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.
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Do you need a travel yoga mat?
There are so many yoga accessories and props on the market today that it can be hard to decipher what you truly need and what’s just extra fluff.
Personally, I find having a travel mat with me on the road makes the difference in whether I practice or not 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.
Basically, if you travel often, you should absolutely invest in the best travel yoga mat.
Another useful benefit is you can roll out your travel mat on top of the rental mats if you practice at new studios on vacation.
I never feel like the rental mats are as clean as my own personal one, 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.
TLDR: The Best Travel Yoga Mat
Don’t have time to read the entire article? Do you just want me to tell you the best travel yoga mat?
While this article compares 6 mats at varying price points and for different yoga and travel styles, my favorite on the list is this YOGO travel mat (see a photo of mine on a trip to the wetlands in Argentine below!)
- It’s the most compact, folding to the size of a newspaper within its own built-in carrying system.
- It’s grippy and great for sweaty practices.
- High quality and lightweight, just 2.1 lbs.
- Beautiful color choices.
- It’s easy to wash (just hang it from your shower by its built-in strap!).
- They offer regular length AND an extra-long version for us tall yogis.
Picking a Travel Yoga Mat 2021: Things to Keep in Mind
Before choosing the perfect travel yoga mat, it’s important to know what to look for.
Here are the 5 most important features you should keep in mind while shopping for your mat.
First and foremost, how much your travel mat for yoga weighs dictates how often you’ll actually pack it.
Packing is an art-form and with overweight luggage fees as high as they are, you should first check how much each mat weighs, the lighter the better.
I’m not sure packability is a word, but what I mean by this is, how does this mat break down?
Average yoga mats are stored rolled up, and 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 non-harm.
Be mindful when purchasing your yoga mat and consider sustainability. Is it made of an ecologically friendly material? Does the company contribute to green causes?
This last one may seem less important, but is it? Your yoga practice is personal and an outlet for self-expression. Do you want a mat in 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 Yoga Mat for Travel 2021: The List
If you’ve decided to take your yoga 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 in 2021.
1. Manduka EKO superlite Travel Mat
Manduka is a fantastic brand (and one of my favorites). Seriously, my favorite.
Manduka is well-known for its quality, so it was a given that their travel mat was also going to be good quality yoga mat. The variety of beautiful colors and patterns is a bonus.
Manduka’s 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 a single 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.
The Manduka mat is 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.)
Stay with me to the end of this post for the recipe for my personal, all-natural homemade mat cleaner!
2. Jade Voyager Fold Up Yoga Mat
Jade shares the top of the yoga mat market with Manduka. In fact, most yoga studios offer Manduka or Jade mats as their rental mats.
Jade’s 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 the Jade Travel Mat and Manduka, in my personal opinion it comes down to texture.
Both companies produce a great anti-slip yoga mat, but where Manduka mats are smooth, Jade mats have more texture.
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3. MIKKOA | Best Travel Mat for Hot Yoga (& Most Beautiful Mat!)
MIKKOA Travel Yoga Mats are the most beautiful yoga mats I’ve ever seen.
If you want a colorful pattern, these mats are for you.
Most notably, 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 nonslip yoga towel along with your mat, then this is the best travel yoga mat for you because it’s two in one!
I got the Galaxy Aurora pattern pictured above but there are two other beautiful colors to choose from. They also have regular yoga mats and beach towels.
What I like about my MIKKOA travel mat:
- It only weighs 2 pounds and is actually 10 cm longer than normal yoga mats (I love this extra length to stretch out in savasana!).
- It folds up to be extremely compact but when unfolded there are NO creases or marks.
- The rubber base doesn’t slip on hard floors
- MIKKOA is eco-friendly: They plant a tree per mat sold and the mats include no harsh chemicals, no plastic, no PVC, no TPE, no Silicones or phthalates
- It’s a small company, support small! This mat is similar to Yoga Design Lab mats but I find the patterns much more beautiful and love supporting the small, woman-owned business.
- They’re Australian but offer free shipping to the US and it shipped to me very quickly (and even after shipping from down under all the way to me in Texas it unfolded to zero creases).
- It’s beautiful and unique.
PRO TIP: 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 a quick spritz with the studio’s yoga mat clear spray bottle at the start of practice.
4. Gaiam | Most Affordable 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 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.
5. Liforme Travel Yoga Mat | Best Mat for Alignment
This mat is ideal if you’re focused on improving your alignment.
Liforme’s 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 a 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.
6. YOGO Ultralight Travel Yoga Mat
This YOGO Ultralight travel mat is perfect for frequent travelers.
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 and hang it to dry while in the shower.
The surface of this mat reminds of the Manduka travel mat: smooth but very grippy.
The YOGO mat is made from renewable tree rubber.
And even better, as a company, they give back. Planting food-bearing trees and providing restorative agroforestry training in Africa.
At 2.1 pounds it’s one of the most lightweight travel mats out there, and the compact carrying system makes it so tiny and easy to pack.
It folds to the size of a folded newspaper!
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!).
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 (like these) out there for you that may provide superior support and grip on the mat.
Proper Care for your Folding Yoga Mat
After investing in your new travel mat, be sure to take good care of it so it will last through all your exciting travels. Here’s some tips and tricks to get serious mileage from your new mat.
Store it rolled
While most travel mats on this list 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.
Keep it clean
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 the best results. I particularly love this lavender cleaner.
My Homemade Yoga Cleaner Recipe
While the above cleaner is easiest for travel with its small, compract spray bottle, when at home I make my own mat cleaner in a large, glass bottle.
Of course, you can use whatever empty bottle you have laying around, but I bought these amber glass spray bottles on Amazon because they’re so pretty!
I fill them 3/4 of the way with water and top it off with white vinegar. Generously add in drops of lavender essential oil and tea tree essential oil. That’s it!