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Best Mats and Towels for Hot Yoga

By: Lisa Maloney on May 23, 2018

In this report

Mats and Towels for Hot Yoga Our Sources
Best Reviewed

Best hot yoga mat

Jade Harmony Yoga Mat

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 Yoga Mat (Est. $80) is a standout for all types of yoga, but its excellent grip makes it particularly well suited for hot yoga. "It suctions to your fingers and toes," write the editors of Wirecutter, where it scores a runner-up nod after hands-on testing. Most users agree, saying their hands and feet simply don't slip and slide at all when they take this mat to a hot yoga class.

Users also say the mat doesn't bunch up or slip underfoot despite being relatively thin (3/16-inch thick). Users, including a tester for Sports Illustrated who chose this as her favorite yoga mat overall, are routinely surprised by how cushiony this mat feels in spite of that thinness, and they also say that unlike some other sturdy mats, it doesn't need a break-in period.

Eco-conscious yogis take heart: the Jade Harmony is made of biodegradable natural rubber, and the packaging is made of recycled materials. Jade also plants a tree for every mat it sells. But there is a downside to 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 note that after several months of use, they began to see wear where they usually placed their feet on this mat. They also caution against leaving this mat in the sun, as that makes it degrade faster. The open-cell rubber surface absorbs moisture instead of repelling it -- that's part of the reason it has such great grip -- but that makes it especially important to clean the mat frequently with mild soap to maintain stickiness.

The Jade Harmony Yoga Mat weighs about 5 pounds; while some yogis do travel with the Harmony, there are definitely lighter options out there. This mat measures 24 inches wide and comes in three lengths: 68, 71 and 74 inches.

If you still want a yoga mat with superior grip but have a latex allergy or prefer a lower maintenance material, the PVC-based Gaiam Sol Studio Select Dry-Grip Yoga Mat (Est. $45 and up) could be an ideal alternative. It places high in hands-on reviews from Yoga Journal and SoMuchYoga, and Brett Larkin recommends it for Yoga Outlet, writing that "You could use this mat as an umbrella. No matter how much water I spritzed on it, I stayed secure and slip-free." Reviewers say this mat's thin polyurethane top layer does a great job of wicking away moisture, keeping them from slipping or sliding in hot yoga.

Although 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 cracks or peels. In last year's report, we said that cracking and peeling begins after several months of use, but we see enough user concern -- and reports that the cracking begins even sooner, or of mats arriving with the coating already "bubbling" -- that it's worth a second mention. Given this spate of recent concerns, we wonder if there's a problem with quality control.

But, even with those concerns -- and frustrated yogis posting pictures of the flaking or bubbling top coating -- this mat remains near the top of the pack, thanks to its sensational grip. Gaiam does offer a lifetime guarantee, but we don't see much feedback about how well that works; so our recommendation is to check its condition carefully when it arrives, and return it immediately if you see any sign of bubbling or cracking in the top layer.

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 -- and the Gaiam Sol 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, purple and blue.

One of our leading picks for best all-around yoga mat does surprisingly well for hot yoga, too. Lululemon The Reversible Mat (Est. $80) draws lots of professional accolades after hands-on testing, including a note from the editors of Yoga Journal that their testers' hands didn't budge, no matter how hot and sweaty classes got.

Lululemon's The Reversible Mat measures 71 inches by 26 inches -- 2 inches wider than many yoga mats -- and has a base of textured natural rubber with a thin, super-absorbent polyurethane coating on one side that does a great job of soaking up sweat. (It also absorbs -- and holds -- soap and detergent, so be careful how you wash this mat.) Users are sometimes put off by the initial rubbery smell from this mat, but it does fade, and reviewers love being able to use just one mat for every aspect of their practice.

With that said, we're still waiting for a greater body of user feedback on this mat before we can place it higher in the all-around category -- and if all you do is hot yoga, we recommend sticking (get it?) with mats that are designed specifically for that grip and absorption.

Combo mats offer the benefits of yoga mat and towel in one

Although mats designed for hot yoga have almost unbeatable grip, some sweaty yogis still find themselves slipping and sliding on even the grippiest mats. If that sounds like you, you might benefit from a combination yoga towel and yoga mat like the Yoga Design Lab Combo Mat (Est. $70), which has an absorbent microfiber top layer that's permanently bonded to a natural rubber base.

This hybrid construction has two benefits: First, you get the cushioning of a regular yoga mat combined with the grip of a sweat-absorbing yoga towel; and second, you don't have to worry about a separate towel bunching or sliding around on your mat. The experts at Yoga Journal and Yoga Nomads say that once the microfiber surface is damp its grip is nearly flawless, a sentiment that's echoed by hundreds of happy users. Like many microfiber yoga towels it's slippery when dry, though, so if you do a gentler practice, you might need to spritz this mat with water to keep your hands and feet from sliding.

Users love the bright, colorful designs on these mats, and they say the included carry strap makes them easy to haul around (in fact, this mat is a runner up in our section on the best travel yoga mats). We don't see any noteworthy complaints about this yoga mat's durability, either; testers at Yoga Nomads say the natural rubber base grips the floor well and stays sticky after multiple washings. That said, the Yoga Design Lab Combo Mat does tend to retain marks where your hands and feet go, or even the outline of your body after savasana, until you wipe it down.

The Yoga Design Lab Combo Mat is just less than 1/7 inches thick and weighs slightly more than 4 pounds. It measures 24 inches by 70 inches long -- tall enough for most yogis -- and the water-based inks and a finish that's free of silicone, toxic glue and phthalates may appeal to eco-conscious yogis.

