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Best Cork Yoga Mats

Updated November 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 14 Models Considered
  • 7 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 154 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best cork yoga mats

    Last Updated November 2018

    Yoga’s ability to rejuvenate the mind and body has made it a popular form of exercise and meditation. To perform the poses and transitions with fluid accuracy, you need a yoga mat to keep your feet in place. Mats are made of a variety of materials, but as society has grown more eco-conscious, manufacturers have looked for materials that are sustainable and promote human and environmental safety.

    Cork yoga mats are one of the most eco-friendly and durable options available today. Whether you’re doing downward-facing dog or warrior two, a high-quality cork yoga mat will hold your feet in place, resist bacteria, and roll up for easy storage and portability.

    This shopping guide will help you determine if a cork yoga mat is the right choice for you and your lifestyle. Take a deep breath and relax as you take your next step on the journey to strengthening your body and calming your mind.

    Cork yoga mats, like other mats that are made of eco-friendly materials, are more expensive than those made of synthetics. However, if you’re devoted to yoga and the environment, they are an investment worth making.

    Why buy a cork yoga mat?

    Antibacterial

    Cork’s natural structure resists bacterial growth, making it easier to keep clean than other materials. The antibacterial properties often lead to claims that cork mats are self-cleaning, which isn’t really true. These yoga mats may not take as much maintenance as other mats, but they will need to be cleaned occasionally.

    Eco-friendly and sustainable

    Cork yoga mats offer several advantages over PVC, recycled rubber, and even other natural materials like cotton and jute. Cork is made from the bark of cork oak trees. These trees naturally regrow the bark after it has been stripped away, making it a highly sustainable resource. The trees absorb more carbon dioxide after the bark has been removed, which means using the bark leaves a positive environmental impact.

    CAUTION

    Cork is naturally water repellent, which means sweat easily rolls off the mat. To prevent damage to the cork surface and backing, let the mat dry out before rolling it for storage.

    Other yoga mats

    Eco-friendly yoga mats

    Cork isn’t the only material used to make eco-friendly yoga mats. While cork offers the best combination of durability and grip, there are a few other options.

    • Cotton: Organic cotton yoga mats, often called yoga rugs, have an absorbent surface and can be used directly on the floor or over the top of another yoga mat. For that reason, they’re wider than your average mat with widths starting around 30 inches. These mats work well for those who practice hot yoga or who sweat profusely because their absorbency prevents sweat from making the mat surface slick. Cotton mats are often machine washable, but you should following the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. While these provide good grip for your feet, they could slide on a wood floor.
    • Jute: Jute is a type of string made from vegetable fiber that is often used to make indoor/outdoor rugs and yoga mats. It is durable and sustainable, though it has a unique feel that might take some getting used to. It has good grip, but not as much as PVC or cork.
       

    Other materials

    • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): PVC or vinyl yoga mats are the least expensive and most common mats on the market. They have excellent grip and stickiness – until they get wet. The surface of PVC mats gets slick when damp, which doesn’t work out well for hot yoga or people who sweat more than average. PVC is also the least eco-friendly of all your mat options. This synthetic material is made using petrochemicals that aren’t renewable or good for the environment.
    • Rubber: Rubber mats have many of the same properties as PVC but with slightly less gripping power. While rubber isn’t as eco-friendly as cork, cotton, or jute, you can find recycled rubber mats that have a much smaller ecological impact than PVC. These models may be more expensive than PVC, but they’re still easier on the budget than some of the other eco-friendly options.
    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some manufacturers claim that their cork mats are self-cleaning, but that’s not quite accurate. The mat can’t clean itself, but it can resist water, bacteria, and mold due to the structure of the cork.

    Cork yoga mat features to consider

    Size: A standard yoga mat measures 24 x 68 inches, but mats in lengths of 72, 74, and 84 inches are also available. If you need even more space, look for a mat with an extended width of 30 inches.

    Using a mat of the correct length means you can transition between poses without stepping off the mat. You want to be able to lie flat on the mat with head and feet completely on its surface. If you’re taller than average, you will likely need an extra-long mat.

    Design/materials: Yoga mat design is pretty basic, but there are a few variations that might suit your needs. Cork grips well, providing excellent stability while in use. All cork mats have some kind of rubber backing to prevent slippage and some backing layers are thicker than others. Usually the thicker the cork layer, the more expensive the mat. There are also designs that include a carrying case or handles, making it easier to take the mat with you to class or while traveling.

    Thickness: The average cork yoga mat is 3 mm thick. Travel mats may be as thin as 1.5 mm, while some with extra cushioning may be 6 mm. Thin mats take up less space while traveling, and thick mats do a better job of protecting sensitive knee joints. Unless you have one of these specific needs, you’ll probably be happy with a mat of average thickness.

    EXPERT TIP

    Because cork naturally resists bacterial growth, it’s also odor resistant. To maintain this quality, you need to let the mat fully dry before rolling it up. The dark, moist environment of a rolled yoga mat can encourage the growth of bacteria and mold.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Cork yoga mat prices

    Inexpensive: Cork yoga mats start around $30, but you get what you pay for in most cases. These inexpensive models have a thin cork layer adhered to a rubber backing. However, at this price, the cork layer is prone to chipping.

    Mid-range:  Between $30 and $60 are cork yoga mats with a thicker layer of cork and may also include carrying straps or handles.

    Expensive: The mats in the $60 to $90 range are longer than the average 68 inches. Most of these models are over 72 inches long and may be up to 6 mm thick.

    Premium: At over $90 are cork yoga mats with foam backings that are free of latex, PVC, and harsh chemicals. In general, the more natural and eco-friendly the mat, the higher the price.

    Tips

    • How often you clean your mat will depend on how often you use it. If you’re a daily user or you sweat more than average, the mat should probably be cleaned after each use to prevent a buildup of sweat and grime. If you’re an occasional user, a good cleaning once a month will probably do.

    • For those who travel with or use their yoga mat in a studio setting, cleaning more often will keep any accumulated oil and dirt from traveling home with you.

    • For quick cleaning, wipe down the entire mat with a damp cloth. It’s simple and easy, so it won’t add too much time to your workout. A spray bottle full of water can speed up the process too, just spray, wipe down, and you’re done. You can also use a gentle soap if you’ve been using your mat in a public setting. Be sure to rinse it and let it dry before rolling it up again.

    An extra-thick mat offers more support and protection for your knees while doing poses. Keep in mind that because the surface is softer, these mats aren’t as stable as thinner mats. You’ll have to decide whether stability and balance or knee support is more important.

    FAQ

    Q. Does cork have a strong smell?

    A. Cork has a natural, woody smell that dissipates with time. Cork yoga mats do have a thin layer of rubber coating, which can have an odor. Most people can’t smell the coating through the cork. However, if you’re particularly sensitive to odors, look for a mat with a thin rubber coating.

    Q. Cork yoga mats look smooth. Do they provide a good grip?

    A. A strong grip factor is essential for any yoga mat, cork or otherwise. The smooth surface of a typical cork mat can be deceiving. The structure of the cork causes it to become stickier as it gets wet, providing incredible grip for hot yoga sessions. A light spray from a water bottle can be enough to activate the grip as soon as you start.

    Q. What are the backing materials used on cork yoga mats?

    A. Cork mats may come with any number of backing materials, and some are more eco-friendly than others. The most eco-friendly are backed with natural or recycled rubber, foam, or latex. The term “natural” means that petrochemicals are not used to make the material.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Enid
      Enid
      Editor
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Stacey
      Stacey
      Writer

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