lightweight small yoga mat for travel is ideal. You don’t have to rest your face directly onto a mat 100 other people have used.
Picking a Travel Mat: What to keep in mind
First and foremost, how much your travel mat for yoga weighs dictates how often you’ll actually pack it. Packing is an art and the with overweight luggage fees as high as they are, you should first check how much each mat weighs, the lighter the better.
Is packability a word? I don’t think so, but what I mean by this is, how does this mat break down? Average yoga mats are stored rolled up, but this can take up a large part of your suitcase! Ideally, you want a mat that can be folded into a compact size.
Is this mat sticky? Does it offer good grip so you’re not sliding all over the place in Goddess pose? Or is the non-grip texture so rough that it will irritate you when you’re relaxing in supine positions? If you’re sensitive to textures (a bit of a Princess and the pea), then you may prefer a smoother mat. Do you practice hot yoga? You’ll need a grippy mat for when the sweat inevitably begins to flow.
Yoga is more than a workout, it’s a way of life. One of the main tenants of the philosophy is the concept of ahimsa; practicing a lifestyle of nonharm. Be mindful when purchasing your yoga mat, consider sustainability. Is it made of an ecologically friendly material? Does the company contribute to green causes?
It may seem less important, but is it? Your yoga practice is personal and an outlet for self-expression. Do you want a mat is a color that will calm you or in a bright pattern that will energize you? If you’re working on a specific chakra, you can search for a mat in its color to help keep you mindful of it. Some mats are more technical, with markings to help with alignment. You’ll be spending a lot of time on your mat, so be sure to find one you love!
Best Travel Yoga Mat 2018 Comparison Chart
|Travel Yoga Mat||Weight (lbs)||Highlights||Price|
|Manduka eKO Superlite||2 .2||Foldable, Made of biodegradable, renewable tree-rubber, Durable||CHECK PRICE|
|Jade Voyager Yoga Mat||1.5||Foldable, Very lightweight, Plants a tree per mat sold||CHECK PRICE|
|Yoga Design Lab Travel Mat||1.8||Folds, Mat/Towel hybrid (great for hot yoga), Machine washable||CHECK PRICE|
|Gaiam Foldable Yoga Mat||1.8||Economical||CHECK PRICE|
|Liforme Travel Mat||3.53||Alignment markers, Yoga Mat bag included, Eco-friendly materials and processes||CHECK PRICE|
|YOGO Ultralight Travel Mat||2.4||Built-in straps and handle, Plants a tree per mat sold, compact||CHECK PRICE|
Best Travel Yoga Mat 2018: The List
If you’ve decided to take your practice on the road with you and you’re looking for the best travel yoga mat for you, then you’re in the right place! Here are a list and breakdown of the best options for a yoga travel mat 2018.
Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Mat
Manduka is a fantastic brand and known for its quality, so it was a given that their travel mat was also going to be good quality yoga mat. Their eKO Superlite foldable yoga mat for travel should be at the top of anyone’s list. It’s lightweight at 2.2 pounds and folds up to the size of one pair of jeans. Manduka mats are grippy and smooth.
It’s a very environmentally friendly, non toxic yoga mat. Manduka mats include no PVC, toxic plasticizers or harmful dyes, They’re made from sustainably harvested natural tree rubber and are biodegradable. Some people complain of an obnoxious rubbery smell, but this fades with use. If it really bothers you, give it a deep cleaning before your first use.
It’s a very sticky mat, which is a good thing, but this can cause it to bunch up in transitions. It’s a very thin yoga mat, which can be tough on the knees (but that’s nothing a knee pad cushion or folded hand towel can’t solve.)
Jade Voyager Fold Up Yoga Mat
Sharing the top branches of the yoga mat market with Manduka is Jade. Most yoga studios offer Manduka or Jade mats as their rental mats. The Voyager mat is an extremely lightweight yoga mat at only 1.5 pounds. It folds up to a compact package to easily fit in your suitcase or backpack.
Jade is a very sustainable company and gives back. Buying a Jade yoga mat is knowing you’re buying a good quality yoga mat that will do negative harm. How? Jade plants a tree for every mat purchased. Their mats also contain no PVC, EVA or other synthetic rubber and are made in the United States.
If you trying to decide between Jade and Manduka, in my personal opinion it comes down to texture. Both companies sell a great anti slip yoga mat, but where Manduka mats are smooth, Jade mats have more texture.
