Gift Guide: Yoga Mats

Holiday shopping time will be here before you know it. Even if you aren’t in the mood to buy presents, maybe you’d like to tighten up a little before Turkey Day. To that end I’m going to let you know what I found out when I reviewed three different yoga mats.

I reviewed one rubber mat and two foam mats. Let’s start with the rubber mat.

The AmazonBasics Rubber & Suede Yoga Mat, Blue 0.16“, is as its name implies, made of rubber with the top surface of suede. The rubber mat seems to have developed a loyal group of users. Many people prefer the suede surface for its stability and softness. They also like the rubber material because they believe it moves around less than a foam mat.

These two possible benefits do not outweigh the biggest shortcoming for me. A rubber mat like this one is at least twice as heavy as a foam mat. This may not be quite as important if you are doing your workouts at home and do not have to take your mat back and forth to class. But when portability matters the extra weight of the rubber can be a big drawback.

In its favor, the AmazonBasics Rubber & Suede Yoga Mat does come with a nifty nylon carrying bag. The bag has a large-hole, fish-net-like weave in the center portion to let your mat breathe, and maybe keep some of the funk from compounding as if it were shut up in a gym locker.

Also in this mat’s favor, in comparison to the standard foam yoga mat, this rubber and suede mat is half a foot longer. Although this does contribute slightly to the weight, if you are over 5’6” and laying on your back you may appreciate the longer length.

I gave the AmazonBasics Rubber & Suede Yoga Mat a solid 3 Stars. But if you work out at home and are tall, I can see a clear case for a higher rating.

Now let’s look at foam mats. First, the FILA Assessories Yoga Mat.

I like that the FILA Accessories Yoga Mat – Classic Exercise Mat with Carrying Strap Sling for Yoga, Pilates, Stretching & Floor Workouts is light weight and very portable. It comes with a string slip-knot sling to make it even easier to schlep to class, if that’s where you do your workouts.

The FILA mat seems to be made of some type of foam which gives it that light-weight property, as well as providing cushioning. It is 5 mm thick, which seems pretty standard for this type of foam mat.

The surface is designed with miniature bumps and has an element of tackiness, especially once it is moistened with perspiration. The manufacturer recommends it be wiped down after use. I did not detect any chemical or other unpleasant odors from the FILA mat.

Also standard for this type of foam mat is the 68 inch by 24 inch dimension, or about five and a half feet long by two feet wide.
Another nice feature of the FILA yoga mat is the price point, which at $19.99 is good in comparison to similar mats.

I awarded the FILA mat 5 stars. It held it’s ground in price point, weight, and features.

And finally, let’s take a look at another foam mat, the Gaiam Yoga Mat.

This Gaiam Yoga Mat – Premium Print 5mm Thick Exercise & Fitness Mat for All Types of Yoga, Pilates & Floor Exercises ranked highly in just about every category.

As a foam mat, it is very light weight and portable, which makes a difference if you are carrying your mat to class. Although it is advertised as being 5 mm thick, the foam seemed more compressed than the same thickness FILA mat.

If you are a self-starter, the Gaiam Yoga Mat offers a free download workout to get going. You don’t have the excuse of having to find a class or not knowing how to do the poses or exercises. This is a feature unique to Gaiam of the three mats I reviewed.

As a personal preference, I would rather not have the mandala design which is associated with certain eastern religions.

My Conclusions:

Of the three yoga mats I reviewed, FILA comes in as my favorite for being the lowest priced, tied for the lightest weight, and having the string sling. The surface texture has adequate stickiness and there is good cushioning. For me, there were no major drawbacks with the FILA.

See the chart to make comparisons of the features that are important to you, and pick your favorite.