Yoga towels add extra grip and sweat absorption

If you don't want to use a permanently bonded yoga mat/towel combo, you can throw a separate yoga towel over your mat to protect it from the wear and tear (and slipperiness) of sweaty classes, then take the towel off for gentler practices that don't leave you pouring sweat. Some yoga towels have non-skid surfaces on both sides to reduce any slipping around. They 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 thin side, and if you're using borrowed studio mats they provide an extra layer between you and any lingering germs from other users.

Of all the yoga towels we evaluated, the YogaRat Hot Yoga Towel (Est. $20 and up) offers the best blend of function and value. It has just two jobs -- absorbing sweat and providing extra grip -- and users say it does both wonderfully, as long as you remember to spritz it with water before you step onto it. "There is something great about the no frills design of the YogaRat towel," write the editors at Yoga Nomads, where this is a favorite for any type of heated yoga.

The spritzing also helps the towel stick to your yoga mat, although some users do report a bit of bunching underfoot; this is a particular issue for any yoga towel if you happen to drag your feet. Still, the YogaRat Hot Yoga Towel does better at staying in place than much of the competition, and users say these towels feel thicker than much of the competition -- a good thing, since it creates more cushioning during your practice.

Because the YogaRat Hot Yoga Towel is specifically designed for yoga, its two sizes will fit most yoga mats without a lot of extra fabric left over: the 24-by-68-inch version weighs 1.5 pounds, or the 26-by-72-inch version weighs 1.8 pounds. Its microfiber surface is easy to care for -- you can machine wash it and tumble it dry -- and users say the colors generally don't bleed in the wash or transfer onto your mat and clothing.

Users say that like most yoga towels, the YogaRat Hot Yoga Towel works best if you don't use dryer sheets, and because it doesn't have non-slip nubs on it, it can serve double or triple purpose as a travel towel or bath towel.

Unlike the YogaRat towel, the microfiber Youphoria Outdoors Quick Dry Travel Towel (Est. $10 and up) isn't designed specifically for yoga. But the experts at SoMuchYoga say it fills the need nicely. It's also on the thick side, which offers a little extra cushioning. The Youphoria Travel Towel doesn't have non-slip nubs on it, but reviewers say that spritzing it or sprinkling it with water before you put it on your mat will help it grip. Meanwhile, the lack of grippy nubs means you can also use this as an all-in-one towel when you travel or go camping.

The Youphoria Outdoors Quick Dry Travel Towel's microfiber construction dries much faster than cotton, and most users describe it as very soft, light and packable. (It comes with a small travel bag.) A few say the texture feels a bit like suede or chamois and takes some getting used to.

Other high points include a small snap loop that you can use to attach it to a railing or chair for air drying, a rainbow of vibrant colors, and three sizes to choose from: 20 x 40 inches, 28 x 56 inches and 32 x 72 inches -- and a rainbow of vibrant colors to choose from. Users seem generally happy with this towel's durability, although we do see a few scattered complaints about it unraveling, along with a more common complaint about a strange chemical smell that fades if you follow the manufacturer's recommendations to wash it before the first use.

Also excellent is the Yogitoes Skidless Premium Mat-Size Towel (Est. $45 and up), which one reviewer describes as "perhaps the Rolls Royce of yoga towels." At 24 inches by 68 inches the Yogitoes yoga towel will fit most yoga mats without extra material to bunch up, and a set of silicone dots on the underside help the towel stick to your mat.

Like all hot yoga towels, the Yogitoes Skidless Premium Mat-Size towel is actually slippery when dry, so you should spritz it when you first start your practice. It's also made of 50 percent recycled material (each towel uses eight recycled plastic bottles) and the dyes are free of lead and heavy metal.

Although these towels are excellent, we see a number of users who feel the performance doesn't stand out above the competition enough to justify the price. Some aren't fans of the non-slip silicone nubs either, saying either that they don't like the feel of them under their hands and feet or that the nubs limit the Yogitoes' usefulness as an all-in-one towel.

We also see repeated warnings that this towel tends to bleed color. However, there are dozens of colors and patterns to choose from, so you can pick a lighter color that's less likely to bleed onto your mat and clothing; but you'll still want to wash the towel on its own until it stops bleeding color. The Yogitoes Skidless Premium Mat-Size Towel weighs 1.25 pounds.

If all you need is a small towel to keep your hands or arms from slipping, the Manduka eQua Yoga Hand Towel (Est. $15 and up) is very popular. At about 1 pound, the 26.5-inch-by-16-inch eQua Hand Towel is sized perfectly for absorbing sweat and providing extra grip or cushioning around your hands without worries about bunching or sliding on the rest of your mat. Users also like that it's small enough to toss aside when you don't want the extra absorption or cushioning, then quickly spread back onto your mat when you do want it. If you have a mat that your hands slip on but you otherwise love, this might be an economical solution.

Like all yoga towels, the Manduka eQua Yoga Hand Towel will grip much better once moistened down, and users say its microfiber surface has a super-soft, suede-like feel and stays soft even through repeated use and washings. You can machine wash it and tumble dry it and it comes in a half-dozen colors, but the manufacturer does recommend washing with like colors to minimize possible bleeding on the first few launderings. Once you've used the towel up, it can be recycled at any facility that handles PET plastic.

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What every best Yoga Mats has:

  • Adequate thickness for your preferred style of yoga.
  • Adequate length and width.
  • A durable, easy-to-clean material.

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