Yoga Design Lab: Best Travel Mat for Hot Yoga
Yoga Design Lab mats are the most unique yoga mats I’ve seen. If you want a colorful pattern, YDL is for you. Their mats are a hybrid of yoga mat and yoga towel. If you practice Bikram or Heated Vinyasa and don’t want to pack a non slip yoga towel along with your mat, then this is the best travel yoga mat for you because it’s two in one!
This YDL mat weighs 1.8 pounds and is 70 inches long. It’s a foldable yoga mat and is made of biodegradable, recyclable 100% natural tree rubber base and microfiber top. Notably, these yoga mats are machine washable. This is a good option if you are looking for a low maintenance yoga mat.
The microfiber is very smooth and you may slip at first. It’s ideal for a sweaty practice because, like most yoga towels, they get grippy with sweat. You can fix this by giving the mat/towel a quick spritz with the studio’s yoga mat clear spray bottle.
Gaiam Travel Yoga Mat
Gaiam is a great yoga company because they offer good quality yoga mats at very accessible prices. The Gaiam travel mat folds into a 10″ x 12″ compact square. While most travel mats are folded for travel but best stored rolled, this mat is made to be stored folded. The mat is perforated for easier folding, these markings may or may not bother you during your practice, but it’s something to keep in mind.
This Gaiam yoga mat weighs 1.8 pounds and has a smooth (besides the creases for folding), grippy texture. It comes in fun patterns (like the blue mandala pictured here) that are a bit more subdued than those on the Yoga Design Lab mats. I was unable to find any information regarding Gaiam’s environmental practices.
Liforme Travel Yoga Mat
This mat is ideal if you’re focused on improving your alignment. Their AlignForMe markers will remove any doubt on proper hand and foot placement. The Liforme Yoga Travel Mat is thicker, wider and longer than most travel mats. Consequentially, it’s the least compact mat on this list. It’s not foldable (it’s only stored rolled and comes with its own yoga mat carry bag), so it won’t pack into smaller luggage easily. It’s also heavier than the other mats here at nearly 4 pounds.
I find the Liforme mats to be very soft. The surface is smooth but has good grip and it’s a high quality yoga mat. If you don’t mind the weight and prefer a thicker mat with more cushion, then this is the mat for you.
YOGO Ultralight Travel Yoga Mat
This travel mat is perfect for the frequent traveler. It’s an incredibly compact yoga mat and even comes with its own built-in straps and handle. Unfold it, practice, then easily roll it back up into its straps, how convenient! The handle also makes it easy to rinse it and hang it to dry while in the shower.
The surface of this mat reminds of the Manduka travel mat, smooth but very sticky and grippy. This mat is made from renewable tree rubber, making it an eco-friendly yoga mat. And like Jade, YOGO plants a tree for every mat sold.
While at around 2.5 pounds it isn’t the lightest one on this list, it’s still a very lightweight yoga mat, and the compact carrying system makes it so tiny and easy to pack. If you’re nervous about germs, then this is the mat for you. The folding system allows for the bottom of the mat to never come in contact with the top (so you don’t have to worry about rolling the hotel room floor germs onto the top of the mat, where you rest your face in child’s pose!
Overall, I believe this is the best travel yoga mat on the list. It pains me to say it because I love, love, love my Manduka mat, but this mat checks off all the requirements: sticky, compact and easily fits in any tote or suitcase, sanitary, and environmentally friendly.
Knee Support for a Thin Yoga Mat
The only con to travel yoga mats derives from the main pro, they’re very thin! This is why it shouldn’t be your main mat for your daily practice (unless you practice on carpet), it can really tire your knees. When I travel on a hard floor while traveling, I usually bring a hand towel or t-shirt with me to provide a cushion for my knees during poses like tabletop or low-lunge. But if you have particularly sensitive knees, there are specific cushions out there for you that may provide superior support and grip on the mat.
Proper Care for your Folding Yoga Mat
While most travel mats are foldable yoga mats, it’s best to not store them that way. I travel with my Manduke Superlite folded, but when home or at the hotel, I store it rolled like a regular mat. This just prevents unnecessary wear and tear. It’s also important to maintain a clean mat. Give your mat a cleaning after each trip to keep it sanitary, grippy and long-lasting. Use an all natural cleaner for best results (and also, who wants to get a whiff of chemicals in child’s pose?).