Having a quality travel mat has made all of the difference for me. My first travel mat let me down. It was a gift from a dear friend, so I was hesitant to replace it. But it offered zero traction no matter how many salt scrubs I gave it. As an alternative, I rented mats when I traveled. This seemed like a great alternative at first. Usually a low cost of $2. More space in my bag. Then one mat that I rented smelled like damp, moldy feet. I gagged during chatarunga and refused to let my face touch the ground during child’s pose. My perception of borrowed mats only got better when I realized that I was coming down with a cold. Never again.
I purchased my Manduka Eco SuperLite during a business trip in Washington, D.C. My everyday mat is a Manduka Pro, which I love more and more everytime that I use it. The eKO SuperLite carries all of the qualities of Manduka that I love (durability, sustainability) without the one feature that annoyed me with the Pro (the break-in time). There is no need to break in the Eco SuperLite! It’s grippy and fabulous straight off of the rack.
Durable- I’ve used it on unfinished concrete, sand, river stones, and hazmat-worthy hotel carpet. I’ve folded it, rolled it, and mistakenly left it in a cooler while melted ice. (Long story.) I’ve left it rolled up in my trunk in a thin carrying case. No knicks. No tearing. It looks and feels just as beautiful as it did the day that I purchased it.
Sustainable– eKO mats are made from sustainably harvested tree rubber. They’re also biodegradable! There is no need to seek high and low for a place that recycles mats. eKOs do not contain PVC, toxic plasticizers or harmful dyes. They’re also latex free.
Foldable– You can fold the mat flat, which makes it more travel friendly. Purse, beach bag, (Just remember to roll it for long-term storage.)
Hygienic– Remember that mat that smelled like feet? It was a Jade with open cell construction. Jade mats are GREAT at absorbing sweat and keeping you from slipping during heated classes but that also means that they absorb bacteria and odors. The eKO has closed-cell construction, so it resists bacteria for a healthier, safer asana practice.
Hand Wash– While I’ve never tried washing any mat in the washing machine, I image it would be nice to do so. Since the eKO is biodegradable, washing via machine will cause it to break down faster. To clean the mat, wipe it down with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. Fresh. Clean. Simple.
Pricey– You pay for all of those aforementioned “pros.” eKO can set you back about $40.
So far, I truly enjoying practicing and traveling with my eKO SuperLite. I recommend it for anyone who is interested a lightweight, foldable and grippy travel mat. Bonus: it comes in fun colors.
Just a heads up: when I first purchase my mat, I thought that it was faded. The silhouette of the packaging remained on the mat after I’d removed the paper. I was bummed. But I soon realized that the mat wasn’t faded. Instead, it seems as though dust had settled into the pores of the mat while it was on display at the store. I clean my mat after use and I noticed that after a few cleanings the packaging silhouette was gone! That’s something to consider if you think your mat may be faded upon purchase.