Simply walking into a hot yoga studio can make you break a sweat, so adequate grip and traction are especially important for hot yoga mats.
Reviewers say the Jade Harmony Professional (Est. $75) is a standout for all types of yoga, but its excellent grip makes it particularly well suited for hot yoga. The open-cell rubber surface absorbs moisture instead of repelling it, though experts note that this makes it especially important to clean the mat frequently with mild soap to maintain stickiness. Most owners say their hands and feet simply don't slide on the Harmony Professional. They also say the mat doesn't bunch up or slip underfoot despite being relatively thin.
The Harmony Professional is made of biodegradable natural rubber, and the packaging is made of recycled materials. Jade also plants a tree for every mat it sells. The downside of the mat's greener construction: It's not quite as durable as PVC, and editors with OutdoorGearLab.com note that the mat's surface can begin to flake over time, especially if the mat is frequently left in the sun. Another drawback: The rubber has a strong odor, especially when it's new.
At 3/16 inch thick, the Harmony Professional is just slightly thinner than an average mat, making it easy to roll compactly. The mat weighs about 5 pounds, which is also in the middle of the road -- while some yogis do travel with the Harmony, there are definitely lighter options. The mat is 24 inches wide and comes in two lengths: 68 and 74 inches. For $12 to $25 more, there is also a Harmony XW that is 28 inches wide and either 68, 74, or 80 inches long. There are 13 colors to choose from, including vibrant purple, teal, and saffron. The XW is available only in green and blue.
If you aren't quite as stringent about being eco-friendly, reviewers say Lululemon's The Mat (Est. $68) is another excellent choice for hot yoga. Like the Jade Harmony Professional, The Mat is designed to absorb and lock away moisture -- one reviewer reports "no slip whatsoever," a sentiment echoed by many others. The Mat is also reversible, with one smooth side and one slightly textured side.
Like the Harmony Professional, the Mat is made of natural rubber, but it also has a slightly less "green" polyurethane coating. An antimicrobial additive helps keep The Mat clean, but it still needs to be wiped down with soap and water between classes. AJ Govoni of Reviews.com, an experienced yogi, warns that The Mat's great absorption properties also mean that sweat and dirt can eventually leave stains, especially on lighter colors. Reviewers are also unanimous on another con: The Mat has a very strong odor that "will shock you" and take several weeks to fade, says Lisa Mitchell of MindBodyGreen.com.
The Mat comes in two thicknesses: 3 millimeters (3/25 inch) or 5 millimeters (1/5 inch). Both versions are 26 inches wide and 71 inches long, but the thinner version costs about $10 less and weighs just under 4 pounds instead of more than 5. The thinner mat also rolls more compactly and is lighter for travel, but Govoni cautions that she found it "a tad uncomfortable" during practice. The thicker mat comes in nine colors, while the thinner mat comes in five. Choices include whimsical polka dots and two-tone options.
If you're looking for a hot yoga mat that's a little easier on the budget, reviewers say the YogaRat RatMat PRO (Est. $30) does an admirable job of keeping hands and feet in place for half the price of competing mats. One owner says she didn't slip even practicing in 85-degree weather, while others say they don't slide in daily hot yoga sessions. However, there's still a small group of reviewers that says slippage is a problem, while a few others say the mat bunches up on the floor.
The RatMat PRO is made of recyclable TPE, or thermoplastic elastomers. This synthetic rubber is greener than PVC, though still a step down from natural rubber. For eco-conscious yogis with latex allergies, it could be a good pick. The RatMat's closed-cell surface doesn't absorb moisture like the Jade Harmony Professional or Lululemon's The Mat, which makes it easier to keep clean. It also doesn't have a strong odor like those two mats. A few reviewers say the mat did start to deteriorate sooner than they expected, however.
The RatMat PRO is 5 millimeters (1/5 inch) thick, and owners say it's spongy enough to keep more difficult poses mostly pain-free. The mat is 72 inches long and 24 inches wide. At 2½ pounds, it's on the lighter end for yoga mats and is easy to tote around. It comes in five solid colors: charcoal, coral, magenta, purple, and turquoise.
Throwing a yoga towel over your mat can help protect it from the wear and tear of sweaty classes. It can also help you keep your grip if your mat isn't as sticky as you'd like, or provide an extra layer of comfort if your mat is on the thinner side.
Reviewers say it's hard to beat the Yogitoes Skidless Premium Mat-Size Towel (Est. $50) for extra traction, comfort, and sweat absorption during hot yoga. Once damp, the towel stays in place and feels comfortable under hand and foot, but experts caution that it will bunch up if you leave it dry. For that reason, they recommend misting it with a spray bottle before beginning.
Made of an absorbent microfiber, the Skidless towel features small silicone dots that grip your yoga mat to prevent slipping. Yogitoes manufactures each towel using eight recycled bottles and a total of 50 percent recycled material. Dyes are lead- and heavy-metal free. The towel is easy to care for in the washer and dryer, but Yogitoes cautions that dyes may bleed at first. While experts with OutdoorGearLab.com say the towel did get a bit thinner after several trips through the washer and dryer, they say it performed as well as ever.
The standard Skidless towel is 68 inches long and 24 inches wide. For about $12 more, you can get a roomier 25-by-80-inch towel. At 1¼ pounds, it's light enough for frequent travel and can be easily balled up or folded in a suitcase. You can even use it in place of a mat in a pinch. If you want to add a little personality to your mat, the Skidless towel is available in more than 70 colors and patterns.
If you can't stomach spending that much money on a yoga towel, the Manduka eQua (Est. $35) is another quality option at a friendlier price point. Reviewers say it doesn't resist movement quite as well as the Yogitoes Skidless Premium Mat towel, but a super-soft, suede-like feel makes it "luxurious" to practice on, notes one owner. Like the Skidless towel, you'll need to spray it down to keep it in place.
Made of a double-knit microfiber, the eQua doesn't have the silicone nubs that keep the Skidless so still. For some reviewers, that's a pro because it means they can use the eQua like a normal towel, not just for yoga. The eQua is recyclable, and Manduka recommends repurposing it as a cleaning cloth after you're done using it for yoga. To clean it, you can toss it in the washer and dryer.
The eQua is 72 inches long and 26½ inches wide, suitable for most standard yoga mats. You can also buy an eQua hand towel for about $16. At about 1 pound, the mat-size eQua is a bit lighter than the Skidless towel and is equally portable. Its generous size means you can use it either in addition to or in place of a yoga mat. Manduka offers the eQua in eight solid colors.