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Best Mats and Towels for Hot Yoga

By: Saundra Latham on November 18, 2016

Sweaty hot yoga classes demand non-slip mats

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: The rubber has a strong odor, especially when it's new, and it's not quite as durable as PVC. Editors with OutdoorGearLab.com note that they began to see wear around the feet on this mat after several months of use. They also caution against leaving this mat in the sun as that makes it degrade faster.

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 Jade Harmony Extra Wide Yoga Mat (Est. $100) that is 28 inches wide and 80 inches long (a 71-inch version is also available for those who only want extra width). There are at least a dozen colors to choose from, including vibrant purple, teal, and saffron. The extra-wide is available only in green and blue.

If you still want a yoga mat with superior grip but have a latex allergy or prefer a lower maintenance material, the Gaiam Sol Studio Select Dry-Grip Yoga Mat (Est. $70) could be an ideal alternative. Reviewers say this mat wicks away moisture and keeps them from slipping or sliding in hot yoga.

Unlike the Jade Harmony Professional, the Gaiam is made of PVC. Though PVC isn't generally thought of as the most eco-friendly material, it does have its advantages: It's a bit easier to keep clean, it doesn't have the overpowering rubber odor, and it won't break down as quickly when exposed to direct sun. Still, while many users report long periods of happy use, this mat isn't bulletproof: A significant number of reviewers say the moisture-wicking topcoat began to crack or peel after several months. Gaiam does back it with a lifetime guarantee.

The mat is 5 mm thick, which works out to being just shy of 1/5 inch -- a bit thicker than the Jade Harmony Professional. The Gaiam is slightly lighter than the Jade at 4.25 pounds. The standard mat is 24 by 68 inches, while an extra-large version is 26 by 78 inches. Colors include black, teal, purple and blue.  

Yoga towels add extra grip and sweat absorption

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, reviewers say 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 Manduka (which owns the Yogitoes brand) cautions that dyes may bleed at first.

The standard Skidless towel is 68 inches long and 24 inches wide, though Manduka offers a roomier 25-by-80-inch towel on its website. 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 50 colors and patterns.

If you can't stomach spending that much money on a yoga towel, the Manduka eQua Yoga Mat Towel (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 a Manduka eQua Yoga Hand Towel (Est. $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.

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